Opening Keynote Speaker
Monica Kaufman Pearson is the first woman and first minority to anchor the daily evening news in Atlanta, Georgia, where she worked for 37 years at the leading station, WSB-TV. She now hosts and produces Monica Pearson One on One, a monthly personality interview program for Gray Media Group. The hour-long program is shown on Peachtree TV/ WPCH-TV in Atlanta. She has won over 33 Southern Regional and local Emmy Awards for reporting, anchoring and her Closeups celebrity interview show. When she retired, she was honored on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by the bipartisan delegation of the State of Georgia for her years of service on and off the air to improve the lives of the citizens of Georgia.
Since retiring in 2012, she’s stayed busy. At the age of 67, she graduated with a master’s degree, Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2014. She wrote a column, Monica Matters, for the quarterly magazine, Southern Seasons and taught at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. She is a much sought-after emcee and motivational speaker and for five years, she freelanced at KISS 104.1 FM, hosting This Week in Black History on their website. For five years she hosted a Sunday public affairs show on KISS 104.1. She also is one of three hosts of the Emmy nominated Georgia Public Broadcasting show, A Seat at the Table, GPB.org/ASATT. Recently she has become a radio and television spokesperson for businesses and institutions and a voice over actor. She is a member of SAG and AFTRA.
Monica is a native of Louisville, KY, growing up in the Smoketown neighborhood. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville. She participated in the Summer Program for Minority Groups at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1969. She was a reporter for the Louisville Times newspaper and a reporter and weekend anchor for WHAS TV in Louisville. She was the first African-American female anchor in Louisville. For two years, she worked in public relations at Brown-Forman Distillers.
Monica was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame, the University of Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In 2016, she was inducted into Georgia Trend’s Most Influential Hall of Fame. In 2019, she was inducted into the Trumpet Foundation International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, located outside the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and was named the 2019 Woman of Purpose by Women United of the Greater Atlanta United Way. The Jeanette Rankin Foundation named her their Shining Star for 2019. In 2021, she was inducted into the National Black Radio Hall of Fame.
She is a Lifetime Trustee of Meals on Wheels Atlanta. In May of 2015, she chaired the Go Red for Women Luncheon of the America Heart Association and has served on the Executive Leadership Council and on the American Heart Association National Communications and Marketing Committee. She is also the first non-medical person to serve on the board of Americas-Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association Foundation, (AHPBAF.)
Monica was the first African-American and second woman to serve as Chairperson of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. She also was the first woman to serve as President of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which first presented the Naismith Awards to outstanding basketball players on the high school and collegiate level, locally and nationally. From 2005-2021, she served on the Board of Jurors for the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards at the University of Georgia and chairs the Board of Jurors in 2022, the first African American woman to hold that position. She is a 2016 University of Georgia Grady Fellow. The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication awarded Monica the John Holliman Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020. Monica also has received an alumni Fellows award from The University of Louisville. She is a recipient of the 2018 University of Georgia Graduate School Alumni of Distinction Award. Omicron Delta Kappa, The National Leadership Honor Society, presented her its 2018 Pillar of Leadership Award, Celebrating Excellence in Communications.
Monica has been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the nation’s first Black sorority for women since 1966 and is a member of the Kappa Omega Chapter in Atlanta, the oldest chapter in the state of Georgia. The sorority awarded her the Presidential Vanguard Award in 2016. In 2018, the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA presented Monica with the Pat Summitt Inspiring Woman Award.
Monica is a member of The Junior League of Atlanta. She is a breast cancer and liver cancer survivor.
Monica has received honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Atlanta University, now named Clark Atlanta University; Oglethorpe University; American Bible University and a Doctor of Public Service from Young Harris College.
She is married to John E. Pearson, Sr., is the mother of Claire Patrice Deveaux and stepmother of John E. Pearson II.
Closing Keynote Speaker
Janice founded Capacity in 2019. She has spoken at international conferences on marketing, brand development, leadership and culture. Janice created Capacity to examine individual levels of growth within organizations to find opportunities to boost productivity and profits through increasing individual capacity in our character.
Janice is a professional member in the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches (ACEC) and a board member of Global Connections for Women Foundation (GC4W). She is on the advisory board for the NXTUS organization which helps connect start ups to investors and pilot partners from around the globe. She is a board member of the Wichita Independent Business Association (WIBA) and a member of Women of Wichita and Wichita Women for Good which both unite the power and donations of women back into our community. She is certified in the Process Communication Model, Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching and Kansas Leadership Center’s Teach Leadership Intensive.
Janice works with Marshall Goldsmith’s Methods of Leaders global project, that was started as a way to make the knowledge of the world’s most influential business thinkers from the MG 100 Coaches accessible for current and future leaders around the world.
President's Panel Keynote
Helene D. Gayle, M.D., M.P.H.
Helene D. Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., began serving as the 11th president of Spelman College on July 1, 2022. Dr. Gayle previously served as president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, from October 2017 to June 2022. Under her leadership, the Trust adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region.
For almost a decade, Dr. Gayle was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. A pediatrician and public health physician with expertise in economic development, humanitarian, and health issues, she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She led the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues.
Dr. Gayle serves on public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Company, Organon, Palo Alto Networks, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America and the ONE Campaign. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, Council on Foreign Relations, American Public Health Association, National Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics.
She was awarded the Chicago Mayor’s Medal of Honor for her work on COVID relief and recovery for the city. Named one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” and one of NonProfit Times’ "Power and Influence Top 50," she has authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and wealth inequity.
Dr. Gayle is from Buffalo, N.Y. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University. She is a tenured Full Professor in the Department of Environmental and Health Sciences at Spelman College and has received 18 honorary degrees. She also holds faculty appointments at the University of Washington and Emory University.
