Cady Short-Thompson, Ph.D. most recently served as the CEO/Executive Director of Breakthrough Cincinnati, an educational equity nonprofit organization that serves high need, high potential middle and high school students to prepare them for college and career success, as well as inspiring a future teacher pipeline. Prior to Breakthrough Cincinnati, Dr. Short-Thompson enjoyed 25 years in higher education as an award-winning professor and successful academic leader. She served as Provost and Professor at Hope College (in Holland, Michigan) from 2017-2021 where she nurtured high-quality academic programs, introduced new centers and student services, modernized processes, grew resources, improved assessment and accreditation compliance, and supported diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts for faculty, staff, and students.
From 2010-2017, Dr. Short-Thompson served as Dean of the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (UCBA). During her time at UCBA, Dr. Short-Thompson built and led a motivated team to re-envision the college; rename, reposition, and rebrand it; significantly grow enrollments and resources; and most importantly, build a student-centered, inclusive, and student success-oriented culture. She served as the elected Chair of the University of Cincinnati’s Council of Deans, Chair of the University of Cincinnati’s Diversity Council, and Chair of the state-level Inter University Council Regional Dean’s Council, in addition to countless other committees at the University of Cincinnati. In 2014, Dr. Short-Thompson was invited to participate in the first Academy of Innovative Higher Education Leadership; a select group of 24 senior leaders from universities across the U.S. who addressed some of the most pressing issues in higher education by learning from best practices in other industries.
From 1996-2010, Dr. Short-Thompson served Northern Kentucky University as professor of communication, graduate program director, and department chair. In 2007, she was awarded the Frank Sinton Milburn Outstanding Professor which recognizes excellence in teaching, research, and service. At NKU, she developed a love of scholarly teaching, a passion for student access and success, and a deep sense of student-centeredness. She is passionate about the transformative power of education and learned the importance of community engagement, shared governance, and equity from her time at Northern.
A published scholar, her academic expertise in political communication crosses the disciplines of communication, political science, and marketing and Dr. Short-Thompson earned her BA (1991), MA (1992), and Ph.D. (1997) from the University of Cincinnati
Over her academic leadership career, Dr. Short-Thompson has managed large and complex teams with significant goals, major resources, and impressive outcomes. A strategic resource manager and strategist, she has led institutions to significantly grow enrollments and budgets. She is an enthusiastic fundraiser, having raised millions of dollars in foundation and corporate grants, governmental, and philanthropic funding. And she has carefully built programming and services to increase student success metrics, always including all of her constituents to build and shape these innovations and improvements. Her experience also includes the leadership and management of more than 750 faculty and staff and 5,500 students, development of new academic programs and needed services, creation and execution of numerous strategic plans and strategic enrollment management plans, over $90 million in facility planning and construction, and growth of each organization’s enrollments, footprint, and impact on its community. At UC Blue Ash, she founded the UC Smiles program (a partnership with Procter & Gamble and UCBA’s Dental Hygiene program) to provide dental care for underserved youth in Cincinnati.
Having lived in Cincinnati for five decades of her life, Dr. Short-Thompson is thrilled to lead NKU in her hometown, surrounded by her large family and many friends. She and her husband of 32 years, Steve Thompson, have three children in college, Alex (24), Skye (20), and Seth (18).