Miami Presents: Black Firsts - Navigating Successes & Challenges of Being the First in a Field

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Join the Miami University Alumni Association and the Center of Student Diversity and Inclusion on Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 pm ET for a discussion in celebration of Black History. During this presentation, four alumni panelists will share their experience about being the first in their career fields. Alumnus Dr. Ron Crutcher will start the hour with a special message to kick off the conversation.

Stephanie W. Byrd '81 is the Regional Chief Executive Officer for the American Red  Cross Central and Southern Ohio Region, joining the organization in May 2018. In this role, she is responsible for a 47-county, 5-chapter region; serving 6.1 million people through the efforts of 60 employees and 2500 dedicated volunteers. She serves on local community boards including Teach for America, 4C  for Children, Envision Children and most recently, the Miami University Foundation. Byrd holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Miami University and received her Master’s degree in Health and Hospital Administration from Xavier University. Her accomplishments have resulted in Byrd receiving  numerous awards including being named Cincinnatian of the Year in 2017.

Dr. Ronald A. Crutcher '69, a national leader in higher education and a distinguished classical musician, was the President of the University of Richmond from 2015-2021. Dr. Crutcher is also President Emeritus of Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Prior to Wheaton, he was Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Miami University of Ohio. In August 2021, he was named a  Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute. He is Chair of the Board of the American Council on Education (ACE), a Senator of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and a member of the Board of IES Abroad.  He previously served on the boards of the Posse Foundation, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the Fulbright Association, and he was Chair of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts. His thematic memoir, I Had No Idea You Were Black: Navigating Race on the Road to Leadership, was published in February 2021. Dr. Crutcher began studying cello at the age of 15 with Professor Elizabeth Potteiger, a faculty member at Miami University. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Miami University (Ohio), he has received honorary degrees from Wheaton College (MA), Colgate University, Muhlenberg College, University of Richmond, and the University of Cordoba in Spain. 

Dr. Taléa R. Drummer-Ferrell ‘06 is the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at Kent State University. Within the Division of Student Affairs, Dr. Drummer Ferrell’s pillar is Advocacy, Support, and Well-being where she oversees 8 areas including the Care Team and the Office of the Dean of Students. Prior to her current role, Dr. Drummer-Ferrell has held roles within the Student Multicultural Center (SMC), Intercollegiate Athletics, Upward Bound, Residence Services, and Student Organizations including Fraternity & Sorority Life. Throughout her career, her focus has been on advocacy, leadership, academics, diversity, and the empowerment of the individual student. Dr. Drummer-Ferrell attended undergrad at Miami University where she became a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies. She earned her Master’s Degree from the University of Louisville in College Student Personnel, and earned her Doctor of Philosophy from Kent State University in Higher Education Administration & Student Personnel where her research focus was on second year student-athletes and the sophomore slump.

Robert J. Hendricks III has committed his career to helping young men of color unlock their genius. During the first stage of his career, he was a teacher, school administrator, and nonprofit leader. In 2018, Robert launched He is Me Institute -- a nonprofit committed to empowering Black men to become and remain teachers. Due to his early success, Robert has been a featured speaker, panelist, and guest on national platforms to advocate for education equity. Robert earned a B.S. in Education and an Ed.M. in Curriculum & Teacher Leadership, from Miami University (OH), where he was named a 2021 Spirit of Western College Alumni Award recipient.

Described as contagiously conversational, Jannie Kamara '21 is a daughter of Sierra Leonean immigrants and a racial justice activist passionate about understanding people’s life experiences to empower them to take action within their own spaces. Jannie is proudly the first member of her family to graduate from college, and she earned her double degrees in Black World Studies and Individualized Studies: Diversity in Leadership in the spring of 2021. She hopes to focus her career on building and reimagining inclusive communities through public service. In her time at Miami, Jannie conducted research as a part of the anti racist education initiative Racial Consciousness 101, presenting to countless classes about intersections of race and other identities. In 2020, she was elected to serve as Miami University’s first Black woman Student Body President where she focused on advocating for the health and safety of students during the COVID-19 pandemic. After graduation Jannie worked as a DEI Consultant with Warner Music Group and developed international communication systems, constructed community outreach practices, and managed the activation of over 100 Employee Resource Groups. Currently, Jannie lives in Washington DC where she is the Staff Assistant for the Office of Congresswoman Blunt Rochester (Delaware At-Large), and is a professional Bartender. 

The presentation is free to watch online, but registration is required. Please reach out to Seth Seward, sewardsg@miamioh.edu with questions.

Register for this free event