Diversity Woman

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Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Executive Director, SMITHSONIAN AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM



Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole was appointed the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) in March, 2009. NMAfA is the only national museum in the United States that collects, conserves, exhibits and educates about the traditional and contemporary visual arts of Africa. Through its exhibitions, educational programs and outreach to diverse communities, NMAfA fosters the discovery and appreciation of the arts and cultures of Africa, the cradle of humanity. Before assuming her current position, Johnnetta Cole had a long and distinguished career as an educator and humanitarian. She is President Emerita of Spelman College and Bennett College for Women. She is the only person to have served as president of these two historically Black Colleges for women in the United States. 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. Dr. Cole was the first African American to serve as the Chair of the Board of United Way of America. She currently serves on a number of boards, including the board of trustees of the Association of Art Museum Directors. Through her work as a college president, university professor and museum director, and through her published works, speeches and community service, she has consistently addressed issues of diversity and inclusion in the United States and around the world. Dr. Cole has been awarded 55 honorary degrees and she is the recipient of numerous honors.

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