Nontombi Naomi Tutu is the third child of Archbishop Desmond and Nomalizo Leah Tutu. Born in South Africa, she has lived in Lesotho, the United Kingdom and the United States. She was educated in Swaziland, the U.S. and England, and has divided her adult life between South Africa and the U.S. The challenges of growing up Black and female in apartheid South Africa has led Nontombi Naomi Tutu to her present life as an activist for human rights. Her professional experience ranges from being a development consultant in West Africa, to being a program coordinator for programs on Race and Gender and Gender-based Violence in Education at the African Gender Institute, University of Cape Town. She has taught at the University of Hartford, University of Connecticut, and Brevard College in North Carolina. She also served as program coordinator for the historic Race Relations Institute at Fisk University. Ms. Tutu started her public speaking as a college student at Berea College in Kentucky in the 1970's when she was invited to speak at churches, community groups and colleges and universities about her experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa. She has since become a sought-after speaker in multiple settings.
Aida Hurtado is Professor and Luis Leal Endowed Chair of the Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hurtado works on gender equity issues. She has made major contributions to national and international scholarship on issues of gender and race. In 2007, she received the Distinguished Contributions to Gender Equity in Education Research Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA), recognizing distinguished research, professional practice, and activities that advance public understanding of gender and/or sexuality throughout the educational community. She was a speaker at the 2018 Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
Shanna Jackson is the President of Nashville State Community College. Prior to her appointment, Dr. Jackson served as the Associate Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Williamson Campus for Columbia State Community College. She began her career in manufacturing working for the Pillsbury Company. She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Societas Docta, Inc., and Women in Higher Education in Tennessee, where she once served as President and continues to serve on its Executive Board.
Laurel Vermillion is the President of Sitting Bull College. She is a recognized member of the Hunkpapa-Lakota peoples of the Standing Rock Reservation. She is an active board member for numerous organizations including the North Dakota Association of Tribal Colleges, the American Indian College Fund, and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. Dr. Vermillion was an elementary school teacher for 14 years and Principal at the Marty Indian School before accepting a position in high education.
Meredith Woo is the President of Sweet Briar College. Formerly she was director of the Global Higher Education Program for the Open Society Foundations where her program supported more than 50 colleges and universities over the past 20 years, mostly in former Society bloc countries. An expert on international political economy and East Asian politics, Dr. Woo has written and edited seven books, and was the executive producer of an award-winning documentary film, “Koryo Saram: The Unreliable People.”
Joy Gaston Gayles is Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on the college student experience and how those experiences impact desired outcomes of undergraduate education, most notably for student athletes as well as women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. She is also interested in diversity, social justice, and equity issues. In 2014 ACPA recognized Dr. Gayles as a Diamond Honoree for her contributions to higher education and student affairs, and in 2018 she received the Zenobia L. Hikes Woman of Color in the Academy Award.
Michelle Boyd is an academic writing coach and a former tenured Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). Since earning tenure at UIC, Dr. Boyd has focused her research and service on supporting scholars' writing process and productivity. In 2012 she cofounded and began coaching UIC's "WriteOut! Dissertation Writing Retreat." She specializes in helping high-anxiety writers who cannot find the time, motivation, or courage to begin or sustain their work. Michelle is currently at work on a book entitled "Becoming the Writer You Already Are: How Academics Can Discover their Writing Process."