Gretchen Cook-Anderson Nominated as a 2021 "Black Excellence on the Hill" Honoree

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IES Abroad
March 8, 2021

This International Women's Day, we'd like to congratulate IES Abroad's Assistant Vice President of Diversity Recruiting & Advising, Gretchen Cook-Anderson, for recently being named as a 2021 Black Excellence on the Hill Honoree. Gretchen was nominated by Massachusetts State Representative Denise Garlick (D-13th District) for this annual award, which is hosted by the Massachusetts Black & Latino Legislative Caucus to "commemorate Black community leaders and trailblazers that are moving the needle forward in cities and towns across Massachusetts." In the class of 2021 nominees, other honorees included activists, teachers, musicians, and chocolatiers.

In addition to the Black Excellence on the Hill award, Gretchen is a highly-recognized and awarded higher education and study abroad professional. In her 10 years of experience with IES Abroad alone, Gretchen has formalized the Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA) and overseen the creation and implementation of the Take off with IES Abroad andTu Mundo initatives to support students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), respectively, in their pursuit of international education experiences.
 Through the Diversity Relations team's outreach and advising efforts, led by Gretchen, IES Abroad has seen an 151% increase in students of color (about 18,000 students) studying abroad over time.

To honor Gretchen and others, the Black Excellence on the Hill event was held virtually on February 26th, 2021. The evening began with keynote speaker Sean K. Ellis, whose experience fighting a wrongful conviction while exposing systemic racism and inequities in the justice system is now the subject of the current Netflix documentary seriesTrial 4. More than 280 attendees were present to hear Mr. Ellis' story, learn about his current community work in Boston and his institutional work at Tufts University, and honor this year's nominees. 

With nearly 300 people in a Zoom event, of course, comes a very active chat box full of "congratulations" for Gretchen and her fellow honorees, as well as expressions of gratitude ("As a former student of Mr. Cawthorne, Brookline is truly better bc of him!") and encouragement (like "Keep getting involved in 'good trouble.'" to quote the late John Lewis). 

Of the Black Excellence on the Hill honor, Gretchen shared "Working toward more inclusive communities, racial equity and social change energizes me, allows me to continue the work of others who came before whose efforts were not always seen or recognized, and to partner with so many who share a passion for humanity, and are therefore also pursuing true 'liberty and justice for all.'"

Please join us in congratulating Gretchen and her 2021 Black Excellence on the Hill co-nominees!

To learn more about Gretchen and the work of IES Abroad's Diversity Relations team, visit our Diversity Commitment page.

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