LaKeesha Walrond has been named president of the New York Theological Seminary. The school enrolls just under 400 students, 57 percent of whom are Black. When she assumes the presidency on June 3, 2019, she will be the first woman to lead the seminary.
Dr. Walrond has served as the executive pastor of the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, for over 10 years. In this role, she focuses on administration, ministry development, and staff supervision. She uses educational and organizational strategies to maximize the church’s involvement in the local community and abroad. Additionally, she has served as a visiting speaker at Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Spelman College in Atlanta.
Throughout her career, Dr. Walrond has been recognized by many organizations for her commitment to empowering her community. She received the NAACP Leadership Award for her work in the African-American community, and “A Woman Who Worships Award” at McDonald’s GospelFest. She has also received honors from the National Council of Negro Women and National Action Network. Dr. Walrond is the author of two books: My Body is Special (Book Baby, 2017) and You Are Bigger Than Your Worst Pain: A Spiritual Guide to Pushing Past the Pain (Difference Press, 2019).
“As I assume the Presidency, I think about becoming the first female and the first African American female, and the great responsibility that accompanies this historic moment. My hope is to work collaboratively with the faculty, staff, students and board members to make NYTS a world-renowned theological institution for preparing students for urban ministry. The more I learn about the history of New York Theological Seminary, the more I appreciate its vision — not just for the future of theological education, but for societal matters including education for incarcerated people,” said Dr. Walrond. “The former administrations set a bar that I will strive each day to surpass, as I challenge myself and the NYTS community to make this historic and revered Seminary greater and grander.”
Dr. Walrond is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She holds three degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: a master of school administration degree with a focus on educational leadership, a master’s degree in teaching with a focus on learning disabilities, and a Ph.D. in special education and literacy. She also holds a master of divinity degree from the Union Theological Seminary.