Today, President Biden announces his intent to appoint qualified and diverse leaders to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The President’s Board will advance the goal of the HBCU Initiative, established by the Carter Administration, to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to its students and continue serving as engines of opportunity.
In 2021, President Biden appointed Drs. Tony Allen and Glenda Glover to serve as Chair and Vice Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, respectively. In February, he appointed Dr. Dietra Trent as executive director of the White House HBCU Initiative.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting the vital mission of HBCUs. Through the American Rescue Plan, grant funding, and by forgiving capital improvement debt of many these institutions, the Biden-Harris Administration has already committed more than $5.8 billion in support. Reestablishing the White House HBCU Initiative – and appointing qualified and diverse individuals to the Board – will allow the administration to build on that financial commitment with continued institutional support.
President Biden announces his intent to appoint the following individuals to serve as members on the board:
- Makola M. Abdullah
- Javaune Adams-Gaston
- Paige Blake
- Thasunda Brown Duckett
- Willie A. Deese
- Patrick Cokley
- Monica Goldson
- Brett J. Hart
- Taraji P. Henson
- Beverly W. Hogan
- Lisa P. Jackson
- Shevrin D. Jones
- Walter M. Kimbrough
- William F. L. Moses
- Christopher E. Paul
- Quinton T. Ross Jr.
- Ruth J. Simmons
- Janeen Uzzell
Makola M. Abdullah
Dr. Makola M. Abdullah is the 14th President of Virginia State University (VSU). He is a member of numerous boards and committees including: Council of 1890s Presidents for Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU); Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College, and the Council of Presidents for Virginia Institutions of Higher Education, and Board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Prior to his appointment as President of Virginia State University, Dr. Abdullah served as provost and senior vice president at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, and dean and director of 1890 land grant programs at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee. Dr. Abdullah is a Chicago native. He earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University in civil engineering and his doctorate and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Northwestern University. He is the youngest African American to receive a Ph.D. in engineering. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He and his wife, Ahkinyala Cobb-Abdullah, Ph.D., are the proud parents of a son, Mikaili, and a daughter, Sefiyetu, who both are college graduates.
Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D., serves as the seventh President of Norfolk State University, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s largest Historically Black College and University in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Adams-Gaston is committed to the mission of Norfolk State University to transform the lives of students through access to higher education and excellence in scholarship, career preparation, and service. Dr. Adams-Gaston is committed to student success and the development of the student holistically through academic excellence, mentorship, mental and physical wellness, internships, and civic engagement. Since her arrival on campus in June 2019, Dr. Adams-Gaston has advocated for increased financial support for the benefit of students, faculty and staff and the stability of the institution. Dr. Adams-Gaston was pivotal in securing a $40 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott—the largest single gift in NSU’s history. She has led the university in successful efforts to secure grants and partnerships from corporations such as Microsoft, Netflix, Apple, IBM, Dominion Energy, and others. Under her tenure, NSU has been designated a Top 20 HBCU for consecutive years in U.S News and World Report Rankings. Prior to becoming President at Norfolk State University, Dr. Adams-Gaston served as Senior Vice President for Student Life at The Ohio State University. During her career at the University of Maryland, Dr. Adams-Gaston held numerous positions including psychologist, associate dean in academic affairs, assistant athletic director, equity administrator, and graduate faculty member. Dr. Adams-Gaston had a practice for 25 years as a licensed psychologist and as an educator, she is frequently asked to provide speeches, lectures, and to serve on panels regarding student success and leadership.
Paige Blake is a 20-year-old native of Prince George’s County, Maryland. She is a junior at Bowie State University where she majors in Biology and is on the pre-med track. Paige plans to attend medical school to study Neurology to help others with Spina Bifida and other neurological conditions. Paige was diagnosed at age 4 with a rare form of Sacral Agenesis (a form of Spina Bifida). Over time she’s learned the importance of advocacy after having her own share of hardships in her life with her disability. Paige has used her personal experiences to advocate and help others in various ways, such as organizing donation drives with her Girl Scout troop where they sent medical supplies to countries overseas and working with The Congressional Black Caucus and President Obama’s White House Initiative on African American Excellence to advocate for disabled students. Currently, Paige has been named the 2021-2022 White House Initiative HBCU Competitiveness Scholar for Bowie State University. She also is working with The University System of Maryland Student Council as the Director of Student Affairs, where she advocates for students to ensure that present and future college students in the state of Maryland will have positive and equal opportunities.
Thasunda Brown Duckett
Thasunda Brown Duckett is President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA, a Fortune 100 provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions to millions of people working in higher education, healthcare and other mission-driven organizations. As TIAA’s CEO, Duckett leads a company whose mission is defined by financial inclusion and opportunity – goals and values she has upheld throughout her career. Duckett joined TIAA after serving as Chief Executive Officer of Chase Consumer Banking, where she oversaw a banking network with more than $600 billion in deposits and 50,000 employees. Duckett serves on the boards of NIKE, Inc., Brex Inc., Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Sesame Workshop, National Medal of Honor Museum, Economic Club of New York, University of Houston Board of Visitors and Dean’s Advisory Board for the Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. She’s a member of the Executive Leadership Council, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Jack and Jill of America Inc. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Marketing from the University of Houston and an MBA from Baylor University.
