Bennett College, US News & World Report’s #1 ranked national liberal arts college for boosting social mobility for its students, announces the election of artist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and multimillion-dollar impact investor Kwanza Jones as Chair of the Board of Trustees. Jones succeeds North Carolina State Senator Gladys A. Robinson in this role.
“Kwanza Jones brings catalytic leadership and a sense of urgency that is already propelling us into an exciting period of growth and expansion of opportunities for women at Bennett and beyond,” said Suzanne E. Walsh, President of Bennett College. “She is leading our very engaged Board of Trustees who are fully committed to Bennett being open to and for the future.”
A graduate of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University, and Cardozo School of Law, Kwanza Jones’ career is a highlight reel for multi-hyphenates. Jones, an acclaimed artist, speaker and communicator, has taught cross-cultural negotiation as an adjunct professor at New York University, served as a court appointed mediator for the New York City Civil Court, had multiple chart-topping hits on the Billboard music charts, and holds leadership roles as a board member and advisor to numerous companies and nonprofits, including the Apollo Theater, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.
“Kwanza’s energy is extraordinary. Having chaired a board that led Bennett through a most difficult period to debt retirement and recruiting dynamic leadership, I’m excited to pass the Board Chair baton to Kwanza Jones; we need the kind of leadership that Kwanza offers,” said Senator Robinson.
“Kwanza will help move Bennett forward with strategic direction, creative thought, vision, resources, and the ability to access networks that align with Bennett’s mission of educating women of color. With continued engagement and collaboration Kwanza, the Board, Suzanne and her leadership team will do magnificent work moving Bennett forward.”
Jones is the founder and CEO of SUPERCHARGED by Kwanza Jones (SBKJ), a media company that produces inspiring, motivational content coupled with an impact-oriented community and app. SBKJ’s foundation is rooted in Kwanza Jones’ belief that, “no one succeeds alone, sometimes you need a boost.”
Jones also co-founded, along with partner José E. Feliciano, the Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano SUPERCHARGED Initiative (KJSI), a philanthropic grantmaking and investment organization that invests in both nonprofits and for-profits. KJSI’s four focus areas – education, entrepreneurship, equity, and empowerment, together form an integrated framework that guides its investments and supports its mission of powering possibilities and boosting humanity. KJSI and affiliates have committed more than $75 million to education initiatives, diverse founders and fund managers. By investing intentionally, but not exclusively, in women and people of color, KJSI is increasing access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Through KJSI, Jones was a lead donor in Bennett’s strategic capital campaign in 2019.
“Bennett’s impact is multigenerational. As the daughter and niece of Bennett alumnae, Kwanza is representative of the type of bold woman that Bennett cultivates – one who is unafraid of doing things differently, creating opportunities, and advancing social justice and social responsibility,” said Dr. Laura Colson, Vice President of Academic Affairs.
“That is consistent with our new strategic direction, which is focused on redesigning Bennett College in ways that will ensure we continue to graduate dynamic women who are ready to lead and make HERstory.”
Other newly elected board officers include Vice Chair, Dr. Mark David Milliron, Senior Vice President and Executive Dean of the Teachers College at Western Governors University; and Board Secretary, Natalie Renee Parker, Director of Talent Development at Wyndham Capital Mortgage.
Bennett also welcomed three new members to its board: Cassandra Jones Havard, Professor at University of Baltimore Law School; Carlinda Purcell, former Superintendent of Schools in North Carolina, Alabama and Pennsylvania; and Madieu Williams, former National Football League (NFL) player for the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Football Team.
“Bennett has always been ahead of the curve in educating women who promote equity and have a positive social impact. It’s an honor to lead and serve along with the board members as we build on this tradition,” said Jones. I’m also excited about the partnerships and investments in Bennett from global brands like Peloton, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Fashion Nova, Tiffany & Co, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, BeyGOOD, and Shawn Carter Foundation. Boldness becomes Bennett and the women it elevates. I’m excited about what we are building.
This news story was originally published by Black Enterprise on October 22, 2021.