Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Johnnetta Cole2

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

President & Chair of the Board of the National Council of Negro Women

Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a noted educator, author, speaker, and consultant on issues of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in corporations, educational institutions, museums, and other workplaces. After receiving a Ph.D. in Anthropology from North Western University, Dr. Cole held teaching positions in anthropology, women studies, and African American Studies at several colleges and Universities. She served as president of both Historically Black Colleges for Women in the United States, Spelman College, and Bennett College, a distinction she alone holds.  


Dr. Cole’s work with major corporations involves assisting with identifying inequities in the composition of a workforce, creating safe spaces for courageous conversations about all systems of inequality, and establishing a strategic plan for building and sustaining an inclusive culture in the workplaceIn carrying out this work, Dr. Cole draws on her prior experience as a member of the corporate boards of Nations Bank South, Home Depot, Merck, and Coca-Cola Enterprises. She was the first woman to serve on the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises. 


From 2017-2019, Dr. Cole was a principal consultant at Cook Ross, a management consulting firm. At Cook Ross she co-led with the founder of the firm, Howard Ross, a Chief Diversity Officer Forum and she worked with various companies and institutions to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces. 


From 2009-2017, Dr. Cole served as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Upon her retirement from the Smithsonian, she received the title of Director Emerita. For two years, she served as a Senior Consulting Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation where she advised on initiatives on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in art museums and higher education institutions. She currently serves as Special Counsel on Strategic Initiatives at the Baltimore Museum of Art.  


Dr. Cole has a long history of community service. She was the first African American to serve as the Chair of the Board of United Way of America. She currently serves as the Chair of the Board and 7th President of the National Council of Negro Women, an advocacy organization of 2 million women engaged in programs that advance women’s rights and civil rights.  


Johnnetta Betsch Cole has authored, co-authored, and edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences. She is the recipient of numerous awards and has received 70 honorary degrees.