Diversifying Higher Education – A Post Affirmative Action Path Forward
Senior leaders representing Rockwell and Fortune Brands join effort to strengthen opportunities toward economic mobility for high-achieving students of color in Northeast Ohio.
Written by Thrive Scholars
Thrive Scholars Cleveland announced today it has added Marzell Brown, IoT Engineering and Academic Enablement Manager of the Global Academic Organization at Rockwell Automation, and Nicole Decker, Sr Vice President, Global Growth and Development at Fortune Brands Water Innovations, to its board of directors.
As Thrive’s newest board members, Brown and Decker will help the growing non-profit in its mission to provide high-achieving students of color from low-income communities the opportunities they need to thrive at top colleges and in high-trajectory careers like STEM, finance, business, and law.
Marzell Brown brings to Thrive extensive expertise in leveraging advanced technology to drive educational outcomes for K-12 and college programs. At Rockwell, Brown’s work focuses on the digital transformation into the Industry 4.0 space for students and employees. With a heavy focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, Brown works at local and state levels on boards to provide engineering and advanced manufacturing insights regarding education and employment. Most recently, Brown created an initiative aimed at diversifying and increasing the talent pipeline in advanced manufacturing and robotics.
“The work Thrive is doing has the potential to change lives, the mission and direction align with my own mission as well; being a product of the Cleveland public school system myself I truly understand and support the mission,” said Brown. “I’m proud to become a part of it and I look forward to collaborating with the team as we continue to build the program and reach more students.”
Nicole Decker joins Thrive with a unique background and track record of success in strategy, investor relations, finance, and communications. In her role in the Water Innovations division of Fortune Brands Home and Security, a company with well-known brands including Moen, she is responsible for developing, prioritizing, and driving strategic initiatives critical to performance and growth. Decker serves as a mentor with organizations including Women Unlimited, Rally, and the Crummer Leadership Program at Rollins College.
“I am passionate about providing opportunities for under-represented youth of color to succeed in higher education and beyond,” said Decker. “Coming from a low-income background presents many challenges for students of color, but Thrive Scholars celebrates and supports these youths on their academic and social journey to achieve their full career potential.”
Brown and Decker join founding Thrive Cleveland board members Joe Roman, former CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership; Walt Rosebrough, CEO Emeritus & Senior Advisor at STERIS; board chairman Shashi Yadavalli, a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s M&A and Restructuring practice and leader of Deloitte’s Consumer Business M&A Consultative Services practice; and Executive Director of Thrive Scholars Cleveland, Dr. Steven Lake.
“We are excited to welcome Marzell and Nicole to our board of directors,” said Dr. Lake, “Their unique insights, experiences, and skill sets will be integral to our efforts to sustain the momentum Thrive has helped build for our highest achieving young people of color.”
Thrive Scholars is in its 20th year of operation. Founded in Los Angeles and now serving students across the country, Thrive expanded to Cleveland in 2020. With a growing national footprint, Thrive also supports Scholars in Boston, Chicago, and New York City and has plans to expand to two new sites each year. Currently, 900 Scholars nationally are participating in the six-year program, from 11th grade through college seniors. Thrive continues to achieve sector-leading outcomes, boasting a 98% college graduation rate among its Scholars nationally.
Through Thrive programming, Scholars receive six years of robust academic support to help their Scholars excel in rigorous academic environments. Thrive provides support to overcome financial and social barriers to higher education; and connects Scholars to internships, mentors, and corporations to build professional and social networks.