Episode 3: Diversity and Equity in Central Texas

Episode 3: Diversity and Equity in Central Texas

As recently as 2014, Austin was rated the 10th most segregated city in America. In 2015, the Martin Prosperity Institute named Austin the most economically segregated metro area in America. Texas is well represented on that list: San Antonio is #3, Houston is #4, and Dallas is #7. This episode explores what this means for African Americans in Central Texas.

Our Guests:

Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette

Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette

President & CEO of Huston-Tillotson University

Dr. Stephanie Hawley

Dr. Stephanie Hawley

Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion at Austin Community College

Tam Hawkins

Tam Hawkins

President & CEO, Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce


Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette - Bio
MISSION: Huston-Tillotson University nurtures a legacy of leadership and excellence in education, connecting knowledge, power, passion, and values.


Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President & CEO of Huston-Tillotson University:

Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette joined Huston-Tillotson University as President and Chief Executive Officer July 1, 2015. Her experience includes serving as interim President at Pierce College in Puyallup, Washington; the Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio; Vice President for Information Technology and Services and Chief Information Officer at Central State University; Dean of Information Technology at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington; and Manager of Consulting and Project Management Services at the Washington State Department of Transportation in Olympia, Washington.

Locally, Dr. Pierce Burnette is a member of Austin Area Research Organization (AARO), the steering committee for My Brother’s Keeper, and serves on the advisory council of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. She also sits on the board of directors of Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Leadership Austin, and the Greater Austin Area African American Chamber of Commerce. Nationally, Dr. Pierce Burnette serves on the Minority Engineering Advisory board for The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering, is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, the National Council of Negro Women, Puyallup Area Aging in Place Coalition, Texnikoi, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., to name only a few.

Dr. Pierce Burnette earned her Master of Science Degree in Administration with honors from Georgia College in Milledgeville in 1983 after completing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University in Columbus in 1980. In 2003, Dr. Pierce Burnette was accepted and graduated from the Harvard Graduate School’s Education Management Development Program. She also completed an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015.

Dr. Pierce Burnette is married to Daarel and they have two adult children (Daarel II of Washington, DC and Daana of New York, NY).

Dr. Stephanie Hawley - Bio

​Dr. Stephanie Hawley:

Dr. Stephanie Hawley is Austin Community (ACC) College’s Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion. In this position, Stephanie leads ACC’s efforts to build institutional capacity to improve equity in enrollment, inclusion, retention, and completion.Her role includes

  • Leading and facilitating effective organizational development and transformation to support the needs of diverse community college students;
  • Promoting a collaborative climate to enhance learning for diverse students, staff and community members;
  • Leading the evaluation and development of policies and practices that eliminate achievement disparities among community college students.

Before she was selected to lead the Office of Equity and inclusion, Dr. Hawley served as Associate Vice President of College Access Programs Office for eight years. In this position, she supported the provost’s office in its efforts to improve outcomes for historically under served students.

Her other leadership experiences include serving as a Vice President and an Associate Vice Chancellor in the Academic Affairs division at Malcolm X College and City Colleges of Chicago; Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs Morton College, Cicero, Illinois; Founding director of Oklahoma City University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; Professor of English and Teacher Education; and a National Writing Project Consultant.

Her research interests and publications include topics associated with institutional factors affecting equity; faculty and administrator leadership development for equity; and organizational development.

Over the past 30 years, she has also worked as a consultant providing professional and organizational development seminars for community college and non-profit organization staff and leaders to increase equitable outcomes for underrepresented groups. She has been a K-12 teacher, married for 35 years and mother of four adult children. She enjoys racquetball, reading, writing, hiking and watching other people cook.

Tam Hawkins - Bio

MISSION: The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce (GABC) promotes the development of African-American businesses and the expansion of the Greater Austin business community by providing resources, technical assistance, and leadership on policy issues that enhance economic growth and by promoting convention and tourism.


​Tam Hawkins:

Tam Hawkins is currently the President and CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. Prior to this role, she served as the Vice President of Corporate Engagement & Membership. Her background includes a primary concentration in Corporate Sales & Marketing management roles for some of the nation’s most admired companies. Although well versed in large corporate space, the local commercial real estate entrepreneur is also able to relate to small to medium business owners as well. The Dallas native’s volunteer commitments have been directly in line with her passion for the following local, national, and international organizations: Sickle Cell Disease Association Dallas Chapter, Special Events Chair; Literacy Instructions for Texans – Volunteer Teacher; Airline Ambassadors – United Nations Liaison; Susan G. Komen: Dallas Affiliates Chapter – Fundraising committee and a Mocha Moms Austin former board President. Tam is a board member of the East Austin Conservancy; a group committed to strengthening the fabric of East Austin by promoting affordable housing and economic diversity. She also serves on Austin Partners in Education and Ronal McDonald House Central Texas boards.