Grambling Women Up: STEM Leader Innovates for IBM, Sara Lee Hosiery, and Other Major U.S. Companies as an Entrepreneur

GSU Alumna Alana Ward Robinson turns Computer Science background into help for hundreds of companies.

By Jovan Hackley & Jasmine Kennedy

Alana and Oneal Robinson with Michelle ObamaHow does a computer science graduate end up creating $100 million engineering initiatives for one of America’s top commercial printing providers? “Never give up and never settle for less,” says Alana Ward Robinson an active supporter and alumna who uses her experience from IBM, Sara Lee Hosiery, and a series of other Fortune 500s to help grow companies today.

A graduate of Grambling State University and Harvard University’s Advanced Management Certificate program, Robinson advises that “We should assume that we’re the best. We should assume that we can be number one and never give up on that expectation.”

A continuous pioneer in women’s and African-American achievement, Robinson’s resume includes more than 40 years of helping corporations, non-profits, and higher education institutions across the country and globe find new ways to leverage technology.

That work includes working her way up from an entry-level hire to a senior executive at IBM; a Vice President and CIO for Sara Lee Hosiery, KMart, and Coors Brewery Company; and a board member to international non-profit organizations that include The Executive Leadership Council and the World Food Programme based in Rome, Italy.

Advice for the Women of Today’s #GramFam

When asked about the source of her achievements, Robinson, a graduate of the Computer Science program in 1972, offered, “The same effort I put into getting good grades as a student was the same effort I put into doing good work as an employee. I burned the midnight oil. I produced results, and those results came with the rewards of more opportunity.”

Those opportunities would take Robinson and her family to more than five major U.S. Cities and help her raise two children with the love of her life, former Drum Major and GSU Alumnus, Elbert O’Neal Robinson.

Why Alana Chose Grambling

One of The Network Journal’s Top 25 Most Influential Black Women from 2010, Robinson attributes much of her success to her father and his passion for giving her a Grambling State start.

“Very unselfishly, my dad, who was a Southern grad, was very concerned about his health. My guidance counselor helped me find a four-year scholarship and he thought that, for me, Grambling State made a lot of sense,” she shared.

Robinson’s dad did live to see her graduate with honors in 1972, after which she moved on to begin her career with IBM where she would become a trendsetting leader in STEM.

Helping Women & Companies Up

Today, Alana and her husband O’Neal lead Robinson Consulting Group, an executive consulting firm they’ve founded to help businesses across the nation identify and increase value by improving their finance, technology, and digital marketing operations.

“Women have not always been represented in corporate America’s executive teams; and not because they couldn’t do the job. It is important that we recognize the accomplishment of women executives, such as Alana Robinson,” says Dr. Connie Walton, Director of Sponsored Programs for Grambling State and long-time colleague of Robinson. “By recognizing these leaders, young girls, and young boys will grow up understanding that corporate leadership positions are possible for both men and women.”

Thank you, Alana Robinson, for helping raise “Grambling Women Up.”

To share a story of another Grambling State woman achiever, follow and share #GramblingWomenUp on Facebook or Twitter.

Grambling Women Up: Courageous Local Civil Rights Legends Share

By Kathy Spurlock and Jasmine Harris

As part of its Women’s History Month observance, Grambling State University celebrates a number of phenomenal women who have helped women across the nation and the world rise. Thank you to Louisiana’s Women Warriors for helping lift Grambling Women Up.

“Women Women WarriorsWarriors: A Conversation” was a program presented to students and the community to address a much-neglected area of humanities study: the activism of women in rural communities during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.

During the program, several women shared their experiences. Mrs. Berta Bradford Robinson, a native of Jonesboro, Louisiana, along with James Potts, is noted for desegregating Louisiana Tech University. Robinson lost her church to a fire following the news of their integration at the university. “First of all, the headlines came out before the church was burned. The headlines were Bradford and Potts integrate Tech and immediately after that headlines showed church was burned,” she told the group. Robinson spoke to the guilt her counterpart felt toward enrolling into the university, blaming himself for the destruction caused to the church.

Mrs. Bessie Dill Bradley recounted the frightening night she was sought by Ku Klux Klan members while sitting in jail. Bradley received a feeling that she explained as a divine calling for her to hide herself. The men circled the building looking for a victim and eventually left when they found no one.

Bradley, with tears welling up in her eyes, began to sing a hymn to the crowd as a show of gratitude.

“It was a special moment in the room, it felt like listening to one of your grandparents telling you about their upbringing and the trials and tribulations they went through” said Derrick Johnson, a Biology major from Atlanta, Georgia.

