Wells College announced today that its 153rd Commencement ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 10 a.m. Eastern. The keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony is Katie Fong, a 2006 Wells College graduate who is an expert in organizational change management and a Wells College alumna trustee. She will be joined by a speaker from class of 2021 whose name will be announced later this month.
Due to the pandemic, this year’s ceremony will be modified to protect the health and safety of everyone on campus as well as the local community. Due to New York State COVID-19 restrictions that currently limit the size of outdoor commencements and other gatherings, we will not be able to welcome family members or other guests on campus for this year’s ceremony, which will take place on the front steps of Macmillan Hall.
In a letter to the class of 2021 earlier today, President Jonathan Gibralter wrote, “I recognize that the past year has been full of challenges, and that your senior year likely has been far different than you imagined. Despite all that, I greatly look forward to joining you on May 22 and giving you the diploma that you have worked so diligently to earn.”
Chairs will be set up in Macmillan Circle to ensure the proper amount of physical distancing between graduates, and all participants will be required to test negative for COVID, wear masks and follow standard COVID protocols. The proceedings will be broadcast live on the Wells College website at wells.edu/commencement and on the College’s YouTube channel.
Katie Fong, who graduated from Wells in 2006 with a major in women’s studies and minor in history, spent the first part of her career as an executive search consultant. For over a dozen years she worked with senior finance, operations, supply chain and merchandising executives in some of the world’s most well-known retail, fashion and consumer brands.
In 2016, Katie decided to refocus her career on guiding organizations toward healthier, more equitable culture and practices, and so began pursuing her graduate degree in organizational change management at the New School while working full time. Upon completion of her master’s degree last May, she was awarded her program’s prize for best graduate thesis for her paper, “Renewing the Interrogatory Imperative: Hope and Persistence from 20 Years of Interrogating Whiteness in Organization Development.” She currently specializes in coaching emerging leaders and advising leaders and teams on how to integrate the values of equity, diversity and inclusion into their strategic priorities.
Kate Fong has served as an alumna trustee on the College’s board for the past six years, and was also instrumental in guiding the creation of the new strategic plan over the past year. With her deep perspective on the College’s complicated history and her professional expertise in mentorship, change management and diversity and inclusion issues, she has emerged as a leading voice on the board.
She was also the recipient of the College’s 2020 Young Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement. In acknowledging the award last fall, she said: “Perhaps the greatest reward of my time on the Board [of Trustees] has been getting to know the students who call Wells home — I am always impressed (though never surprised) at the brilliance, tenacity and strength of voice and character our students demonstrate. The persistence of the Wells spirit across generations constantly inspires me and gives me hope for the future of Wells and the world our graduates will shape.”
You can read more about Katie in the fall/winter 2020 issue of WellsNotes, the College’s publication for alumnae and alumni.