Dr. Gayle is married to Stephen Keith, MD, the First Gentleman of Spelman College and a proud Spelman dad.
Jere W. Morehead
President Jere W. Morehead began his tenure as the 22nd University of Georgia president on July 1, 2013. Under his leadership, the University has risen in the rankings of the best public colleges and universities and has completed a series of initiatives to enhance student learning and success, including a requirement for experiential learning for all undergraduates.
Additionally, the University completed the most successful capital campaign in its history, raising $1.45 billion, and launched an Innovation District initiative to create UGA’s campus of the future, where students and faculty will partner with industry to generate ideas and solutions to continue the University’s role as a powerful driver of economic development in Georgia. During President Morehead’s tenure, UGA has increased its research expenditures by 41% and has been ranked among the top five universities in the U.S. for research-based products reaching the marketplace for the past seven years. UGA was ranked No. 1 in the nation for FY2019 and FY2017. In keeping with his focus on student success, President Morehead launched the ALL Georgia Program to support students from rural areas and created the Double Dawgs program, which enables students to save time and money by earning an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years or less. A UGA education is in greater demand than ever, with a record 39,500 applications submitted for a spot in the incoming Class of 2025 and an admission rate under 39%. In addition, President Morehead has continually emphasized UGA’s core ideals of diversity and inclusion, and UGA has been awarded the INSIGHT into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for seven consecutive years.
President Morehead serves as co-chair of the University Leadership Forum, a national initiative led by the Council on Competitiveness. He also serves as vice-chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Board of Directors, a member of the NCAA Division I Administrative Committee, and a member of the NCAA Board of Governors. He previously served on the NCAA Presidential Forum; the Working Group on Name, Image, and Likeness; and the Federal and State Legislation Working Group. He is vice president of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and a member of the SEC Executive Committee, and formerly chaired the SEC Working Group on Compliance, Enforcement, and Governance.
Joshua R. Newton
Josh Newton returned to Emory University as Senior Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement in August 2018. Previously, he had served for a decade in various leadership positions at the university. In partnership with President Gregory L. Fenves, Newton is responsible for the development and implementation of the university’s next philanthropic campaign, building on Emory’s 10-year strategic plan and its focus on academic eminence. He will also play an important role in furthering Emory’s relationships in the Atlanta community as well as engaging nationally and internationally on behalf of the university.
Newton served as President and CEO of the University of Connecticut Foundation prior to his return to Emory. He presided over the five most successful fundraising years in the foundation’s history, raising a total of nearly $400 million in fiscal years 2014 through 2018. He focused on increasing scholarship support for students and worked to strengthen engagement of the University of Connecticut alumni and other constituents within the university during his tenure.
A graduate of Belmont Abbey College, Newton’s fundraising experience also includes Converse College (Spartanburg, South Carolina) and Presbyterian Hospital (Charlotte, North Carolina). He has served in multiple leadership roles with the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Educational Advisory Board.
Kirk A. Nooks
A New York native, Dr. Kirk A. Nooks was appointed to serve as the President of Gordon State College effective June 1, 2018. Prior to assuming these responsibilities, Dr. Nooks has served as a college president and in various senior administrator roles for over 10 years. He began his career as a former Campus Dean, Dean of Student Services and Project Manager and brings a blended set of skills and over 20 years of education and engineering experience. On a national level, he has served as the Dean of the Presidents’ Round Table’s Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership from 2015-2018.
A sought after speaker and presenter, he has shared thoughts on topics ranging from the Learning College concept to Strategic Planning. In fact, he recently published a book chapter in entitled, “Strategic Planning and the Gen X President.”
Nooks came to Gordon State College from Metropolitan Community College – Longview. The over 4,000 student campus is located in Lee’s Summit, MO and was the first two-year institution in the nation to be named College of the Year by TIME magazine. During his presidency at MCC-Longview, Nooks initiated a strategic visioning process aimed to build upon the legacy of the college while responding to the nation’s 2025 Completion Agenda. The college’s strategic plan, entitled “The Longview BLUEprint” was issued in January 2014. The focused efforts resulted in the campus being recognized as a two-time Bellwether Award national finalist, developing new alliances with Cultural Arts entities, implementing a one-stop Enrollment Center model, and increasing student completion and enrollment.
Before joining MCC-Longview, Dr. Nooks was at Georgia Highlands College (GHC), where he served as both campus dean for the college’s Marietta campus and executive liaison for diversity initiatives. He served at GHC for four years. Prior to GHC, Nooks served in various leadership roles at Northern Virginia Community College, including dean of student services and assistant professor. Previously, he was director of the office of institutional initiatives and governance at Prince George’s Community College (Md.). Before transitioning to a career in higher education, Nooks worked as an engineering project manager at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and as an account executive with a health benefits consulting company.
Throughout his career, he has helped institutions with major initiatives, including establishing and implementing a governance system, organizing and scaling up a national completion initiative, and developing a framework for faculty, staff and students to advance the institution’s learning organization aspirations. He has presented at national conferences on topics ranging from institutional governance models to the college completion agenda.
“Gordon State has so much to offer as an institution of higher learning. I’m honored to serve Gordon State, its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the college and to help the institution fulfill its mission,” said Nooks
Dr. Nooks holds a doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) and an MBA in marketing and a bachelor of science in industrial management from Mercer University (Macon, Ga.). He is a graduate of the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership and a member of the inaugural cohort of the American Council on Education’s Spectrum Leadership Institute.
In his spare time, Nooks enjoys baking his famous Italian Cream cake, reading, and playing tennis. Dr. Kirk A. Nooks and his wife Alison reside in Forsyth, GA with their three children.