Willie A. Deese
Willie A. Deese is a retired pharmaceutical executive and corporate board member whose career spans 5 decades. He most recently served as Executive Vice President of Manufacturing at Merck and Co. Inc. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and credits his alma mater with providing him the foundational platform on which he was able to build a successful career. He is recognized for his expertise in manufacturing and supply chain management as well as his proactive contributions defining healthy, engaged corporate cultures, implementing environmental and sustainability standards, DEI practices and policies, and leadership development. He fervently believes that when we level the playing field by providing equitable resources and opportunities for all, it leads to positive outcomes that have an exponential impact on society. Recently, North Carolina A&T named its College of Business and Economics in his honor.
Patrick Cokley works to bring issues of inclusion to the forefront of all communities. In his role as Chief of Organizing Advocacy and Learning at Civic Influencers, Patrick believes in the importance of giving all young people the tools they need to be engaged citizens with the ability to bring positive change to their communities. Patrick’s dedication to service stems from the values he learned from his family as well as time at an HBCU. As a graduate of Howard University, Patrick believes that it is imperative that the disability and traditional diversity communities learn to work together as they both share the core values of inclusion. Only together can our communities realize the success of an America that is inclusive of all of its citizens. Originally from South Carolina, Patrick now makes his home in New Jersey. In addition to being a person who is low vision, Patrick is also the parent of two children with disabilities.
Dr. Monica Goldson, Chief Executive Officer for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), is the dedicated and dynamic leader of the 20th largest school district in the nation. A three-time HBCU graduate, she is committed to creating transformative experiences that propel students to their highest levels of excellence. Dr. Goldson focuses on doing what is best for students and educators, especially amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her longtime advocacy for public education was key in mobilizing the PGCPS community to provide laptops, internet service and technology assistance to families in need while building virtual learning from the ground up. Beyond the schoolhouse, she is a member of Chiefs for Change, a graduate of Leadership Greater Washington, and a board member of Nonprofit Prince George’s and the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Goldson holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree in Elementary and Secondary School Administration from Bowie State University, and a doctorate in Educational Administration and Policy from Howard University. She has two adult sons, both graduates of Prince George’s County Public Schools.
Brett Hart is President of United Airlines and is responsible for leading the company’s external-facing teams as well as operational workgroups including Technical Operations, Airport Operations, Corporate Safety, United Ground Express and Network Operations. He also oversees business-critical functions such as the customer experience, government affairs, corporate real estate, human resources, and labor relations teams. Mr. Hart previously served as executive vice president and chief administrative officer for United. A longtime resident of Chicago, Mr. Hart has been extensively involved in social, cultural, and economic causes impacting his home community. Brett serves on the boards of World Business Chicago, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, Northwestern Medical Group, and the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council. Brett received his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and English from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School. He is married and has three sons.
Taraji P. Henson
Academy Award-nominated and SAG and Golden Globe-winning actor, filmmaker, and activist, Taraji P. Henson quickly rose to fame after her breakout performance in the critically acclaimed film Hustle & Flow. In 2020, Henson wrapped her iconic run as “Cookie Lyon” in Fox’s hit musical drama Empire, which has earned her three Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe Award, a Critics Choice Award, and three BET Awards. Prior credits include Hidden Figures, which won her a SAG for Best Ensemble, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with Brad Pitt, for which she earned an Academy Award nomination. In Summer 2022, she has Minions: The Rise of Gru and is currently in production on Blitz Bazawule’s The Color Purple, where she will star as Shug Avery. Henson launched TPH Entertainment with upcoming projects including Two-Faced with Bron Entertainment, which will mark Henson’s feature film directorial debut, Alessandro Camon’s Time Alone, which Henson will also star in, and Sorcerority, which she will co-produce with Game Changer Films and Gabrielle Union’s I’ll Have Another Productions. In October 2016, Henson released her New York Times bestselling novel “Around The Way Girl.” Henson launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018 in honor of her late father, which provides scholarships to African-American students majoring in mental health, offers mental health services to youth in urban schools, and works to lower the recidivism rates of African-American men and women. Henson recently co-hosted the Facebook Watch series on mental health called Peace of Mind with Taraji, for which she received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination. In 2019, Henson received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Beverly W. Hogan
Beverly Wade Hogan has a long and distinguished career as a public administrator, educator, community leader and humanitarian. As the first woman to lead the historic institution, Hogan served as President at Tougaloo College for 17 years. She retired with the distinction of President Emerita. She had also served the College as the founding director of the George A. and Ruth B. Owens Health, Wellness and Human Resources Center, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Interim President. During her presidential tenure, she and her team enhanced the college’s curricula with new undergraduate and graduate degree programs and expanded partnerships with major research institutions for three plus two degree programs in law, engineering, and public health; established the Undergraduate Research Center, the Center for International Studies and Global Change, the Institute for the Study of Modern Day Slavery, the Early College High School; and made significant improvements in campus physical and technological infrastructure. Prior to becoming a college president, Hogan served as Commissioner of the Workers’ Compensation Commission; Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Federal State Programs; Executive Director of the Mental Health Association. She is a national voice for higher education, having served on the board of directors for the Council of Independent Colleges, National Association for Independent Colleges and Universities, NAFEO and UNCF. She was appointed by former President Barack Obama to the Board of Advisors for the White House Initiative on HBCUs.
