Dr. Cheryl Calhoun has held various positions throughout her 30+ years of experience in higher education, entrepreneurship and social service. She has a passion for education and social entrepreneurship. Ensuring students are prepared for the work of the future and that our educational systems embrace the wonderful diversity our students bring to society are her motivating values. Cheryl is recognized nationally as an expert in in envisioning and implementing innovative programs that transform curriculum, leverage technological advances and ensure diverse students are included, succeed and belong.

She is a three-time degree earner from the University of Florida where she earned a PhD from the College of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Educational Technology and an MBA in Information Assurance with a specialization in Entrepreneurship from the Warrington College of Business. In addition, she holds numerous industry certifications in cybersecurity, computing and project management.

She is an entrepreneur, a systems analyst and an educator. She was co-owner of the iconic Gainesville bookstore, Wild Iris Books and has helped to establish several other businesses and non-profit organizations. She has served as a consultant and systems analyst designing data and information systems and web-based e-commerce solutions. She has 25 years’ experience in higher education as an educator and administrator. She started her career with the American Red Cross serving as a systems analyst, Director, Health and Safety, and Financial Development Coordinator.

Her passion is to develop educational systems that help students prepare for the work of the future, achieve their own educational goals, and ensure all students are respected and have equitable access to resources needed to succeed. She leverages her unique skill set with experience in information technology, entrepreneurship, social service and education to envision educational programs that will meet the needs of our future economic systems. As a systems analyst and social entrepreneur, she combines the ability to analyze systems with the desire to create systems that are sustainable and meet the needs of a vibrant and diverse society.

She has a long history of being active in her community, serving on numerous boards and supporting social services and the arts. She was a member of Leadership Gainesville’s LG42 cohort and serves on the Equality Florida Gainesville Gala Steering Committee and the United Way Community Investment Council. Her early experiences working in HIV/AIDS education set the stage for a lifelong commitment to social justice and using education as a tool for achieving social equity.

Being the first woman in her family to earn a college degree, and the first in her family to earn a graduate degree, she learned to navigate unfamiliar educational resources. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community she has shared struggles of acceptance and belonging. These experiences helped her to develop an understanding of the importance of embracing diversity and belonging and helping others to navigate the system and gain access to resources to help them succeed.

She is a native of Florida having lived throughout the state before settling in Gainesville, FL where she raised her two children and lives with her wife, Ester de Jong.

Thinking more deeply…

If we do not like what we see in the world, we must face what we don’t like within ourselves. As we change, the world will change with us.

Marianne Williamson

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

James Baldwin

Every nation must learn that the people of all nations are children of God, and must share the wealth of the world. You may say this is impracticable, far away, can never be accomplished, but it is the work we are appointed to do. Sometime, somehow, somewhere, we must ever teach this great lesson.

Olympia Brown

Let’s build something together.