Mrs. Mabel Houston detailed her experience at Jackson High School, where she was only able to stay for four months. The white students treated her as an oddity. Her bullying came in the form of children separating themselves from her. While demonstrating with 12 other students against the school, they were arrested and thrown in a garbage truck to be hauled off to jail. She was only 14 at the time. “They didn’t hurt us, they just put us in jail and fed us three meals a day for a week,” Houston said.

The program was designed to open an important conversation about the women who were not written into history, and to inspire the audience to seek the unrecognized heroines in their own communities and to document their stories before they are lost to history.

These women highlighted were vital parts in the movement toward equality in their communities. Thank you, Women Warriors, for helping raise “Grambling Women Up.”

To share a story of another Grambling State woman achiever, follow and share #GramblingWomenUp on Facebook or Twitter.

Grambling Women Up: Criminal Justice Graduate Makes Dallas History

Dallas Police Chief Renee HallGRAMBLING, La. (March 16, 2018) – As part of its Women’s History Month, Grambling State University celebrates a number of phenomenal women from its community who have helped women across the nation and the world rise. Thank you to Renee Hall for helping lift Grambling Women Up.  

Renee Hall, an alumna of Grambling State’s Criminal Justice program and the first female police chief in Dallas, Texas, has a long record of helping grow her industry and women’s achievement. 

Hall, who previously served as deputy chief of the Detroit Police Department, was hired as chief in September 2017. But, that’s not where her contributions started. 

Hall received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Grambling State in 1994 and master’s degrees in security administration and intelligence analysis from the University of Detroit Mercy. A graduate of the FBI National Academy, she also completed the Police Executive Leadership Institute and is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.  

She was recently appointed special assistant to the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. In March 2015, she was selected as one of Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence.  She has also been honored as “Woman of the Decade” by the Native Detroiter Magazine. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

As Deputy Chief in Detroit, Hall developed and implemented comprehensive community policing and mentor programs, forged partnerships and established trust within minority communities while also building strong relationships between officers of all ranks and community stakeholders. Under her leadership, the City of Detroit experienced a 40-year low in homicides and double-digit reductions in violent crime for three consecutive years.

Her responsibilities also included oversight of police services for six precincts and 720 sworn and non-sworn personnel. 

In Dallas, she has already completed a departmental reorganization to trim administrative staff, and is focused on neighborhood policing, recruiting new officers and community service. 

“Ms. Hall’s appointment as the chief of police for the city of Dallas is an achievement that reaches beyond the personal success of one person,” GSU Criminal Justice professor Dr. Karletta White said.  “Her achievement and future efforts will definitely have a lasting impact on the current and future generations of little girls and young women who would have never imagined that such a goal could be reached, and be comfortable accepting such a tremendous responsibility. “ 

Thank you, Chief Hall, for helping raise “Grambling Women Up.” 

To share a story of another Grambling State woman achiever, follow and share #GramblingWomenUp on Facebook or Twitter.  


Judge Lynn Toler Keynotes Women’s History Month Convocation

Woman Up, Grambling: Judge Lynn Toler highlights Opportunity for Grambling Today

GSU President Rick Gallot and Judge Lynn Toler“Thump to your own rhythm,” Judge Lynn Toler advised more than 300 young women during Grambling State University’s 2018 Women’s History Convocation.

Toler, well-known host of the nationally syndicated show “Divorce Court,” took to the stage with Miss Grambling, Jimmitriv Roberson, President Rick Gallot, and other student leaders to help offer advice and encouragement on how the women of GSU can “rise up.”

“As women, we have more in our arsenal than anyone thinks,” said Toler. “If we, as a people, are going to survive and create a better world we have to honor the contributions of both men and women.”

“Black women have to continue to be fearless and to go even where we haven’t seen others go,” said Toler. “There were no black women at the first or second law firms where I worked. I went anyway.”

Toler, a graduate of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, while well known for it, is much more than a judge on TV. Toler is the author of “My Mother’s Rules: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Emotional Genius,” and has worked for more than 30 years to help communities, schools, and individuals advance both on and off the screen.

Her off-screen work includes serving on the boards and as a volunteer of The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Cuyahoga County Criminal Justice Services Supervisory Board, Goodwill’s Starting Over Program, and preventing domestic violence through

“Grambling State University has a long history of producing and engaging influential women like Judge Toler,” said President Gallot. “We are educating a generation of game-changing women and it’s an honor for our students to engage with someone of her caliber. Her success in criminal justice, women’s rights and media affirms to our students that their big visions are possible.”

To follow more of the GSU conversation with Judge Toler and learn more about historic women from Grambling State, follow hashtag #WomanUpGrambling2018 on Twitter and Facebook.

