Marion Frenche’s approach to diversity has always been one of inclusivity. “I think diversity comes out of inclusivity; if you don’t have the voices there, then there isn’t a diversity,” she says.
A person of color herself, Frenche has made it her mission to increase the diversity of candidates in a universe with limited opportunities for women and people of color to lead. “For me, being able to include the variety of voices and backgrounds and ethnicities and approaches and philosophies and disciplines in a search brings out a diverse pool.”
She began her executive search career in 1998 as an executive assistant. One year later, due to some unusual circumstances, she was thrust into her first higher-education executive search and eventually placed a diverse candidate as dean of engineering at a predominantly white institution.
In 2004, Frenche became the first executive search consultant — and the first person of color — at Greenwood/Asher & Associates, an executive search firm specializing in education. She developed the firm’s diversity and historically black colleges and universities executive search practices. She has since successfully completed 300 searches for institutions of higher education, building diversity into every search.
She focuses on the skills that clients are seeking, not the titles, and that helps her find individuals who are exceptionally prepared but not in roles that traditionally move into the presidency as a next step.
That approach extends to the search committee as well, and she includes everyone in all the conversations and ensures each has an equal voice and fully participates in the process.
Kelly acquired Greenwood/Asher & Associates in November 2020, maintaining the Greenwood/Asher brand. With the acquisition, Frenche sees the opportunity to influence an even larger ecosphere.
2021 DE&I Influencers List