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heryl Howard brings a wealth of professional knowledge and
life experience to the MCC Board of Trustees. As Vice President
of Communications, Diversity & Inclusion at Simmons College,
Howard is familiar with higher-education issues. And, as a graduate
of Simmons who then earned an MBA and doctorate from Harvard
Business School, she also understands the challenges students of
color can face in pursuit of a college degree.
"Education was always important in my family," said Howard. "As
was true for many, many black families, my parents always said,
`The only thing they cannot take away from you is education.' "
Growing up in Washington, D.C., Howard was one of the first
African-American students to attend the prestigious Sidwell Friends
School. She graduated from the Quaker high school with honors.
"Sidwell had always been all white, but in the mid-1960s it needed
to integrate. They recruited students of color and I entered as a
10th grader in the first high school class to admit black students.
I was one of five."
She received a scholarship to Simmons and graduated with high
honors in 1971 with a degree in Business Administration. "I had a
fantastic professor who had attended Harvard Business School and
encouraged me to apply." Howard earned an MBA and, after she
married and started a family, a DBA from Harvard Business School.
She was one of only a few women, and very few black students,
at HBS at the time. "There were only nine women, and almost no
people of color, in my section of 100 students. This was typical of
all nine sections at HBS back then."
After graduating, Howard joined The Gillette Co. as an assistant
brand manager. "I was the oldest assistant brand manager they had.
Most came directly from business school and were single. I was a
married woman with two children."
Howard worked at Gillette for almost 20 years. In her last
assignment, she was Vice President for Personal Care, a
$450-million division. After she took early retirement from Gillette,
Howard became an active alumna at Simmons and joined the
professional staff 10 years ago.
"You can see a pattern in my career. I was always integrating
or was older and competing with younger people. I was always
different, all along the way.
"But I was also very fortunate. I received scholarships to Sidwell
and to Simmons."
As an MCC trustee, Howard is focused on issues such as promoting
diversity and reducing student debt.
"Simmons is a small, private university. I wanted to see education
from another perspective, from the public side. I want to hear and
see and contribute more to improving diversity and opportunity for
Middlesex students.
"I'm also concerned about the economic challenges students face
today. What is the cost to attend college? How do students fund
that? And what are their career opportunities?
"The role of the community college system as a strategy for
developing well-educated, productive citizens is right on. Today,
particularly for students of color, it's very important to prepare
yourself for a career and a job."
Kathy Register
Focusing on Promoting Diversity and Reducing Student Debt
" I want to hear and see and contribute more
to improving diversity and opportunity for
Middlesex students."
Cheryl Howard
VP of Communications, Diversity & Inclusion, Simmons College
Member, MCC Board of Trustees
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