Lessons of Leadership

By Katya Mirsky '26, February 14, 2024
IC hosts a panel highlighting accomplishments of women of color in leadership.

Ithaca College kicked off its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week with a panel discussion featuring several campus leaders who are women of color. 

Moderated by Shadayvia Wallace, Program Director of the MLK Scholars and First-Generation Programs, the panel featured President La Jerne Terry Cornish as well as Te-Wen Lo, associate professor of biology; Mika Kennedy, assistant professor in the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity; and Nicole Eversley Bradwell ’90, executive director of admission.

With the theme of this year’s celebration being “Amplifying the Voices of Womxn of Color,” Wallace and the rest of the organizing committee wanted to ensure they were focusing on and honoring the efforts of women of color alongside Dr. King himself. 

More MLK Week Events

There are several more opportunities to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. throughout the week. Check out the full schedule of events here.

Bradwell and Wallace

During the event, panelists were asked about their experiences as women of color and as leaders. (Photo by Katya Mirsky '26)

“I wanted to have a diverse group of women who could touch on both academic affairs and student life,” Wallace said. “I think these women are leaders and change-makers, and we’re able to learn a lot from them

Panelists were asked about their personal experiences as women of color and what it means to them to be a leader.

“I’m the first Black woman who has been the executive director of admission at IC,” said Eversley Bradwell. “I hope others will see me as an example.”

President Cornish expressed a similar sentiment, reflecting on how her life has been a series of firsts, one of which was to become the first Black president of Ithaca College.

“When I think of paving the way, I think just seeing me in these spaces has paved the way––sometimes all you need to do is see it to believe that it’s possible,” she said. “It was really important to be for others what wasn’t there for me.”

“We have to be in these spaces, we have to push the boundaries, because if we don’t, we’re not there, and that’s unacceptable.”

President La Jerne Terry Cornish

Kennedy, who has devoted much of her research to the topic of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, spoke about the importance of using one’s own voice to advocate for others.

“Being part of a community and carrying stories for people who couldn’t because they’re no longer here is really important to me as I think about why I’m leading,” said Kennedy.

As the conversation moved towards the idea of showing up and speaking up, President Cornish provided a valuable piece of advice for other women of color in professional fields.

“You never know who’s watching you, who’s being inspired by you,” she said. “Continue to be your authentic self. Continue to bring your best self every day because you might be inspiring somebody by doing what you do the way you do it. We have to be in these spaces, we have to push the boundaries, because if we don’t, we’re not there, and that’s unacceptable.”

Lo also offered her perspective on the significance of authenticity, saying, “I think the most important thing is to do [everything] your way-–you never want to compromise who you are. Don’t be afraid to embrace who you are and what makes you unique as an individual.”

Leo Maring ’26 found the panel to be both enlightening and empowering. “I think it’s really essential that we have these events and that we continue to show up for them,” he said. “Uplifting and listening to the voices of women, especially women of color, is so  important.”