Yale announces new trustees, senior fellow

The Yale Corporation, the university’s governing board, has named a new senior fellow and will welcome two new members beginning July 1, President Peter Salovey announced.

Annette Thomas ’93 Ph.D. was elected an alumni fellow, and Lei Zhang ’02 M.B.A., ’02 M.A. was appointed as a successor trustee. Donna L. Dubinsky ’77 B.A., a trustee since 2006, was chosen as the Corporation’s next senior fellow.

Annette Thomas 

Annette Thomas will succeed Francisco G. Cigarroa ’79 B.S., director of pediatric transplantation at the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio, who was elected an alumni fellow in 2010. “We are deeply indebted to Francisco Cigarroa for his six years of devoted service, his invaluable perspective on medicine, and his crucial guidance on the university’s new diversity initiatives,” Salovey said.

A cell biologist who has spent most of her career in scientific publishing, Thomas most recently served as the chief scientific officer of Springer Nature. Previously she was CEO of Macmillan Science and Education, where she was integral to the success of the 2015 merger with Springer Science and Business Media, creating one of the world’s largest and leading academic publishers.

“With her scientific acumen and commitment to innovation, Annette Thomas exemplifies core values of the university,” Salovey noted. “She has represented Yale with distinction throughout her career, and I look forward to her contributions as a member of the board.”

After receiving her undergraduate degree in biochemistry and biophysics from Harvard in 1986, Thomas earned her Ph.D. at Yale in cell biology and neuroscience in 1993. Upon graduation, Thomas joined the journal Nature as an associate editor for cell biology. 

Thomas became launch editor of Nature Cell Biology in 1999 and then created the Nature Reviews series, one of the most highly cited scientific review journals. She became managing director of Nature Publishing Group in 2000, overseeing the group’s expansion globally and into digital media. She was then appointed chief executive officer of Nature Publishing Group’s parent company, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., where her responsibilities included global education and consumer book publishing.

In 2012 Thomas became chief executive officer of Macmillan Science and Education. She introduced new technology and business models and launched Digital Science, a technology start-up incubator. Digital Science is now home to nearly a dozen new companies transforming how researchers work and communicate.  

Thomas was recognized with the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize for exceptional women in publishing and is a recipient of the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, which is awarded to outstanding alumni of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for distinguished achievements in scholarship, teaching, academic administration, and public service. She has served as a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Biotechnology Information, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health. She has served on the board of, and been an adviser to, Creative Commons, a non-profit service that draws on data to advance development, growth, and productivity. She is currently a governor of the Stephen Perse Foundation. 

Lei Zhang

Lei Zhang, the Corporation’s newest successor trustee, is the founder, chair, and CEO of Hillhouse Capital Management Group. Founded by Zhang in 2005, Hillhouse Capital focuses on long-term fundamental equity investing. The firm invests in the consumer; technology, media, and telecommunications; financial services; and health care sectors.

Before attending Yale, where he earned an M.B.A and an M.A. in international relations in 2002, Zhang received his B.A. in economics in 1994 from Renmin University of China, where he is vice chairman and trustee of the board. 

Zhang has served on the boards of several of Asia’s leading companies, including JD.com, Qunar, and the Indonesian media conglomerate MNC Global Mediacom. He is a governing board member of the China-United States Exchange Foundation and serves on the Hong Kong Financial Services Development Council as well as the Steering Group on Financial Technologies. He established the Gaoli Academy at Renmin University with the purpose of expanding the role of liberal arts education in Chinese universities. Zhang has played a leadership role in fostering the growth of the Yale community in Asia, volunteering considerable time, attention, and energy in support of the university’s efforts in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and beyond.

“Lei Zhang epitomizes the global leadership we seek to foster throughout our university community,” Salovey said. “His perspective has been essential in advancing Yale’s international initiatives, experience that will stand him — and the university — in excellent stead as he takes on this new role.”

Donna Dubinsky

Donna Dubinsky, who succeeds Margaret H. Marshall ’76 J.D., ’12 LL.D. as senior fellow, is serving her second term on the Yale Corporation; she was appointed successor trustee in 2006.

“Yale has benefitted enormously over the years from Donna Dubinsky’s wisdom, talent, and devotion to the university,” Salovey said.

Marshall added, “For the past 10 years, Donna has served Yale as a fellow with energy, drive, commitment, and generosity. As the ‘first among equals,’ she will be a wise and thoughtful counselor.”

As senior fellow, Dubinsky will preside at Corporation meetings in the absence of the president and, with the president, holds joint responsibility for setting the Corporation’s agenda and appointing its committees.

After graduating from Yale and earning an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, Dubinsky worked at Apple Computer and then as a founder of its spinoff software developer, Claris Corporation. In 1992 she joined Jeff Hawkins at Palm Computing, serving as president and chief executive officer. The handheld computer the PalmPilot, introduced four years later, became the fastest-selling computer and consumer electronics product in history at the time. In 1998 Dubinsky and Hawkins founded Handspring, Inc., creator of the Treo Smartphone, which set the standard for next-generation phones. Handspring merged in 2003 with Palm, where Dubinsky served as a director until early 2009. She currently serves as CEO of Numenta, a technology company she founded with Hawkins in 2005. 

Marshall, former chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, will retire from the Corporation this month after a decade of service — having served as a trustee since 2004, and as senior fellow beginning in June 2013. In announcing her departure, Salovey expressed appreciation for her vital role in Yale’s presidential transition. 

“Margie Marshall is an exemplary Yale citizen, as a long-time member of the Corporation and in a number of other key areas,” Salovey said. “On both a professional and a personal level, I am immensely grateful for her dedication and insights. She is a tremendous leader within our community, and I look forward to her continued close connection to Yale.”                        

Yale Corporation

The Yale Corporation is the governing board and policy-making body for Yale University. Its 19 members are the president of the university; 10 successor trustees, who elect their own successors for up to two six-year terms; six alumni fellows, who are elected by the alumni of the university for staggered six-year terms; and the governor and lieutenant governor of the state of Connecticut, who are ex officio members. 

Brief biographical sketches of the other members of the Corporation are available online: http://yale.edu/about/corporation.html.