You are here

Community Well-Being: Brenda Tillman '84


This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.

Community Well-Being: Brenda Tillman '84

Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your communirty

Illustration by Sara Kaminski
Growing up, Brenda Tillman ’84 found Sundays empowering: going to church and gathering at her grandmother’s house for family dinners. Today, the accomplished author and speaker inspires others to embrace the power of their presence to create supportive communities.

“If each of us can find the light within, we can do great things,” she says. “We are all connected and the choices we make have universal impact.”

Tillman first found her voice around the dinner table with family members. At Bentley, the former Business Administration major became a matriarch of sorts in taking on various leadership roles. As president of the Black United Body, for example, she had a knack for engaging members, particularly through committee work.

“It’s important to have a group that you feel associated with and responsible to, so you know you’re not an island,” says Tillman, whose work as a resident assistant encouraged fellow students toward values such as mutual respect. “We were each other’s keepers. It was our job to make sure no one was falling by the wayside in any aspect of living in this community.”

The alumna applies the same philosophy in her career, which ranges across government, business and academic organizations. For example, she has worked with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) scholars in the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation to “encourage students to reach beyond perceived limitations, as presenters of their groundbreaking research projects.”

The self-described “inspirationalist” shares words to live by in several books. They include Shades of Mandingo (poetry), Listen! Your Positive Inner Voice (affirmations) and Happy! Happy! Happy! (for children).

“When you recognize God’s power within you, nothing else matters,” reads one of Tillman’s poems. “Your walk is different; your talk is different.”


by Kristen Walsh October 19, 2018

Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.

TOPICS: News, Leadership