Ask the President

Why Lafayette?

The first word that comes to mind when I think of Lafayette is “community.” I am so inspired by, and I am honored to join, this special community. Whether it is the students, faculty, staff, alumni, or trustees, I have been taken by the love and commitment that radiates from all of its members. It is this commitment that has built an incredible institution, and it is the passion for the community that will propel Lafayette into its exciting next chapter.

I am also taken by the combination of liberal arts and engineering that create a distinctive environment. What better place to develop both passion and an understanding of systems? At Lafayette, we can ask hard questions, be brave, develop relationships, learn, and grow. I think of education as the process that ignites sparks of potential into fireworks. When I think of Lafayette, I get excited for what we can accomplish together in service of the community, our neighbors, the nation, and the world.

I believe we are most powerful and most authentic when our hands, our heads, and our hearts are in alignment. I am happy to say my head, heart, and hands are all in Easton right now, and so that is the joy of this new chapter. I am ready to jump in with both feet on July 1.

Why did you start the College Advising Corps?

I started College Advising Corps as a way to increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students in higher education. In addition to helping students navigate the pathways to postsecondary education, the vision was also to create service opportunities for recent college graduates that would allow them to become the next generation of leaders. Over the past 15 years, I have been able to witness students across this nation pursue higher education and make their dreams a reality. I have also watched an incredible group of public servants, the CAC advisers, become agents of change in their communities. The power of College Advising Corps is matching the promise of our high school students with the talent of near-peer mentors. It has been an honor to share a vision of educational equity and opportunity and then execute on that vision, reaching over 525,000 students and activating over 2,500 recent college graduates in service.

What do you want faculty to know?

The heart of a transformative education experience is the connection between faculty and students. What faculty do to challenge, teach, inspire, and share, while creating new knowledge, is why we are all here. I think back to my own educational journey—the faculty members who challenged me, who opened my eyes to new things—those relationships were critical to who I am today. Those are the kinds of relationships I have seen at Lafayette. I cannot wait to spend time with the faculty—whether it’s over lunch or visiting a lab, exhibit, performance, or classroom. I am inspired by how their passion and research impact the lives of our students and beyond.

What do you want students to know?

I would like the students to know my deep commitment to each of them. At Lafayette, students are at the center of everything we do. We are dedicated to their growth and learning. I am looking forward to spending time with them—hearing their stories, cheering on their successes, and supporting their journeys. Whether in moments of joy or challenge, we are here to grow and learn together.

My commitment goes back to why I am so excited to be at Lafayette: community. This is a place where we are dedicated to seeing each other and believing in each other. Whether in moments of joy or challenge, we are here to grow and learn together.

What is your plan for your first year of your presidency?

My plan is to listen and learn. I am excited to learn from all of the parts of the campus community—the students, faculty, and staff.

I also cannot wait to get out in the world to see our alumni community. I think it is wonderful to bring alumni to campus, and I am excited to get out to see them where they live. There is this diverse, amazing, and deeply committed alumni community, and I want to make sure they are connected to the College in all sorts of ways. I am looking forward to hearing stories and having the opportunity to amplify what makes Lafayette so special.

Can you tell us about your family?

My husband, Bill, is very passionate about supporting student-athletes. He worked in the athletics department at Georgetown when we first met, and he was very involved with the athletics program at the University of Virginia. Bill shares the same values I do about community. He has been an active volunteer with Meals on Wheels for 14 years and is looking forward to becoming engaged with the Easton community.

Bill did the most selfless, beautiful thing someone can do for a spouse. He put his career on pause to focus on our kids when my job required me to travel all over the country. Our daughter, Monica, is finishing her first year at University of Virginia, and our son, Matthew, will be a first-year student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall. We are very excited about this being a brand-new chapter for us.

And we have two Golden Retrievers: Sunshine and Sadie.

What are you looking forward to about becoming an Easton resident?

Bill and I are very excited to be part of the City of Easton and Lehigh Valley communities. Volunteer work and continuing to strengthen the relationship between the College and community will be priorities for both of us. We believe deeply that when you live someplace, it becomes part of you, and I think you need to make a commitment to show up fully. We are excited to learn about our new home—the people, the place, the history. Bill and I cannot wait to get started.

Selected Accomplishments

College Advising Corps

  • Created, scaled and led a $53 million nonprofit organization that has become the largest college-access program in the country, helping more than 525,000 low-income, underrepresented and first-generation students enroll in college.
  • Led national staff and consortium of 31 university partners that supported 803 advisers in 795 high schools across 17 states.
  • Secured more than $90 million in philanthropic gifts, including four $10 million-plus investments.
  • Recruited a board of directors that includes a former White House chief of staff, a former president of New York University, a former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the chairman of Bloomberg L.P.

University of Virginia

  • Founded UVA’s College Guide Program, the precursor to the College Advising Corps.
  • Worked with successful Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, Fulbright, and Truman scholar candidates.

Selected Honors

  • White House Champion of Change for College Opportunity (2016)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Featured Innovator (2016)
  • Franklin & Marshall College honorary doctorate in humane letters (2018)
  • Time magazine’s Top 31 People Who Are Changing the South (2018)
  • Washington Monthly’s list of the most innovative people in higher education (2016)
  • Chronicle of Higher Education’s Influence List (2014)