The board of trustees of Whittier College in California, has chosen Linda Oubré as the educational institution’s fifteenth president. When she takes office on July 1, Dr. Oubré will be the first African American and the first person of color to serve as president of Whittier College.
Whittier College, located east of Los Angeles, enrolls about 1,600 undergraduate students and approximately 450 graduate students, according to the latest statistics supplied to the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 4 percent of the undergraduate student body. The college’s most famous graduate is Richard M. Nixon.
For the past six years, Dr. Oubré has served as dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University. Earlier, Dr. Oubré was executive director of corporate relations and business development, and chief diversity officer for the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis.
Dr. Oubré holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.
Senator-elect Doug Jones, the Democrat from Alabama who beat Republican Roy Moore in last month’s special Senate election, has tapped former Department of Transportation staffer Dana Gresham as his chief of staff, making him the only African-American chief of staff for a Senate Democrat.
“I would like to welcome Alabama native & former Asst. Secretary for Governmental Affairs at @USDOT Dana Gresham, who will be joining our team as Chief of Staff,” Jones tweeted Tuesday.
Prior to working at the Department of Transportation under President Barack Obama, Gresham worked for Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., and Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala. The appointment follows pressure from several organizations representing various communities of color that asked Jones last month to hire at least one minority to a senior-level position.
Two Republican senators, though, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Jerry Moran of Kansas, reportedly have black chiefs of staff.
Seventeen organizations, including the NAACP, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the National Urban League, wrote a letter to Jones in December suggesting he hire a person of color in light of the lack of diversity among Senate staff. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies organized the effort and drafted the letter.
“As a new Member of the U.S. Senate, you have an opportunity to show your constituents that not only do their voices matter, but that their experiences and skills are vital to the work that you do to represent them,” the groups wrote in the Dec. 19 letter to Jones. “Ensuring racial diversity among your staff would enhance the deliberation, innovation, legitimacy, and outcomes of your office and of the Senate as a whole. Hiring at least one person of color to your senior staff in Washington would speak loudly, and we ask that you do so among the qualified applicants that you will receive.”
News of Gresham’s hire was applauded across the Twittersphere.
“Great News! Birmingham’s own stand out Dana Gresham chosen to be Chief of Staff to Alabama’s Senator Doug Jones!” tweeted Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala. “Looking forward to working with them to move Alabama forward!! @GDouglasJones.”
Amanda Brown Lierman, political and organizing director for the Democratic National Committee tweeted, “Snaps for @GDouglasJones naming Dana Gresham as his Chief of Staff! #DougJones will be the ONLY #Senate #Democrat to have a black COS.”
And Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity tweeted, “Congratulations to Brother Dana Gresham [Mu Lambda ’97] for being appointed as Chief of Staff for Alabama Senator-elect, Doug Jones, who will be the only member of the Democratic caucus to have a Black/African-American chief of staff.”
Hoda Kotb was named co-anchor of the first two hours of NBC’s venerable “Today” morning show, launching the program into a new era after the ouster of longtime co-host Matt Lauer for inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Kotb will sit alongside Savannah Guthrie, making the NBC program at present the only national A.M. program officially anchored solely by a female team. And she will continue to co-host the 10 a.m. hour of “Today” opposite Kathie Lee Gifford, a role she has held since 2007, when she co-anchored the hour with Ann Curry and Natalie Morales. Gifford, long known for co-hosting the syndicated “Live” with Regis Philbin, joined her at “Today” in 2008, and the two have led an unorthodox morning hour that involves drinking wine, interviewing celebrities and finishing each other’s sentences. The program has proven popular enough that NBC for a time offered repeats of it during overnight hours.
Kotb took up her new duties under difficult circumstances. Lauer was fired by NBC News, part of a wave of prominent media personalities who have been accused of sexual harassment. But during her time alongside Guthrie, the show’s ratings have surged. “Today” has won more viewers overall and among the 25-to-54 crowd than “GMA” or CBS’s “CBS This Morning” for four weeks. Its lead over “GMA,” however, has slipped and it is not clear whether the NBC show can maintain its new dominance.
