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Gretchen Cook Anderson

Executive Director, Ignite

Gretchen Cook-Anderson is an award-winning marketing/communications executive with over 28 years promoting the sciences (life sciences, biotech, aerospace and Earth science), global education, political candidates and major household products.

In her current role as inaugural Executive Director at Cambridge, MA-based nonprofit Ignite, Gretchen Cook-Anderson is leading efforts at the first-and-only-of-its-kind platform that’s addressing systemic racial, gender and other underrepresentation in talent across the life sciences and the biotech industry – from labs to leadership, and from the STEM student pipeline to the entrepreneurs advancing life-changing innovations. Ignite was launched in early 2021 by LabCentral, a preeminent early-stage biotech startup accelerator, as a forward-thinking, equity-driven way to support the workforce needs of the industry.  

Gretchen was honored in October 2020 among the inaugural 50 Most Influential Businesspersons of Color by the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce (MetroWest region). She was also recognized in February 2021 by the Massachusetts Legislature as a Black Excellence on The Hill honoree.  

She is active as a board/advisory member for several organizations including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, WorldBoston, Facing History & Ourselves, and the Japan-US Friendship Commission, and independent schools (Belmont Hill School & Dana Hall School), cares deeply about social justice, equity, and inclusion, and speaks publicly and consults on related themes dozens of times locally and globally each year.

Gretchen is an alumna of Spelman College (BA), of The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (dual MA), and of Harvard University’s Executive Education Leading Difference for High Performance program.

Something most don’t know about her: She speaks Japanese and taught it at university level here in the States for 6 years, and once climbed a mountain in the Swiss Alps.

Favorite thing to do outside of work: Travel globally – trying to hit places on her long busket list, including Greece, South Africa, Ghana, the Maldives, the Seychelles and Zanzibar, and New Zealand.

Favorite science experiment: An oldie but goodie: Making a paper maché volcano erupt in elementary school!