Dr. Adena Williams Loston serves as the 14th President of St. Philip's College our nation’s only Historically Black College and Hispanic Serving Institution. She assumed the reins on March 1, 2007, on the occasion of St. Philip’s 109th anniversary.
She previously served as the Director of Education and Special Assistant for Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects Directorate for the Goddard Space Flight Center, Wallops Flight Facility and Chief Education Officer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at its Headquarters in Washington, DC. Her initial appointment at NASA was as the Associate Administrator for Education on October 28, 2002, and prior to joining the Agency, she served as the NASA Administrator’s Senior Education Advisor starting in September 2002. As NASA’s senior education official, she was responsible for structuring the Office of Education, providing executive leadership, policy direction, functional management, and guidance in coordinating the Agency’s overall efforts to organize and enhance its education investments and portfolio nationally and internationally for its Headquarter operations, mission directorates and 10 field centers. Dr. Loston was responsible for a $230 million budget (including earmarks) and directed policy for $1.3 billion.
On Oct. 26, 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden appointed Dr. Adena Williams Loston a Commissioner for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.
Dr. Loston has served as President of San Jacinto College South, Executive Dean/Provost in the El Paso Community College District, Dean of Vocational Education, Budgets and Facilities, and Dean Professional Programs at Santa Monica College, and has also served in other administrative educational capacities for the past 39 years.
Dr. Loston is the product of a historically black college, Alcorn State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1973. She received her Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Bowling Green State University in 1974 and 1979 respectively. She also attended the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University in 1996; the Oxford Roundtable at Oxford University in 2001; and the Wharton School of Business in 2005.
Awards, Achievements, and Recognitions
Dr. Loston is active in professional organizations and associations and has received numerous awards during her career. In 2019 she received the Alamo City Chamber of Commerce Euretta K Fairchild Community Leadership Award, Les Dames d’Escoffier Legacy Award, the Audrey Lawson Impact Award from Wheeler Avenue Inner City Visions, Inc., the Alcorn State University Metro-Jackson Alumni Chapter –Leadership Legends Award and was a Texas Diabetes Institute Wall of Honor Inductee, Heart of Care Award. In 2018, Dr. Loston received the NAACP Silver Lifetime Membership Award and the Healthy Futures’ Dr. Janet Realini Trailblazer Award. In 2017, she received the “Holy Woman: Celebrating a Saint” award from the Artemisia Bowden Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians; the Community Builder award from the Masons of Alamo Lodge #44; the Emerging Leader Trusted Leader Award and the ALAS Leadership Excellence Award. In 2016, Dr. Loston received the Sankofa Institute for African American Pastoral Leadership Excellence in Education Award, the Verna Lee Booker Hightower Award from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, Black Heritage Committee, and the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Humanitarian Award from the United Communities of San Antonio. She also received recognition from as the Friends of Sam Houston (High School) 2016 Community Honoree recognition and the Kindred Cultural Center Community Recognition Award. In 2014 Dr. Loston was recognized by the Texas Diversity Council as a DiversityFIRST™ Award Winner; received the Alamo City Chamber of Commerce Euretta K Fairchild Community Leadership Award; and received the Community Legend in Higher Education award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (local chapter).
In 2013 she received the San Antonio Women’s Chamber of Commerce Comet Award, the YWCA Women of Influence Award and the MLK Distinguished Achievement Award. In 2012 was selected to join the International Women’s Forum/Texas Women’s Forum and received the Outstanding Public Service/ Educator Award, the Minority Workforce Development Champion Award, the Top Ladies of Distinction National Humanitarian Award, and the Friends of Carver and Delta Sigma Theta Talented Tenth Award. Dr. Loston has been a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for more than forty years. She is twice the recipient of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Shirley B. Gordon International Presidential Award of Distinction for 2011 & 1999.
Her recognitions include:
- An Honorary Doctor of Science from Wiley College
- The W.E.B. DuBois Higher Education Award
- The Leadership Award from the Higher Education Commission of The National Alliance of Black School Educators
- The Purple & Gold Leadership Award, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
- The La Prensa Foundation Outstanding Women in Action Education Award
- The Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Exceptional Achievement Award
- The Exceptional Achievement Medal, National Aeronautics & Space Administration
- The Medal for Outstanding Leadership, National Aeronautics & Space Administration
- The Group Achievement Award, Educator Astronaut Program, National Aeronautics & Space Administration
- The Group Achievement Award, NASA Explorer Schools Program, National Aeronautics & Space Administration
- The Group Achievement Award, NASA’s Centennial of Flight Team, National Aeronautics & Space Administration
Other awards and recognitions include:
- Hall of Fame 2021 Class of HBCU Alumni
- 2021 UNCF Excellence in Education Award
- Named One of The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021
- Les Dames d'Escoffier Legacy Award
- Alcorn State University Metro-Jackson Alumni Chapter - Leadership Legends Award
- University Health Systems - 2019 Wall of Honor Inductee, Heart of Care Aw
- The CPS Energy Amazing Energy Award
- San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame Inductee
- The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Shirley B. Gordon International Presidential Award of Distinction
- Educator's Hall of Fame from the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc
- The NAACP Daisy Bates Education Advocacy Award
- The Accomplished Graduate Award from Bowling Green State University
- The Strong-Turner Alumni Chapter and Arkansas State University Award for Outstanding Leadership
- The Education Technology Think Tank (ET3) Tec Champion Award
- The Distinguished Alumni Award, Alcorn State University, Dallas Alumni Chapter
- The Distinguished Alumni Award, Alcorn State University, Washington D.C.
- Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education Presidential Award 1997 and 2007
National and Community Engagement:
- Commissioner, Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans
- Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s Commission on the Status of Women
- San Antonio Economic Development Foundation Executive Committee
- The President’s Advisory Board for Title III Administrators
- The HBCU Capital Finance Advisory Committee
- An Advisory Trustee for the Southwest Research Institute
- Member of the Presidents’ Round Table
- The San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame
- The EastPoint/Promise Zone Coordinating Council
- The Eastside Promise Neighborhood Advisory Council
- The Alamo City Chamber of Commerce Boards of Directors
- The Master’s Leadership Program Board of Directors
- The San Antonio Area Foundation Board of Directors
- The Quality Texas Foundation Board of Directors
- The ConnectSA Advisory Committee
She is the mother of one son, Gilbert Williams Loston, III who resides in Houston.