Grambling State & City Town Hall Discuss Grambling’s Future


Historic Unity Town Hall on Monday connects University & City of Grambling leaders 

GRAMBLING, LA — March 13, 2018 – President Rick Gallot and Mayor Edward R. Jones will host students, faculty, and community members at a Monday town hall to discuss the future of theUnity in the Community collaboration between Grambling State University and the City of Grambling.

Billed as a “Unity in the Community” forum, the event is sponsored by the GSU Department of Mass Communication and the Greater Grambling Chamber of Commerce.

“We know that community partnership is a large part of what makes any University work. At Grambling we are fortunate enough to have a President and Mayor who have an open dialogue that fuels our historic relationship,” said Dr. Robbie Morganfield, event co-organizer and head of the Department of Mass Communication. “I’m excited that we get to publicly host and invite community members into what will be one of many conversations.”

Community residents, media, and the university campus community are invited to attend the forum.

Event Details

Town Hall: “Unity in the Community” 
Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center, 100 North Stadium Drive, Grambling State University on Monday, March 19, 2018, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Community members and attendees are encouraged to submit questions for the panelists about the past, present and future of the city and university.

To submit questions or for more information email or contact Dr. Robbie Morganfield, head of GSU’s Mass Communication Department at 318.274.2189 or Dr. Reginald Owens, president of the Chamber at 318.243.4337.


New Era of Excellence Reception Raises $100k+ for Grambling State

Grambling State Alumni and Friends raise $114,000 to support Presidential Initiatives

March 9, 2018

Draped in black and gold, more than 100 GSU community members joined Jonesboro Mayor Alumni and Friends CheckJames Bradford for the second annual New Era of Excellence Reception Saturday, March 3, 2018 which raised more than $100,000 for Grambling State.

The reception, in its second year, was originally inspired by alumni who, ignited by President Rick Gallot’s appointment, who wanted to create a new way to support GSU’s growth.

“We’re thankful for the many partners and individuals that support Grambling State,” said President Gallot. “That support comes in many ways and when I see folks show up and participate in events like this, it reminds me of the privilege it is to serve our incredible students and community.”

Since 2017 the New Era of Excellence effort, led by long-time alumni and GSU supporter James Bradford, has raised almost $260,000 earmarked to go directly toward University initiatives.

“We do this, because we know that we must,” said Mayor Bradford. “If we don’t support Grambling, who will?”

Hosted by a team of students, alumni, and University staff, the event drew donations and support from some of the largest businesses in North Louisiana including Jonesboro State Bank.

“We’re excited about all of the support we continue to see for Grambling State University,” said Marc Newman, Vice President of Advancement at GSU. “It’s proof that people believe in the leadership and direction of the University.”

For more information on the New Era of Excellence and more opportunities to donate the effort, please visit and select “New Era” in the giving portal.

Grambling State University Lunch and Learn Draws Business Leaders

First National, Coca-Cola, and Others Strategize to Invest in Grambling State

March 6, 2018

Marc Newman, GSU Vice President for Advancement

Business giants in North Louisiana’s economy, including Coca-Cola and First National Bank, are actively strategizing ways to leverage their more than billion dollars in value to support  Grambling State University.

“We’ve been a sponsor for many years and have always gotten a lot out of working with Grambling State,” said Brian Smith, a Senior Vice President at First National Bank. “First National Bank is excited to be a part of the team that supports Grambling’s growing vision.

Smith and 13 other executives from companies that include Primary Health Services, Coca-Cola, and State Farm joined University leaders last Thursday to explore strategies and discuss the future of Grambling State.
“We know our President’s big vision is going to require big collaboration,” said Marc Newman, Vice President of Advancement at GSU. “That means we have to connect with partners who can help turn that vision into a sustainable reality.”

“We have a marketable product – in 2017 over 200,000 guest and fans visited campus. They are consumers who will support our local business partners. Grambling State University is truly a worthwhile investment.”

Newman and business leaders met as a part of GSU’s second annual Lunch and Learn which, in the past two years, has helped coral support for scholarships, campus improvements, and major athletics and facility projects, including recent football stadium upgrades.

This year’s lunch and learn connected 14 partners representing 11 companies whose business range from apparel sales and insurance to healthcare and hospitality. This year’s attending companies included:

  • Ruston Convention Visitors Bureau
  • Primary Health Services Center (PHSC)
  • Collegiate Shop
  • First National Bank
  • Coca-Cola
  • State Farm
  • Reali-Tees
  • I Love my HBCU
  • Fairfield Inn
  • Princeton Place Skilled Nursing & Rehab
  • Tommy’s Tees

“The economic impact of Grambling is immense and growing. It’s showing in the number of companies that show up and support us,” said Newman.

For more information on sponsoring and supporting Grambling State University, please contact