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In finding Adler’s next leader, Trustee Nicola Idehen is confident search committee made the best choice

Stories | 04.16.24

Editor’s note: Adler University’s Board of Trustees are the stewards and ambassadors of the University, ensuring its growth and its mission in training socially responsible practitioners. In the series Around the Table, we’ll meet some of the diverse and passionate individuals who make up the Board and learn about their backgrounds, approaches to leadership, and hopes for the University’s future.

For Board of Trustees member Nicola Halsall Idehen, it’s been a busy 13 months.

While serving as the Board’s vice chair, Idehen was given a significant task — leading the Presidential Search Committee and its quest to find Adler University’s next leader.

Image of the Around the Table with Trustees series logPresident Raymond E. Crossman, Ph.D., announced on March 13, 2023, that he would be stepping down in the fall of 2024 after more than 20 years of ushering in a transformative time at the institution.

Led by Idehen, the 11-member committee, along with executive search firm Russell Reynolds, conducted multiple in-person and virtual stakeholder meetings, surveyed students, staff, and faculty, and interviewed a long list of highly qualified candidates.

On April 16, the group’s work reached a significant milestone when it was finally announced that Lisa Coleman, Ph.D., would take the helm as president on Sept. 1. The search committee had unanimously recommended Dr. Coleman to the Board of Trustees.

“It was such a tremendous experience to be a part of a group of people across the University who came together to ensure we selected the best possible person for this new chapter in Adler University’s history,” Idehen said. “The search has been one of the great honors of my professional life.”

And that’s saying a lot.

Idehen was most recently the Enterprise Head of People at Citadel, one of the world’s leading financial services companies. Prior to this position, she served in leadership roles at Vistra, GCM Grosvenor, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a nonprofit transforming leadership pipelines by equipping Black, Latinx, and Native American talent to secure high-trajectory jobs. She began her career at the JP Morgan Private Bank, where she was a fixed-income product specialist.

She received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard University.

In this Around the Table, Idehen shares what led her to join the Board of Trustees at Adler, what she hopes more people knew about the University, and how proud she is of the great work the Presidential Search Committee conducted in finding the institution’s next president.

Why did you get involved with the Board of Trustees at Adler?

The University’s mission really struck me. I didn’t know much about Adler initially, but the more I learned, the more I felt a connection to its mission and goals in addressing a variety of systemic issues facing our communities, particularly here in Chicago. The students, staff, and faculty are focused on community health, expanding mental health services to the underserved, and many other issues that not too many people are focused on or talking about.

My hope was that I would be able to use my skills, and professional and personal background, to advance that mission in some way, shape, or form.

When you think of Adler University, what do you wish more people knew?

Our students are studying and learning about theories, but they’re putting a lot of what they learn in the classrooms into practice. In 2023, that amounted to more than 530,000 direct service hours provided by students to people in communities while working with 1,435 community partners and organizations.

That’s an incredible achievement, and I hope more people learn how embedded our students and graduates are in communities in Chicago, Vancouver, and throughout the world.

How was your experience leading the Presidential Search Committee?

It was incredible to be able to lead this effort in choosing Dr. Coleman as our next president. Everyone on the committee was so thoughtful, dedicated, and committed to what we were doing.

What do you want the Adler community to know about the presidential search process?

I want everyone to know that the committee was 100% focused on getting this right from the beginning to the end of the process. Every member brought their “A” game each time we met as a team, in doing prep work, in collecting community and stakeholder input, and in interviewing candidates. Our goal was to ensure that we have the best possible outcome, and I’m 100% certain and confident — with Dr. Coleman joining us — we achieved that in this process.

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