Federal Reserve Board Gov. Lisa Cook Gives Keynote Address at GCSU Commencements

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, May 10th, 2024

The Honorable Lisa D. Cook, Ph.D., returned to her roots and hometown in Milledgeville May 4 to give two keynote addresses at Georgia College & State University commencement ceremonies.

Governor Cook is the first Black woman and fourth native-born Georgian to serve on the Federal Reserve Board in its 111-year history 

"Dr. Cook has throughout her career consistently demonstrated a commitment to mentoring and advocating for underrepresented groups in the field of economics," said Georgia College President Cathy Cox, when introducing Cook at commencements for the university's College of Business & Technology and College of Arts & Sciences.

Cox presented Cook with an honorary degree from Georgia College.

Cook's mother, the late Mary Cook, was the first Black tenured faculty member in Georgia College'sSchool of Nursing, where she taught 17 years. Her father, the late Rev. Payton Cook, was a chaplain of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, where a building now bears his name. Her father led numerous Baldwin County community organizations and served on the university's Foundation Board.

Cook's two sisters also have ties to Georgia College. One served as director of Minority Affairs and the other as a Foundation Board trustee.

The sisters grew up visiting their mother on campus. They attended the Peabody Laboratory School as pupils for student teachers in the university's College of Education. Their babysitters were Georgia College students, and their Baldwin County teachers were trained at Georgia College. The family also hosted dinners for international students.

"My feelings about GCSU begin with immense gratitude," Cook said. "It was rare in the early 1960s for colleges to hire, let alone tenure, an African-American woman or man, particularly in rural Georgia."

"For me personally, from an early age, GCSU, and the world it opened to me, was evidence that I could do anything in life and be anyone I dreamed of being, regardless of where I was raised or my race and gender," she said.

Cook congratulated the Class of 2024, urging them to find hope and meaning in her personal story. She said Georgia College prepared them well, and they are limited only by their "motivation, preparation and imagination."

"… whoever you are, wherever you come from, and whatever anyone has said about you and your capabilities," Cook said, "you can be anything and anyone you want to be."

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