Dr. Lenora Helm Hammonds Named Dean of the Professional Education Division

A renowned jazz vocalist, educator, and Berklee alumna, Hammonds is known for her innovative teaching methodologies and global contributions to music education.

June 13, 2024
Lenora Helm Hammonds headshot

Image courtesy of Lenora Helm Hammonds

Berklee College of Music has appointed Dr. Lenora Helm Hammonds as the new dean of the Professional Education Division, effective August 1, 2024. She will succeed Darla Hanley, who served as dean for 16 years, and Marcela Castillo-Rama, who has led the division in an interim role since fall 2023.

A Berklee alumna, Hammonds is a Chicago native with a distinguished career as a jazz vocalist, educator, and interdisciplinary scholar. Her contributions to music education are globally recognized, highlighted by her role as a U.S. Jazz Ambassador and her two appointments as a Fulbright Senior Music Specialist.

She comes to Berklee from North Carolina Central University (NCCU), where, as a professor in the university’s music department and jazz studies program, she received numerous accolades, including the prestigious UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2021. Her research, which explores intercultural maturity, jazz pedagogy, and digital humanities, has been published by Springer, Routledge, and Taylor & Francis.

Since 2010, she has led a 12-person global team at NCCU’s College of Arts and Sciences, pioneering the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) methodology. This work positioned NCCU as the only HBCU (historically Black college or university) in GLOMUS, an international network of more than 20 liberal arts universities. She is also a sought-after guest lecturer at international universities and conferences, sharing her expertise in jazz education.

“I am honored to return to my alma mater and lead the Professional Education Division,” said Hammonds. “Berklee has always been a place of inspiration for me, known for its innovative approach and commitment to nurturing talent. I am eager to contribute to its legacy of excellence in music education and support the next generation of musicians and educators.”

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Hammonds back to Berklee and look forward to her visionary leadership in the Professional Education Division,” said Ron Savage, vice president and executive director, Berklee College of Music. “I am confident that her extensive experience and passion for music education will inspire and elevate our community.”

With this appointment, Hammonds becomes the first Black woman to serve as dean of Berklee’s Professional Education Division, after previously making history as the first Black woman to graduate from the college's film scoring program. In addition to her bachelor’s degree from Berklee, she holds a Master of Music in jazz performance from East Carolina University and a Doctor of Musical Arts in music education from Boston University. Her numerous academic awards include the Mayor’s Award for Promoting International Understanding, a NCCU-Duke Digital Humanities Fellowship, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Publishing, and NCCU’s Excellence in Teaching Award, to name just a few.

Beyond her academic achievements, Hammonds is also an accomplished recording artist, jazz vocalist, vocal coach, composer, lyricist, and bandleader with four-plus decades of experience. She has released eight commercial recordings, owns Baoule Works Music Publishing, and has an extensive discography with internationally renowned jazz and contemporary music artists. Her indie jazz record label, Zenzalai Music, was a 2021–2022 Black Independent Music Accelerator (BIMA) recipient. For more information about her work and achievements, visit lenorahelm.com.

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