Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole has a long and distinguished career as an educator and humanitarian. Much of her work in the interest of equality and social justice is now centered in her role as the Chair of the Board of the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute, founded at Bennett College for Women. Dr. Cole is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women and Spelman College. She is also Professor Emerita of Emory University from which she retired as Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies and African American Studies. She was recently named director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.
The author of numerous publications for scholarly and general audiences, Dr. Cole’s most recent publication is a book co-authored with Dr. Beverly Guy Sheftall: Gender Talk: the Struggle for Women’s Equality in African-American Communities. Dr. Cole is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Anthropological Association. She is on the Editorial Advisory Board of SOULS and The Black Scholar. She is on the Advisory Committee of America’s Promise and The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Atlanta Falcons.
Dr. Cole is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Visionary Leadership Project. She serves on the board of Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, TransAfrica Forum and the United Way of America, and was the first person of color to chair this board in her 2004-2006 term. She serves on the Board of Directors of Merck & Co., Inc. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links, Inc. and the National Council of Negro Women.
In addition to 52 honorary degrees, Dr. Cole has received numerous awards, including, the TransAfrica Forum Global Public Service Award, the Radcliffe Medal, the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the 2001 Alexis de Tocqueville Award for Community Service from United Way of America, The Joseph Prize for Human Rights presented by the Anti-Defamation League, The Uncommon Height Award from the National Council of Negro Women, The John W. Gardner Leadership Award from The Independent Sector, and the Lenore and George W. Romney Citizen Volunteer Award from the Points of Light Foundation.
Dr. Cole began her college studies at Fisk University and completed her undergraduate studies at Oberlin College. She earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University. Dr. Cole is married to James D. Staton, Jr. She is the mother of three sons and has two granddaughters. She is also a mentor to many young women and men.