Jane Powers ’86 Elected Next Chair of Board of Trustees
Dear Colby Community,
Last year, Eric Rosengren ’79, P’12, chair of Colby’s Board of Trustees, announced that he would step down from that role at the end of this academic year. He has been a remarkable leader for Colby, overseeing unprecedented growth and improvements at the College.
After a thorough search process, the board has unanimously and enthusiastically elected its next chair: Jane Powers ’86. A highly respected board member since 2005 and currently a vice chair, Jane demonstrates principled leadership, profound wisdom and insight, and an exemplary commitment to Colby. She brilliantly synthesizes multiple perspectives and issues, and her analyses bring clarity to complex questions. She will be the first woman to lead Colby’s governing board when she assumes the role in May of 2022.
Jane is chief of staff and executive vice president of strategic initiatives at Fenway Health, a community health center that provides quality care to all, regardless of their ability to pay. Throughout her distinguished career in social work, she has led teams of mental health providers in support of emotionally challenged youth and individuals from underserved communities, with a particular focus on the LGBTQIA+ community.
Below please find the press release that will be distributed today. I hope you will join me in celebrating this important milestone.
Colby’s strength is built on the foundation of exceptional governance. Eric Rosengren fortified this foundation, and it will only continue to be reinforced under the exemplary leadership of Jane Powers. We are fortunate to benefit from individuals of such talent and dedication to our amazing College.
David A. Greene
Fenway Health’s Jane Powers ’86 to Lead Colby College Board of Trustees
Colby’s Board of Trustees has elected Jane Powers ’86 as chair of the board. Powers, chief of staff and executive vice president of strategic initiatives at Fenway Health, is an influential and prominent leader in the field of behavioral health for the LGBTQIA+ community. Currently serving as co-vice chair of the board, she assumes her new role in May 2022.
“Jane has distinguished herself on the board through her strategic thinking, her remarkable ability to understand multiple perspectives and synthesize complex issues, and her wisdom and deep insight,” said President David A. Greene. “Colby is incredibly fortunate to have her stepping into this important role.”
Powers possesses a longstanding passion for expanding access to Colby’s distinctive education. She has an exceptional 30 years of service to the College in increasingly important roles. Currently in her third term on the board, she has chaired the board’s People and Programs Committee, served as vice chair of the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee, and been a member of the Board of Visitors.
As chair, she will draw from those experiences to guide the College as it continues to attract the most talented students from around the world and provide exceptional educational opportunities that prepare students to make meaningful contributions to the world.
“Jane has been a strong supporter of Colby for many years,” said Eric Rosengren ’79, current chair of the board. “She leads by example and has strong ties to all Colby stakeholders. Jane is the right leader for Colby as it continues to innovate and further its goal of being a premier liberal arts college.”
Powers makes history at Colby as the first woman to head the College’s governing body. Her election comes serendipitously as the College marks the 150th anniversary of women’s admittance to Colby. In 1871 Mary Low became the first woman to enroll at Colby. Often referred to as the grandmother of coeducation at Colby, she cofounded the Sigma Kappa sorority, was the first woman invited to join the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and was valedictorian of Colby’s Class of 1875.
“What a humbling honor to be elected chair of the Board of Trustees,” said Powers. “Colby has made tremendous progress in making life-changing opportunities available for students. As chair, I will work to ensure that Colby stays true to its values while also positioning the College to educate students to effectively address 21st-century challenges.”
Powers brings to the board her perspective as a clinical social worker. She subscribes to a biopsychosocial model, which looks at individuals holistically with unique biological, sociological, and psychological histories. Her background allows her to employ sensitivity and insight when confronted with complex challenges. Members of the board appreciate the constructive approaches and solutions she offers as well as her ability to communicate with clarity, compassion, and conviction.
“Jane embodies the values of Colby as an institution. Inclusivity, curiosity, empathy, and service to others are endemic to who she is,” added Sunil Thakor ’99, who serves as co-vice chair with Powers. “Colby’s board is diverse and encompasses a wide array of backgrounds and perspectives. That Jane is the unanimous choice of such a diverse and broad group speaks volumes about the respect she deservedly commands from her colleagues.”
In 2013 Powers joined Fenway Health as director of behavioral health. At the Boston-based community health center, she led a team of more than 70 therapists, social workers, addictions specialists, and LGBTQ violence-prevention experts committed to providing quality care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. The center’s core mission is to support LGBTQIA+ individuals, people of color, and other underserved communities. Later, Powers became both acting and interim CEO before her current role.
Throughout her career, Powers has been an engaged and notable voice in the field of community health in general and for meeting behavioral health needs for the LGBTQIA+ community specifically. A frequent presenter at national conferences, she has been an advisory member to the National LGBTQIA+ Health and Education Center; a member of the National Association of Community Health Centers’ LGBTQ Health Task Force, Clinical Issues Committee, and HIV and Behavioral Health Integration Committee; and a member of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers’ Clinical Issues Committee.
Previously, she was director of the day program at St. Ann’s Home, a therapeutic day school for children and adolescents who have special emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs, for nearly 20 years.
As a Colby student, Powers was a Presidential Scholar, elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and president of the Women’s Group. She double majored in psychology and human development and went on to earn an M.S.W. in clinical social work from Simmons College.
Powers’s engagement with the College began when she was a student in the mid-1980s. In response to the board’s decision to abolish fraternities, she helped develop reimagined systems of residential and social life on campus. Soon after she graduated, she became an admissions volunteer and later served on the Alumni Council. As a member of the Board of Visitors, she oversaw visiting committees for the Women’s Studies (now Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Latin American Studies, and the Education program, Student Services, and the Sociology Department. She first joined the board in 2005.