Chancellor King Announces the Launch of the SUNY Black Leadership Institute

March 5, 2024

The Institute was Enacted by the State Legislature to Complement the Highly Successful Hispanic Leadership Institute

Biographies and Photos of the Fellows, and the Steering and Advisory Committee Can be Found Here

Last Month, Governor Kathy Hochul Established the Dr. Hazel Dukes Fellowship for One Exceptional Individual Within the SUNY Black Leadership Institute Every Cycle

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today announced the launch of the SUNY Black Leadership Institute (BLI). BLI, modeled after the nationally recognized and highly successful Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI), will support, retain, and foster the success of emerging and current leaders.

BLI is designed for faculty and administrative professionals on a leadership trajectory at their respective institutions serving in mid- to senior-level roles. Fellows are guided through leadership assessments, interactive online and in-person workshops, and professional mentoring sessions designed to advance leadership skills.

BLI was championed by New York State Senator Lea Webb and Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre. Funding for this crucial leadership development program was enacted in the New York State Budget during the 2023 legislative session.

"SUNY's commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion informs all that we do in support of student success. We are grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul and to Senator Lea Webb and Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre for championing funding for the Black Leadership Institute. Coupled with the Hispanic Leadership Institute, SUNY is ensuring emerging leaders across our system benefit from rigorous support and training to expand their career at SUNY," said SUNY Chancellor King. "Programs like BLI and HLI are critical to our work to ensure excellent leaders across SUNY's campuses."

SUNY Board Trustee James F. Haddon, who is a member of the BLI Steering Committee, said, "As a system, the breadth of our diversity is our greatest strength and we will continue to provide equitable opportunities to all on our campuses across New York State, as we continue to be the best system of public higher education in the nation. For several years, the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute has uplifted faculty and staff leaders. We have no doubt the newly formed Black Leadership Institute will do the same by retaining and growing leaders from within the SUNY system to enhance diversity and the representation of all members of our campus community, a core component of Chancellor King's vision for SUNY."

The inaugural class of fellows was selected based on their proven leadership and administrative experience, and their pursuit toward a higher education career in administrative and leadership roles within SUNY. Each applicant has also dedicated at least three years of their career within the SUNY system, including SUNY's colleges and universities, and at least three years in higher education. The inaugural class of Black Leadership Institute Fellows are:

  • Dr. Anne Bailey, Founding Director of the Harriett Tubman Center for Freedom and Equity, Binghamton University
  • Dr. DeeDee Bennett Gayle, Associate Professor of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, University at Albany
  • Dr. Sim Covington, Chief Diversity Officer and Dean of Student Athlete Development, Finger Lakes Community College
  • Dr. Danielle Lee, Associate Dean of Academic Institutes and Programs and Director of Social and Environmental Justice Institute, SUNY Old Westbury
  • Dr. Gabriel Marshall, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, SUNY Oswego
  • Dr. Adeoba David Oyero, Assistant Dean of Students, Nassau Community College
  • Ainsley Thomas, Chief Diversity Officer, Hudson Valley Community College

Tamara Frazier, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, will serve as BLI's Executive Director, with guidance and advice from SUNY campus leadership members of the BLI Steering Committee. Dr. Timothy Sams, President of SUNY Old Westbury, will serve as an advisor to the Steering Committee. Members of the Steering Committee include:

  • James F. Haddon, SUNY Board Trustee
  • Joyce Brown, President, Fashion Institute of Technology
  • DeAnna Burt-Nanna, President, Monroe Community College
  • Judith Brown Clarke, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, Stony Brook University
  • Kendra Cadogan, Chief Diversity Officer and Inclusion Officer, SUNY Oswego
  • Tony Hawkins, President, SUNY Broome
  • Tracy Johnson, Vice President, Student Affairs, SUNY Oneonta
  • Laurel McAdoo, Director, Talent, Culture, and Inclusion, SUNY Research Foundation
  • Belinda Miles, President, SUNY Westchester Community College
  • Darrell P. Wheeler, President, SUNY New Paltz

Chancellor King also announced that Zulaika Rodriguez-Awoliyi, Associate Vice Chancellor for Executive Recruitment and Leadership Development, who also leads HLI, will now head the newly formed Office of Executive Recruitment and Leadership Development, which will oversee executive searches and leadership development programs including HLI and BLI.

Last month, Governor Hochul announced BLI will establish the Dr. Hazel Dukes Fellowship, naming one exceptional individual from each cohort in honor of Dr. Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference and former member of the SUNY Board of Trustees. The steering committee will announce their selection at graduation.

New York State Senator Lea Webb said, "Last year, I helped secure $350,000 in the final budget to implement the Black Leadership Institute within the SUNY system. I am thrilled to see the launch of this critical initiative which will empower, support, retain, and foster more Black leaders in higher education. SUNY is an important partner in our state and beyond. As a SUNY alum, I appreciate that the institution is making great strides with its mission to be the most inclusive and equitable University System in the country under the leadership of Chancellor John King. With the launch of the BLI, we are making an investment in the success of future leaders at SUNY."

New York State Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre said, "I am proud to push for the creation of a Black Leadership Institute (BLI) and happy to see the implementation of this initiative. Nurturing and supporting emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds is critically important to the success of our institutions of higher learning. I thank Chancellor John King, Jr. and the SUNY leadership for their ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The opportunity for professional growth and leadership development that will be provided to future BLI fellows will enrich our campuses for the benefit of the entire academic community."

SUNY Old Westbury President Timothy E. Sams said, "As one of the largest educational systems in the world, SUNY is uniquely positioned to be the leader in developing and retaining diverse, world-class talent that impacts future leaders, New York State, and the entirety of our nation. Equally important, with culture wars and more threatening the progress of our nation, SUNY's leadership in this work ensures our systems' future as place that guarantees access, is inclusive, provides outstanding educational value and meets today's national and global challenges. I look forward to working with this first cohort of the Black Leadership Institute to immediately impact the overall quality of leadership across the state and to help them keep SUNY at the forefront of higher education as leaders in their areas who will push the academy to continue to improve all sectors of society."

SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Ricardo Nazario-Colón said, "The launch of the SUNY Black Leadership Institute marks a transformative step in our journey towards fostering a more inclusive and equitable academic environment. BLI, alongside HLI, in the newly created Office of Executive Recruitment and Leadership Development, stands as a testament to our commitment to nurturing and elevating strong and effective leaders. These programs are not just about providing opportunities; they are about creating spaces where a diversity of voices are heard, valued, and given the platform to lead. We are immensely proud to support this initiative, and I am confident that the Black Leadership Institute will empower a new generation of SUNY trailblazers who will carry forward the legacy of excellence within the SUNY system and beyond."

SUNY Associate Vice Chancellor for Executive Recruitment and Leadership Development Zulaika Rodriguez-Awoliyi said, "As the Executive Director of the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute, I've witnessed so many success stories among fellows who participated in the program. These fellows are role models to their colleagues and those who, like them, want to build on their path of upward mobility in their careers. It's an honor to oversee and expand on successful leadership programs. I'm optimistic that we will continue to uplift and ensure a seat at the table for aspiring leaders across SUNY through the Black Leadership Institute."

SUNY Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the Black Leadership Institute Tamara Frazier said, "It's an honor to be appointed as the inaugural Executive Director of the SUNY Black Leadership Institute as we continue to grow our diversity across SUNY, especially in senior leadership roles. Programs like BLI and HLI ensure that underrepresented individuals have a seat at the decision-making table so that every voice is heard to provide a diverse perspective on the issues directly affecting everyone at SUNY."

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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