Sea Change: A Conversation About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Within International Education

Gretchen Cook-Anderson and Ogonna Owu share their perspectives on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field.
"I do think the field itself is going through a reckoning, not only because of the pandemic, but it’s gone through a reckoning around racial diversity and racial equity within the professional field," says Gretchen Cook-Anderson. "I hope we will see more change as the field ramps back up."
Elizabeth Hendley

Efforts to diversify the field of international education have accelerated over the past few years, and Ogonna Owu, MA, and Gretchen Cook-Anderson, MA, have had a front-row seat to the changes and challenges. 

Headshot of Ogonna Owu
Ogonna Owu

Owu has been a study abroad adviser for the past 4 years at Towson University, where she specializes in program and project management of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, among other duties. She is a fellow of NAFSA’s inaugural RISE (Representation, Inclusion, Support, and Empowerment) program, which will conclude at the end of 2021. Owu has worked at Maryland-based higher education institutions for almost 10 years.

Cook-Anderson is the inaugural executive director of Ignite, a nonprofit that aims to cultivate greater diversity, equity, and inclusive culture across the biotechnology industry in Boston and beyond. 

Headshot of Gretchen Cook-Anderson
Gretchen Cook-Anderson

Prior to making the jump to biotechnology from international education, Cook-Anderson was at IES Abroad for 10 years, where she was associate vice president; assistant to the president for diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism; and director of diversity recruiting and advising. 

In 2021, Cook-Anderson was honored with the inaugural NAFSA Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which recognizes a NAFSA member who has shown sustained commitment to this mission by advocating for the interests of underrepresented populations.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed. Listen to the full interview on the International Educator podcast below.




Ogonna Owu: Over the course of your career, what positive changes have you seen in the field when it comes

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