Having worked in public service for over 20 years, Dr. Lynette Stokes has served as an advocate of youth in the child welfare system, taught elementary and community college education, and worked for equal rights organizations. On October 1, 2018, Dr. Stokes was named President of South Suburban College. She now has the distinction of being the first female President in the college’s 91-year rich history. In this role as CEO of the institution, Dr. Stokes has assumed responsibility for providing leadership in setting directions for curricular and organizational change designed for the betterment and improvement of the total educational program of the College. She joined the college in June 2013 as the Vice President of Academic Services and prior to that she spent nearly 12 years at the City Colleges of Chicago improving the quality of education by promoting pedagogical and andragogical techniques and strategies that supported academic excellence for all students.
During her seven-year tenure with Ada S. McKinley Foster Care, Dr. Stokes prepared over 200 families to receive a foster home license, authored the training curriculum for more than 500 families and developed multi-faceted workshops to assist nearly 200 children with the transition into independent living. Dr. Stokes is well acquainted with the foster care system. She lived in several different foster homes as a child and is an example of one who through resiliency and an intact ability to succeed, has overcome many obstacles.
Wanting to fulfill her desire to make a positive impact on the education of adult learners, Dr. Stokes returned to school and in 2004 earned her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Organizational Change at Roosevelt University. This academic credentialing, coupled with the skills she gained while working at the then Operation PUSH, Community Mental Health Council and Ada S. McKinley Community Services, provided the foundation to propel her career into higher education as Dean of Adult Education and Dean of Instruction at City Colleges of Chicago. In the latter role, Dr. Stokes provided instructional leadership and guidance for more than 150 full-time and part-time faculty, two associate deans, 32 academic tutors and 15 administrative and support staff.
In addition to serving as a presenter for several professional development events in Higher Education and Child Welfare, Dr. Stokes is the 2005 recipient of Roosevelt University’s Most Outstanding Dissertation of the Year; the 2009 recipient of the Kathy Osterman Award for Outstanding Supervisor given to public service employees in the City of Chicago; 2014 recipient of the Chicago Defender’s Women of Excellence Award; in 2018 she was honored with the Egretha Education Award for Excellence in Education and the Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education (ICBCHE) Trailblazer Award; and in 2020 Dr. Stokes was awarded the MLK Excellence in Education Award by the Southland Ministerial Health Network.
Dr. Stokes serves on the Board for the South Cook County Mosquito Abatement District, the Junior Achievement of Chicago - Southern Region and the Board of Governors for Unity Christian Academy in South Holland. She is the former President of the Chief Academic Officers’ Group for the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium (SMHEC). Additionally, Dr. Stokes volunteers as a Board Member for the Junior Achievement of Chicago, has volunteered for the Chicago Marathon, serves as a Board Member for the South Suburban College Scholarship Foundation, and spearheaded the Service Learning Volunteer activities for South Suburban College. Lastly, after having grown up in the child welfare system Dr. Stokes understands the value of giving back to the community and as such remains an advocate for children and families through her contributions to scholarship programs and support of toy, clothing, and food drives. She is a true example of persistence, dedication, commitment and resiliency.
Dr. Stokes shared the following quote to describe her life’s purpose: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Author is unknown. In her role as College President at South Suburban College, Dr. Stokes strives to make a difference and create access to a quality education for all students. When she is not working at the college, Dr. Stokes enjoys spending time with her family. She has a daughter and three granddaughters.