Commencement / Speaker Information

Commencement Speaker Information

Jo Allen

Jo Allen, '80
President of Meredith College

Dr. Jo Allen is the first alumna to lead Meredith College. An alumna from the Class of 1980, Allen was named president of the institution in April 2011. As president of one of the largest private colleges for women in the United States, Allen is a strong advocate for women’s education who brings her experience as a faculty member, administrator, and scholar to her current role as president of her alma mater.

Since taking office, President Allen has guided Meredith to an enviable position of strength and vitality. After leading a collaborative, community-wide process to develop a comprehensive strategic plan, Meredith Forever, Allen and the Executive Leadership Team oversaw its implementation with impressive results. In the six years since the rolling plan was put in place, Meredith has exceeded enrollment and retention goals; raised more than $86 million in Beyond Strong, its largest fundraising campaign ever; earned the highest rating from the U.S. Department of Education for financial stability; launched the Going Strong brand initiative; established StrongPoints®, the College’s signature coaching and personal advising program; created a personal and professional development program for women called Stronger U; and completed or initiated renovationson buildings and infrastructure across campus, including Johnson Hall, the College’s most iconic building.

A North Carolina native, Allen earned her Master’s degree from East Carolina University and her doctorate from Oklahoma State University. Both her M.A. and her Ph.D. are in English literature, with an emphasis in Technical and Professional Communication. Her B.A. from Meredith is also in English. She served as tenured associate professor of English at East Carolina University and tenured associate professor at North Carolina State University in addition to her administrative roles. Dr. Allen was an American Council on Education Fellow at the University of Virginia.

Previous Commencement Speakers

2018: Adrienne Cole, '93, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce President and CEO

2017: Becky Jacobs, Chief Engagement Officer, Simple Change Wellness

2016: Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist

2015: Jo Allen, '80, first alumna to serve as Meredith College president

2014: Susan Mboya, Coca-cola executive and philanthropist, founder of the Zawadi Africa Foundation

2013: Anne-Marie Slaughter, International affairs scholar and the first woman to serve as director of policy planning for the United States Department of State

2012: Silda Wall Spitzer, ’80, Former First Lady, State of New York

2011: Sally Brice-O'Hara, U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral

2010: Gretchen Holt Witt, '89, a pediatric cancer activist and co-founder of the non-profit Cookies for Kids' Cancer

2009: Sarah Parker, chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court

2008: Betty Ray McCain, former Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

2007: Elizabeth Edwards, author, advocate and attorney

2006: Beverly Perdue, North Carolina lieutenant governor

2005: Renee Montagne, National Public Radio correspondent and "Morning Edition" co-host

2004: Elaine Marshall, North Carolina Secretary of State

2003: Judy Woodruff, journalist for news organizations including CNN and PBS

Contact Information
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