Colette Pierce Burnette, President of Huston-Tillotson University, and Preston James, Co-Founder of DivInc at DivInc’s Champions of Change Awards

Colette Pierce Burnette, President and Chief Executive Officer of Huston-Tillotson University received the first-ever legacy award at DivInc’s fourth annual Champions of Change Awards presented by Notley.

Burnette came to Austin in 2015 as Huston-Tillotson’s first black female president.

During her time in Austin, Burnette has blazed a trail for diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the city, said Preston James, co-founder of DivInc. Her work earned her the honor of the Austin Chamber of Commerce naming Burnette as the 2021 Austinite of the year.

At Huston-Tillotson, Burnette has grown the endowment by 55 percent for the Historically Black University in East Austin. She also partnered with Apple to create the African American Male Teacher Initiative and has collaborated with Tesla on a manufacturing engineering curriculum and a career progression internship for undergraduates.

Burnette also served as co-chair for the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities.

The Austin Chamber will honor Burnette at an event on Wednesday at the Austin Marriott.

Burnette has announced her plans to retire from Huston-Tillotson University in June.

James with DivInc said whether Burnette stays in Austin or not, she has already made an out-sized impact on the city and the DivInc Legacy Award will forever be known as the Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette Legacy Award.

Founded in 2016, DivInc is the premier startup accelerator for people of color and women entrepreneurs. The nonprofit organization is based in Austin, and it opened a second location in Houston in the Spring of 2021.