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About Us: Presidential Search

Presidential Search

Presidential Search Committee

Celeste Watkins-Hayes Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Ph.D, C'96

Chair, Presidential Search Committee

Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes is an associate professor of sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University. She is a nationally recognized scholar and expert on urban poverty, social policy, HIV/AIDS, nonprofit and government organizations focusing on low-income families, race, class, and gender. Her first book, The New Welfare Bureaucrats: Entanglements of Race, Class, and Policy Reform (University of Chicago Press, 2009), was a finalist for the 2009 C. Wright Mills Book Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the 2011 Max Weber Book Award from the American Sociological Association. A former student trustee, Watkins-Hayes is one of the vice chairs of the Spelman College Board of Trustees. She serves as co-chair of the board’s academic affairs committee and is a member of the development and human resources committees. Watkins-Hayes is also a member of the advisory board of the Spelman College Women’s Research and Resource Center (WRRC), and is the founder of the “10 at 10 Campaign” that secured more than a half a million dollars from alumnae donors for the WRRC endowment campaign.

Theodore AronsonTheodore Aronson


Ted Aronson is founder of Aronson+Johnson+Ortiz, an institutional investment adviser with $20 billion under management. Aronson joined the investment firm Drexel Burnham Lambert in 1974 while still a graduate student and helped found its Quantitative Equities Group, which provided innovative, practical applications of modern portfolio theory and quantitative portfolio management. Aronson is a frequent speaker on Wall Street issues, especially innovations in trading methods to minimize transaction costs. He has also served as a lecturer in finance at the University of Pennsylvania and The Wharton School of Business. Aronson joined the Spelman College Board of Trustees in 2004 and currently serves as chair of the finance and budget and investment committees. He is also a member of the audit committee. Aronson serves on the board of directors of WXPN-FM, University of Pennsylvania's radio station, and LINC (Leveraged Investment in Creativity).

Janine BrownJanine Brown


Janine Brown is the partner-in-charge of Alston & Bird LLP’s Atlanta office, where she concentrates her practice on technology, renewable energy, manufacturing and telecommunications. She has been involved in a variety of domestic and international transactions, including capital raising transactions, corporate governance matters, mergers and acquisitions, information technology, and joint ventures/strategic alliances. Listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers magazines, she is a frequent lecturer on matters related to technology mergers and acquisitions. Brown is chair of Spelman’s board affairs committee and is a member of the buildings and grounds committee. She also serves on the board of directors of the Georgia Justice Project, Piedmont Healthcare, and the Atlanta Symphony.  Additionally, she is a member of the Duke Law School Board of Visitors and serves on her firm’s diversity committee.

John BrownJohn Brown

Spelman College Registrar

John A. Brown was appointed as Spelman’s registrar in August 2013. In this role, Brown is the official custodian of all academic records and provides strategic oversight for effective student registration and enrollment. Prior to joining Spelman, he served as the university registrar for Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. He has also worked in public relations at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and served as the school's registrar.  His career in higher education began at his alma mater Hampton University where he served as assistant dean of admissions as well as assistant registrar.  Brown also served as a consultant for SunGard Higher Education, a leading provider of enterprise data management systems and solutions in higher education.

Mary Lynne DiggsMary Lynne Diggs, C’77 

Alumna Trustee

Mary Lynne Diggs is the Head Start Collaboration Director for the State of South Carolina and a board member of the South Carolina First Steps School Readiness Commission. A third-generation Spelman College graduate, she has led regional volunteer efforts in support of student recruitment and alumnae programs. Diggs is a past president of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (NAASC), and she also served as chair of the NAASC development committee and president of the Columbia, South Carolina chapter. She received the NAASC Hall of Fame Award in 1997 and a Spelman College Alumnae Achievement Award in 2007. Diggs is a former alumnae representative to the Spelman College Board of Trustees and currently holds the position of alumna trustee serving on both the audit and finance and budget committees.

Kaye Foster-CheekKaye Foster


Kaye Foster is an adviser, philanthropist, and former senior vice president for global human resources at Onyx Pharmaceuticals. She works with CEOs, leaders, and teams to help ensure an organization's long-term success by defining the values behind its culture, then incorporating them in systems and practices to reinforce individual and collective behaviors. Previously, she was chief human resources officer and an executive committee member at Johnson & Johnson. Earlier in her career, she was a human resources business partner at Pfizer Inc., and led the integration of both the Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia mergers for multiple countries. She also sits on the board of Girls for Change, a national organization that empowers girls from low-income neighborhoods to develop and lead social change initiatives in their communities. She joined the Spelman College Board of Trustees in 2014 and is a member of the audit and human resources committees.

