Roberta J. “Bobbi” Cordano is the 11th president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. She is the fourth deaf president, and the first deaf female president, in the university’s history. Established in 1864, Gallaudet is the only university in the world where students live and learn bilingually in American Sign Language and English.
Cordano has prioritized early acquisition of sign language for all children, and particularly for deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind children. She is the first president to define and highlight Gallaudet’s economic contribution to our nation’s GDP by recognizing Gallaudet’s unique role in creating and building a multibillion-dollar sign language economy in the United States. Cordano is leading major anti-racism, bilingualism, and innovation imperatives that touch every aspect of the university. She has built the first majority deaf and diverse executive team in Gallaudet’s history.
A seasoned, proven administrator and leader, Cordano brings to her presidency skills and experience built in both traditional and non-traditional settings. She was previously vice president of programs for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also held leadership roles in the healthcare industry, with Allina Health, the Park Nicollet Institute, and Park Nicollet Health Services. Earlier in her career, she was an educational administrator at the University of Minnesota and an assistant attorney general for the State of Minnesota. She was a founder of two charter schools for deaf and hard of hearing children in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
A 1986 graduate of Beloit College, Cordano received her Juris Doctor degree in 1990 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2018, she received an honorary doctorate from Beloit College. A child of deaf parents, both proud alumni of Gallaudet University, Cordano is fluent in American Sign Language and English, and she and her spouse have two adult children.