Alexandra-Emmanuelle Zagbayou

Alexandra Zagbayou - Executive Director

Student U Executive Director

phone: 919-937-2419  •  email:


Alex's primary responsibilities are:

Ensuring the organization is constantly living into its values and reaching its mission for the students and families we work with.

Ensuring Student U has access to the financial and human resources necessary to reach our mission.

Building relationships with community members and partners.

Ensuring we have a work environment and culture that enables our team to grow.

Alex's Why:
Alex is the child of a first generation college student, she believes education has the power to be a revolutionary agent for people and communities to create a just and equitable world. To act on those beliefs, she has worked in partnerships with students, parents and the Durham community at Student U for the past decade. She dreams of a world where organizations like Student U no longer exist and every person is able to reach his or her full potential because our systems and institutions are just and equitable. Until that vision is reached, she is thankful to do work that is meaningful, urgent and necessary alongside an incredible personal and professional community.

Alex outside of Student U:
In addition to justice and growth, my core values are community, learning and family. I try to use my home as a gathering place for my friends and a place to build meaningful community with a diverse group of people. A few years ago, my friends and I started a supper club. We gather over food to talk about issues that are important to us and Durham. In addition to this, as a lifelong dancer, I spend my Saturdays dancing at the W.D. Hill Center. My family is also important to me and spread across continents so I am often on a plane to get to my family in Montreal and Abidjan. With the little time I have left, I try to read as much as possible to remain informed and curious about the world around me.

Advice Alex finds valuable:

“Knowledge speaks. Wisdom listens.” - Jimmy Hendrix

I have learned that listening to our students, parents, staff, and community partners always enables us to make the right decisions. I hope to continue to be a leader that seeks to reflect to our community their voices, ideas, desires by listening well, rather than telling our community what they need to hear.



Other organizations Alex is involved with:
Made in Durham- Advisory Team Leadership Team and Board of Directors
Hill Learning Center- Board of Directors
The Beautiful Project- Board of Directors
Dataworks- Board of Directors

UNC-Chapel Hill

Course of study:
Major in International Studies, Africa Concentration and Minor in social and economic justice

Professional accomplishments:
My proudest professional accomplishment is my 10 year tenure with Student U. As the second full time employee here, it has been an honor to be a part of the organization’s growth over the past decade and to continue to have the honor of walking alongside our students, parents, staff and community partners to build a Durham where all children can succeed.

Student U start date:
April 2009