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Alumna Joins 2018 Harvard Business School Young American Leaders Program


The 2018 Class of the Young American Leaders Program is a Harvard Business School initiative that convenes leaders from 12 U.S. cities that are working to make their communities prosper.

Dr. Wendy Thompson, vice chancellor for organizational effectiveness at the Tennessee Board of Regents, was named to the 2018 class, which will convene at Harvard University in June.

Thompson is an alumna of Bethune-Cookman University (then BCC) and a lifetime member of the B-CU Alumni Association. She attended the University of Cincinnati College of Law and is a member of the bar in Florida and Tennessee. 

The Young American Leaders Program was created by a faculty team at Harvard Business School and was launched in 2015 to develop leaders who understand cross-sector collaborations for shared prosperity and who can implement them more effectively and spread them more rapidly than in the past.

Class members gather at Harvard for an intensive three-day workshop on local cross-sector collaboration for shared prosperity in their home communities, including urban and rural regional collaborations and strategies for economic resilience. 

Thompson shared that a love for education is in her DNA.  “As an heir to the rich legacy of Mary McLeod Bethune and parents who valued education, I now see the evidence of God’s plan for my career from the very beginning,” she said.  “Equal educational opportunity is one of the greatest civil rights issues we face - as education is the foundation for upward mobility for any community.  As a lawyer who took a non-traditional career path, I encourage aspiring lawyers to think broadly and seek alternative ways to serve, and encourage all attorneys to join the fight for equal education opportunities and access.”

She developed an interest in law during college. During law school, she interned with the University’s Office of the General Counsel. After graduation, she returned to Florida, working first for Hubert Grimes, Esquire, in Daytona Beach, and then clerking for the Honorable E. Randolph Bentley, in the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Bartow, Florida. 

Thompson later joined the legal staff at the University of South Florida, serving as the principal legal officer in the areas of employment, faculty relations, and civil rights. In 1993, she became the first general counsel at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, TN. In 2001, as special assistant to the chancellor at the Tennessee Board of Regents, then the seventh largest higher education system in the nation, Thompson coordinated the system’s compliance with a federal consent decree that resulted in dismissal of the state’s 30-plus year old higher education desegregation lawsuit. In 2006, she became Vice Chancellor at the TBR, where she remains today.  Thompson was the first black person hired as counsel at both universities and the first black female to become vice chancellor at the system level.

Thompson is an alumnus of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Millennium Leadership Institute, and the National Association of College and University Attorneys - Professional Development Institute at Harvard University. Her recognitions include: Administrator of the Year (twice) - Middle Tennessee State University; 2015 Woman of Legend and Merit (Education) - Tennessee State University; 2016 ATHENA Nominee – Nashville, TN; Leadership Nashville Class of 2016.     

Her past and present public service includes: American Council on Education Women’s Network Executive Council; Board of Directors of RePublic Schools - Nashville; the YWCA Advocacy and Racial Justice Committee; Founding Board of Directors of the Nashville Coalition of 100 Black Women Foundation; Board of Directors of Olive Branch Church, Nashville and Leadership Nashville Alumni Committee.

Spending time with family and friends brings her joy. Traveling, both physically and through reading, is her passion. She is a staunch B-CU supporter and a certified yoga instructor.

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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