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She became TCC chancellor during a tumultuous time. Now she’s modernizing the institution

June 5,2023

See full Fort Worth Report article by Jacob Sanchez here.

Tarrant County College Chancellor Elva LeBlanc always goes back to the lessons her parents taught her as a young girl.

Always be ready to learn. Focus on your strengths. And you are in charge of your life, not anyone else nor your surroundings. 

Her parents’ wisdom guided their family’s adjustment to the U.S. after immigrating from Mexico. Now, LeBlanc combines it with her decades of experience in education to lead TCC.

“That’s an important message that we sometimes miss and that’s a message that I send my own children and my employees,” LeBlanc said. “We’re not victims. We have strengths. We have much to contribute and that’s where we need to focus.”

LeBlanc has led one of the largest higher education institutions in Tarrant County and Texas for more than a year. She became chancellor during a tumultuous time and had to stabilize the college. Now, LeBlanc is rethinking the students whom TCC serves, and in what way the college continues to build up the county’s workforce.

The task is tall, and the chancellor knows it. 

Lydia Guajardo Rickard, vice chair of the TCC Foundation, can think of no person better suited to shepherd the college. To Rickard, the chancellor reflects many of the college’s students: a first-generation college student who started at TCC, went through hardship — and succeeded.

“She’s still so grounded and humble despite all her success in who she is and where she came from,” Rickard said.

‘We were going to be focused’

A lawsuit was filed in early 2022

A former administrator claimed then-Chancellor Eugene Giovannini retaliated against her over disciplining an employee with whom he was having an affair.

The board of trustees in February 2022 launched a third-party investigation into the allegations and put Giovannini on administrative leave. In the meantime, trustees tapped LeBlanc, then the executive vice chancellor and provost, as interim leader.

Elva LeBlanc

Age: 70

Current occupation: Tarrant County College chancellor

Education: Bachelor’s degree in elementary education, master’s degree in early childhood education and Spanish, and doctorate in early childhood education from the University of North Texas. Started college taking classes at TCC’s Northeast Campus in Hurst before transferring to UNT in Denton. 

Relevant experience: 

  • Executive vice chancellor and provost at TCC for six years
  • President of TCC’s Northwest campus for almost 11 years
  • President of Galveston College for more than five years
  • Executive vice president for instructional affairs at Austin Community College for two years
  • Dean of instruction at TCC’s Northwest Campus for more than three years
  • Director of institutional effectiveness in TCC for almost three years
  • Director of self study in TCC for about three years
  • Professor and coordinator of the child development program at TCC’s Northeast Campus
  • Adjunct professor at UNT for eight years
  • Teacher in Fort Worth ISD for four years

Family: Married. She has two children and her husband has two children. She also has four grandchildren.

LeBlanc never left the role.

Giovannini resigned in June 2022 after trustees started the process to terminate him. LeBlanc’s title switched to acting chancellor. By late 2022, trustees appointed LeBlanc chancellor.

Teresa Ayala, the college’s board president, saw LeBlanc as the right leader to help TCC move forward and focus on students, faculty, staff and the community.

“As the college transitioned, it was important for the board to select a leader who was seasoned, well known, and respected in and outside of the college,” Ayala said.

LeBlanc’s focus of her interim leadership was simple: Assure people inside and outside TCC that the college was OK and running normally. 

She met directly with people. The college issued statements. LeBlanc recorded videos and sent them to all employees to rally people around TCC as an institution rather than on one person.

She continued to draw from what she learned from her parents — resilience and focus — to guide her decisions. 

“Regardless of what noise was out there, we were going to be focused and that’s what I did,” LeBlanc said. “That’s not too different from all the other things in my life where I had to pivot and figure out how to bring this around and use the strengths that we had.”

‘Connect the dots’

LeBlanc had not finished her bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas when Fort Worth ISD called her. The district wanted to hire her as a teacher — and she accepted. 

Nothing could have prepared LeBlanc for teaching in Fort Worth ISD. 

Her students came from families with low incomes. They had so many needs. However, they represented so many different cultures and were from all around the world.

Just teaching wouldn’t cut it. LeBlanc had to try and help her students and their families. 

