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Johnnetta  Cole

Johnnetta Cole

President Emerita of Spelman College & Bennett College for Women


Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a part-time Principal Consultant with Cook Ross, Inc., a consulting firm that provides solutions to organizations in the areas of diversity, inclusion, cultural competency, leadership development and organizational change management. Before assuming her current position, she served for eight years as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Recently, she was named the seventh President and Board Chair of The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Read More >

Johnnetta Betsch Cole received a Ph.D. in anthropology with a specialization in African Studies from Northwestern University. After holding teaching and administrative positions in anthropology, women’s studies and African American studies at several colleges and universities, she served as the president of both of the historically Black colleges for women in the United States—Spelman College and Bennett College—a distinction she alone holds. She has authored or edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences.

Dr. Cole was the first African American to serve as the chair of the board of United Way of America. She formerly served on the corporate boards of Home Depot, Merck and Nation’s Bank South, and was the first woman to serve on the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises. She currently serves on the board of Martha’s Table, an organization in Washington, DC that provides support for children, families and communities. From 2015 to 2016 she was the president of the Association of Art Museum Directors. She currently co-chairs the American Alliance of Museum’s Working Group on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion. She is a fellow of the American Anthropological Association and a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences.

 Dr. Cole has received numerous awards and is the recipient of 64 honorary degrees. Throughout her career, and in her published work, speeches and community service, she consistently addresses issues of racial, gender and all other systems of inequality. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Living in Segregation

Speech Topics

The Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion

The Case for Diversity & Inclusion in American Higher Education

Women & Leadership

Everybody Can Be a Philanthropist