Angela Noble-Grange, MBA '94, receives 2011 Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award
Noble-Grange graduated from Johnson in 1994 and went on to found her own company, the Noble Economic Development Group — a consulting firm aimed at helping low-income families and small business owners. After several years of running the company, Noble-Grange received a call from the then-director of admissions at Johnson, who asked her to join the admissions team. Noble-Grange decided to come on board, but under one condition. "I noticed that the school was second-to-last in terms of women's representation on campus, and the absolute worst in terms of minority representation among top business schools. So I told them that I would only come back if they let me fix that problem," she says.
The upshot? Noble-Grange returned to Johnson in 1999 and began the challenging process of founding the Office for Women and Minorities in Business, now called the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Charged with seeking out investors and funding for the new office, Noble-Grange looked to various companies for support. After securing a major, $150,000-grant from Citigroup, Noble-Grange knew that the center was off to a positive start. "Once Citigroup invested, we knew that others would follow suit," she says.
Since its inception, the center has received numerous generous contributions, including one from JP Morgan Chase Managing Director Karen Keating '76, whom Noble-Grange fondly calls an "alumna extraordinaire." With adequate resources, the center was able to organize various recruitment events — such as Women's Weekends, which has now morphed into Johnson Women in Business — to capture the attention of prospective students and draw them to Johnson. Just three years after the center's founding, female enrollment had increased significantly, and minority enrollment had nearly tripled at Johnson. "This degree opened doors for me and I wanted people to know that it could open doors for them," she says. "I'm glad I was able to convince people to come get this fantastic degree because they can really do anything with it."
Last year, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion celebrated its tenth anniversary, and according to Noble-Grange, it has grown and changed into something that she could never even have imagined. "Students and faculty have done so much to expand this office," Noble-Grange says. "Even the Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award was a result of a student coming into my office and asking who the first black graduate was, and deciding that we should honor him and his experience here." Currently, Noble-Grange is a lecturer of oral communication and management writing. Her course mantra, which she says students sometimes affectionately make fun of, is the three Cs of communication: be clear, concise and compelling. "I always tell them that whether they're writing or speaking, they have to do those in order to be effective communicators," she says.
In addition to teaching, Noble-Grange's favorite thing to do is talk to students outside of class. "I want to make sure that they pursue the thing that they love to do. They've often sacrificed so much to be here," she says, "and I want to challenge them to find what they are uniquely suited to do in life. I love turning students on to the fact that they can really do anything."
Maria Minsker '13 is an intern in Marketing and Communications at Johnson.