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Triad Business Journal's Most Admired 2019 CEOs: Sandra Doran (Registry Member)

Mon, Jul 22, 2019 at 12:10PM

Sandra J. Doran, President of Salem Academy and College

Sandra J. Doran, President of Salem Academy and College



Sandra Doran, Salem Academy and College


Age: 61


Birthplace: Aurora, Colorado


Why selected?

Upon her arrival at Salem Academy and College in May 2018, Sandra Doran was tasked with improving the institution's financial sustainability. She immediately implemented a plan – and exceeded a $10 million fundraising goal with three months to spare. Doran sold external property, right-sized the organization and reduced the budget by 10 percent, achieving a balanced budget going into 2019. She’s a collaborative leader, listening to the needs of her students as well as engaging new community partnerships, such as a partnership with Forsyth Technical Community College and UNC School of the Arts. Doran's focused on Phase Two of the school's strategic plan, which launched recently. 


What was your first job as a youth?

Customer service as a busgirl at a cafeteria


If you could have an alternate title, what would it be?

Diplomat in Residence


Tell us about a time when you felt like giving up and how you resolved it.

Sometimes, resolution is a matter of forging a new path. I was vice president and general counsel at a large retail chain where the company’s culture was not supportive of women in the workforce. I resolved this conflict by accepting the position of vice president and general counsel at a leading institution of higher education, where the environment was decidedly more collaborative and respectful of gender issues.


What is the biggest challenge you face right now in leading your company?

Creating a vibrant academic community in Winston-Salem that includes active participation from all of the major higher education institutions in the city. We have a historically black college, the first women’s college founded in the United States, a top ranked conservatory for the arts, a nationally ranked research institution and a celebrated technical community college within four miles of each other. I can’t think of another community like this anywhere in the country. Winston-Salem’s educational ecosystem has the potential to be an even more significant player in the development and growth of the area.


Share one thing about yourself that would surprise people.

I play the viola, and I want to learn how to play the accordion.


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