At present, the Cabinet is comprised of the following individuals and their roles:

Damián J. Fernández, Ph.D.

President

The President serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the College with responsibility for ensuring the success of the institution’s mission, enrollment growth and management, academic integrity, fiscal stability, fundraising, personnel, and physical plant management. The President provides vision and strategic leadership to college operations and engages the governing board, faculty, staff, and students in realizing the future of the College’s extraordinary potential. The President acts as a mentor for vice presidents, faculty, and staff, collaborates on strategic issues impacting the college, and serves as the decision-maker for all aspects of campus operations, policies, practices, and activities.

Dr. Damián J. Fernández is currently serving as President. He assumed the presidency June 1, 2023. A Cuban immigrant who grew up in Puerto Rico and a first-generation college student, Fernández comes to Warren Wilson with more than 30 years of experience in teaching and leadership positions at both private and public institutions. Most recently, he served as President of Eckerd College.

Fernández received his bachelor’s from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, master’s in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida, and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Miami. He is a National Science Foundation grant recipient, and he sat on the Board of the American Council on Education (ACE) and on the Association of Governing Boards Council of Presidents.

Jay Roberts, Ph.D.

Provost & Dean of the Faculty

The Provost and Dean of the Faculty has oversight over Academic Affairs (all academic programs and degrees, faculty recruitment and evaluation, faculty development, curriculum standards and accreditation, student success offices, the library, careers and internships, land resources, and international education); Student Life (all Counseling and Wellness Centers, the Chaplain and Center for Spiritual Life), the Work Program, International Education, and Career Services. The combination of Provost and Dean signifies a special responsibility and relationship with the academic faculty and the academic mission. This role is also responsible for strategic planning and implementation of initiatives to further integrate the principal components of a Warren Wilson education (academic, community engagement, and work) in both design and function.

Roberts joined Warren Wilson College in June 2020 as Vice President of Academic Affairs and, as of July 1, 2021, transitioned to Provost and Dean of the Faculty. Previously, Roberts spent 20 years at Earlham College as a Professor of Education and Environmental Studies, serving 7 years as the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. Roberts is a 2019-20 Fellow with the American Council on Education [ACE] and serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Experiential Education. Roberts is a noted authority on experiential learning, publishing multiple articles and books on the subject. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Miami University, a Master of Education from University of Virginia, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Lawrence University.

Bob Nesmith

Vice President for Enrollment

This position is responsible for the recruitment of undergraduate students to the College, searching for individuals who demonstrate strong academic ability and curiosity, personal integrity, and alignment with the College’s mission. The Vice President has oversight over Admissions and Financial Aid.

Nesmith was appointed VP for Enrollment on September 6, 2022. A graduate of Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, Nesmith worked at his alma mater in Admissions for almost 27 years, serving the last 12 years as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. Under his leadership at Centre, he and his team recruited 12 of the 13 largest classes in college history, dramatically increased the number of international students, and doubled the enrollment of students traditionally underrepresented in higher education, including Black, Latinx, multiracial, and first-generation students. Nesmith also served on the senior leadership team at Centre and worked closely with its Board of Trustees.

Valerie Gliem

Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Marketing, and Strategic Communications

The Vice President has oversight of the philanthropic and communications functions of the College. She and her team design and implement annual and multi-year fundraising campaigns, and articulate and promote the unique brand and value proposition of the College to prospective and current students, their families, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. The team uses fundraising, creative and brand management, messaging, communications integration, and market analysis to advance the mission of Warren Wilson College.

Gliem joined Warren Wilson College on June 1, 2023. With more than 23 years of experience in advancement, marketing, communications and executive Board support, she brings broad knowledge and understanding of the shifting higher education landscape, and a successful track record of creating and implementing tactics to support enrollment and fundraising growth.

Previously she served as Vice President for Communications and Administration and Secretary of the College at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. A first-generation college graduate, Gliem earned a bachelor of arts in journalism, a bachelor of science in wildlife and fisheries science, and an MBA from Penn State University.

M. Z. Yehudah, Ph.D.

Dean of Inclusive Excellence

The Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Initiatives is responsible for guiding the efforts to conceptualize, define, assess, nurture, and cultivate diversity as an institutional and educational resource. The Director for DEI Initiatives leads in the development and implementation of proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in support of the College’s strategic plan to create a learning and working environment where all in the campus community have an opportunity to succeed and thrive. This role is designed to lead the College’s effort toward building and sustaining a diverse and culturally vibrant campus.