She connected parents with support services in Fort Worth. She used resources from the United Way of Tarrant County. In the back corner of her classroom, she had brochures from different agencies to help her students and families.

She even found a way to bring dentists to her school so her students could have dental work — all for free, she said.

“I just saw that the need was that tremendous,” LeBlanc said. “The experience allowed me to understand better how to connect the dots, how to bring supportive agencies to help families in need.”

Looking back, LeBlanc still considers her days as a Fort Worth ISD teacher the toughest job she’s ever had. The jobs that followed were challenging, but nothing can compare to working with young children and meeting their needs while trying to support their families and find meaningful solutions, LeBlanc said.

“People are resilient, and they overcome all kinds of things,” she said.

Opportunity for a modern college post-COVID

LeBlanc sees an opportunity to do things differently after the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as work continues on an $825 million bond that will modernize TCC’s campuses.
TCC’s enrollment declined during the three years of the pandemic, mirroring national trends.

TCC has started to look beyond the traditional candidates for students, LeBlanc said. 

The college has expanded its partnerships into Tarrant County high schools so more 18- and 17-year-olds graduate with an associate degree alongside their diplomas. More people are looking to re-skill and earn an associate degree or other industry-level certifications and credentials. 

LeBlanc also pointed to the college’s reforms to build pathways that get students in the right classes and into a career quicker, an initiative she led as executive vice chancellor. The college has career advisers, traditional advisers, counselors and overall a better support system for students, she said.

And the college is growing its partnerships with organizations, such as Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County, so more residents understand how certifications and associate degrees are within their reach.

“We’re expanding our partnerships with entities like that in order to bring people here and help them to be successful, whereas, maybe, before we were just focusing on low-hanging fruit. Now, we’re really serious,” LeBlanc said. 

Rickard, the TCC Foundation vice chair, sees LeBlanc leading the institution to be a model of a modern community college, one that is on the pulse of workforce development in Tarrant County.

“When you look at how many students TCC has, that’s equal to some of our state university systems, and we’re making that impact here locally because most of those people stay local,” Rickard said. “We are truly developing the workforce from the inside out — and the leader at the top is so important to how we continue to tell that story.”

Courage, persistence and fortitude

Josefina Concha turned to her husband, Salvador Concha, and said they needed to leave Mexico because she worried their 2-year-old daughter and newborn son would not get ahead in life. Moving to the U.S. would open new opportunities for their entire family, Josefina told her husband.

Salvador laid out their situation. They didn’t have any money. Their education was limited. They knew no one in the U.S. — and they didn’t know English. But they could still make it, he said.

Salvador and Josefina are LeBlanc’s parents. LeBlanc’s parents shared their story of how their family moved to El Paso with only a hope to give their children a chance at a proper education and a life with seemingly endless opportunities. 

Still, the young Concha family faced many hardships during their early days in the U.S., LeBlanc said

Her father needed a job. He went from business to business asking for work. Finally, a manager at a glass company told Salvador he can clean the warehouse. Over time, that manager saw Salvador’s work ethic and offered him a full-time job working with glass.

“Within a year, the guy taught dad how to work glass, how to cut glass and install it and he became his assistant,” LeBlanc said. “By the time he was 42, he owned his own company.”

LeBlanc’s mother spent nights learning English at a high school in El Paso. When LeBlanc was around 11 or 12, her mother decided she would go to college. She took the placement test — and failed. Her English was not where it needed to be.

Someone told her mother Josefina she should go back to high school, LeBlanc said. So she did. She enrolled in a Catholic high school when she was in her early 30s and even had to wear the uniform. LeBlanc even helped her mother with her homework. 

Josefina graduated high school and ultimately earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, with a minor in business, LeBlanc said. Her mother was a teacher for more than 20 years.

LeBlanc credits her success in life to the courage, persistence and fortitude of her parents. Everything she does, comes back to them, she said.

“That’s our DNA. The more challenging something is, the more interesting it becomes,” LeBlanc said. 

Disclosure: Lydia Guajardo Rickard is a member of the Fort Worth Report’s Reader Advisory Council. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or via Twitter.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Location Mentioned: Tarrant County College- Trinity River Campus