During the month of February, Stephens College will be highlighting successful Black alumnae and students who have made an impact in Columbia and beyond.

Karen Taylor-Liggins graduated from Stephens College in 1988, majoring in Biology. Since graduation, she has embodied what it means to be a successful Stephens woman with her many leadership roles. She currently serves as Executive Director at the American Institute of Architects- St. Louis Chapter, becoming the first woman of color to do so.

Taylor-Liggins decided to attend Stephens because she attended an all-girls high school. She appreciated the level of confidence, grace, and intelligence that the women of Stephens represented while she was on her visit. The welcoming atmosphere of Stephens made an everlasting impression on her and coupled with the fact that Stephens offered her major, she felt it was a place where she would be able to thrive.

She credits Stephens for allowing her to use her voice in every situation without having to be validated or have to wait her turn to be able to provide meaningful input into a discussion. It also allowed her to realize the importance of educating herself before deciding on what actions she should take toward success.

Her motivation to be a successful leader comes from learning from her mother and grandmother. When success doesn’t come easily, she takes those experiences and turns them into a lesson for herself to succeed the next time.

Taylor-Liggins advises other women who want to land a leadership position to be true to themselves. “Your way of being and who God created you to be is exactly what someone is needing or waiting for,” she said. “Be open to feedback and find someone who will tell you the truth even if it is hard to hear.”

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