In November 2019 Associate Staci Williams Seeley returned to her alma mater, Bowdoin College, for AF/AM/50, an event celebrating fifty years of Africana Studies, the African American Society, and the John Brown Russwurm African American Center at Bowdoin.
“Seeing 550+ people gather was nothing short of inspiring,” says Staci, who co-chaired the alumni host committee and moderated the panel, A Seat at the Table: A Forum With Alumnae Leaders, where five alumnae spoke about their rise in industries (technology, engineering, Wall Street, marketing, and cyber security) traditionally dominated by men.
Saddie Smith ’75, who graduated with the first class of women at Bowdoin, grew up with a mom who worked two jobs. When she retired from a thirty-seven-year career at Consolidated Edison, she was vice president of facilities and field services. Tamara Nikuradse ’84 left her marketing executive job to become a teacher and author. Marnita Thompson Eaddie ’90 is a computer security expert and major in the United States Air Force. Krystal Barker Buissereth ’08 is an executive director and the head of financial wellness at Morgan Stanley, and Awa Diaw ’11 is a global diversity and inclusion project manager at Microsoft.
In a lively discussion about black women and leadership, Staci and the panelists shared their experiences as black women, from their arrival on the campus of a small liberal arts college in Maine, to adjustment, to gaining “a seat at the table” and navigating the power structures of their respective industries.
“We shared wisdom and tips for success,” says Staci, “including the importance of developing both mentors – people to seek guidance from – and sponsors, or those who will speak highly of you when you are not in the room.”
Other speakers at AF/AM/50 included Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express (“His talk on servant leadership was a master class!,” says Staci), the Black Lives Matter activist, author, and educator DeRay Mckesson, Africana Studies scholar and artist Nell Irvin Painter, and 88-year old honorary degree recipient David Driskell, who is an artist and groundbreaking historian of African and African American art.
Capping off the special milestone weekend, Staci learned at the final celebration gala that she will receive Bowdoin’s Alumni Service Award in May 2020.
Since joining Storbeck Search, Staci has assisted in searches on behalf of independent schools such as The Hewitt School and The Pingry School and on behalf of universities such as George Mason University. In her search work she draws on her extensive experience in the education sector as a college counselor, nonprofit executive director, development director, middle and high school teacher, college mentor, and trustee.
Staci received her bachelor’s degree in History and Psychology from Bowdoin College and her M.A.T. in History and Social Studies from Brown University.