On Friday, August 27, the Antioch College Board of Trustees elected Shelby Chestnut ’05 as Chair. Chestnut a mixed race Assiniboine and Norweign, queer and trans community organizer who serves as the Director of Policy and Programs at the Transgender Law Center. They are the first alum from a class year beyond the ’70s to be named Chair of the Antioch College Board of Trustees. Susan Jean Mayer ’79, a noted developmental learning and curricular theorist, was elected as Vice Chair. Both Chestnut and Mayer have been longterm supporters of the College and have served as trustees in recent years (since 2016 and 2018 respectively).
“It has been a pleasure to work with Shelby on the Board of Trustees,” said outgoing Chair of the Board Maureen Lynch. “Their leadership and insights have been invaluable over the years, especially during the last year when Shelby served as Vice Chair. We are in very capable hands with this outstanding Antiochian leading us forward.” A dedicated champion of the College and trustee since 2013, Lynch will continue her service on the board after three years as chair.
Dr. Jane Fernandes, the College’s newly installed President, said, “I’m delighted to see Shelby Chestnut take the helm as Chair of the Antioch College Board of Trustees. Shelby’s leadership during the presidential search impressed me greatly, and I am confident that we will make great strides for the College working together.”
“Shelby’s sense of empathy, generosity, passion, and humor give me incredible confidence in their leadership,” added Community Manager Coco Gagnet ’18.
The announcement of Chestnut and Mayer’s election marks a shift to a multigenerational organization, building on moves over the last several years to add more community representation to the Board including the addition of faculty and staff seats as well as two student seats and a seat for the recently reinstated Community Manager position.
In addition, many alumni have returned to boost the College during the last year to support an important period of transition after President Manley announced retirement and was named President Emeritus. John Jacobs ’76 took up a senior leadership role in finance on a volunteer basis at the outset of the presidential transition followed shortly thereafter by the hiring of Shadia Alvarez ’96 as senior vice president for equity and strategic development as well as executive director of the Coretta Scott King Center. And in February, April Wolford ’92 stepped up in the interim to fill the Vice President for Advancement vacancy along with Aimee Maruyama ’96 serving in a fundraising consulting capacity.
More recently, Mary Evans ’21, Truth Garett ’20, and Iara Benton Molina Ward ’01 all took up roles in Residence Life to support new and returning students. They join Professor Emerita Louise Smith ’77, who is now serving as Interim Dean of Students after previously serving as Dean of Community Life at reopening.
These Antiochians join the many alums who have worked so hard over many years, since before closure and after reopening, to ensure that the College continues to move forward. Other current alumni faculty and staff include Brooke Blackmon Bryan ’03, Michael Casselli ’87, Wakka Ciccone ’05, Shane Creepingbear ’08, Steve Duffy ’77, Coco Gagnet ’18 and Joan Straumanis ’57.
“That so many Antiochians have rallied to support the College during this crucial time of transition is heartening,” said President Fernandes. “It speaks volumes about how impactful their Antioch experience has been in their lives, and to ensure that it endures for the next generations of students. They know the work is difficult, but necessary as we put the College on a sustainable path for the future.”
The endorsement of so many Antiochians from across the generations is crucial to the future of Antioch College. The community is indebted to countless alumni donors and boosters, and to a constellation of volunteers including members of the Alumni Board, Chapter organizers, and the Volunteer Work Project.
“The continued stewardship of our Antioch vision is a multi-generational project,” shared Coco Gagnet. “We are connected by a sense of reciprocity to the campus, the Community, and care for the world. The fact that younger alumni are stepping to the helm signals a commitment to the forward motion of the College. I believe the future is bright.”