Simmons Names 2023 Commencement Speakers & Honorary Degree Recipients

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Andrea Davis Pinkney

Bestselling and Award-Winning Author

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Undergraduate Commencement Speaker

Andrea Davis Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her work has garnered multiple Coretta Scott King Book Awards, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor, and the Parenting Publications gold medal. Pinkney is a four-time NAACP Image Award nominee and a recipient of both the Regina Medal and the Arbuthnot Honor Award, for her singular body of work and distinguished contribution to the field of literature. An inductee of the New York State Writers Hall of Fame, Pinkney is the subject of the Emmy-nominated short film, Andrea Davis Pinkney: National Author Engagement. She has been named one of the "The 25 Most Influential People in Our Children's Lives" by Children's Health magazine and is among The Network Journal's "25 Most Influential Black Women in Business."

With a publishing career spanning three decades, Pinkney has served in leadership and executive roles at the Walt Disney Company, Houghton Mifflin Company, Essence magazine, the CBS Magazines Group, and Simon & Schuster. As a publisher and editor, she has launched and developed numerous high-profile entertainment, media, and publishing properties. Among them, she was the chief architect and strategic visionary for Disney Publishing Worldwide's Jump at the Sun imprint; she was the creator of The Cheetah Girls mega-series; she shepherded Toni Morrison's Remember: The Journey to School Integration; and she served as primary editor for Serving from the Hip by world-class tennis pros Venus and Serena Williams. Pinkney is currently Vice President, Executive Editor at Scholastic, where she has acquired and edited an impressive list of bestselling authors and books, including: the Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, Sonia Manzano's Pura Belpré Honor winner, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, and King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender, winner of the National Book Award.


Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty

Inaugural Director of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives

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Graduate Commencement Speaker

Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty is the inaugural director of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. The recently integrated Smithsonian Libraries and Archives contains nearly 3 million library volumes and over 44,000 cubic feet of archival materials chronicling the history of the Smithsonian. Evangelestia-Dougherty oversees 137 employees, a national advisory board of 18 members, an annual budget of over $16 million, and 22 library research centers and reading rooms located in Washington, D.C., New York City, Maryland, Virginia, and the Republic of Panama.

Previously, Evangelestia-Dougherty was an associate university librarian at Cornell University where she initiated Cornell RAD, a new research hub for rare and distinctive collections. She is also a faculty member of the UCLA California Rare Book School. As director of collections and services at New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture from 2013 to 2014, Evangelestia-Dougherty led collection and programmatic development of five curatorial divisions. At the University of Chicago's Black Metropolis Research Consortium, she served as executive director from 2011 to 2013 and as consulting archivist from 2007 to 2011. There, she successfully led initiatives to discover and make accessible archives related to the African American diaspora.

In addition to her extensive work with rare and distinctive collections, Evangelestia-Dougherty is a published author and public speaker who has presented nationally on topics of inclusivity and equity in bibliography, administration, and primary-source literacy. She currently serves on the boards of the Association of Research Libraries, Digital Scriptorium, and the American Printing History Association.

Evangelestia-Dougherty holds a Master of Science in information science from Simmons University's School of Library and Information Science (Boston, Mass.) and a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Houston.

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