“Over the past several weeks, Hoda has seamlessly stepped into the co-anchor role alongside Savannah, and the two have quickly hit the ground running. They have an undeniable connection with each other and most importantly, with viewers, a hallmark of ‘Today,’ said Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News Group, in a statement Monday morning. “Hoda is, in a word, remarkable. She has the rare ability to share authentic and heartfelt moments in even the most difficult news circumstances. It’s a tribute to her wide range and her innate curiosity.”
Kotb is likely to continue doing what she has always done at “Today.” Whether trading lines with the outspoken Gifford or lending a hand during the show’s first two hours (Kotb has for months had a presence during that time), she tends to bring a sense of calm to the proceedings.
“This has to be the most popular decision NBC News have ever made and I’m so thrilled,” said Guthrie in the opening moments of Monday’s program.
NBC News makes Kotb’s new role official at an important time for the show. NBCUniversal in February will launch its usual mammoth coverage of the Olympics, an event that often lends “Today” a ratings boost.
Kotb has been with NBC News since 1998, when she joined “Dateline” as a correspondent. She had previously worked at various local stations in places such as New Orleans and Fort Myers, Florida. Kotb began her broadcast career with CBS News as a news assistant in Cairo, Egypt in 1986. She has reported on everything from war in Iraq to health issues.
But viewers have followed her personal life as well as her career achievements. They have watched as she detailed a battle with breast cancer in 2007 and they recently followed earlier this year when she adopted a daughter at age 52. They will no doubt continue to track the host in her new position.
NEW YORK – The National Hockey League announced today that Kim Davis has been named Executive Vice President, Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs. Ms. Davis will join the NHL on Dec. 4, and will be based in the League’s New York office, reporting to Commissioner Gary Bettman and collaborating across the League’s clubs and stakeholders.
Ms. Davis is a highly respected leader in the corporate and philanthropic community, and joins the NHL from leading CEO advisory firm Teneo. As a Senior Managing Director, she built and ran the firm’s Corporate Responsibility and Inclusive Leadership practice, advising CEOs and Fortune 500 companies daily.
Prior to Teneo, Ms. Davis enjoyed a 20-plus year career at JPMorgan Chase, where she most recently served as Managing Director of Global CSR, President of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Her responsibilities included leading and managing approximately $300 million in annual giving, employee and civic engagement, and strategic corporate marketing sponsorship programs.
“Kim’s professional experience uniquely qualifies her to ensure that our League is continuing to improve lives and strengthen and build vibrant communities through hockey as well as provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for anyone associated with our League,” said Commissioner Bettman. “We are thrilled to have Kim join the NHL family.”
“The impact of sports on community development can be powerful,” said Ms. Davis. “Sport can, and does, make a profound and positive impact on individuals, communities and has the opportunity to drive positive social change. Having had the privilege of advising the NHL on its CSR practices, I’ve experienced an organization that is truly committed to contributing positively to society and fostering inclusiveness. I’m looking forward to advancing the League’s mission and working with Commissioner Bettman and the executive leadership team to help drive the continued growth and success of the NHL.”
Ms. Davis’ passion for equity and leadership led her to build the first women of color affinity group at Chase Manhattan Bank, developing a mentoring program for senior women that became an industry best practice in investment banking, and later developing the initial corporate sponsorship model for Women Moving Millions.
Ms. Davis has been named to The Business Journal’s 100 Most Influential Women and Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. In 2012, she was profiled with Michelle Obama in Essence magazine’s “28 Most Influential Black Women in America.”
An EMS captain with 21 years on the job will become the first African-American woman in the Fire Department of New York to achieve the rank of deputy chief on Thursday.
Capt. Tonya Boyd, who joined the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services while in college as a way to make money, said she never dreamed her career would reach such heights. “I’m so excited and I am so blessed,” the EMS officer told the Daily News. “After hearing about the promotion, I couldn’t believe it. I feel like I’ve knocked down a door and opened it for a lot of EMTs just starting on this job,” said Boyd. “African-American women will see someone who looks like them as a deputy chief and they will know more is possible — their careers won’t top out at paramedic or even lieutenant,” said the captain of Station 39 in Brooklyn.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Boyd’s success was due to her efforts. “Tonya is not only helping to raise the bar for our ability to provide pre-hospital care, she’s also demonstrating to young women of all backgrounds the incredible rewarding career they can achieve in the FDNY,” Nigro said.
