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

Next Leaders Fellowship is a program that aims to increase the number of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), who are able to rise up in senior leadership positions within higher education information technologies.

NLF will recruit participants for a 1-year program. During this time, they will be mentored and supported by senior leaders who are committed to their professional growth.

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

This program will not replace existing leadership development programs. It will instead complement them by specifically recruiting diverse candidates, creating communities around them, and providing mentoring and coaching throughout the 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.

Teoh, in her application, wrote about mentorship and stated that she needed to find more diverse, equitable and inclusive voices at the CIO table, especially those in higher-ranking positions.

These are the reasons other applicants applied for the NLF program.

“I believe this program will help to break down institutional barriers that hinder advancement for BIPOC professionals, and pave the path for the next generation IT professionals.”
“Today, there are very few women of color in senior leadership positions. It is a great first step in fixing the current situation to have a group of professionals like these.
“My experiences have made it possible for me to be sensitive to the difficulties that underrepresented groups face in academia as well as in the workplace.”

Cato claims that the IT industry has been struggling with these issues for too long. He said that many of the pioneers in computing were women. However, this number dropped dramatically after personal computers became almost exclusively marketed for boys. “Participation among peoples of color, specifically African Americans, has always lagged the rest of the population.”


Roweena Charles 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 chief information officer, 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 is the executive IT Director of Campus IT Experience at University of California Berkeley
Ezra Plemons is an instructional technologist in digital media at St. Olaf College
Allison Porterfield Director of Enterprise Systems, Human Resources and Student, Northwestern University
Nhora Serrano is Hamilton College’s associate director for digital learning.
Faye Snowden is a manager at the University of California Berkeley’s technology program office.
Jase Teoh director, academic technology, California State University Stanislaus
Kimberly Whitted is director of technology, infrastructure and operations at Campbell University
Felix Zuniga Campus engagement partner, California State University Office of the Chancellor

These twelve fellows will be working with senior IT executives with extensive experience from a variety of organizations and institutions to improve and develop their perspectives, skills and experiences in the field of higher education information technologies.

The NLF kickoff will be held in conjunction with the 2022 NorthEast Regional Computing Program’s annual conference. It will involve fellows, mentors and sponsors in a series discussion and exercises that identify key areas and create action plans for the program year.

Bowdoin College is the NLF program’s lead sponsor in partnership with NERCOMP, EDUCAUSE and two other professional associations that work to improve higher education through information technology. Next Generation Partners and Diversified Search Group provide generous sponsorship support. Opus Partners and MOR Associates also offer their support.

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