Type: Public event

Masterclass in Activism with Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Date & Time

Oct 6, 2021, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT

Location

This is a Virtual Event.

This Masterclass in Activism brings together in conversation Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes, director of the Center for Racial Justice. Through the Masterclass in Activism, the Center for Racial Justice hosts noted activists and thought leaders who have made significant marks on the policy landscape.

From the speaker's bio

Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a noted educator, author, speaker and consultant on inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in corporations, educational institutions, museums and other workplaces. After receiving a Ph.D. in anthropology, Dr. Cole held teaching positions in anthropology, women’s studies, and African American studies at several colleges and universities. She served as President of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States, Spelman College and Bennett College, a distinction she alone holds.  She also served as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, as a Principal Consultant at Cook Ross, and as a Senior Consulting Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Dr. Cole is currently the Chair and Seventh President of the National Council of Negro Women, an advocacy organization for women’s rights and civil rights.  She serves as Special Counsel on Strategic Initiatives at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and a member of the board of the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation. She is also the dean of the Herndon Board Institute. Johnnetta Betsch Cole has authored, co-authored and edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences. Her latest publication is Racism In American Public Life: A Call To Action.  Dr. Cole has received numerous awards, and is the recipient of 70 honorary degrees.  Throughout her career and in her published work, speeches, and community service, Johnnetta Betsch Cole consistently addresses issues of race, gender, and all other systems of inequality.

Full bio

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, is a distinguished educator and museum professional; noted author and speaker on issues of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion; and a committed advocate for social justice.  She currently serves as the Chair and Seventh President of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), an advocacy organization with more than 2 million members, working in the interest of women’s rights and civil rights.

Dr. Cole rose to national prominence as the first African American woman President of Spelman College and, later, as President of Bennett College, making her the only person to serve as president of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States.  Over the course of her career, she has held teaching and administrative positions in anthropology, women’s studies, and African American studies at several major colleges and universities.

After retiring from academia, Dr. Cole served as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art for eight years.  Upon her retirement from the Smithsonian she received the title of Director Emerita. 

Following her years at the Smithsonian, Dr. Cole was a Principle Consultant with Cook Ross, a management consulting firm, where she co-led a Chief Diversity Officer Forum and worked with various companies and institutions to transform the culture in their workplaces to be more diverse and inclusive.  She was a Senior Consulting Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where she worked on initiatives on inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility in art museums and higher education. 

Dr. Cole has a long history of community service.  She was the first African American to serve as the Chair of the Board of United Way of America.  Recently she was on the board of Martha’s Table, a nonprofit that supports children, families and communities in Washington, D. C. through quality education, healthy food and community support.  She has also held leadership positions in a number of professional organizations, including the Association of Art Museums Directors where she served as the president, and she co-led the American Alliance of Museum’s Working Group on diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion. She currently serves as Special Counsel on Strategic Initiatives at the Baltimore Museum of Art, she is a member of the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation and she is the dean of the Herndon Board Institute. 

Dr. Cole has served on the corporate boards of Home Depot, Merck, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Nation’s Bank South.  She was the first woman appointed to the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises and the first Black woman appointed to Merck’s Board.  She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Anthropological Association, and a member of the Association of Black Anthropologists.  She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and The Links, Inc. And she is a Life Member of The NAACP. 

Johnnetta Betsch Cole has authored, co-authored and edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences.  She is the recipient of numerous awards and has received 70 honorary degrees. 

Dr. Cole began her higher education in an early entrance program at Fisk University, and completed her undergraduate studies at Oberlin College.  She earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in anthropology with a specialization in African Studies from Northwestern University.  In her published work, speeches, and community service she addresses racism, sexism, and other systems of inequality. 

Dr. Cole is married to James D. Staton, Jr.  She is the mother of three sons and one stepson.  She has three grandchildren and she is a mentor to many young women and men. 

Have any questions?

Headshot of Dominique Adams-Santos

Dominique Adams-Santos

Associate Director, Center for Racial Justice; Special Assistant to the Associate Dean, Ford School; Anti-Racism Collaborative Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Institutional Diversity

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