Funding Opportunity and Resilience at HBCUs and Community Colleges



About the Speakers


David M. RubensteinInterviewer
David M. Rubenstein
Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents

David M. Rubenstein is a co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group and a regent of the Smithsonian Institution. He also is chairman of the boards of trustees of the Kennedy Center and the Council on Foreign Relations; a fellow of the Harvard Corporation; and a trustee of the following: the National Gallery of Art, the University of Chicago, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Constitution Center, the Brookings Institution, and the World Economic Forum. He is a director of Lincoln Center and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a president of the Economic Club of Washington. Previously, he served as chair of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents and the Duke University Board of Trustees, and was co-chair of the Board of the Brookings Institution. Rubenstein is an original signatory of the Giving Pledge and a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. He is host of The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations, and author of The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians (2019) and How to Lead: Wisdom from the World's Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers (2020).

Dr. Eduardo J. PadrónPanelist
Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón
President Emeritus
Miami Dade College

Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón is president emeritus of Miami Dade College, a national model of student achievement and the largest degree-granting institution in America. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, for being a prominent national voice for access and inclusion in higher education. In 2009, Time magazine included him among the “10 Best College Presidents” in the US and in 2011, The Washington Post recognized him as one of the eight most influential college presidents nationwide. Padrón is the recipient of the Carnegie Corporation’s Centennial Academic Leadership Award and the Hesburgh Award, the highest honor in US higher education. He is also an Ascend Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Six American Presidents have selected him to serve on posts of national prominence. He serves on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Urban Institute, the Spencer Foundation, and the International Association of University Presidents. He is the past chairman of the Business-Higher Education Forum, the American Council on Education, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Dr. David A. ThomasPanelist
Dr. David A. Thomas
Morehouse College

Dr. David A. Thomas is the 12th president of Morehouse College. He took office in 2018, ushering in a new era of progressive leadership for the nation’s largest and most prestigious liberal arts institution for men. With more than 30 years of experience in the business of higher education, Thomas is a visionary leader who is nationally respected as an expert in organizational change. He is the former dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and has served as a business school professor at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. Under Thomas’ leadership at Morehouse, the college has increased enrollment and philanthropic giving. Morehouse made history in higher education in May 2019 when a chief executive officer that he invited to serve as Commencement speaker surprised the graduating class by offering to pay off their student loans. He is the co-author of three books: Race, Work & Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience (2019); Leading for Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in Montgomery County Public Schools (2009); and Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America (1999).

Ebony A. ThomasPanelist
Ebony A. Thomas
Senior Vice President, ESG and Public Policy
Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity Initiatives Executive
Bank of America

Ebony A. Thomas is senior vice president of ESG and Public Policy and the Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity Initiatives executive responsible for delivering Bank of America’s $1B,four-year initiative to accelerate work to help drive racial equality and economic opportunity for people and communities of color. Thomas works to identify and build partnerships with internal and external community leaders, business leaders, local elected officials, and others in the communities Bank of America serves to drive economic opportunity and upward mobility through programmatic initiatives. Previously, Thomas was a global human resources executive leading teams in enterprise diversity recruiting strategy and market and site HR. In addition to her executive career, Thomas serves as a board member at Central Piedmont Community College and is a member of the Board of Visitors for the School of Business at Howard University in Washington, DC. Thomas’ service to these organizations is rooted in her commitment to transform approaches to student achievement, career success, and improving generational socio-economic status in underserved communities. Thomas is a proud graduate of North Carolina A&T State University.

Dr. Suzanne Elise WalshPanelist
Dr. Suzanne Elise Walsh
Bennett College

Dr. Suzanne Elise Walsh is the 19th president of Bennett College, one of two historically Black colleges for women in the United States. Prior to that role, she served as the deputy director for postsecondary success with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. There, Walsh led the foundation’s efforts in institutional transformation strategies, Completion by Design, and was integrally involved in the viability and sustainability of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the current postsecondary education environment. Walsh’s previous work also includes service at two other prominent foundations: Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis, where she managed the Making Opportunity Affordable initiative, which was aimed at increasing college productivity by bringing about fundamental change in the way higher education does business; and, The Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh, where her diverse portfolio included community colleges, universities, workforce development, tech commercialization and transfer, city/county consolidation, immigration and regional economic development. Walsh got her start in higher education working at Cuyahoga Community College where she led efforts focused on workforce and economic development. She recently co-authored a chapter on “Community Colleges and the Ladder of Student Success” in the book, 13 Ideas that Are Transforming the Community College World (2019).