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Andrew Lakis named executive director of Robertson Scholars Leadership Program

The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program offers a distinctive leadership development experience for scholars at Duke and at Carolina as well as the opportunity to enroll at the other university for a semester. 

Andrew Lakis
(Photo courtesy Duke University)

Andrew Lakis has been named executive director of the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, an undergraduate merit scholarship program that is sponsored and administered by The Robertson Foundation in cooperation with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

A Duke alumnus and a former Trinity Scholar, Lakis currently serves as executive director of Teach For America for Eastern North Carolina.

“I am delighted to welcome Andrew back to Duke to direct the Robertson program,” Duke President Vincent E. Price said. “As a Trinity Scholar, Andrew developed a deep understanding the value of discovery and the ways scholars can challenge and support one another to foster leadership. I look forward to working with him as he works to lift the Robertson program to new heights.”

The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program was founded in 2000 by Julian Robertson, whose two sons graduated from Carolina and Duke, with the aim of encouraging closer collaboration between the two universities. The merit scholarship covers full tuition, room and board, and most mandatory fees for scholars at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill and includes funding for summer experiences, conferences, and study abroad. The program offers a distinctive leadership development experience for scholars at Duke and at Carolina as well as the opportunity to enroll at the other university for a semester.

“Over the last 20 years, Robertson Scholars have contributed to the campus communities at Carolina and at Duke and have pursued inspiring paths of service to our state, our nation and the world after graduation,” Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said. “I know that Andrew will be able to build on this success and draw on the talent and energy of Robertson alumni as he charts a new vision for this unique leadership program.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program at a time when the need for purpose-driven, values-based leaders is so great,” Lakis said. “The chance to lead alongside the Robertson family, scholars, alumni and staff, as well as the leaders of both prestigious universities is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I look forward to building relationships with the dynamic individuals who are part of the Robertson community at Duke and at Carolina and working together to further the Robertson legacy of developing leaders who make a transformational impact in the world and fostering collaboration between these two esteemed universities.”

Lakis will assume his new role later this winter, taking over from William R. Goodell, who has served as interim executive director since April 2020.  The national search was chaired by Eric Mlyn, a lecturer at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the founding director of the Robertson program. The search committee included administrators from Duke and Carolina, Robertson alumni, and representatives of the Robertson Foundation.

After graduating from Duke in 2004, Lakis joined Teach For America as a teacher in a public school in Washington, D.C.  A native of North Carolina, he has worked as an instructional coach in Durham Public Schools and served in multiple leadership roles within Teach For America over the past decade.

Since 2015 he has led Teach For America’s largest rural region, working with his team to recruit, train and support over 400 new teachers and partner with almost 1,000 alumni leaders working toward educational equity across eastern North Carolina. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in history from Duke, Lakis holds a master’s degree in elementary education from American University.

“I have every confidence that Andrew Lakis is the right leader at the right time for this special program,” Robertson Scholars founder Julian Robertson said. “I am grateful to Bill Goodell for steering the program for the past year as interim director, and to Eric Mlyn for chairing the search committee that led to this successful outcome.”

Lakis and his wife, Kristen, live in Durham with their two sons, Abe and Sam.