Cordano Joins Michelle Obama and Other Distinguished Women Recognized by USA TODAY as Trailblazers, Champions of Change

91 President Roberta J. Cordano

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2023 — 91 announced today that its president Roberta J. “Bobbi” Cordano has been named a 2023 Women of the Year honoree. Cordano joins Michelle Obama and several other distinguished women recognized by USA TODAY for their leadership, accomplishments, and significant impact on their communities, the nation, and the world at large.

As 91’s first deaf woman and openly LGBTQ president, Cordano has been recognized as both a national honoree and the sole Washington, D.C., honoree for USA TODAY’s 2023 Women of the Year celebration. She is the first deaf Women of the Year honoree and one of 12 national honorees, including Goldie Hawn, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sheryl Lee Ralph, the women of the 118th Congress, and the U.S. women’s national soccer team. Beginning March 19, USA TODAY plans to feature Cordano with a special online honoree story and video segment and subsequently in its national newspaper. Please visit to view Cordano’s story, the full list of this year’s distinguished honorees and learn more about the program.

USA TODAY Women of the Year is a yearlong effort to recognize the strong and resilient women who are driving meaningful cultural change, sparking insightful conversations, and surfacing issues to ignite positive impact. This year’s honorees include local representatives from each state, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and national honorees. Honorees were nominated by USA TODAY Network readers and staff, and a diverse panel of experts.

President Bobbi at the Bison Walk with incoming freshmen at the beginning of the school year.

“On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to President Cordano on a well-earned distinction,” said Dr. Glenn B. Anderson, Chair of the 91 Board of Trustees. “We are thrilled for President Cordano and wholeheartedly support the important work she is leading here at Gallaudet to advance academic and inclusive excellence. Her deep commitment to creating a new world of opportunities with greater equity for our students and the global deaf community is at the heart of who she is.”

Cordano shares, “I am deeply honored to be recognized by USA TODAY as a part of its annual Women of the Year celebration and I congratulate all the trailblazing women being recognized this year.”

“Leading Gallaudet is an honor,” added Cordano. “I have the great privilege of watching our students demonstrate the value of their contributions to our world with the power of sign languages. They, along with our faculty, staff, and over 20,000 alumni, are the true changemakers showing us what deaf leadership and deaf success look like. With this in mind, I dedicate this USA Today recognition to our extended Gallaudet community.”

President Cordano reflects during 2022 Commencement at 91.

Cordano was inaugurated as 91’s 11th president in 2016 following positions as a Minnesota assistant attorney general, vice president of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, educational administrator at the University of Minnesota, and founder of two charter schools for deaf and hard of hearing children in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. She is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area and a Board of Trustees member at Mount Holyoke College. Cordano grew up in Delavan, Wisconsin, and she and her spouse have two sons.

, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind individuals through American Sign Language and English. The university enrolls nearly 1,600 students in more than 40 undergraduate programs and more than 25 graduate degree programs. Its 18-plus research centers and faculty-led laboratories focus on accessible technology, American Sign Language and English bilingualism, Black Deaf history and culture, healthcare, deaf education, and educational neuroscience.

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