Press Releases

Mills College Names Alecia A. DeCoudreaux as its 13th President

Oakland, CA–January 20, 2011 The Board of Trustees of Mills College, the oldest women’s college in the West, has elected Alecia A. DeCoudreaux as the 13th president in the College’s 159-year history. DeCoudreaux was selected from a field of candidates representing a diversity of backgrounds and accomplishments in a comprehensive national search. DeCoudreaux will assume leadership of Mills College on July 1, 2011.

DeCoudreaux brings to the Office of Mills College President an extensive and distinguished professional background. A senior executive at Eli Lilly and Company, one of Fortune magazine’s “Global Top Companies for Leaders,” she has served in a variety of important executive leadership roles over the span of the last three decades. DeCoudreaux is also the chair of the Board of Trustees at Wellesley College, one of the top women’s colleges in the United States. Her career represents more than 30 years’ experience as a corporate leader, women’s advocate, fundraiser, and community volunteer. DeCoudreaux is herself a product of women’s education, having graduated from Wellesley College in 1976.

“We are extremely pleased to announce Alecia DeCoudreaux as the 13th president of Mills College,” said Kathleen J. Burke, chair of the Mills Board of Trustees. “Her multifaceted background, passion for women’s education, and ability to lead strategically embody the ideal mix of talent and vision to carry the Mills College mission into the future. DeCoudreaux’s commitment to women’s education is clear. She’s demonstrated it with years of advocacy, community involvement, fundraising, alumnae support, coaching, and mentorship. Her skill and leadership will be tremendous assets to our academic culture and will be invaluable to the future growth and success of Mills College.”

Demonstrated Leadership Experience
Over the span of her more than three-decade career, DeCoudreaux has developed a leadership style marked by strategic thinking, collaborative leadership, and accountability. In her numerous roles at Eli Lilly and Company both inside and outside its legal department, DeCoudreaux has worked as a tireless consensus builder, earning the respect of her colleagues and peers. Her impressive professional career is buttressed by extensive involvement in the communities where she has lived and worked, including community activism, volunteer work, and a record of service on numerous charitable and nonprofit boards. DeCoudreaux’s academic experience includes successful terms as director of the Indiana University Foundation and director of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association. DeCoudreaux is currently trustee and board chair at Wellesley College. She will step down from the board chair role prior to beginning her tenure at Mills, but plans to continue to serve as a Wellesley trustee.

“It is with great honor that I accept the position of president of Mills College,” said Alecia DeCoudreaux. “It has been my stated long-term ambition to fill a leadership role in women’s education. I’m proud of the career I’ve led up until now, and I’ve certainly developed the professional and life skills necessary to fulfill the position of Mills College president. But ever since my college years at Wellesley, I’ve maintained my passion for women’s education. I’m ready now to follow my passion and that passion is what carries me into the academic world.”

As both a graduate of a women’s college and as a trustee and chair of the board of Wellesley, one of the largest and most selective women’s college in the nation, DeCoudreaux provides an extensive professional background which will offer Mills a unique perspective to advance the College in the future.

Personal History
Born in Chicago, Illinois, DeCoudreaux received a bachelor of arts degree in English and political science from Wellesley College in 1976 and a doctor of laws degree from the Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington in 1978. Throughout her career, from private practice attorney to a leadership role in a multinational company, DeCoudreaux has demonstrated the core values that Mills sought during its search for candidates. While achieving professional success, she has demonstrated creativity, social responsibility, and community involvement. DeCoudreaux has also shown acumen for budget management, fundraising, and alumnae relations and engagement. In addition to her position on the Wellesley board, she has served on the boards for the Indiana University Foundation, the Indiana University School of Law Board of Visitors, the Economic Club of Indiana, the Women’s Fund, and the United Way of America Women’s Leadership Council.

“I’m looking forward to working with the faculty, staff, and alumnae of Mills, whose reputation for passion and creativity is well known and highly regarded,” said DeCoudreaux. “I’m also looking forward to leading our diverse student body of bright young women and graduate students pursuing their advanced degrees. I am so honored to be a part of such a highly regarded institution with such a proud history. I will work hard to ensure my leadership builds on the success of the 12 great women and men who held this office before me. My first order of business as I plan our vision for the future is to listen to those around me.”

DeCoudreaux Succeeds Holmgren
DeCoudreaux will succeed current Mills President Janet L. Holmgren who began her 20-year presidency in 1991, one year after the historic strike that kept Mills a women’s college at the undergraduate level. Holmgren was charged with leading the College during this watershed moment in the College’s history and tasked with building Mills into a financially sound institution focused on women’s education in the 21st century.

“Alecia DeCoudreaux’s distinguished professional career along with her commitment to the liberal arts and educational access offer a strong basis for the role of academic leader,” said Mills College President Janet L. Holmgren. “I am pleased to support her as she joins the Mills team to move the College forward as a national leader among independent liberal arts colleges."

President Holmgren has advanced Mills as a nationally recognized model for women’s higher education. Under her leadership, Mills has welcomed students from increasingly diverse backgrounds; achieved record-breaking enrollment; enhanced academic excellence with innovative programs, including the College’s first doctoral degree; invested in campus facilities, including two new environmentally sustainable buildings; and strengthened the endowment.

“Alecia DeCoudreaux’s passion for women’s education and issues facing women as well as her direct and deep experience in the management of a women’s college ensure that Mills’ new president will continue to build on President Holmgren’s 20-year legacy of success,” said Kathleen J. Burke. “We’re grateful to Janet Holmgren for her many successful years of service to Mills College. We’re certain our new president will build on Mills’ reputation as a strong, proud women’s college and as a leader among independent liberal arts colleges.”

About Mills College
Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity in over 950 undergraduate women and more than 600 graduate women and men. The College ranks as one of the Best 373 Colleges in the country and one of the greenest colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. U.S. News & World Report ranked Mills one of the top-tier regional universities in the country and second among colleges and universities in the West in its “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. For more information, visit

About the Selection Process
A 15-person Presidential Search Committee was formed in February 2010 to launch a comprehensive national search under the leadership of Mills alumna Wendy Hull Brody ’68. The committee included representation from Mills Trustees, faculty, students, staff, and alumnae.

Media please note:
Interview opportunity: Alecia DeCoudreaux is available for 10-minute interviews on January 20, 9:00 am–10:00 am. To schedule an interview, please contact Jessica Lee, Landis Communications, Inc. at 415.359.2312,

Detailed background and biographical information on Alecia DeCoudreaux, as well as a high-resolution photo and video, are available at:

Jeanne Herrera
Media Relations Director

Last Updated: 8/30/11