Joel Lovelace

Joel Lovelace

Education and employment:

After graduating with high honors from LLCC with his Associate in Arts, Joel went on and earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science and his Master of Public Affairs from SIU-C.

I currently serve in the career Senior Executive Service (SES) as the chief administrative officer in the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). EBSA is responsible for enforcing the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974. The primary mission of EBSA is to protect the pension, health and other welfare benefits of more than 150 million participants and beneficiaries in private sector employee benefit plans. As director, I provide advice and leadership in the development and implementation of agency policy, strategic planning and evaluation, financial management, budgeting, human resources and administrative programs designed to assure effective management of agency operations and resources. I oversee the formulation of the agency’s $180 million budget. My duties entail overseeing a 1000-person, nationwide organization responsible for protecting the assets of approximately $8 trillion in over 2.5 million private sector pension and health plans.

Upon graduation from college, my combined LLCC/SIU experience provided me the foundation to compete and become a Presidential Management Intern (PMI) and upon arriving in our in our nation’s capital in 1989, I began serving in a series of inter- and intra-agency rotational assignments with the Department of Labor (DOL). In 1977, President Jimmy Carter established the PMI program to attract to federal service individuals with exceptional management potential and to strengthen the government’s management ranks. Upon completion of the PMI program, I joined the Office of Employee and Labor-Management Relations at DOL rising to the position of supervisory employee and labor-management relations specialist responsible for administering the department’s two nationwide collective bargaining agreements covering 12,000 employees. In that capacity, I also represented DOL on the negotiating team which bargained one of the early, government-wide telecommuting programs in the federal government.

How has LLCC impacted your life? 

Upon entering LLCC in the summer of 1982, it was incomprehensible to me that LLCC would play such a vital role in my life. LLCC established an academic rigor (and credentials) that would serve me my entire professional career. There was no bigger bang for the buck ($16 a credit hour) in Illinois at that time. I am a devoted community college advocate and to this day believe it provides exceptional academic opportunities for a bargain basement price (even in today’s inflated prices, community colleges remain a champion of the affordable without sacrificing quality). I believe LLCC today provides the same opportunity to students as it did when I began my academic career 34 years ago.

What is your greatest accomplishment? 

In November 2012, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis appointed me to the career Senior Executive Service (SES), the highest honor a federal civil servant can achieve.  As the keystone of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the SES was established to “…ensure that the executive management of the government of the United States is responsive to the needs, policies, and goals of the nation and otherwise is of the highest quality.” These leaders possess well-honed executive skills and share a broad perspective on government and a public service commitment that is grounded in the U.S. Constitution.

Members of the SES serve in the key positions just below the top presidential appointees. SES members are the major link between these appointees and the rest of the federal workforce.

Was there an LLCC professor, advisors, staff member or fellow student who made an impression on you or helped you? 

Several LLCC professors were instrumental in my academic achievement and career choices. Among them include members of the social sciences program such as Philip Rivera, Dr. John Squibb, Dr. John Roberts and John Whitney. Each played a significant role and interacted with me on a daily basis throughout my two-year degree mentoring, challenging and offering a broad array of career opportunities. As a member of the 1982-1984 LLCC baseball teams, Coach Claude Kracik also played a role in team building and leadership that have served me throughout my career.

Has Lincoln Land been a part of your family tradition? 

Please list those family members who have also attending LLCC. My father, James Kenneth Lovelace Jr. was a charter member of LLCC when it existed in temporary buildings in the late 1960s; two brothers attended — Jay (AAS criminal justice, 1984) and James E. (part-time); and a niece Tiffany Lovelace (LPN) and sister-in-law Terry Lovelace (radiology).

What did you like about LLCC or what is your favorite LLCC memory? 

In my final semester of attendance (spring 1984), LLCC honored me with an academic, tuition waiver. It was a welcomed financial relief. Building upon that honor, I never paid tuition again for the remainder of my college career (through graduate school). The foundation and challenge LLCC provided allowed me to compete at the highest levels at a leading four-year research institution, SIU-C, earning additional tuition waivers for academic excellence. At the graduate school level, I was designated an MPA fellow that offered a full tuition scholarship and stipend for full-time academic work. None of this was possible had I not taken that faithful leap to LLCC so long ago. I thank LLCC for having faith in me and being able to serve as a member of America’s workforce.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

I am married to Elizabeth “Beth” Arthur, the first elected female County Sheriff in Virginia’s 400 year history. She also served as the first female president of the Virginia Sheriff’s Association.  We are the proud parents of James Kenneth IV, an LSU architecture student and Stephen Fontaine, a WVU sports management sophomore.


LLCC Student Senate – 1983-84
LLCC Honor Student – Social Sciences (1984)
LLCC Merit Award (tuition waiver-spring 1984)
LLCC two-year award – Baseball
LLCC Dean’s List all four semesters
Secretary of Labor Exceptional Achievement Awards (9)
President, IPMA Washington D.C. Chapter, 1994-95
President, SIU-C Alumni, Washington, D.C. Chapter (1990-1996)
Coach, Arlington Babe Ruth Baseball, 1999-2007
SIU Masters of Public Administration Advisory Board
Chairman of Fund Raising 2002-2007
Chairman of the Board 2007-2010
SIU MPA Fellow