ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS (May 25, 2023) — Augustana College admitted 29 women to the Brenda Barnes Leadership Academy, a series of leadership experiences and opportunities for networking to engage and uplift future female leaders.

This cohort is the inaugural class of women invited to the program. Participants, all first-year students who will enroll at Augustana this fall, were selected by a committee based on their application and essay.

Brenda Barnes Leadership Academy students include:

Emma Biskie, of Rock Island, Illinois (61201)

Mawi Monica, of Warrenville, Illinois (61265)

Anna Nelson, of Grayslake, Illinois (61264)

Augustana College President Andrea Talentino will be instrumental in leading academy sessions that are aimed at helping young women gather information, stories, and context for leadership in a diverse and changing world. An advisory panel of faculty, alumni, and others will curate the content of each session.

Named for Brenda Barnes, the Brenda Barnes Leadership Academy recognizes the transformational experience and Fortune 500 success of the River Grove, Illinois, native who received her BA in Economics in 1975 from Augustana College and an MBA in 1978 from Loyola University, Chicago.

Barnes, who generously shared her time, talents, and gifts with the college, served sixteen years as an Augustana College trustee, including five years as board chair. Barnes' stratospheric career included serving as CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America, where she was the first woman to hold the position, and president and CEO of Sara Lee. She passed away on January 17, 2017, at the age of 63.

"She is a perfect example of what is possible with an Augie education," said 1977 alumnus Doug Hultquist. "She acquired so much in the way of leadership and professional skills at Augie. One of the many things that she taught me was that people and relationships matter."

Known for sparking passionate curiosity, Augustana College is an empowering home to explore over ninety areas of study. Augustana's innovative program, Augie Choice, transforms students into global citizens, thinkers, and doers with a $2,000 grant to explore the world, complete an internship, or conduct research with a professor. Augustana students achieve a balance inside and outside of the classroom; ranking top ten in all divisions for Academic All Americans. Transformed to be different, current students and alumni include health-care heroes, Nobel Prize-winners, CEOs, college presidents, and leaders across all continents. The college enrolls 2,500 curious changemakers who get energized by four years as part of a community that reflects the diversity of the United States.

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