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Ninth President Announced

Dear Members of the Agnes Scott Community,

It is with great pleasure that I announce that the Board of Trustees of Agnes Scott College has named Leocadia (“Lee”) I. Zak as the college’s ninth president. She will assume the role officially on July 1, 2018, succeeding President Elizabeth Kiss, who is stepping down at the end of June. 

Lee’s appointment concludes an eight-month presidential search for a bold, visionary and inspiring leader with a commitment to institutional excellence who will build upon the success of SUMMIT, our distinctive signature experience focused on global learning and leadership development. With her broad experience in the international arena, proven leadership and management abilities, and history of being an influential change agent, she is extremely well suited to advancing the college’s mission of educating students to become global leaders. 

The Presidential Search Committee, under the leadership of co-chairs Deborah H. Painter ’75 and Elizabeth H. Noe ’86, vetted a number of highly impressive and diverse candidates through a rigorous selection process. Lee stood out as an exceptional and accomplished leader, and the Board of Trustees unanimously concluded that she is the right choice at this stage in Agnes Scott’s transformational journey. She is well positioned to continue the momentum of SUMMIT and to contribute greatly to our growth as a premier liberal arts institution. She will be stepping into the role armed with a solid foundation built by Mary Brown Bullock ’66 and Elizabeth Kiss, yet there is immense opportunity for her to make her own mark and I am confident that she will.

Lee is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Mount Holyoke College, which recognized her as a Woman of Influence in 2012. She holds a J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law.  

Lee comes to Agnes Scott with an extensive background in international economic development and international project finance. Appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2010, she served for seven years as the director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, an independent federal agency that advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. She first joined the agency in 2000, and, prior to her appointment as director, served as general counsel, deputy director and acting director. 

Her achievements at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency include leading the Aviation Cooperation Programs in China, India and Brazil; the Energy Cooperation Programs in China and India; and the development of the worldwide Global Procurement Initiative and the India Smart Cities Initiative. She has testified before Congress on behalf of the agency’s programs, accompanied the president on foreign trips, and met with heads of state and other senior government officials and business leaders around the world. A champion for inclusion, the composition of the agency's leadership changed dramatically under her leadership to include more women and people of color.

While in government service, she also was involved in the establishment of what has become the Women in Public Service Project, a global program working to improve the representation of women in policy and public leadership positions housed at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and sponsored by women’s colleges around the world and the U.S. Department of State.

Before joining the public sector, Lee spent 18 years at the Boston and Washington, D.C., offices of the law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo PC, which she joined as an associate in 1982. At the firm, she practiced in the areas of international and domestic project finance, becoming a partner in 1990. 

More recently, Lee has taught International Project Finance as an adjunct faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center and the Boston University School of Law, including team-teaching with her husband, Kenneth Hansen, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of the international law firm of Norton Rose Fulbright.

As a graduate of a women’s college, Lee feels a deep connection to Agnes Scott’s mission “to educate women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.” Her love of teaching and mentoring young women and her commitment to inclusion and economic justice, along with her significant experience in the international arena and strong history of transformative leadership, make her the ideal person to lead Agnes Scott into its next chapter.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank members of the Presidential Search Committee.  The faculty, students, staff and trustees who served on the committee gave graciously and generously of their time. Their diligence, thoughtfulness and hard work are greatly appreciated. I also want to thank the many members of the Agnes Scott community who participated in the search process by attending listening sessions early in the search process and sharing their thoughts through the online survey; your perspectives provided invaluable feedback, which informed the development of the Leadership Profile for Agnes Scott’s next president. 

I also want to thank a very special person—President Elizabeth Kiss. She has done a tremendous job leading Agnes Scott over the past twelve years. She is leaving a remarkable legacy for the college’s continued success as she passes the torch on to Lee this summer. 

In the coming months, we will announce opportunities for you to warmly and enthusiastically welcome Lee to the Agnes Scott community. In the meantime, you can get to know Lee through her introductory video on the college’s website and share welcome messages on social media using the hashtag #AgnesWelcomesLZak.


Elizabeth Daniel Holder ’82
Chair, Board of Trustees