Skip to content

Clark Black Alumni Association (CBAA)

Clark Black Alumni Association (CBAA) logo

CBAA Mission Statement

The Black Alumni Association of Clark University seeks to affirm, enrich, and serve the Black experience at and beyond the University. The group’s objective is to support the development and growth of the institution’s Black alumni. A hallmark of the group is to foster connections and networking across generations.

In keeping with Clark’s motto “challenge convention and change our world” the association will also consult with the Clark University administration regarding matters critical to the group’s infrastructure and purpose. These core concerns involve (but are not limited to):

  • The hiring and retention of Black faculty and staff
  • Recruiting, retaining and sustaining Black students and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the institution.

The Black Alumni Association believes that it is foundationally important to support the development and growth of the institution’s Black student body and will strive to achieve these goals through various initiatives. Through the group’s purpose and mission, Black alumni and current students alike will remain engaged with Clark to create a lasting impact within the spaces they navigate once departing from Clark University.

This Alumni Association will work closely with the Alumni Relations Office to host networking events, career development sessions, and panels to fulfill its mission. These events function not just as a bridge for alumni to connect with one another but also as an important vessel for current students to build relationships with Clark’s illustrious alumni.

Learn more about the formation and purpose of the CBAA in this article from ClarkNOW



Headshot of Stacey Lawrence '08

Stacey Lawrence ’08, M.A., Ph.D.
Co-Leader of CBAA and Liaison to Clark Alumni Council

Dr. Stacey Lawrence ’08, M.A., Ph.D. studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for her undergraduate degree at Clark University. She is currently the Senior Associate Director for STEM Initiatives at The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown University. In this role, she collaborates with STEM instructors to incorporate reflective, data-driven practices into their teaching in order to increase equity and inclusion in STEM teaching and learning experiences. Stacey has a deep interest in protein structure and function- a research interest that was nurtured at Clark.

In her Ph.D. research, she used molecular biology to understand how plant membrane proteins worked with intracellular proteins to activate the immune system and defend plant cells against bacteria and fungus in their immediate environment. Stacey truly believes in Clark’s motto to “challenge convention, change the world” and this motivates the work she does professionally and personally.

Photo of Shawnasia Black '08

Shawnasia Black ’08, MSCP ’09
Co-Leader of CBAA

Shawnasia Black ’08, MSPC ’09 is the Founder/Principal Designer of Asia B. Designs, LLC which is a design studio focused on residential design. She is currently Equity Council Co-Chair for the International Interior Design Association (NY Chapter). As well as a Board Member for FIT Interior Design Advisory Board. Through these positions, she aims to bring more inclusion to the Architecture & Design industry.

Headshot photo of Janette Ekanem '09, MPA '10

Janette Ekanem ’09, MPA ’10, J.D.
Co-Leader of CBAA

Janette A. Ekanem ’09, MPA ’10, J.D. is Assistant General Counsel for Atrius Health where she provides counsel to the organization on a variety of legal matters.  Janette is the Immediate Past President of the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys and holds various leadership positions within the Greater Boston legal community, including serving as a member of the Boston Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Steering Committee, and her appointment by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to serve on the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts Committee.  Janette has been named as a Top Woman Attorney in Massachusetts by Super Lawyers and is recognized in the 2021 and 2022 edition of Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch.   Janette has also been honored by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as an “Up & Coming Lawyer,” and she received the Young Alumni Award from Clark University.

As a Clark student, Janette served as President of the Black Student Union and captained the Mock Trial Team.  As an alum, Janette has served on various pre-law society panels and  has served as a judge for Intercollegiate Mock Trial tournaments.  Currently, she is a member of Clark University’s President Leadership Council.  Janette holds a B.A. in Government and International Relations, Magna Cum Laude, and a Master of Public Administration from Clark University.  She also holds a Juris Doctor from Northeastern University School of Law.

Janette is excited to work as a leader of the Clark Black Alumni Association and looks forward to the Association’s continued growth!

Johnna Plunkett Chappell '09

Johnna Plunkett-Chappell ’09, M.S.
Co-Leader of CBAA

Johnna graduated from Clark University in 2009. Her undergraduate degree is in Environment Science with a concentration in Earth Systems Sciences.

Currently, Johnna is a Sustainability Planner and Climate Data Scientist with Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City. At the MTA, Johnna plays a critical role in decarbonization and climate change resiliency efforts for the agency. She leads several initiatives for the agency (including but not limited to); environmental life cycle analysis/embodied carbon work, the agency’s fleet electrification planning, resource reduction implementation and waste mitigation programs. Prior to joining the Sustainability and Resiliency Planning division she worked as an Environmental Health and Safety Specialist with New York City for 10 years. While at New York City Transit Johnna performed environmental protection and industrial hygiene work; conducting air quality testing, COVID-19 response efforts, HAZMAT team oversight, and performed environmental assessments for the company. Johnna holds a graduate degree in Sustainability Management from Columbia University. She also holds another graduate degree in Environmental Protection and Safety Management.

Johnna is a member of the US Green Building Council where she is a LEED Green Associate with the Council.

Johnna is excited to be a part of the Clark Black Alumni Association and to bring important programming to the Clark community about the black experience.

Inez Williams-Gaye

Inez Williams-Gaye ’07
Co-Leader of CBAA

Inez was born and raised in the Worcester area, graduating from Auburn High School in 2002 and from Clark University in 2007 with a B.A. in Psychology & Sociology. She’s made a career in the events industry focusing on association & corporate events. Inez is on the board of directors for 2 Worcester-based organizations; the African Community Education (ACE) Program & Women in Development (WID).

Joanna da Cunha-Semedo

Joanna da Cunha-Semedo ’15, M.A. ’16
Co-Leader of CBAA

Joanna da Cunha-Semedo ’15, M.A. ’16, studied International Development and Social Change, earning her M.A. in Community Development and Planning. Her research project during her M.A. focused on disrupting Eurocentric education through a social justice curriculum. Throughout her time at Clark, Joanna was actively engaged in both the Worcester and Clark communities. She has devoted her life to making a positive impact on communities, with a particular emphasis on college access and navigation.

Ask Questions or Get Involved

Have general questions, want to share feedback or an event idea, or interested in getting involved, receiving community-specific emails, and CBAA updates? Please email us at, fill out this brief survey, or send it to fellow alumni who might be a good fit.

Co-founders of the Clark Black Alumni Association


Upcoming Events:

  • Juneteenth Event information coming soon

More Heritage and Identity Events at Clark

Throughout the year, the CBAA hosts a variety of events, both in-person and virtually. Recent events include:

  • Alumni & Friends Virtual Book Club, Black History Month: Kindred by Octavia Butler.
  • Company One Theatre and the CBAA Present: “The Boy Who Kissed the Sky”
  • A Celebration of Race & Redemption: A Virtual Juneteenth Event
  • BIPOC Affinity Social at Reunion Weekend
  • Black History Month Alumni & Friends Virtual Book Club
  • Cocktails and Conversation with the CBAA
  • “can i touch it?” Performance and Clark reception
  • A Celebration of Race & Identity in the Arts (A Juneteenth Event)
Contact Information

Alumni and Friends Engagement

Office Information