As a young woman growing up in Brooklyn, Boyd, who described herself as “fortysomething,” planned to follow her grandmother into nursing. But a need for cash while in nursing school sent her looking for work — and a cousin suggested she get an EMT license. Thanks to classes offered at Brooklyn College, Boyd passed the state exam. On Jan. 27, 1997, she became an official employee of the FDNY.
It was just after then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani merged the city’s cash-strapped 911 EMS system with the Fire Department — a joining that not everyone in the FDNY embraced.“We were very merger-oriented,” Boyd recalled. “We got through it.” She quickly set her sights on the next challenge — becoming a paramedic. “The FDNY offered a wonderful program that let us go to school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Boyd said. “I became a paramedic after about seven years.”
Boyd didn’t stop there, moving on to lieutenant and then captain.But the path from rank-and-file to officer isn’t as clear-cut in EMS as it is on the FDNY’s firefighting side. Firefighters take civil service promotional exams for officer ranks and move up in rank according to a scored hiring list. Only the very top brass are appointed at the discretion of FDNY leadership. In EMS, a civil service promotion exam is only given for lieutenant. Promotions above that rank are awarded by discretionary appointment. With roughly 4,000 employees, EMS is far more diverse in gender and race than the city’s firefighting ranks. Women EMTs and paramedics comprise roughly 35% of the non-officer workforce. Above the rank of lieutenant, there are “only a handful of women who make it to captain, and even fewer to deputy chief,” said lawyer Yetta Kurland.
Boyd’s promotion — the first time in more than 150 years the FDNY will have an African-American woman as a deputy chief — is eagerly anticipated by other women in the agency. She will be the highest-ranking black woman in the entire department, said Regina Wilson, an FDNY firefighter and head of the Vulcan Society, a fraternal organization of African-American fire department employees. “It’s a proud moment for the department to have a woman of color reach such a rank and we hope there will be many more to follow,” the Brooklyn firefighter said.
Vanessa Morrison, longtime head of Twentieth Century Fox Film’s animation division, is moving into a new role at the studio. She has been named president of Fox Family, a newly-created division that will develop films aimed at younger moviegoers and their parents. They include both animated films and films with live action elements. Her appointment is effective immediately, and she will report to Chair Proman and CEO Stacey Snider and Vice Chairman Emma Watts.
Fox said it will announce a replacement for Morrison in the coming days. The move comes as Snider is shaking up Fox’s animation arm with the goal of releasing at least one animated film a year. Snider recently signed a multi-year production deal with Locksmith Animation. The goal is to augment the films that Blue Sky, the makers of the “Ice Age” series, creates for Fox. The studio owns Blue Sky.
Snider believes that animated releases are an increasingly popular genre and that Fox needs to be a bigger player in the space. There’s certainly a lot of competition. Disney continues to dominate the market thanks to its Pixar division, Warner Bros. and Sony have upped their number of family releases, and Universal’s parent company Comcast made the decision in 2016 to shell out $3.8 billion to buy DreamWorks Animation.
In addition to her movie work, Morrison will also oversee the studio’s family animated television business. That division makes holiday television specials based on existing film properties. Fox is also making film features based on its small-screen efforts, such as a “Bob’s Burgers” film. Morrison will oversee those productions, as well. “Vanessa has for many years championed the studio’s efforts to take a more wholistic approach to the family entertainment space, and this new role will empower her to execute on that goal,” Snider and Watts said in a joint statement. “We are thrilled to have her leading this initiative, and as this segment in the marketplace continues to grow, the creation of this new division will strengthen our footprint as we look to create the best possible films for families across our entire company.”
Morrison has headed up Fox Animation since 2007. In addition to the “Ice Age” franchise, Morrison oversaw the production of the likes of the “Rio” films, “Peanuts,” and “Book of Life.” She also worked on “Ferdinand,” Fox’s next animated release, which hits theaters in November.
Rosalind Brewer, the former president and CEO of Sam’s Club, was announced as the new head of Starbucks on Wednesday and will continue to serve on the board of directors. “Starbucks is a culture-first company focused on performance and Roz is a world class operator and executive who embodies the values of Starbucks,” Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ president and COO, said in a statement.
