International African American Museum appoints new board members
The International African American Museum recently appointed four new members to its Board of Directors.
New board members include Vernita Brown; James Hairston; Reverend Dr. Isaac Holt, Jr.; and Professor Heather Williams. These appointments increase the museum’s board of directors to 31 members. All members are elected for a term of three years.
“We are honored to welcome these outstanding individuals to our board of directors,” said Wilbur E. Johnson, chairman of the museum’s board. “Our new board members are respected in their fields and will bring tremendous value to our organization during this important foundational period. Their appointments will enable our continued evolution and support our mission to honor the untold stories of the African American journey.”
Vernita Brown is a founding team member, as well as the Director of HR and Operations at Charleston-based company Natalist. She holds both a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Clemson University, in addition to certificates in Nonprofit Leadership (Francis Marion University), Management (Winthrop University), and Youth Leadership (Clemson University). She previously organized leadership development efforts at Teach for America, and helped design and implement diversity, adult education, and social innovation programs as Manager of Impact and Investment at United Way.
James Hairston is a trilingual graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law School, currently Facebook’s Head of Policy for Augmented and Virtual Reality. Before joining Facebook, he was a policy advisor to the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, an analyst on the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, and an economic policy researcher at the Center for American Progress. Hairston currently serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Virtual and Augmented Reality; leads the policy committee at the XR Association, which specializes in virtual and augmented reality; and previously helped found the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence.
Reverend Dr. Isaac Holt Jr. is a Navy veteran and honors graduate of Morris College where he also received an honorary Doctorate degree. Dr. Holt has served as senior pastor of Royal Missionary Baptist Church for 26 years. Under his leadership, the church has grown from a 200-member congregation to a 3,000-member congregation. Dr. Holt serves on the Trustee Board for Morris College, is moderator of the Charleston County Missionary Baptist Association, serves as Special Advisor to the President of the Baptist E&M Convention of South Carolina, and is leadership instructor for both the Charleston Association and the South Carolina Congresses of Christian Education.
Heather Andrea Williams is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, and Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She was previously Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Williams received her B.A. and J.D. degrees from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. She is the author of “Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom” and “Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery.” Williams has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The mission of the museum is to honor the untold stories of the African American journey at the former Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston. The 40,000-square-foot museum is projected to open late 2021.