I have been reflecting on the historic selection of Senator Kamala Harris, the first Black woman and the first South Asian-American woman to be chosen as a vice presidential running mate on a major political party ticket. I can’t help but think about the outsized roles that women of color have played in shaping the country through activism and by taking up the mantle of leadership at critical moments in our history.
What Black women leaders have shared, whether serving as positional or informal leaders, are a legacy of resilience and a fearlessness and unflinching desire to make a difference. In service of the greater good, Black women leaders have been able to authentically speak truth to power, nimbly turn obstacles into opportunities, and effectively build the type of lasting relationships needed to effect change.
In becoming leaders, we are shaped by our lived experiences. As with Kamala Harris, part of my lived experience was my attendance at an Historically Black College or University (HBCU) after years of attendance at predominantly white schools.
Since their founding in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, HBCUs, known for their production of Black leaders, have been value-based; affirmative and nurturing; focused on excellence and leadership; and transformative. Since its founding in 1997, Olin has had at its core these same traits that have propelled HBCUs.
Yesterday, when I heard about the announcement, I couldn’t help but think about my own historic appointment as the first Black woman president of Olin. As a Black woman leader at this time in history, I have the chance of a lifetime to guide Olin’s future – a future that holds true to its core while transforming education to be truly accessible, affordable, and globally impactful.