Mya HavardMya Havard, C’2017

Student Trustee

Mya Havard is a sophomore mathematics major/computer science minor at Spelman College. She is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta First-Year Honors Society, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Ethel Waddell Githii Honors Program. While at Spelman, she has been involved with several organizations including Student Ambassadors, Spelmanites and Tiaras, and the Louis Strokes Alliance Minority Program. She has also worked as a research assistant in the political science department at Spelman and as a research intern at Delaware State University. In 2014, after a rigorous selection process, Havard was appointed to the Spelman College Board of Trustees to serve as student trustee -- a voting position with a three-year term. She serves on the board’s student affairs and development committees.

Virginia HepnerVirginia Hepner

President & CEO, Woodruff Arts Center

Virginia Hepner is the president and chief executive officer of the Woodruff Arts Center. A former corporate banker with Wachovia, she had a 25-year career with the firm and maintained leadership roles as executive vice president, head of U.S. Corporate Finance, and manager of the Foreign Exchange and Derivatives Trading Group. Subsequently, she served in interim director positions for a variety of nonprofit organizations including The Atlanta Ballet, Brand Atlanta Inc., and Young Audiences at the Woodruff Arts Center. Hepner is currently a director of State Bank & Trust Company and State Bank Financial Corp., and she serves on the boards of The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, The Paideia School and Endowment Boards, and the Penn Institute for Urban Research. She is also a member of the Service Advisory Board for Mayor Kasim Reed, The Emory University Board of Visitors, and the International Women’s Forum.

Cynthia JacksonCynthia Jackson, C’81


Cynthia Jackson is a senior management consultant in the information technology sector and former president of B2B Workforce Technologies, a Randstad Company.  As president of B2B, Jackson managed the sales efforts for the organization’s public sector practice. Throughout her career with the company, she held multiple roles including deputy COO, COO and vice president of operations.  Jackson also managed B2B’s diversity efforts by creating a mentor-protégé program and partnerships with several diversity firms.  Prior to working for B2B, Jackson was director of the international support/technical solutions group for Synavant, a software company where she managed projects and teams across the globe including, but not limited to, Japan, Austria, Italy, Australia and Brazil.   A 1981 graduate of Spelman College and president of her senior class, Jackson is a member of the reunion planning committee and the recipient of a 2006 Spelman College Alumnae Achievement Award.  She serves on the academic affairs, development and human resources committees of the Spelman College Board of Trustees.

Mark LeeMark Lee, Ph.D. 

Professor and Chair, Spelman College Department of Biology

Dr. Mark Lee is chair of the biology department at Spelman and is committed to STEM education for underrepresented groups, especially women scientists. After earning a degree in chemistry from Morris Brown College, Lee attended Clark Atlanta University to complete his Ph.D. in biochemistry while conducting research at Morehouse School of Medicine. He continued his career as a scientist at Emory University School of Medicine in the Winship Cancer Center (1996-1999) before joining the research faculty in the pathology and laboratory medicine department (1999-2002) where his basic science research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. Lee joined the Spelman biology department in 2002, and he has served as chair since 2009. In the science education community at large, Lee has collaborated with the Emory Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) Program, Albany State University, Michigan State University, Atlanta Public Schools, the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), New York University Faculty Resource Network, Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network, Stanford Asilomar Conference for Online Education, and the National Academies Summer Institutes for Science Education. His science education research is currently funded by the National Science Foundation, and he is a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Soraya MekertaSoraya Mekerta, Ph.D.

Professor and Director, Spelman College African Diaspora and the World Program, and Immediate Past President, Faculty Council

Dr. Soraya Mekerta is director of the African Diaspora and the World Program at Spelman College, associate professor of French and Francophone Studies in the Department of World Languages and Literature, and immediate past president of the Faculty Council (2011-2013). Mekerta, who began teaching at Spelman in 1992, received the College’s Distinguished Service Award in 2014 and the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award in 2009. Her impact as a global thinker and scholar is reflected in her numerous scholarly presentations, invitations and publications.  As immediate past president of the African Literature Association, Mekerta's scholarly works focus on French and Francophone literature and culture, North Africa, North African literature in French, the North-African community in France, the Francophone Caribbean, the African Diaspora in France and Canada, the greater Arab world and Arab Diaspora, and the Middle East.  Her most recent creative and scholarly article, “Poetic Justice Transnational Considerations on War Injustice Terrorism and Liberation Toward and Ethically Grounded Islamic Feminism,” has been accepted for publication in Transnational Transgressions African Women Struggles and Social Transformations in Global Perspective.

Gwendolyn Adams NortonGwendolyn Adams Norton


Gwendolyn Adams Norton formerly served as a senior vice president and business banking executive for Wachovia Bank where she was responsible for tri-state business, banking operations and banking strategy.  Prior to her work at Wachovia, Norton was chief operating officer and vice president for Banco Popular of Puerto Rico and commissioner of finance for the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Norton is a member of the board of trustees for The Visiting Nurse Service of New York and Aid to Artisans. She is also a member of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University and is on the advisory board to the dean of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. Norton serves on the Spelman College Board of Trustees, is a member of the human resources committee, and chairs the building and grounds committee.

