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Thunderbird at ASU welcomes 2 new executive leaders this fall


Side-by-side portraits of Charla Griffy-Brown and Lawrence Abeln.

Charla Griffy-Brown and Lawrence Abeln have joined the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.

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August 09, 2023

On the heels of recent accolades, including a No. 1 ranking in international trade (QS International Trade Rankings 2023) and recognition as No. 20 worldwide for executive education custom programs (Financial Times), the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University has furthered its commitment to excellence with the addition of two executive leaders this fall.

An experienced higher education leader with over 25 years in academia, Charla Griffy-Brown joins Thunderbird as the vice dean and professor of global digital transformation. An accomplished professional, she has spent several decades leading digital innovation, analytics and emerging technology in key global markets.

Further strengthening Thunderbird's commitment to providing world-class executive education, Lawrence Abeln has also joined as the deputy dean of executive education and clinical professor of global management.

"We are thrilled to have attracted the exceptional talent of Charla and Lawrence to Thunderbird," said Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Thunderbird. "Their remarkable expertise and accomplishments align perfectly with our mission to deliver world-class global leadership and management education. On behalf of our faculty and staff, we eagerly anticipate their contributions to our academic and executive education programs, as well as the broader Thunderbird community."

Charla Griffy-Brown, vice dean and professor of global digital transformation

Formerly the senior associate dean at Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School, Griffy-Brown brings with her extensive business leadership acumen and technology development insight. She has aided organizations in fostering innovation, boosting ROI and expanding clientele. She also has instructed numerous executives in emerging technology and corporate growth, and brings expertise in enterprise architecture, artificial intelligence and analytics implementation. She holds a doctorate from Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, and a bachelor's degree from Harvard University. 

Beginning her tenure at Thunderbird on Aug. 16, she looks forward to helping scale student impact around the world. 

"Words cannot adequately express my excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to serve and be a part of such an exceptional community," Griffy-Brown said. "Together, we will be a force multiplier in achieving our compelling mission and equipping the next generation of global cross-sectoral leaders in a digital world."  

Lawrence Abeln, deputy dean of Thunderbird executive education and clinical professor of global management

Having held several key roles – including dean, deputy dean and associate dean – at some of the most renowned universities and business schools across the world, including Cambridge and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Abeln has made substantial contributions to executive education and lifelong learning programming.

Abeln carries an extensive international academic career, spanning across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Asia. Previous positions include CEO of executive education and deputy dean of the University of Cambridge Judge School of Business, and director of MBA programs at MIT Sloan School of Management. He has also led executive education at the University of Texas at Austin as associate dean. He served as dean of the University of Adelaide School of Business, one of Australia’s Group of Eight leading universities.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, a master’s degree in international relations and a doctorate in management, both from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Rotary Foundation Scholar.

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