Johnson added that Brewer has been a “trusted strategic counselor” ever since she joined the board of directors in January. “Ms. Brewer has a wealth of experience in retailing, consumers and [consumer packaged goods] markets,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, told CNBC via email. “She is also used to running large, complex organization with a global focus.”
The move comes as Starbucks is experiencing lower retail sales than usual, a problem that Brewer will have to face during her tenure. “[Brewer] was instrumental in making changes at Sam’s Club to bring the retailer more in line with trends around health and wellness,” Saunders said. “She also did a lot in terms of e-commerce and multichannel, and this experience will be valuable for Starbucks.”
WEST POINT, N.Y. — Cadet Simone Askew of Fairfax, Virginia, has been selected First Captain of the U.S. Military Academy’s Corps of Cadets for the 2017-2018 academic year, achieving the highest position in the cadet chain of command. She will assume her duties on Aug. 14.
Askew, an International History major, currently leads 1,502 cadets as the Regimental Commander of Cadet Basic Training II. As First Captain she is responsible for the overall performance of the approximately 4,400-member Corps of Cadets. Her duties also include implementing a class agenda and acting as a liaison between the Corps and the administration.
Askew is the first African-American woman to hold this esteemed position.
“Simone truly exemplifies our values of Duty, Honor, Country. Her selection is a direct result of her hard work, dedication and commitment to the Corps over the last three years,” said Brig. Gen. Steven W. Gilland, commandant of cadets. “I know Simone and the rest of our incredibly talented leaders within the Class of 2018 will provide exceptional leadership to the Corps of Cadets in the upcoming academic year.”
Outside of the curriculum, Askew is a member of the Army West Point Crew team and developing leaders as the Cadet-in-Charge of the Elevation Initiative. She is a graduate of Air Assault School, an EXCEL Scholar, a member of the Phi Alpha Theta Honorary National History Society, a recipient of the Black Engineer of the Year Award for Military Leadership, and holds the highest female Recondo score during Combat Field Training II for the class of 2018.
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (KSPR) – Brigadier General Donna Martin recently became the first African American female ever to serve as commandant of the U.S. Army Military Police School. In a ceremony on Friday, July 14, Martin’s title was made official as Brigadier General Kevin Vereen relinquished commandancy.
Brig. Gen. Martin described herself as a quiet, small town girl from Virginia. She stayed in Virginia to attend college at Old Dominion University until she was sent on her first assignment with the U.S. Army in Germany. She said she didn’t know if she was going to take the military route at the start of college, but a group of ROTC members made her feel at home. “They were really a group of kids who were just like me,” said Brig. Gen. Martin. “We all had common goals, we all had this feeling to serve and be apart of something that was bigger than ourselves.”
Martin said that’s where her love for the Army started nearly 30 years ago. “It never gets old… Every single assignment, every single move is a new adventure and I’m having a blast.” She called her new role one of the most important roles she has ever taken. She remembered the first time meeting her commandant at Fort McClellan in Alabama, where the U.S. Army Military Police School was before moving to Fort Leonard Wood. “I don’t know that I ever aspired to be the commandant, but I always looked up to this position,” she said. She described how the commandant would share his thoughts about the future and said ” we all bought it.” She said they all thought those conversations were amazing. “For me, 25 or 26 years later now to be assuming that role, it’s still kind of surreal.”
As for taking on this new role, she said she is excited to be apart of the team in Fort Leonard Wood. KSPR News asked what advice she had for anyone who finds her inspiring or looks to her for strength. She said it pretty simply, “You have to be determined, set a goal, and just work hard.”
The board of trustees of the University of Massachusetts has named Robert E. Johnson as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. The campus enrolls about 7,300 undergraduate students and 1,600 graduate students. African Americans make up 14 percent of the undergraduate student body.
When Dr. Johnson takes office, he will become the first African American to lead the UMass Dartmouth campus. Since 2010, he has been president of Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. Earlier in his career, Dr. Johnson has served in administrative roles at Sinclair Community College, the University of Dayton, Oakland University, and Central State University.
A native of Detroit, Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he majored in economics. He holds a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate in higher education administration from Touro University International.