Born deaf and raised in the oral deaf education tradition, Dr. Jane K. Fernandes learned American Sign Language (ASL) as a graduate student at The University of Iowa, where she studied for her MA and Ph.D. in comparative literature. Over the course of her career, Jane K. Fernandes, Ph.D., has served as the founding coordinator of the University of Hawaii’s Sign Language/English Interpreter Training Program, first female president of Guilford College, and acting director of the ASL Programs at Northeastern University. She is the first deaf woman to lead a U.S. college or university.

From 2008-2014, Dr. Jane K. Fernandes has functioned as the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina Asheville, where she oversees more than 3,500 undergraduate students representing 40 academic majors. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Center for Diversity Education at UNC Asheville.

Active in multiple community organizations, Dr. Fernandes has participated in fundraising efforts for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, which preserves and advances Dr. King’s legacy. She has raised more than $1,750 to support the MLK Jr. Leadership Award and various youth scholarships.