Charla Griffy-Brown named director general and dean of Thunderbird at ASU


Charla Griffy-Brown

As Thunderbird School of Global Management enters its 10th year as part of Arizona State University, a new decade welcomes the next director general and dean, Charla Griffy-Brown. Courtesy photo

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As Thunderbird School of Global Management enters its 10th year as part of Arizona State University, a new decade welcomes the next director general and dean, Charla Griffy-Brown.

Her post begins July 1; in the interim, she is serving as acting dean and director general.

“Dr. Griffy-Brown is a strong leader, and I look forward to what is ahead under her guidance and to working with everyone dedicated to Thunderbird’s success during its second decade as part of Arizona State University,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “With this selection, ASU reaffirms its commitment to Thunderbird students, faculty, staff and alumni, and to working side-by-side as we strive to maintain the school’s high standards in keeping with our university charter.”

Through her expertise in digital innovation, Griffy-Brown — who joined Thunderbird last August when she was named vice dean and professor of global digital transformation — has helped the school leverage faculty research and new opportunities through analytics, risk evaluation and emerging technology to achieve its strategic objectives.

“Dr. Griffy-Brown’s resume and her recent experience leading Thunderbird make her the right choice to lead the school into the future,” said Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost at ASU. “Since joining the school, Dr. Griffy-Brown has demonstrated the leadership qualities needed to provide stability to the institution while continuing to build on the rich tradition of Thunderbird and its progress since joining the ASU community.”

Prior to joining Thunderbird, Griffy-Brown held several leadership roles at Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School — including senior associate dean and professor of information systems — where she helped lead the school in achieving stronger rankings and notable growth for their executive and part-time degree programs.

Her background, spanning over 25 years of dedicated experience at some of the world’s most impactful and influential companies and organizations, includes significant contributions to both academia and industry. 

With a history of aiding organizations in fostering innovation, boosting ROI and expanding clientele, she also has instructed numerous executives in emerging technology, corporate growth, enterprise architecture, artificial intelligence and analytics implementation.

From serving on executive boards and working at leading-edge technology companies, her cross-sectoral leadership of engaging government, academia, and industry, reflects her commitment to the interdisciplinary development of global and digital leaders.

Pivotal moments

Born to a first-generation immigrant mother and foster-adopted from Los Angeles County by Charles and Felicia Griffy, Griffy-Brown’s journey reflects a lifelong commitment to global engagement and interdisciplinary development. 

After graduating with a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and working for NASA in programming at the Kennedy Space Center, she completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Japan. She met her husband and moved to Australia where she completed a doctorate from Griffith University in Queensland in technology management. She then went on to work throughout India, China and Indonesia.

Griffy-Brown returned to Japan to work as an associate professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and at the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development.

Her career also includes contributions to complex multinational projects with the European Commission, the United Nations Global Environmental Facility, the Pacific Telecommunications Council and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Additionally, she served as a visiting fellow at Tsinghua University in China and Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan, among other notable positions.

With extensive experience living and working in the Asia–Pacific region, Europe and the United States, Griffy-Brown brings a deep global perspective to her engagements, enabling her to identify and solve mission-critical problems and design strategy.

She also led the global scholarly discourse regarding the social impacts of technological change as editor-in-chief of the international journal Technology and Society, and published over 100 manuscripts, chapters and books.

The next era

Griffy-Brown sees an opportunity to harness the power of Thunderbird’s global network and its innovative spirit to create a transformative impact on the world.  

“Thunderbird and ASU’s rich history and commitment to inclusivity and excellence resonate deeply with my own values and vision for our collective future,” she said. “Together, we will build on Thunderbird's legacy, leveraging cutting-edge technology, interdisciplinary research, and a diverse and dynamic community to shape the next generation of global leaders.

Reflecting on the school’s mission, Griffy-Brown is committed to Thunderbird’s foundational values and the advancement of global leadership.

“Our vision is to forge a network of innovative, resilient and culturally astute leaders who are equipped to tackle global challenges in our digitally interconnected, complex, and dynamic world,” she said. “We will leverage cutting-edge technology and research to deliver unparalleled educational experiences and to facilitate sustainable and equitable economic growth worldwide.

“These cross-sectoral Thunderbird leaders, uniquely equipped with skills and new thinking at the intersection of the global and digital, will be change agents driving innovation. Our graduates will not just thrive in the global economy — they will redefine it, creating the industries, ecosystems, and future we all want for ourselves and future generations.”

As the next director general and dean of Thunderbird, Griffy-Brown said she is committed to advancing the school’s position in the highly competitive and evolving educational landscape.

“To enhance our reputation as a leader in global and digital leadership and management education, we will leverage our unique strengths and embrace innovation.

“Today, we can imagine a multi-decade shift as generative and applied artificial intelligence, robotics and life science breakthroughs — along with the vast data facilitated by ubiquitously connected devices — enable new technologies, businesses and types of jobs.

“We must try to anticipate how such cascading changes will impact people’s lives, society, culture, policy and the planet,” she said. “Thunderbird is critical right now; we will be future forward, future focused and future ready.”

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