Next Leaders Fellowship to Diversify IT in Higher Education

With a clear lack of diversity in the technology industry, especially in senior management positions, as evidenced by a special report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Bowdoin College in Maine has set up a leadership program to change that. The Fellowship of Next Leaders College (NLF), an organization that seeks to attract more people of color, indigenous peoples and women to senior management positions in information technology in higher education, recently named 12 technology officers from across the country as participants in its inaugural training program.

This was announced by Director of Information Technology Bowdoin College Michael Kato, Director of NLF Government technology that the new leadership program is his child, and that he wanted to break through the general biases of the selection process. Cato said that too often in the selection process for programs like NLF, committee members select people who are similar in gender or race.

To avoid this, Cato and a group of colleagues created a column to be used by external leaders in IT higher education, recruited to interview and evaluate approximately 50 applicants for the program, taking precautions to avoid potential conflicts of interest between interviewers and applicants. . noted.


“Our initial vision is to work on a reality where everyone gets support to pursue their careers,” Cato said, adding that he had been thinking about the idea for a while but in less than a year assembled a planning team of 12 people. These dozens of planners will also serve as teachers for participants, giving everyone a lean throughout the program, Cato said, although he hopes there will be more teachers per participant in the coming years.

The first class of NLF consists of working IT professionals from 11 different agencies in seven states, including:

  • Rauina Carlos, Assistant Chief Information Officer for Customer Relationship Management and Student Information Systems at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Stephanie Cox, Indiana University Vice President of Information Technology Manager
  • Kenitra Horsley, Deputy Chief Information Officer and Director of Corporate Systems at the University of Queens, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • James Johnson, Director of Educational Technology and IT Support for Events and Conferences at St. Mary’s College California
  • Wesley Johnson, Executive Director of Campus IT Experience at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Ezra Plemons, Digital Media Education Technologist at St. Olaf College, Minnesota
  • Alison Porterfield, director of corporate systems, human resources and a student at Northwestern University in Illinois
  • Nhora Serrano, Deputy Director for Digital Learning and Research, Hamilton College, New York
  • Faye Snowden, manager of the technology programs office at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Jace Theo, Director of Academic Technology, University of California-Stanislav
  • Kimberly Whitted, director of technology, infrastructure and operations at Campbell University in North Carolina
  • Felix Zuniga, Campus Liaison Partner in the Office of the Chancellor of the University of California

Said Serrano, a Colombian of the first generation Government technology that the Next Leaders Fellowship was “precisely tuned” to her academic experience and training at this stage of her career.

“Moreover, I know that the Next Leaders Fellowship will support my professional growth and help me become a thoughtful and inclusive BIPOC specialist (black, indigenous, colored) who can influence and shape higher education,” she wrote. in an email. .

Theo said in an email that she was attracted by the opportunity to gain “more knowledge about IT management in higher education – challenges, threats and opportunities”, as well as the opportunity to connect with and learn from other senior professionals. from different backgrounds that help shape the future of higher education.

The 12 participants will meet at the Northeastern Regional Computing Program (NERCOMP) Annual Conference on March 14-16 in Providence, RI. There, Cato said, they will start with community building, industry topics, and then personal mentoring to figure out everyone’s strengths. and potential areas of impact.

“Such assessments can be valuable if you are looking for the role you want,” Cato added.

Following a conference hosted by NERCOMP, a partner of Educause, another organization that supports IT innovation and leadership in higher education, fellows will meet almost once a month throughout the year. Then at the annual Educause conference in Colorado this fall, they will gather to report on their progress and possibly reassess their goals in the final leg of the program, Cato said.

Cato added that the scholarship is designed to complement other leadership development programs that recruit a variety of candidates, potentially creating around them a community for mentoring and coaching throughout the year of the program.

“When they graduate, they will have a deep understanding of who they are and their capabilities,” Cato said.

Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a full-time author of the Center for Digital Education. During his more than 15-year reporting career, he has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional football. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.

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