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PROPEL Center, a first-of-its-kind innovation hub designed to support and advance the work of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) nationwide, announces the hiring of executive-level leaders and key program directors.

  • Michael Johnson, Chief of Staff
  • Dr. Glen Spencer, Jr., Chief Development Officer
  • Dr. Dione Simon, Chief Impact & Programs Officer
  • Ashley Sutton, Director of Strategic Partnerships
  • Darryl Perkins, Director of Work-Based Learning

"At PROPEL, our mission-fueled work is further ignited by incredibly talented and passionate leaders who have an unwavering commitment to seeing our HBCUs thrive in every way imaginable," said PROPEL Center President Dr. Lisa Herring. "We're united in our mission to illuminate and uplift the undeniable talent emerging from these great institutions and are thrilled to announce our new leaders who will enable us to further propel career trajectories for students and enhance the incredible work at these illustrious colleges and universities."

Michael Johnson joins PROPEL Center as chief of staff and will oversee the planning and execution of all administrative and operational functions while ensuring accountability and delivering key performance indicators (KPIs). Johnson brings a wealth of experience and expertise as an accomplished higher education leader with a track record of driving innovation and positive change at colleges, universities, and higher education-focused organizations. With degrees from North Carolina Central University and Indiana University Bloomington, Johnson previously held various senior-level positions focused on strategic enrollment management, business development, technology integration, and student success.

Chief Development Officer Dr. Glen Spencer, Jr. will cultivate new industry, government, and strategic relationships on behalf of PROPEL Center. Spencer, who received his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and his EdD from The University of Georgia, previously served as vice president of business development for HonorEd, a regional sales executive at Apple and a leading district sales manager and senior technology specialist at Pearson Education. With over 20 years of experience in higher education publishing, tech, and innovation, Spencer brings noted achievement in driving impactful initiatives and business development objectives.

Chief Impact & Programs Officer Dr. Dione Simon will guide PROPEL Center's efforts across the entire HBCU ecosystem by infusing challenge-based, accelerated, and other experiential learning opportunities for both students and faculty members. With over two decades of transformative leadership in innovation and education, Simon brings a wealth of experience as a seasoned professional leading PROPEL's programmatic objectives. Her educational background includes advanced degrees from Southern University and the University of West Georgia, complementing her professional expertise in leading technology-inspired and innovation-driven educational initiatives.

In collaboration with Spencer's work leading development objectives, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Ashley Sutton will guide PROPEL's partner engagement outcomes. With a wealth of experience in stakeholder engagement and communications, Ashley brings a proven track record of success in various industry sectors, including corporate, nonprofit, government, and higher education. Sutton earned her bachelor's degree in Business Management from Wilberforce University in Ohio and holds a master's degree in Media Communications with an emphasis in Journalism from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California.

Darryl Perkins' work as the Director of Work-Based Learning will bridge the gap between students and the global workforce – bringing dynamic, hands-on training opportunities relevant to today's rapidly evolving job market. Perkins, a graduate of Howard University and founder of the Broccoli City Festival and Conference, aims to forge industry-aligned partnerships that offer students a cutting-edge advantage in pursuing current and future career opportunities. Perkins' 15 years of experience is punctuated by curating award-winning campaigns and community-focused initiatives that advance racial wealth equity and promote healthy and sustainable communities.

HFFA Participants

Carl S. Moore

PHD, Consultant