Agnes Scott College has picked its ninth president after an eight-month search: Leocadia “Lee” Zak, who was the director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency under President Barack Obama.

She will take office July 1, replacing retiring President Elizabeth Kiss.

“Lee Zak stood out as an exceptional and accomplished leader, and the board of trustees unanimously concluded that she is the right choice at this stage in Agnes Scott’s transformational journey. We feel she is well positioned to continue the momentum of SUMMIT and to contribute greatly to our growth as a premier liberal arts institution,” said Elizabeth Daniel Holder, who chairs the board of trustees. “She will be stepping into the role armed with a solid foundation.”

SUMMIT is the college’s signature experience, focused on global learning and leadership development.

“I am extremely excited and honored to be joining Agnes Scott College. Now more than ever there is a need for women’s colleges, and SUMMIT uniquely takes the experience to a new level,” Zak said.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Mount Holyoke College and earned a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. She spent 18 years at a law firm working on project finance, then in 2000 joined the Trade and Development Agency, where she worked for 17 years.