Get to Know a Maconite: Emily Myers

Emily Parker Myers is a trailblazer for women in the world of higher education. She was the first woman to be named vice president at Mercer University, serving 29 years as senior vice president for advancement and external affairs. Today, she is the CEO of Myers McRae Executive Search and Consulting, the only woman-owned full service executive search firm in Georgia.

A graduate of Florida State University, Myers majored in education with a minor in business. She was one of few women in FSU’s business school, and discovered her tenacious spirit with other students from across the country.

“I was part of the generation that wanted to push out and try new things. At that time, many women chose to become teachers or nurses. While those are two great professions, I wanted to explore other possibilities. I felt empowered to do that at Florida State because my peers shared that same desire for change,” she said.

Myers began her career at Jacksonville University in the admissions department. She joined the Office of Admissions at Mercer University in the early 1970s. She quickly began to build relationships with prospective students and their families to promote Mercer; she carried this trait over to admissions by developing strong relationships with alumni and friends of the university.

When President R. Kirby Godsey assumed his position in 1979, he promoted Myers to senior vice president of advancement. The Emily Parker Myers Admissions and Welcome Center is named in her honor. At the dedication event in 2012, Godsey commended Myers for her stamina and loyalty to donors, coworkers and friends.

“I knew that she would work day and night, weekends and holidays, and, if she had to, drive everybody around her crazy in order to reach her goals,” Godsey said at the ceremony.

Godsey and the board of trustees envisioned expanding Mercer by adding professional colleges and schools, making Mercer one of the most comprehensive universities in the nation at the time. At the admissions center’s dedication, Godsey applauded Myers for creating one of the most sophisticated university advancement programs.

Myers recalls when Mercer had an enrollment of 1,700 undergraduate students and an endowment of $13 million. Today, the university has around 8,500 students and an endowment of over $300 million.

“I was the only woman on Mercer’s senior administrative staff for a very long time. I felt like I had to be better and more prepared, so I worked very hard to sustain my position and be successful,” she said.

Myers worked extensively in Atlanta building connections with corporations and alumni. Her highly successful fundraising efforts were important in helping the university establish several schools and programs, most notably the Mercer University Press, the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine, and many new buildings to the Macon and Atlanta campuses.

She led and organized Mercer’s public relations team when the university’s historic relationship with the Georgia Baptists Convention drew national media attention. The university’s successful handling of this media crisis was selected to be a case study in Harvard’s higher education management program.

After a long career in higher education, Myers left the university in 2008 when she was invited to join a higher education search firm in Atlanta. Under her leadership as President and CEO, Myers McRae has become one of the top 50 executive search firms in the nation, serving colleges and universities throughout the country.

Myers lives in Macon and is involved with several community organizations. For the past six years, she has served as the chair of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame Authority, a position that is appointed by the governor.

“We are preserving the wonderful legacy of athletic achievement in Georgia. Since the Hall’s founding 61 years ago, it has held an annual induction ceremony, recognizing men and women for their contributions to sports in this state,’ she said.

Myers continues to serve on numerous boards and committees in the community. Among them, she has served on the boards of NewTown Macon, International Cherry Blossom Festival, Grand Opera House, Wachovia Bank and Macon Chamber of Commerce.

When she joined Myers McRae, she planned to slow down her extensive travel schedule. However, her work continues to keep her on the go, as she continues to maintain relationships with clients across the nation.