Full Name
Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole
Job Title
Noted anthropologist, educator, author, speaker, and recipient of the National Humanities Medal by President Joseph R. Biden
Johnnetta Betsch Cole Legacy Institute, Inc.
Speaker Bio
Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a noted anthropologist, educator, author, speaker and consultant on inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in educational institutions, museums, corporations and other workplaces. After receiving a Ph.D. in anthropology, Dr. Cole held teaching positions in anthropology, women’s studies, and African American studies at several colleges and universities.

Dr. Cole served as President of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States, Spelman College and Bennett College, a distinction she alone holds. She also served as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, as a Principal Consultant at Cook Ross, and as a Senior Consulting Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Continuing her long involvement in community service, in 2004 Cole was the first African American to serve as the Chair of the Board of United Way of America. She recently served in the voluntary position of Chair of the Board and Seventh President of the National Council of Negro Women. She is an emerita member of the board of the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation. Currently she serves on the board of the A. L. Lewis Museum on Historic American Beach in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Dr. Cole has served on the corporate boards of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Home Depot, Merck, and Nation’s Bank South. She was the first woman appointed to the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises and the first Black woman appointed to Merck’s board of directors.

Johnnetta Betsch Cole has authored, co-authored and edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences. Her latest publications are Racism in American Public Life: A Call To Action (2021) and African Proverbs for All Ages (2021). Dr. Cole has received numerous awards, and is the recipient of 70 honorary degrees. On March 21, 2023, Dr. Cole was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Joseph R. Biden.

Throughout her career and in her published work, speeches, and community service, Johnnetta Betsch Cole consistently addresses issues of racism, sexism, and all other systems of inequality. She is a mentor to people of different identities and cultures.
Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole