Gretchen Cook-Anderson Receives NAFSA "Impact in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in International Education" Award

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IES Abroad is pleased to announce that NAFSA: Association of International Educators has selected Gretchen Cook-Anderson, Associate Vice President, Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism, and Director of Diversity Recruitment and Advising at IES Abroad, as the inaugural recipient of the prestigious NAFSA Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in International Education for 2021.

About the Award 

The NAFSA Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in International Education is given annually in honor of a NAFSA member who has shown sustained commitment to the association’s Mission, Vision, and Values by advocating for the interests of underrepresented populations; improving recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations; or incorporating diversity or anti-oppression training in international education programming.

“International education lies at the core of an interconnected world characterized by diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and well-being for all. The NAFSA Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in International Education honors our members who passionately foster those values through their work,” said Esther D. Brimmer, DPhil, NAFSA executive director and CEO. “Through Gretchen’s advocacy and innovations at IES Abroad and with its partners, she has shown a sustained commitment study abroad equity and inclusion. We congratulate Gretchen for leadership and the impact she will continue to have on the field.”

Gretchen will be recognized for this achievement during the NAFSA 2021 Annual Conference and Expo, June 1-4, 2021.

Highlights from Gretchen's Work


  • Since starting at IES Abroad in 2011, Gretchen has expanded IES Abroad student diversity by 151% and led efforts to expand IES Abroad’s financial and informational resources for students and parents of diverse backgrounds. This includes fundraising and advocacy for financial aid and scholarships. She also has worked to develop pools of scholarships designated for students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institution within IES Abroad’s consortium. 
  • Gretchen's team developed two broad initiatives: Tu Mundo, which focuses on enrollment efforts at Hispanic Serving Institutions and Take Off with IES Abroad, which partners with HBCUs. The results of Gretchen’s team speak for themselves. In the last full year IES Abroad hosted students abroad, 2019-20, IES Abroad increased its ethnic diversity by 18.4%. 
  • Recently, Gretchen and her team led an IES Abroad consortium-wide session “The Invisible Race – Asian American Students and Study Abroad", presenting how students of Asian heritage, particularly those who are American-born, have their own unique perspectives, stories, and concerns about study abroad. They urged participants, study abroad coordinators, to consider that these students are often the “invisible race,” the students of color not always considered in conversations around study abroad financial aid, enrollment diversity, inclusive advising, or marketing outreach. 
  • On the IES Abroad Diversity Committee, Gretchen has been vital to IES Abroad’s efforts to train staff on topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism. Gretchen was a leading member of a team who selected trainers to work with global staff on diversity training. Understanding that training needs to be ongoing, Gretchen developed multi-step training with our staff and faculty focusing on these topics.
  • Outside of her work with IES Abroad Gretchen, volunteers with numerous individuals and organizations to consult and conduct training on DEIA topics. She has worked with local schools bringing together coalitions of people and organizations to address issues in educational diversity. In recognition for her work, she was recently honored as a "Black Excellence on the Hill" nominee *by her local state representative. 


NAFSA is the largest and most comprehensive association of professionals committed to advancing international higher education. The association believes that international education advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals, and builds leadership for the global community.

The complete list of NAFSA awardees is available at

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

“Through Gretchen’s advocacy and innovations at IES Abroad and with its partners, she has shown a sustained commitment study abroad equity and inclusion.”
Esther D. Brimmer • DPhil • NAFSA executive director and CEO
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