Published February 08, 2022 by Bowdoin News

Next Leaders Fellowship Aims to Increase Number of BIPOC Professionals in Senior Roles in Higher Ed IT

Next Leaders Fellowship (NLF) is building a framework to bring more Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) into the ranks of senior leadership within higher education information technology.
Next Fellows Leadership logo

Bowdoin College is the lead sponsor of the NLF program in partnership with NERCOMP and EDUCAUSE, two nonprofit professional associations working to advance higher education through the use of information technology.

NLF will recruit participants into a one-year program, during which they will be mentored by accomplished senior leaders committed to supporting their professional growth.

“More diverse teams working in inclusive environments are better at solving complex problems because they have access to a wider array of novel approaches, and they are more willing to consider and pursue them,” said Michael Cato, NLF director and senior vice president and chief information officer at Bowdoin College. “This is IT’s core job.” 

This effort does not seek to replace existing leadership development programs, but instead will complement them by explicitly recruiting a cohort of diverse candidates, creating a community around them, and providing mentorship and coaching throughout the program year.

“These are professionals who are really investing in mid-level professionals aspiring to be in senior leadership positions in information technology or academic technology,” said Jase Teoh, director of academic technology at California State University–Stanislaus and one of twelve selected for NLF’s inaugural cohort.

In her application, Teoh wrote about the importance of mentorship and expressed “the need to look for more diverse, equitable, and inclusive voices around the CIO table, particularly those in more senior positions.”

Other applicants shared these reasons for applying for the NLF program:

  • “I believe that this program will help break down the institutional barriers that limit advancement for BIPOC professionals and pave the way for the next generation of IT professionals.”

  • “Today there are very few of us—especially women of color—represented in senior leadership positions. I believe that having an established collective of such professionals is an invaluable first step to fix the current situation.”   

  • “My experiences have made me sensitive to the challenges that underrepresented groups face in academia and in the workplace.”

Cato says the IT industry has struggled with these issues for far too long.

“Many of the early computing pioneers were women, but those numbers drastically declined after personal computers began being marketed almost exclusively for boys,” he said.

“Participation among people of color more broadly, and African Americans specifically, has long lagged the population as a whole.”

The twelve fellows will work with accomplished senior IT leaders with a wealth of experience across a range of institutions and organizations to enhance and develop the perspectives, skills, and experiences required in the realm of higher education information technology.

NLF Inaugural Participants
Roweena Carlos, assistant CIO, CRM and student information systems, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Stephanie Cox, Manager, office of the vice president and information technology, Indiana University

Kenitra Horsley, deputy CIO, director enterprise systems, Queens University of Charlotte

James Johnson, director, educational technology and IT support for events and conferences, St. Mary's College of California

Wesley Johnson, executive IT Director of Campus IT Experience, University of California Berkeley

Ezra Plemons, instructional technologist for digital media, St. Olaf College

Allison Porterfield, director of enterprise systems, human resources and student, Northwestern University

Nhora Serrano, associate director for digital learning and research, Hamilton College

Faye Snowden, manager, technology program office, University of California Berkeley

Jase Teoh, director, academic technology, California State University, Stanislaus

Kimberly Whitted, director of technology, infrastructure, and operations, Campbell University

Felix Zuniga, campus engagement partner, California State University, Office of the Chancellor

Held in conjunction with the 2022 NorthEast Regional Computing Program (NERCOMP) annual conference, the NLF’s kickoff will engage fellows, mentors, and sponsors in a series of conversations and exercises to identify areas of focus and develop plans of action for the program year.

In addition to Bowdoin, generous sponsorship support is also provided by Next Generation Partners, Diversified Search Group, Opus Partners, and MOR Associates.