JACKSON, Miss. – Jackson State University(JSU) has selected alumna Yolanda R. Owens as assistant vice president for Institutional Advancement & External Affairs in the Division of Institutional Advancement (DIA). In her roles, she will provide strategic direction for the Department of Alumni and Constituency Relations. Also, she will implement activities, services and communications for alumni and friends to build relationships that will advance the mission of Jackson State University and increase the base of private financial support.
“We are delighted to welcome Yolanda Owens to Jackson State University and the DIA team. She brings a wide range of abilities and experience to the University in regard to her work with alumni nationwide,” said Gwen Caples, interim vice president for Institutional Advancement and External Affairs. “We’re excited about having her on board to work with Alumni Relations to strategize innovative methods to increase alumni engagement and financial giving to JSU. Our goal, as part of ‘Elevate Jackson State,’ is to continue working with President Hudson and the JSUNAA to build stronger partnerships with our alumni, corporations, foundations, and the community to obtain substantial financial support for JSU and the students we serve.”
A civil engineer by training, Owens most recently served as senior contract administrator with Kinder Morgan. In this role, she was responsible for managing all aspects of vendor contracts for pipeline and facilities construction. She is a life member of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association, Inc. (JSUNAA) and proudly served as the 18th national president (2014-2018), becoming the first female elected to the role in 22 years. She previously served as the Metro Atlanta Chapter president from 2005-2009. Her dedication on the local level earned her the honor of Metro Atlanta Chapter Alumnus of the Year in 2006 and 2010. In 2018, she was named the National Alumnus of the Year and was also inducted into the JSUNAA Hall of Fame.
“I’ve been volunteering for Jackson State for the better part of 20 years, and I love serving and giving back to the University. So, to have this opportunity where I can do the work, alumni relations, fundraising and community engagement, on a full time basis was an exciting opportunity,” said Owens, who credits her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Willie and Tommie Farmer, for instilling in her the values of excellence and service.
“I look forward to continuing to strengthen the relationship between the University and its alumni base, strengthening our donor relations and increasing our APR and becoming a part of the team that takes Jackson State into the future. I’m excited to be here!”
During her tenure as JSUNAA president, the alumni association earned 501c3 nonprofit status approved by IRS; increased alumni giving from approximately $600,000 to more than $1 million in four years; completed funding of $100,000 JSUNAA scholarship endowment and increased JSUNAA total assets by $125,000 in four years; and generated nearly $800,000 in endowments from alumni chapters.
Owens attended JSU as a member of the WEB DuBois Honors College with a full academic scholarship. She chose Jackson State because it is her parents’ alma mater. She often speaks of arriving at Jackson State in the fall of 1989, as a shy 17-year-old who barely wanted to speak in public. By the end of her four years at Jackson State, she had found her voice. As a student in the dual-degree program, Owens graduated with honors, receiving her Bachelor of Science in mathematics from JSU and a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Kennesaw State University in Marietta, Georgia.
Owens holds a Silver Life Membership in the NAACP and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Fortitude Award, which is given to a member of the sorority for outstanding accomplishments outside of Delta Sigma Theta.
Owens’s dedication has inspired others to commit or recommit their support to Jackson State. She has personally donated thousands of dollars to Jackson State to assist with scholarships, student activities and athletics. The Yolanda R. Owens Endowed Scholarship was established in 2019 to support junior and senior STEM majors.