On August 1, 2023, Yehudah transitioned to his current role as Dean of Inclusive Excellence. He joined Warren Wilson in May 2021 initially as Director of the WIDE Office, and on July 2022 as Director of DEI Initiatives, later joining the Cabinet to bring his leadership and expertise in DEIB to the College as whole. Yehudah’s career in higher education has included more than 18 years of experience and leadership in teaching, researching, mentoring, and practicing in the fields of multicultural affairs, diversity, and social justice. He holds a B.A. in Communication and a M.A. in Africana Studies from the State University of New York at Albany, as well as a Ph.D. of African-American Studies from Temple University.

Tacci Smith

Dean of Students

The Dean of Students reports to the Provost and is responsible for all aspects of Student Affairs and also serves as the College’s Title IX Coordinator. This position has oversight over the following units: Student Activities, Residence Life, Spiritual Life, Health and Wellness, the Counseling Center, the Queer Resource Center, as well as the Wilson Inclusion, Diversity and Equity [WIDE] department. The Dean of Students serves on both the Provost Leadership Team and Cabinet to ensure careful coordination, collaboration, and representation of student life issues within the senior leadership of the College.

Smith joined Warren Wilson College in 2016 as Director of Student Activities and has since served in a variety of student-focused positions. Smith recently served as the Associate Dean of Student Life Engagement where her work focused on student communication and advocacy.

Prior to her work at the College, Smith was the Associate Dean of Students and Director of New Student Orientation at Kenyon College in Ohio. She received her B.A. in Communications/ Broadcasting and Psychology from Otterbein College and her M.A. in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University.

James Ayers

Executive Director of Operations 

James Ayers was appointed as Executive Director of Operations by President Fernández in March of 2024. The operations group includes Facilities Management, Human Resources, Public Safety, and related services.

James is a seasoned management professional with over 30 years of experience spanning both the public sector and private industry. James previously served in local government including stints as Town Manager in Lewisville and Manteo where he was responsible for the day-to day operations of small to mid- size municipalities. He also served as General Services Director at the City of Asheville. In the private sector, James worked in real estate and construction management including roles such as Vice President of Land Development for a national homebuilder and VP of Operations for a regional general contractor.

Mr. Ayers earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Vanderbilt University, with a double major in engineering science and economics. He also holds a Master of Science degree in administration from Central Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia, the Leadership ICMA program, and the Public Executive Leadership Academy at UNC- Chapel Hill.

Amy Frey Ager

Executive Director of Strategic Ventures, Partnerships and Programs

Reporting to the President, the Executive Director oversees the process of analysis and implementation of entrepreneurial activities at the College. The OSVPP will partner with local and regional, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit organizations to identify needs and provide services that generate additional revenue for the College. This position has oversight over the Director of Conferences, Print Shop and Mail Services, and the Swannanoa Gathering.  After serving on the Board of Trustees from 2020-23, Ager joined the College on August 16, 2023, in the role of Executive Director of the newly established Office of Strategic Ventures, Programs and Partnerships.

Ager graduated from Warren Wilson in 2000 with a degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture and a Minor in Business.  At that time Ager, along with her business partner and husband, Jamie Ager, co-founded the renewal of Hickory Nut Gap Farm into a sustainable livestock, retail sales and agritourism business with a focus on diverse and direct market avenues. The increased interest among their customers in supporting regenerative agricultural practices, and grassfed and pasture raised livestock products, led to an expansion of their offerings and the creation of Hickory Nut Gap Meats in 2007. Hickory Nut Gap Meats sources and harvests grassfed cattle and pasture-raised pigs to distribute into groceries, food service, educational institutions, and direct-door delivery throughout the Southeast and in New York City.

Robin Martin-Davis

Director of Athletics

The Director of Athletics reports directly to the President and is responsible for developing and executing a strategy for recruiting student-athletes to Warren Wilson College, evaluating the potential for additional athletic programs, and making recommendations to the President for future expansion, raising the profile of College athletics, evaluating and implementing athletic policies, evaluating coaches and staff, and managing the budget. The Director of Athletics develops and implements a vision for athletics, including creating annual and long-term strategic plans for the Department of Athletics that further Warren Wilson College’s strategic plan, educational mission, and recruiting goals. This position is also responsible for establishing a culture of excellence within the department with clear accountability and high standards for students, coaches, and staff.

Martin-Davis joined Warren Wilson College in June of 2014 as Head Women’s Basketball Coach. As a basketball coach, she has compiled over 100 wins, 3 USCAA National championship berths and one EMAC conference championship. Martin-Davis added to her basketball duties the SWA position within a few years and then transitioned to serve as Associate Athletic Director for two years before being named Athletic Director in June 2022.

Robin holds a master’s degree in Kinesiology from Georgia Southern and a bachelor degree from Clarion University. Martin-Davis’s role on the administrative side has been compliance education, NCAA education, coordinating all transportation, handling medical claims, game day management, creating and updating our inside athletics webpage as well as working on streamlining and updating our athletic staff and student-athlete handbooks.