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Pepperdine Board of Regents Chair Dee Anna Smith (’86) Honored as 2021 AACSB Influential Leader

Sixth annual initiative recognizes 25 business school graduates for contributions to society.



Pepperdine University is proud to announce that Pepperdine University Board of Regents chair and Seaver College alumna Dee Anna Smith (’86) has been named one of 25 business school graduates honored by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB)—the world’s largest business education alliance—as the 2021 Class of Influential Leaders. The annual initiative recognizes notable alumni from AACSB-accredited business schools whose inspiring work serves as a model for the next generation of business leaders.

“For years we have witnessed the outcomes of Dee Anna’s commitment to education and enterprise. We at Pepperdine are proud of her contributions to both and are grateful for the ways her public leadership aligns with her extraordinary service to the University,” said Jim Gash, Pepperdine University president and CEO.

Smith currently serves as CEO of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. Since 2006 she has been unifying a workforce of specialists across the US and UK who are actively changing the way cancer care is delivered to hundreds of thousands of patients annually. By focusing on advancing cancer treatments, Smith's organization has contributed to the research efforts of more than 80 percent of the approved cancer therapies over the past 10 years.

Guided by her faith, Smith has always had a passion for helping those in need. Over the last decade, she has been recognized for her commitment to creating connections and removing barriers within faith communities. Most recently Smith received a Rodgers Award by Nashville-based Operation Andrew. Additionally, she has been honored as a Health Care Hero by the Nashville Business Journal and Heroes of Business Award from Lipscomb University. Smith is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and American Society of Clinical Oncology, serves on board of the Nashville Health Council, and is a former board chair of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. In August 2019 Smith became the first Pepperdine graduate and woman to be named chair of the Pepperdine Board of Regents.

“We are inspired by the efforts of business school graduates like Dee Anna Smith,” said Caryn L. Beck-Dudley, AACSB president and CEO. “Pepperdine University is developing leaders prepared to change the world, and AACSB is honored to recognize Dee Anna for her positive impact on society.”

Now in its sixth year, AACSB’s Influential Leaders honorees include nearly 250 business school graduates who have created lasting impact in business and society. All honorees have earned an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degree from one of the more than 870 AACSB-accredited business schools worldwide. The unique stories of each honoree, and how they are creating meaningful, lasting impact in the world, are available at aacsb.edu/influential-leaders.


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