Ithaca College Board of Trustees Elects Members

By Dave Maley, May 25, 2021
Two join the board for the first time.

At its May meetings, the Ithaca College Board of Trustees elected Lewis “Lee” Bird ’86 and Traci W. Hughes ’85 as term trustees. James E. Taylor ’00, who has served as an alumni trustee since 2017, was also elected as a term trustee. All three will serve for four-year terms.

Lee Bird

Since 2012, Lee Bird has served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the national home décor retailer At Home Group Inc. His career in the consumer sector has included such positions as group president of Nike Affiliates for Nike Inc., chief operating officer of Gap, and chief financial officer of Old Navy. He has also held strategic and financial leadership roles with The Gores Group, Gateway Inc., Honeywell/AlliedSignal Inc., and Ford Motor Company.

After graduating from the School of Business with a degree in finance in 1986, Bird earned his M.B.A. from Babson College. He currently serves on the board of the Larry H. Miller Companies and the National Advisory Committee for the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University and is a member of the Ownership Advisory Group of the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

While at IC, Bird earned All-America honors as a member of the swim team. In 2018 he and his wife, Linda P. Bird ’86, established an endowment to sustain the operational costs of the pool in the Athletics and Events Center, which was named the Kelsey Partridge Bird Natatorium in memory of their daughter. He has returned to the School of Business several times to give guest lectures and has served in a number of volunteer roles on behalf of the college. Last December he participated in a virtual panel discussion hosted by President Shirley M. Collado on “Shifts in Leadership During COVID.”

Traci Hughes

Vice president of human resources Europe at Colgate-Palmolive since 2015, Traci Hughes has been with the global consumer products company for over two decades, starting in North America, then working in Europe, Africa Eurasia, and Latin America. She began her career there as executive compensation manager and relocated abroad with her family in 2000 to live and work in Europe for the first time. She was promoted in 2009 to vice president of human resources for the Africa Middle East division, which subsequently became the Africa Eurasia Division, and then led human resources for the Latin America and Europe divisions. Prior to joining Colgate-Palmolive, she worked at Kraft General Foods as senior compensation specialist and began her career in human resources at American Express Company, progressing through several roles.

Hughes earned her degree in personnel and industrial relations from the School of Business in 1985 and subsequently earned her M.B.A. in finance from New York University’s Stern School of Business. As a student at IC she served in multiple leadership roles. She was Spokesperson for the Afro Latin Society, a Peer Career Counselor, directed performances for Kuumba Repertory Theater, was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi and Delta Mu Delta honor societies, and won a Campus Life Award.

Her volunteer activities for the college have included serving as Keeper of the Records for the ALS (African-Latino Society) Alumni Advisory Board; as a volunteer with ICUnity, a network of students, alumni, staff, parents, and friends of the college who support diversity-related programs and events; and as an Alumni Admission Representative. She and her husband, Carlos Velez ’85, returned to the college numerous times to speak at the annual Professionals Symposium, sponsored by the Ithaca Opportunity Program and Higher Education Opportunity Program.

James E. Taylor

James E. Taylor is both chief diversity and inclusion officer and chief talent management officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, one of the nation’s largest integrated health care delivery and finance systems. In those roles, he executes inclusion strategies that advance the diversity management capability of UPMC and oversees the design and implementation of advanced employee learning, organizational development, succession planning, and consultative services aligned to the institution’s long-term priorities. Prior to joining UPMC in 2016, he held similar positions at Carolinas HealthCare System and at Kaiser Permanente.

Taylor earned his degree in applied psychology from the School of Humanities and Sciences in 2000, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. He also holds an executive leadership certificate from the Harvard Business School.

He has stayed connected with the college as a member of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance Board of Advocates and the Alumni Association Board of Director, ICUnity volunteer, Alumni Admission Representative, ALANA Career Connection participant, and distinguished guest speaker on campus. Taylor serves his community and his profession as a member of the boards of the National Diversity Council and of Pittsburgh Promise, a nonprofit that helps students and families of the Pittsburgh Public Schools plan, prepare, and pay for education beyond high school.

The board of trustees also reelected David Lissy ’87 as chair and James Nolan Jr. ’77 as vice chair, and reelected members Michael Conover ’81, Jack Dembow ’77, Thad Fortin ’81, Gary Gross ’81, William Nelligan ’83, and Jeff Selingo ’95.