By David Scott
Dr. Alecia A. DeCoudreaux, the first African-American President of Mills College, was keynote speaker Sunday Feb. 19 at Beth Eden Baptist Church in Oakland.
“I want students to think critically, communicate effectively, following their passion to impact the world and giving back to those in need, “ she said, explaining her vision for the women’s college, which she has led since taking the position in July.
Pastor Gillette O. James, Senior Pastor at Beth Eden, invited DeCoudreaux to speak as part of Black History Month and to welcome her to the Bay Area.
“We here at Beth Eden were blessed with her global vision for Mills College. She inspires our congregation to pursue higher education at any age,” said Pastor James.
As a child raised on the South Side of Chicago, she learned from her grandmother about the value of education, DeCoudreaux said. “She taught me education is the key to independence.”
Before taking the position at Mills, she served as vice president and deputy general counsel at Eli Lilly and Company, where she worked for three decades. She was also executive director of Lilly Research Laboratories, research planning and scientific administration and directed governmental and community relations for the company.
A graduate of Wellesley, one of the largest women’s colleges in the nation, DeCoudreaux has a background in women’s education combined with more than 30 years of experience as a corporate attorney, women’s advocate, fundraiser, and community volunteer.