Alumna Dawna Jones Appointed as Director of Duke’s Black Culture Center

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Alumni Feature

Dawna Jones, a 2009 alumna of the Master of Higher Education program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, was appointed as director of Duke University’s Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture.

In this university-wide, student affairs-based role, Jones oversees the center’s efforts to foster a safe space that supports the diverse needs of Black-identified people at Duke. She partners with various offices, faculty, alumni, and students to create community connections and offer programming, support, and training.

“I see my job as the opportunity to create a safe and welcoming space that allows members of our Black community to be fully authentic and enthusiastically supported,” says Jones. 

Jones aims to continue the center’s legacy by engaging with more faculty, staff, and Durham community members. 

“I look forward to continuing to honor the legacy of our namesake, Mary Lou Williams,” says Jones. “I want the center to continue to be an affirming space for Black-identified people at Duke.” 

With over 10 years of student affairs experience, Jones has worked in a variety of roles including crisis management, case management, and residential life. Prior to her position at Duke, Jones worked in the dean of students office at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. 

Jones credits her time in the Pitt Education MEd program and the connections she made with her mentors for preparing her to succeed in student affairs.

“One of the biggest ways that Pitt prepared me to be successful is through amazing mentorship and professional modeling,” says Jones. “Also, the coursework certainly gave me the foundation for my career in student affairs, which ultimately got me to this point.”

Jones also recognizes the impact of her experiences working as a graduate assistant for the R.I.S.E Mentor program and residence life at Pitt. The positions prepared her for culturally engaged work and developed her programming skills, which she incorporates into her new position at Duke.  

“My career in student affairs started with my time as a graduate assistant at Pitt,” says Jones. ”I am forever grateful for the trajectory that put me on for a career that I love.”

Learn More 

The Master of Higher Education program is now accepting applications. Apply today!