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A New Chapter: The Inauguration of Dr. Helene Gayle as the 11th President of Spelman College

On a bright and inspiring day, the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Spelman College played host to a momentous occasion – the inauguration of Dr. Helene Gayle as the 11th President of the prestigious institution.



The atmosphere was filled with a sense of pride, achievement, and excitement as the Spelman community came together to welcome their new leader, a champion of sexual health education and an advocate for Black women.





The event was a testament to the rich history and promising future of Spelman College, an institution dedicated to the education and empowerment of Black women. It was an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. Gayle, a distinguished leader whose journey began as a pediatrician and public health physician.


Dr. Helene Gayle, President of Spelman College standing at podium
Dr. Helene Gayle, President of Spelman College

She has since spent her career advocating for economic development, humanitarian, and health issues, with a focus on HIV/AIDS, gender equality, and wealth inequality.


The event featured an impressive line-up of speakers, each contributing to the warm and congratulatory atmosphere. The day began with a welcome from Dázon Dixon Diallo, MPH, Founder and President of SisterLove, the first women's HIV, Sexual and Reproductive Justice organization in the southeastern United States.



She set the tone for the event, emphasizing the importance of women's health and rights and the role of Spelman College in shaping the next generation of leaders in these areas.


Following the invocation by Rev. Africa McCladdie, a Community Outreach Associate at SisterLove, the audience was treated to a stunning performance by ViZion Dance, showcasing the creativity and talent that thrive within the Spelman community.


Rev. Africa McCladdie giving the invocation at a podium at Spelman College
Rev. Africa McCladdie giving the invocation

Two dancers wearing white performing acrobatics at the event
ViZion Dance giving a performance at the event

Dr. Maisha Standifer, PhD., MPH, an Assistant Professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine, introduced Dr. David Satcher, MD., PhD, a physician-scientist and public health administrator who served as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States.


Dr. Maisha Standifer, PhD., MPH at podium
Dr. Maisha Standifer, PhD., MPH

Dr. Satcher spoke highly of Dr. Gayle, acknowledging her extensive experience and her passion for addressing health disparities and inequalities.



Dr. Robyn Neblett Fanfair, MD., MPH at podium
Dr. Robyn Neblett Fanfair, MD., MPH

In a touching tribute, Dr. Robyn Neblett Fanfair, MD., MPH, Acting Division Director and Principal Deputy Director for the Division of HIV Prevention at CDC, highlighted Dr. Gayle's work in fighting HIV/AIDS and her commitment to improving the quality of life for those affected by the disease.






Dr. John Nkengasong, PhD., MSc, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy - PEPFAR, lauded Dr. Gayle's leadership in the global health arena, noting her significant contributions to the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Dázon Dixon Diallo (left) and Dr. John Nkengasong, PhD (right)
Dázon Dixon Diallo (left) and Dr. John Nkengasong, PhD (right)

Dr. Natalia Kanem, MD., MPH, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), introduced Dr. Helene Gayle with great admiration, commending her dedication to public health, social justice, and philanthropy, as well as her ability to bring about positive change in communities around the world.


Dr. Natalia Kanem, MD., MPH at podium
Dr. Natalia Kanem, MD., MPH

As Dr. Gayle took to the stage, the audience greeted her with enthusiastic applause, reflecting the excitement and hope for her tenure as the 11th President of Spelman College. Dr. Gayle spoke with passion and conviction about her vision for the college, emphasizing the importance of fostering a supportive and empowering environment that nurtures the growth and development of young Black women.



Dr. Helene Gayle, President of Spelman College standing at podium
Dr. Helene Gayle, President of Spelman College

The event concluded with heartfelt acknowledgements and a moving benediction by Rev. Dr. Neichelle Guidry, M.Div., PhD, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and Yale Divinity School, who offered words of wisdom and encouragement to Dr. Gayle and the Spelman community as they embark on this new journey together.




The inauguration of Dr. Helene Gayle marks a significant milestone in the history of Spelman College. With her extensive professional background and unwavering dedication to sexual health education and the empowerment of Black women, Dr. Gayle is uniquely positioned to guide the college into a future full of promise and opportunity.



Under Dr. Gayle's leadership, Spelman College is poised to continue its mission to empower and inspire generations of women of African descent to excel academically, socially, and professionally. As the college embarks on this new chapter, the Spelman community can take pride in the knowledge that they have a leader who not only shares their values but is dedicated to helping each student reach her full potential.


The inauguration event was a beautiful celebration of the shared history, values, and aspirations that bind the Spelman community together. It was a reminder of the college's enduring commitment to empowering Black women and promoting education, health, and social justice.




As the attendees left the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, they did so with a renewed sense of purpose and a deep appreciation for the power of education to change lives and create a brighter future for all.



Dázon Dixon Diallo (blue, left) with Dr. John Nkengasong (right)
Dázon Dixon Diallo (blue, left) with Dr. John Nkengasong (right)

They also were able to explore our Healthy Love Bus mobile sexual health clinic, which allows us to provide HIV/STI testing and counseling in the greater Atlanta community.





We congratulate you, Dr. Gayle. Your remarkable journey and accomplishments have led you to this well-deserved position, and we look forward to witnessing the extraordinary impact you will have on Spelman College and its students.


May your tenure as the 11th President be filled with success, growth, and the continued pursuit of excellence in education and leadership for Black women.

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