Union Institute & University announces 2023 Commencement keynote speaker and honorary degree recipient

Julie Spencer Washington, senior vice president, and chief marketing, communications & customer experience officer of Trinity Health, will be the keynote speaker at Union Institute & University’s National Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, July 9, at 2 p.m. At the ceremony, Washington will be recognized with the conferring of the university’s highest honor, the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters: Honoris Causa. The commencement will be held at the Hilton Netherlands, Cincinnati.

“It is an honor to welcome Mrs. Washington as our keynote speaker. We celebrate Mrs. Washington as a Union alumna and former board member who exemplifies the Union mission to engage, enlighten and empower and pursue professional goals and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility,” Karen S. Webb, President, Union Institute & University, said. “She is a change agent and advocate of the marginalized, dedicated to the advancement of a culturally pluralistic, equitable, and interdependent world.”

Washington’s career has been dedicated to elevating the voices of those who are rarely seen or heard while raising issues of equality that must be addressed and improved.

“I am honored by this acknowledgment of my commitment to public service, equity, and social justice and the impact of my accomplishments to date,” said Julie Washington. “It inspires me to continue partnering toward freedom, liberty, equity, and justice for all.”

In her role at Trinity Health, Washington has redefined the marketing and communications function to build the system’s brands. Trinity Health is one of the largest Catholic healthcare systems in the nation. With a focus on digital transformation, her work is improving the care experience to be more integrated, inclusive, and customer-centric. In 2022, Washington was named to Savoy magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America and to Diversity Woman Media’s Elite 100 list. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized Washington as an Outstanding Health System Customer Experience Officer in 2022 and 2023. And Millennium Alliance named her “Digital Healthcare Innovator of the Year” in 2021.

Prior to her current role, Washington served as chief marketing officer for Champion Petfoods, chief marketing & innovation officer for Jamba Juice, and was a marketing leader at Procter & Gamble, Nestle Purina, and Luxottica Retail.

In addition to her UIU M.S. in Health Care Leadership, Washington holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry and Psychology from Emory University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Washington University. She is a new author of an inspirational book, Recipes for Joyous Living; a story about her mother’s faith and victory when faced with life’s challenges.  She is married and has three children.