The University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce that Lesley Robinson is joining the recently created Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) Institute as the new program manager. This new appointment and the WEL Institute support a curricular and co-curricular effort to provide UT students with promising college-to-career pathways, especially women and creatives who have been under-represented in entrepreneurial roles.
In her newly created role, Robinson will be overseeing program management, event planning and communications among all WEL Institute stakeholders, as well as liaising with Kendra Scott, LLC and other corporate partners to the WEL Institute.
Created in 2019, the WEL Institute is a partnership between The University of Texas at Austin, Kendra Scott and Kendra Scott, LLC. The WEL Institute is managed through a board made up of deans from the College of Fine Arts, the McCombs School of Business and the School of Undergraduate Studies and aspires to reach students in every college on the Forty Acres through programming and curriculum.
The WEL Institute launched a series of workshops and is sponsoring three new courses, two this this spring in Accessory Design, Development and Merchandising and Consumer Products Entrepreneurship, and a Kendra Scott Studio Partnership course scheduled for fall 2020. Planning is underway to organize a women’s leadership summit with a pitch competition. Renovations will begin in May to transform the first-floor of Doty Fine Arts Building to become the new permanent on-campus home of the WEL Institute.
“Because of Kendra Scott’s visionary leadership, inspiration and generosity, the university is able to make this innovative programming available for our students,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Doug Dempster, chair of the WEL Institute board. “Kendra’s generous support is allowing us to transform our spaces to give a home to programming that will build both skills and community among UT students.”
Robinson brings to the role a mix of experience in higher education, the nonprofit and business worlds and has a proven record of supporting both students and early-stage entrepreneurs. Most recently, Robinson worked as the head of Americas for INCO, a Paris-based global leader in the movement for a new economy, to support entrepreneurs at every stage of development. Through the INCO Global Network, Robinson was the program director for the Tarmac TX accelerator, graduating two cohorts of social impact and environmentally focused startups.
Robinson has also worked extensively in higher education, and she served as the director of the Global Engagement Office at St. Edward's University in Austin, the assistant director for international programs at Princeton University and senior manager of partnerships at Cross-Cultural Solutions, a nonprofit volunteer abroad organization. She also taught English abroad with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Colorado State University, where her research is focused on international student identity development.
“I’m passionate about empowering students—especially women—to find the best path to their own destination, and I absolutely believe in ‘taking the world by the horns,’” said Robinson. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with UT students to help them realize their dreams, build confidence and learn the key business skills they need to lead in the global workforce.”
In her role as program manager, Robinson will help direct projects and events happening across the campus in multiple schools and locations. The WEL Institute will deliver both curricular and co-curricular offerings, and Robinson will help guide efforts of a multi-disciplinary team across campus on all initiatives and events inside the WEL Institute. She’ll be largely responsible for helping shape and execute the master plan for the WEL Institute, alongside key stakeholders across campus and within Kendra Scott’s corporate team.
“Together with The University of Texas, we are creating a program focused on redefining leadership and entrepreneurship through a gender-enlightened lens,” said CEO and Founder Kendra Scott. “With this institute, we want to create a pipeline of courageous, creative female leaders who will shatter stereotypes of what an entrepreneur should look like, and will challenge the rulebooks that have governed the business world for generations.”