Commencement Speaker Announced
Johnnetta Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, will speak at Northern’s Dec. 17 commencement ceremony. She will also receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
Cole was appointed to her current position in 2009, but has worked with a number of Smithsonian programs since the mid-1980s. She also serves on the scholarly advisory board for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will be constructed on the National Mall by 2015.
As a longtime educator and humanitarian, Cole’s published works, speeches and community service consistently address issues of inequality. She is president emeritus of Bennett College for Women and Spelman College. She is also professor emeritus of Emory University, from which she retired as presidential distinguished professor of anthropology, women’s studies and African American studies.
Cole earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in anthropology from Northwestern University. From 2004 to 2006, she was chair of the board of United Way of America. She has also served on the corporate boards of Home Depot, Merck and Nation’s Bank South. She was the first woman to serve on the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises. Cole currently chairs the board of the National Visionary Leadership Project, is a board member of TransAfrica Forum and The Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute, and serves on the Advisory Committee of America’s Promise.