Allegra Laing selected as executive director of global programming

Following a national search, Allegra Laing, associate director for global diversity and inclusion, has been selected as the next executive director for global programming in the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center (GEC).

The Isabella Cannon Global Education Center is excited to announce Allegra Laing’s promotion to executive director for global programming.

“I am excited to serve the Elon community in this new capacity, and look forward to continuing to build upon the legacy of global engagement at Elon with inclusion and equity at the center,” said Laing, who has been serving as associate director for global diversity and inclusion.

With a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and a master’s degree from the School for International Training, Laing began her journey in international education by participating in two study away programs: Syracuse University’s junior year abroad at the Université de Strasbourg and a faculty-led program based at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane Schœlcher in Martinique. She spent an additional year as an English assistant through the French Ministry of Education in Mourenx, France, teaching courses in conversational English and American/African American culture to middle school and high school students.

Laing’s experiences in the francophone world have subsequently guided her in her two decades of experience in the field of education abroad. Her career began at Washington State University, where she served as an education abroad advisor, and continued to North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical State University, where she worked as a study abroad coordinator. Since arriving at Elon in March 2016, Laing has assumed multiple roles, including most recently as associate director of global diversity and inclusion.

Beginning in 2019, Laing has led the design and implementation of the GEC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, 2020-2025. An ambitious plan, with 52 goals over five years, the GEC has accomplished more than 30% of the goals and is on track to accomplish eight more in the upcoming year. As Laing notes, this work is important “to ensure that all students feel supported and valued throughout their global engagement journey. As Elon continues to diversify its student body, we need to assess how we meet the needs of our students and reimagine how we prepare students before, during, and after their global engagement experience.”

Laing has been recognized as a leader in the field of international education at the state and national levels. An active member of the North Carolina Association of International Educators and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Allegra has held leadership positions at the state and regional levels in international education. In 2020, Allegra was a finalist for the Diversity Abroad Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award. She is the 2021 recipient of the North Carolina Association of International Educators Marth Fitch Trigonis Individual Award and the 2022 recipient of the NAFSA Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in International Education.

Laing follows Rhonda Waller, who served as Elon’s executive director for global engagement from 2014 to 2022. Waller left Elon to become the senior director for international services at the University of Texas, San Antonio. This new role permits Waller to oversee a larger portfolio of global programs.

“We were incredibly lucky to benefit from the experience and intelligence of Rhonda, who did much to advance equity and inclusion, including through her commitment to first-generation students and students with high financial need,” said Nick Gozik, dean of global education. “We continue to recognize the significant gap left from Rhonda’s absence if we are also elated for her in this next stage of her career.”

“At the same time,” Gozik noted, “it is with great excitement that we welcome Allegra to her new role. Her passion for social justice, and a desire to see all students succeed, is palpable. She brings great energy to our office, with natural leadership abilities that permit her to engage all members of our team and the university community.”

Co-chair of the search committee, Mark Kurt, who is assistant dean of global education and a professor of economics, the members of the committee were all impressed with the caliber of all the interviewing candidates for this position. “I am thrilled for Allegra to bring her energy, leadership skills, and substantial expertise in global education and inclusive excellence to the executive director position,” Kurt said.

Gozik expressed gratitude and praise for the leadership of Bill Burress, who has served as the interim executive director after Waller’s departure. Laing will start her new position on April 3.

Other members of the search committee included Elena Schoonmaker-Gates (co-chair), Eleanor Finger, Sylvia Muñoz, Maria Papapietro, Matt Ryan, and Keshia Wall.