Thirteen Women Appointed to Higher Education Administrative Positions

Dawn Leaks Ragsdale has been named the inaugural executive director of the Center for Inclusive Growth at Yale University, which aims to support economic growth in the surrounding city of New Haven. She most recently served as the executive director of Collab, a New Haven-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting local entrepreneurs.

Ragsdale holds a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA in management and operations from Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

Andrea Jones has been named vice president for marketing and communications at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. She has served as vice president for public relations and marketing communications at Georgia State University since 2021.

Jones is a graduate of the University of Georgia where she majored in journalism.

Ashley Offutt has been promoted to director of the Student Opportunities and Achievement Resources program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. She has served as interim director since September 2023. She has held previous leadership positions with Radford University in Virginia and Eastern Kentucky University.

Offutt holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies with a minor in African American and Black studies and a master’s degree in student personnel services in higher education from Eastern Kentucky University.

Jessica Chapin has been named director of athletics at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. She currently serves as director of athletics at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she has worked for the past 10 years.

Chapin is a graduate of Brandeis University where she double majored in psychology and health science, society, and policy. She holds a master’s degree in sports administration from Springfield College in Massachusetts.

Kathleen Amm has been appointed director of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University. She has over two decades of magnet field research experience, currently serving as director of the Magnet Division at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York.

Dr. Amm holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics from Florida State University.

Mary Graham has been named director of the Small Business Development Center at Mississippi State University. She has over 20 years in commercial lending and banking experience, most recently serving as a commercial lending officer with Navigator Credit Union.

Graham holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Louisiana State University Shreveport.

Amy McCoy has been appointed interim director of intercollegiate athletics at Washington State University. She has been with the university for over two decades, currently serving as senior deputy director of athletics and senior woman administrator.

McCoy received a bachelor’s degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts.

Melissa Cohen-Nickles has been promoted to curator of the Joan and Stanford Alexander South Texas Jewish Archives at Rice University in Houston. She previously served as the archives’ assistant to the curator.

Cohen-Nickles holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

Meredith Weiss has been selected to serve as interim vice president for finance and chief financial officer for Virginia Commonwealth University. She has served as the university’s vice president for administration since 2016. She previously served as senior vice chancellor for finance and administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Weiss is a graduate of the University of Delaware where she majored in human resources. She holds a master’s degree in instructional technology from East Carolina University, an MBA and a master’s degree in information science from North Carolina Central University, and a master’s degree in accounting and Ph.D. in information science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Shelly Perdomo-Ahmed has been promoted to vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has been with the university for almost 20 years, most recently serving as the inaugural assistant vice chancellor for the advocacy, inclusion, and support programs in student affairs and campus life.

Dr. Perdomo-Ahmed is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she majored in Latin American studies and cultural anthropology. She received her master’s degree and doctorate in educational policy, research, and administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Abby Benson has been promoted to vice president for administration and finance at the University of Rhode Island. She has been with the university since 2021, serving as chief of staff and strategic advisor to the president.

Benson is a graduate of Yale University where she majored in geology and geophysics. She holds master’s degrees in transportation and logistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Michele Ehrhart has been appointed senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer at the University of Memphis. She has spent over two decades with FedEx, most recently serving as vice president of global communications.

Ehrhart holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, and an MBA from the University of Memphis.

Toya Webb has been named chief of staff and vice president of strategy for Waubonsee Community College in Kane County, Illinois. She most recently served as chief marketing, communications, and government relations officer at Elgin Community College in Illinois.

Dr. Webb is a graduate of the University of Hawaii Manoa where she double-majored in journalism and sociology. She holds a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Roosevelt University in Chicago and a doctorate in higher education and organizational change from Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois

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