Leading the Way: Women Making a Difference, Part II

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by The Diverse Staff

This second article in a series of three featuring profiles of high achieving  women in higher education represents what Diverse editors know to be true—when it comes to leadership, women are now taking on long-overdue roles. Diverse considers these women representative of the pioneering professionals found throughout the academy. Their ranks will continue to grow and spread. Diverse anticipates that these women will provide encouragement to their colleagues as well as those who will follow in their esteemed footsteps. 

Kimberly Ford

For Kimberly Ford, work in the NCAA has been about giving back. Just 12 years ago, a yearlong NCAA internship aimed at opening doors for women and minorities interested in professional jobs in sports administration helped catapult Ford to a place at the top of her field. As the NCAA’s director of minority inclusion since 2010, Ford has been on a mission to create a culture of inclusion and equity for student-athletes, coaches, and administrators from diverse backgrounds. Ford’s wish: “To see in my lifetime that the work I am doing now is no longer needed.” Ford earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in sports management from Baylor University. (see photo)

Lenora M. Green

At the end of the day, when new doors open to make college access and opportunity possible, especially for underrepresented and underserved students, Lenora M. Green feels “fortunate and blessed” that her work at the Educational Testing Service (ETS) is helping to turn their dreams of higher education into reality. Today, Green, who began her career at ETS in Princeton, N.J., nearly 30 years ago, is living her dream and pursuing her passion. As ETS’s director of client relations, Green partners with national organizations and communities that represent underserved populations. And through the Social Investment Fund, ETS’s philanthropic arm, Green focuses on improving educational opportunities for African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander students and organizations. Says Green: “When deserving students don’t have someone early on in their lives to let them know what possibilities higher education holds, it is a loss for them and for society.” Green holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish language and literature from Rutgers University. (see photo)

Hilda Hutcherson

Poor Black girls from Tuskegee, Ala., don’t grow up to become physicians is what some teachers and counselors told Dr. Hilda Hutcherson when she shared her childhood dream. Today, Hutcherson is not only a clinical professor but dean of diversity and minority affairs at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. The practicing ob-gyn is credited with boosting lagging minority enrollment at the college from 8 percent in 2002 to more than 20 percent over a three-year period. Getting there, she says, “took pounding the pavement, going to countless recruitment fairs, and reaching out to high school students.” Hutcherson also has made “empowering women to take better care of themselves and their daughters” her mission beyond the classroom. Hutcherson earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a medical degree from Harvard Medical School. (see photo)

Shirley Ann Jackson

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson is the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological university in the United States. Describing her as “a national treasure,” the National Science Board selected Jackson as its 2007 recipient of the prestigious Vannevar Bush Award for “a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education, and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy.” Time magazine in 2005 hailed her as “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science,” having held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research, and academe. Jackson also was the recipient of a 2009 John Hope Franklin Award, presented by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. In 2009, President Obama appointed Jackson to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Jackson holds a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in theoretical elementary particle physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (see photo)

Renu Khator

Telling the story of Dr. Renu Khator’s noted place in American higher education is about diversity and begins with the numbers. Khator, a scholar in the field of global environmental policy, is the eighth chancellor of the University of Houston System and the 13th president of the University of Houston, dual titles she’s held since January 2008. She is the first foreign-born president of the university and the second woman to hold the position. Khator was born in Uttar Pradesh, India, and came to the United States in 1973 for graduate school. Today, she is the first Indian American to lead a major research university in the United States and is the second Indian American to lead an accredited university in the country. Khator earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Kanpur and a master’s and Ph.D. in political science from Purdue University. (see photo)

Valarie Greene King

When the University of Central Florida (UCF) struggled to diversify its predominantly White student and faculty demographics, it turned to Dr. Valarie Greene King, an Army-trained clinical psychologist, to help drive the diversity agenda. That was 20 years ago and she’s never looked back. King, who was a UCF counselor, is the founding director of the university’s Office of Diversity Initiatives. Having launched UCF diversity programs and initiatives that span the campus and touch the community, King says “information and communication are essential elements of any viable diversity process.” King earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Spelman College, a master’s in counselor education from North Carolina Central University, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from American University. (see photo)

Cora B. Marrett

Before Dr. Cora B. Marrett was appointed deputy director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2011, she already was leading the organization’s mission to achieve excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Even today, Marrett keeps students—the future of STEM—in mind, urging them to think globally and “look beyond the borders of this nation for opportunities and challenges.” Marrett also shares with them the key to success: “Success demands perseverance. How many record books report on those who started but did not complete the race?” Marrett holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, all in sociology. (see photo)

Cynthia (Cyndi) Nance

Nearly a century after the University of Arkansas admitted its first African-American law student in 1922, the School of Law appointed Cynthia (Cyndi) Nance dean from 2006 through 2011, a position that earned her the distinction of being the first African-American and first woman in the position. But Nance, a self-professed Lutheran, says she “wants to be known as a lawyer of faith.” Nance, an internationally recognized expert in labor law, urges students and others in the profession to “approach your life in the law with the heart of a servant.” She currently serves as Nathan G. Gordon Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Nance earned a bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University and a master’s in finance and law degree from the University of Iowa. (see photo)

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