Douglas is author of Woke Leadership: Profits, Prophets and Purpose
Dr. Priscilla H. Douglas shared the wisdom she has earned in decades of government and business leadership with the bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates of the College of Professional Studies at the graduation ceremony on the Boston campus at Matthews Arena, on May 20, 2022. She spoke with a distinct focus on the experience that students have gained through tumultuous times. The business leader, executive coach, author, speaker, and Double Husky who held executive roles at General Motors, Xerox, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, drew upon her life experiences at Northeastern, and urged the graduates to change their perspective of the future by harnessing the power of the term “NOT YET.”
“The mindful answer is ‘not yet,’” Douglas said. “Keep your future open by answering ‘not yet.’ Keep your dreams alive and don’t fall back on the automatic ‘no.’”
While Douglas has over 30 years of experience in business and government, she took this opportunity to share her times at Northeastern and her worldly experiences using the power of ‘not yet’. “Don’t be too quick to answer no. I didn’t. I raced motorcycles, I competed in bodybuilding, [and] rode my bike from Boston to New York three times. I’m a scuba diver and get this, while earning my doctorate at Harvard. I was a cheerleader for the New England Patriots,” Douglas said as the graduates cheered.
Douglas also spoke about the power of her network that started at Northeastern University, “Network for Life. Consider that success,” she proclaimed. “Reciprocity and love will hold your network together.” She challenged the graduates to “surround yourself with the most eclectic bunch of folks that you can find. They are your pathway, your portal, and your gateway to the future.“
She reminded the graduates that we live in an interconnected global economy in which “relationships are our most valuable resources.”
“We are so grateful to have Dr. Douglas speak to our graduates,” David Fields, Interim Dean of the College of Professional Studies added, expressing his gratitude for Douglas’ ability to galvanize and excite the CPS graduates. Dr. Fields added, “Dr. Douglas spoke to the value of the power of the Northeastern network and the perseverance our alumni will need as they transform the fast-paced, diverse, global business landscape and society.”
“Hold fast to your dreams,” Douglas said as she ended her remarks, “They feel the purpose and passion and they got you here today. But you know what? That passion and purpose—it’s not finished with you. It is not through with you. Not yet!”
Douglas has worked extensively in state and federal government on both sides of the aisle. In her role as Commonwealth of Massachusetts Assistant Secretary for Public Safety, Douglas launched the Domestic Violence Commission and Hate Crimes Task Force, publishing the state’s first hate crimes report in 1991. She was also the first Black woman to serve in the Massachusetts Cabinet when she was named Secretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
Douglas has deep roots at Northeastern. She is a Northeastern University Corporator Emeritus and played a key role in the founding of the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute at Northeastern University. Douglas is the Chair of the Boston Public Library’s Board of Trustees and serves as a member of distinguished boards — American Repertory Theater, the Boston Museum of Science, Leader Bank, and the International Womens’ Forum Massachusetts.
Douglas holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and History, and a Master of Education, both from Northeastern University, and a Doctor of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.