top of page

7 Questions on Leadership with Professor Silvester Carl Henderson

Name: Professor Silvester Carl Henderson

Title: Professor & Chair (Tenure) & Dean (Acting/Past)*

Organisation: Contra Costa Community College District & College of Alameda

Professor Silvester Carl Henderson is a nationally recognized educator, conference motivational speaker, and accomplished musician/artist. Honored with the A2MEND Educational Leadership Award in 2020 and the Albert Nelson Marquis "Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award" in 2019, he is a dedicated advocate for academic access and diversity.

Currently serving as the Full-Time Tenure Professor of Choral/Vocal Activities at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, California, Professor Henderson is a respected figure in the academic community. He directs various musical groups, teaches a range of courses, and has been instrumental in developing groundbreaking curricula, such as the first collegiate "Gospel Piano Curriculum" in California.

With over three decades of experience as a musician and Minister of Music at Palma Ceia Baptist Church, Professor Henderson has left an indelible mark on the music scene. His leadership of the internationally acclaimed Young Inspiration Gospel Choir at the University of California, Berkeley, resulted in two recorded albums, now part of the Smithsonian Institute’s Gospel Music Division.

Beyond his musical contributions, Professor Henderson has received numerous awards for his commitment to education, diversity, and community service. Notably, he was named the "Most Influential African American Educator" by the Intel Corporation and City Flight News magazine in 2001. His work has earned him congressional honors, city proclamations, and recognition from esteemed organizations.

As a successful business owner, Professor Henderson's story was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2012, highlighting his achievements in both music and real estate. Notably, he was a quarterfinalist for the International Grammy Association's Music Educator Award in 2014.

Throughout his illustrious career, Professor Henderson has consistently pursued his educational objective – to establish a permanent academic home for African American Music within Higher Education. His dedication to this cause, coupled with his musical and academic accomplishments, reflects a lifelong commitment to excellence and community impact.

Residing in Stockton, California, Professor Henderson is not only a visionary educator but also a loving husband to Cecile Henderson and a proud father of three daughters – Carlena, Celisse, and Charde.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Silvester's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Remaining flexible and decreasing my perspectives in order to strongly consider the voice of others.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I started my leadership journey as a child working in various churches as a Pianist/Choral Director. I started working at a mission that paid me $25.00 Per Sunday to conduct a childrens choir. I was 12 Years old. I continued to develop until I reached my full potential as a internationally noted academic, leader, administrator, real estate owner, businessman, state representative, academic politician, community advocate, faith based artistic leader, performing musician/artist, social media content creator, and choral conductor.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I check my calendar throughout the entire day. I use the Alexa App to help me remember my daily and weekly obligations.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I was recently reminded that a real leader must learn to exercise forgiveness even when charges are brought against you falsely. This has been a difficult journey. The goal is not to have Counterfeit Faith and Leadership. Within the last 10 years and I truly been reminded that God is our only source of real love and that all other love is secondary. God wants all persons to enjoy abundance, peace and true happiness.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Bible. Additionally, I am deeply inspired by the story of Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King change the nations with his belief in humanity and love. Please watch the video as follows:

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Make them Hear You!

First of all, Teach First!

· Learn the impact and benefit of instruction & excellence.

· Develop knowledge regarding Instructional Pedagogy.

· Learn Technology!

· My strong advice is to be different!

· Stop listening to the status quo. You are who you listen to!

· Develop great skills in Professional Management and Cultural Support!

· Demonstrate Fiscal Management Skills.

· Develop Skills in Fund Raising!

· Treat All Staff Equally!

· Do not support Academy Discrimination!

· Study Great Faith Based Leaders. Higher Education is like a Church minus Theology!

· Seek to serve, not to be served.

· Set Clear Standards.

· Stay Innovative and Creative.

· Love Faculty, Staff and Students.

· Get involved in your community!

· Know your High School Leaders, Media and Business Professionals.


· Research and read about the institution of Higher Education!

Unfortunately, many academic professionals support wrong and corrupt internal policies and practices. The lesson of life is that “Wrong” always reverses back! Making an impact in life is about seeking and compelling change. Do right and God will do the Rest!

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

The life and struggle of Dr. Martin Luther King!

bottom of page