On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, the Graduate School of Education and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences hosted the 2016 Billie Grace Goodrich Distinguished Lecture. The event took place at the Holiday Inn, World’s Fair Park.
Guest speaker for this year’s event was Johnnetta Cole. One of the most powerful and well-regarded African American women in the country, Cole has a way with making history. She was the first African American woman president of Spelman College, the first woman ever elected to the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises, and the first African American to serve as chair of the board of United Way of America. In over 40 years in education, she has also served two US presidents in leadership roles.
Cole currently serves as the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Since the mid-1980s, she has worked with a number of Smithsonian programs. She currently serves on the Scholarly Advisory Board for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. As a scholar, author, and activist for social and economic justice, Cole has spearheaded breakthrough thinking about diversity, leadership for social and economic justice, and women’s issues.
An inspiring force, Cole rallies everyone to embrace diversity as not only a moral and social value, but as a compelling case for business. She encourages audiences to move beyond the status quo to fully take advantage of the innovative and profitable ideas that stem from a more diverse workforce, membership, and student body. As she notes, “How much better our world would be if each of us respected difference until difference doesn’t make any more difference?”