Education: JAVAUNE ADAMS-GASTON
PRESIDENT, NORFOLK STATE UNIVERSITY, NORFOLK
The seventh president of Norfolk State University, Adams-Gaston, who began her tenure in 2019, has led the public institution to U.S. News & World Report’s top 20 list of historically Black colleges and universities. She’s also forged a university partnership with Virginia Beach native and music superstar Pharrell Williams, who brought his Elephant in the Room business conference to NSU last fall and delivered the commencement address at the university’s December 2021 graduation.
Supporting business and building job training pipelines are priorities for Adams-Gaston, who led the opening of the NSU Innovation Center — a business incubator — and serves on the Hampton Roads Chamber board.
Under her leadership, NSU received its largest single-donor donation,
$40 million from billionaire philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. The university also has secured more than $7 million through partnerships with Apple, Netflix and Amazon.com Inc.
In March, Adams-Gaston was appointed to President Joe Biden’s HBCU advisory board, along with Virginia State University President Makola Abdullah.
Before joining NSU, Adams-Gaston was senior vice president for student life at Ohio State University and served in several roles at the University of Maryland. She also worked as a licensed psychologist for 25 years.