Meet Our Alums

HERS alums are faculty and administrators who generally hold mid- to -senior level positions when they start the program and support our mission of inclusive and equitable change for higher education. They are part of a community of 6,000+ alums who represent a range of racial and ethnic groups, nationalities, veteran and disability statuses, religious affiliations, ages, and years of experience — thereby broadening the scope of perspectives and insights brought to the program. However, what they all have in common is the desire to emerge as more dynamic leaders for themselves and their institutions.
I learned so much from the HERS Leadership Institute and my required interviews with senior leadership at my institution. I knew that I wanted to pursue a leadership position on campus in the future, but HERS made me realize that I could and should do it now. I was so inspired by the experience that I applied for a position on campus that became open right after I completed the program, and I got it! It will be a sharp learning curve stepping into this role at this time, but I welcome the challenge."
Dr. Malika Jefferies-EL
Malika Jefferies-EL, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Boston University
Weekend HERS Leadership Institute, Wellesley 2020

HERS Alums

HERS alums don’t have to choose between their career and professional development. With the choice of multiple formats at different start dates – the 9-day summer intensive or four staggered weekends – this program aims to offer ultimate flexibility while not sacrificing the quality of the experience. With the support of senior leaders at their institutions, participants can step away from the day-to-day responsibilities of their role to engage with the curriculum and peers more fully.

Read on to learn more about the professional backgrounds, career aspirations, why alums chose to participate in the HERS Leadership Institute, and what they gained from the program.

Dr Wanda Costen

Wanda Costen: Leading During a Crisis

Dean, Smith School of Business, Queen’s University HERS Leadership Institute, Denver 2019

“Organizations are now pivoting so quickly they need people who can stay calm in the midst of the storm, come up with high-quality recommendations and ideas, and can implement decisions quickly. Being around the table is critical, and now is a great opportunity to show how you can help your institution ensure its sustainability and even advance in new ways.”

With a PhD in Sociology and an EMBA in General Management, Dr. Wanda Costen developed an expertise in strategy, human resources, organizational behavior, law and DEI initiatives. Her military and business backgrounds taught her that times of crises reveal people’s true nature, and organizations need people who can stay calm in the midst of the storm. Read more on how the HLI experience shaped her career and helped her lead during a crisis.

Yenny Anderson

Yenny D. Anderson: Setting Your Dream Career Trajectory and Seeing it Through to Reality

Vice Provost for Institutional Research and Strategic Analytics at Lehigh University HERS Institute Alumna, Class of 2015

“HERS helped me determine specific achievable career goals, and develop the necessary confidence, strength, and determination to pursue those goals. The program enabled me to become a change agent for myself, as well as at my institution and in higher education. I achieved my short (5 year) and long-term (10 year) career goals, all within four years of completing the HERS Leadership Institute.”

When Yenny Anderson applied to the HLI, her two top goals were to obtain a doctorate and secure a senior-level position, such as Vice Provost, within the Institutional Research field at any higher education institution. At that time, these goals seemed like they would take many years to achieve. Read more about how she proved herself wrong by harnessing her strengths and personal leadership style to develop confidence in herself to then pursue and achieve her career aspirations.

Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández

Yves Salomon-Fernández: Leading Across Generations and Intersectional Identities

Senior Vice President for Operations Planning, Southern New Hampshire University HERS Institute Alumna, Class of 2011

“With so many existential threats to higher education (funding, enrollment shifts, etc.), we have to understand the needs and motivations of the various generations who are working together to help higher education live up to its full potential.”

Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernandez reflects on her experience at the HERS Leadership Institute and how it challenged her to dream bigger and develop cultural dexterity in herself and those she leads. A big lesson for her was a reckoning with the changing demographics (age, race, ethnicity, experience, etc.) in this country that require leaders to understand perspectives outside their own. Read more about the challenges she’s faced and her advice to other women leaders in higher education.

Dr. Jann Joseph

Jann Joseph: The Patient and Persistent Path to Presidency and Paying it Forward

President, Georgia Gwinnett College HERS Institute Alumna, Class of 2007

“Do the job you have now at 100%. Learn as much as you can, seek mentors and be a mentor for others. Focus on advancing and supporting the people you are called to lead. Be prepared and when opportunity knocks say “yes” and go forth. If you demonstrate that you add value or are able to lead in your existing role, you will be asked or nominated to serve at the top level. Give it time, don’t try to skip too many steps. This is a marathon.”

When Dr. Joseph was in the HLI, she was in her first defining administrative role as an Associate Dean and through the institute she was given the opportunity to interact with women from outside of academic affairs. This was the beginning of her schooling on how best to work across institutional leadership departments and staff in student affairs, business and finance. Read more about how this experience was critical to her professional development and how it helped ensure she was prepared when the opportunity arose to make progress in her path towards a president seat.

If you would like to learn more about the HERS Leadership Institute or our other programs, contact us at

Learn more about our diverse alumnae by viewing more spotlights: