Leocadia “Lee” Zak ’79 has been named president-elect of Agnes Scott College, a women’s institution based near Atlanta, Georgia. Agnes Scott was founded in 1889 as a seminary and renamed Agnes Scott College in 1890.
Zak, whose education from Mount Holyoke College set her on the path of self-confidence and leadership, believes that women’s colleges are critical places for students to learn — and embrace — their full potential.
“Mount Holyoke opened the world to me,” Zak said. “My professors were always challenging me to take that next step and go outside my comfort zone. That proved to me that I could do those things, and that confidence was what enabled me to become the leader that I am today.”
After graduating from Mount Holyoke with a double major in history and Spanish, Zak earned her law degree from Northeastern University. She worked for a private law firm in Boston and Washington, D.C., for 18 years.
In 2010, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, where she implemented programs promoting the interests of middle-income countries around the world. Under her leadership, the agency was transformed to include many more women and people of color in leadership roles.
Zak, who assumes the presidency of Agnes Scott on July 1, said that assuming the presidency of Agnes Scott is a kind of homecoming. She noted that her enthusiasm for women’s colleges has only grown since her experience at Mount Holyoke.
“When I visited Agnes Scott, I met a number of Mount Holyoke alumnae,” Zak said. “And the campus, the traditions, the ideal are very similar. Clearly, women’s colleges are a wonderful place for women to develop the skills that will put them into leadership roles.”
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