Shaw University to Host Baccalaureate and Commencement Ceremonies May 12 and May 13 for 2023 Graduates

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Shaw University to Host Baccalaureate and Commencement Ceremonies May 12 and May 13 for 2023 Graduates
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RALEIGH, N.C. – Shaw University’s Commencement exercise will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at 10 a.m. Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Natalie Madeira Cofield will be the 2023 Commencement Speaker. Shaw University also will hold its 2023 Baccalaureate Service for graduating students on Friday, May 12.

RALEIGH, N.C. – Shaw University’s Commencement exercise will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at 10 a.m. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Natalie Madeira Cofield will be the 2023 Commencement Speaker. Shaw University also will hold its 2023 Baccalaureate Service on Friday, May 12. The Senior Bell Ceremony at the Bell Tower will begin at 8:45 a.m., and official Baccalaureate Services begin at 9:30 a.m. The service will be held on campus in the Thomas J. Boyd Chapel featuring guest speaker and two-time Shaw alumnus Reverend Douglas Williams, III. 

About the Baccalaureate speaker: Reverend Douglas L. Williams, III is a native of New Jersey and the 5th Senior Pastor of the historic Zion Hill Baptist Church of Newark. His journey into ministry began in May of 2007 when he preached his initial sermon under the tutelage of Reverend Dr. Kenneth L. Saunders, Sr. Williams is a 2008 graduate of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and Philosophy. He later returned to Shaw Divinity School on a Presidential Scholarship, where he earned his Master of Arts in Christian Education in 2021. He is also the inaugural recipient of the C.T. Vivian Scholarship and Fellowship in Leadership and Social Justice. While a student at Shaw Divinity School, he served as Youth Pastor at Pleasant Union Christian Church and Saint John AME Church, both located in Raleigh. On May 1, 2011, Williams was installed as Senior Pastor of Zion Hill, becoming successor to the late Reverend Dr. J.R. Stanford.

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Description automatically generated with medium confidenceNatalie Madeira Cofield is a former presidentially appointed czar for small businesses. Ms. Natalie Cofield received her master’s degree of Public Administration; Economic Development from Baruch College and her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Sciences from Howard University. An award-wining entrepreneur, philanthropist, political appointee, and economic activist, she has over 15 years of experience in leveraging federal and private business development initiatives.

Cofield has provided some of the nation’s most prominent CEOs of billion-dollar organizations, executives of global brands, senior advisors to the White House, mayors of leading national cities, and community activists and leaders with inspiration, insight, and advisement. She has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on small business and produced the first-ever Women’s Business Summit for the Small Business Administration (SBA) featuring Vice President Kamala Harris and senior cabinet members of the Biden-Harris Administration.

Cofield served as a Presidential Appointee with the Biden-Harris Administration, where she served as head of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration. She was responsible for managing a budget of $70 million and funding the largest expansion, in the history of SBA, for the Women’s Business Center Network. As the Assistant Administrator of the SBA, she advised on the deployment of $1.2 trillion in funding and was directly responsible for more than $200 million in funding to ecosystems and entrepreneurs throughout the country during the most significant economic crisis in modern history.

She is the co-founder of the $14M Coalition to Back Black Business, which was responsible for funding nearly 1,000 Black-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Business by Entrepreneur Magazine and one of the 100 Most Powerful Washingtonians by Washington Business Journal, she has also been featured in Forbes, Inc. Time, CNN, The Atlantic, Bloomberg and more.

Dr. Paulette Dillard, President of Shaw University, said, “The Shaw University campus is pleased to welcome back alumnus Rev. Douglas L. Williams, III, to campus as our 2023 Baccalaureate speaker to inspire and uplift our students. We are also very proud to announce philanthropist and entrepreneur Natalie Madeira Cofield as our 2023 Commencement speaker, whose successful career path will serve as an inspiration to our graduates and the communities of support around them. These two distinguished individuals represent the goals and aspirations of Shaw University, where our mission is to advance knowledge, facilitate student learning and achievement, and to enhance the spiritual and ethical values of our students – as part of their preparation to become global leaders. We’re excited for our students and look forward to celebrating this major academic accomplishment with our faculty, staff and with the greater Shaw University community.”

Visit the Commencement Website for information

Shaw University, located in Raleigh, North Carolina, is the first historically Black institution of higher education founded in North Carolina and is among the oldest in the nation. The University was founded in 1865 by Henry Martin Tupper. Dr. Paulette Dillard currently serves as the University’s 18th President. For more information, visit:

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