Helen Smith PriceHelen Smith Price, C’79

Executive Director, The Coca-Cola Foundation

Helen Smith Price is an assistant vice president and group director of global community connections for The Coca-Cola Co. She also serves as the executive director of The Coca-Cola Foundation where she manages the day-to-day operations and grant-making activities for the organization. Responsible for overseeing the management of an $80 million annual budget and up to $300 million in foundation assets, Price leads the team responsible for global philanthropy and traditional community affairs in Coca-Cola's hometown markets. Prior to joining The Coca-Cola Co. in 1993, Price worked for nine years with BellSouth Corp. in various financial roles. She serves on the boards of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals, the Corporate Contributions Council of The Conference Board, Alliance Theatre, The Villages at Carver Family YMCA, and Cascade Community Services Inc. A 1979 graduate of Spelman College, Price has served on the reunion planning committee, the 125th anniversary host committee, and as a mentor in the College’s Coca-Cola Intergenerational Leadership Mentoring Program.

Ronda StrykerRonda Stryker


Ronda Stryker has served on the board of directors of the Stryker Corp., a medical device and equipment manufacturing firm, for nearly 30 years.  She is vice chair of Greenleaf Trust and is a trustee at Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.  Stryker’s philanthropic interests are focused on the empowerment of women and support of nontraditional student enhancement programs at colleges and universities. As co-chair of the Women’s Education Coalition, an organization that supports women who return to school as nontraditional students, Stryker was instrumental in helping to secure funding to form the organization.  Recently honored with the YWCA Lifetime Woman of Achievement Award, her charitable gifts are focused on the elimination of racism, sexism and homophobia. Stryker is one of the vice chairs of the Spelman College Board of Trustees and chairs the development committee. She is also a member of the finance and budget committee.

Romie TribbleRomie Tribble, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair of the Spelman College Department of Economics and President, Faculty Council

Dr. Romie Tribble is chair and professor of the economics department at Spelman College. A member of the Spelman community since 1984, he was associate provost of liberal arts and education from 1997-2002. In 2002, he served as vice president of academic affairs at Johnson C. Smith University, a private liberal arts university in Charlotte, North Carolina, before returning to Spelman College. In 2013, he was elected president of the College’s faculty council and is co-director of the 2015 CIEE-Spelman Intercultural Engagement Program to Lisbon, Portugal. The first African American to earn a doctorate in economics from Colorado State University, Tribble’s ongoing research interests are in international economics, economic development and the economics of globalization.

Rosalind Brewer Rosalind Brewer, C’84

Ex-officio Member of the Presidential Search Committee and Chair of the Spelman College Board of Trustees

Rosalind Brewer is president and CEO of Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has revenues of $56 billion and more than 600 locations nationwide. Brewer joined Sam’s Club in February 2012, bringing a wealth of talent to the members-only warehouse operating segment that serves the needs of individual and small-business members. Brewer joined Wal-Mart in 2006 as regional vice president responsible for overseeing operations in Georgia. She became division president of the Southeast and later president of Wal-Mart East. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Brewer worked for 22 years at Kimberly-Clark Corp. where she started as a scientist and eventually becoming president of the Global Nonwovens Sector in 2004. A savvy business strategist and corporate leader, Brewer sits on the board of Lockheed Martin Corp. and is the recipient of the Spelman College Legacy of Leadership award. In 2013, she was named one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” by Forbes; and in 2010 and 2011, Fortune magazine named her one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” A 1984 graduate of Spelman, Brewer has served on the reunion planning committee and worked with student recruitment and mentoring initiatives.

Kimberly DavisKimberly Davis, C’81

Ex-officio Member of the Presidential Search Committee and Secretary of the Spelman College Board of Trustees

Kimberly Davis is a managing director at Teneo Strategy where she heads the firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility practice. Davis joined Teneo from JPMorgan Chase where she was most recently managing director of global philanthropy, president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and a member of the firm’s executive committee. Her responsibilities included overseeing JPMorgan’s approximately $218 million in annual giving, employee volunteerism, civic engagement, and strategic corporate marketing programs. Co-founder of Springboard -- Partners in Cross-Cultural Leadership, a leadership education and consulting company committed to building highly diverse teams, Davis was active in developing, designing and implementing the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement at Spelman which focuses on unique leadership issues for women of color. In recognition of her continued support, the center’s Leaders on Leadership Speaker Series is named in her honor. Davis is a member of the board of directors for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center and the Executive Leadership Council. She is also a trustee of the Kenan Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Davis chairs the human resources committee for the Spelman Board of Trustees and serves as a member of the student affairs committee. A 1981 graduate of Spelman College and a recipient of the Spelman College Alumnae Achievement Award in 2005, Davis has led several volunteer efforts in support of alumnae programs and fundraising initiatives.