Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole

Anthropologist, Former College President and Museum Director, Social Justice Advocate

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a Principal Consultant with Cook Ross. Before assuming her current position, she served for eight years as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

Dr. Cole received a Ph.D. in anthropology with a specialization in African studies from Northwestern University. After holding teaching and administrative positions in anthropology, women’s studies, and African American studies at several colleges and universities, she served as the president of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States, Spelman College and Bennett College, a distinction she alone holds. She has authored and edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences.

Dr. Cole was the first African American to serve as the chair of the board of the United Way of America. She formerly served on the corporate boards of Home Depot, Merck, and Nation’s Bank South, and was the first woman to serve on the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises. From 2015 to 2016, she was the president of the Association of Art Museum Directors.

She currently co-chairs the American Alliance of Museum’s Working Group on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion. She is a fellow of the American Anthropological Association and a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Cole is currently an active board member for Martha’s Table.

Dr. Cole has received numerous awards and is the recipient of over 60 honorary degrees. Throughout her career and in her published work, speeches and community service, she consistently addresses issues of race, gender, and other systems of equality.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®
2211 Riverside Ave, CB 54
Minneapolis, MN 55454
(612) 373-5994

Photos by Sarah Morreim Photography
Privacy Policy