Lisa P. Jackson
Lisa P. Jackson is Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, where she leads the company’s environmental initiatives, racial equity and justice initiative, global education policy programs, product accessibility efforts, corporate giving and philanthropic partnerships, and worldwide government affairs. Her work includes driving Apple’s support for HBCUs through coding initiatives, innovation partnerships and the launch of the Propel Center. Under President Barack Obama, she served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, becoming the first Black person to hold the position. She also served as Chief of Staff to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine and as Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, following nearly 20 years with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lisa has been recognized as a leader in business and sustainability by numerous publications, including Ebony’s Power 100, Black Enterprise’s Women of Power, Essence Magazine’s 40 Women Who Have Influenced the World lists, and Women of Color magazine. She is the recipient of Princeton’s James Madison Medal and Tulane University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, among others. Lisa holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University. She also holds an honorary degree from Spelman College and maintains close ties to Xavier University in New Orleans. She serves on the boards of Tulane University, the American Film Institute, and Conservation International and is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Lisa and her husband Kenneth reside in San Francisco.
Florida State Senator Shevrin “Shev” Jones is an educator, public servant, and consensus builder who has dedicated his life to serving others and building pathways to opportunity. Thanks to the encouragement of his close-knit family and supportive teachers, Jones recognized from a young age the power of education as the great equalizer, a foundation that drove Shevrin into teaching to help students reach their full potential. A proud graduate of Florida A&M University, Jones taught high school chemistry in Broward Public Schools before founding L.E.A.D. Nation, a South Florida nonprofit organization committed to youth leadership development and social entrepreneurship training. Jones’ firsthand look at the inequities in education and society at large propelled him to enter public service, and since 2013, he has served in the Florida legislature, championing meaningful bipartisan legislation including two consecutive bills to secure dignity for incarcerated women; statewide expansion of a clean syringe exchange program; safety and oversight for athletic coaches for youth athletic teams; increased investment in underserved communities; and greater transparency and accountability for law enforcement. The first LGBTQ State Senator elected in Florida history, Jones served on President Barack Obama’s College Promise Task Force and is an active member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Young Elected Officials Network, and Millennial Action Project’s Florida Future Caucus. Today, Jones is completing his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University.
Walter M. Kimbrough
A native of Atlanta, Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough was his high school salutatorian and student bodypresident, and went on to earn degrees from the University of Georgia, Miami University in Ohio, and a doctorate in higher education from Georgia State University. He has enjoyed a fulfilling career in student affairs, serving at Emory University, Georgia State University, Old Dominion University, and Albany State University. In October of 2004, at the age of 37, he was named the 12th President of Philander Smith College. In 2012, he became the 7th President of Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kimbrough has been recognized for his research and writings on HBCUs and African American men in college. Recently he has emerged as one of the leaders discussing free speech on college campuses. Kimbrough also has been noted for his active use of social media. He was cited by Education Dive as one of 10 college presidents on Twitter who are doing it right and was profiled in the text, “Digital Leadership In Higher Education.” In 2020 he was named by College Cliffs as one of 50 Top U.S. College and University Presidents.
William F. L. Moses
William F. L. Moses serves as Managing Director for the Kresge Foundation’s Education Program, which supports postsecondary access and success for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students in the United States and South Africa. The key architect of Kresge’s education programming, Bill leads the team’s continuum of grant activities and for more than 20 years has awarded grants to HBCUs and MSIs, including UNCF, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Paul Quinn College, Delaware State University, Jackson State University, and Xavier University, among others. Prior to joining Kresge, Bill served as Executive Director of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, a Senior Analyst at the Investor Responsibility Research Center, a research officer at TechnoServe, and in various positions at the Alaska State Legislature, and the federal government, including the U.S. Embassy in Cape Town, South Africa. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Bill holds a master’s degree in international relations from Yale University, and is the author of A Guide to American State and Local Laws on South Africa and co-author of Corporate Responsibility in a Changing South Africa. Bill currently serves on the advisory committees or boards of the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group, APIA Scholars, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s External Leadership Council, College Promise, Detroit College Access Network, and the Seal of Excelencia.
Christopher “Chris” Paul is a twelve-time NBA All-Star with the Phoenix Suns, two-time Olympic Gold medalist and is listed as one of the NBA’s 75 greatest players in NBA history. Off the court, he’s a father, husband, entrepreneur, activist, and philanthropist. His leadership and impact are well noted in the sports industry as he recently ended an eight-year tenure as the President of the National Basketball Players Association. His advocacy for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is extremely important and through his Chris Paul Family Foundation, he has actively expanded a Business of Entertainment Media and Sports special topics course at NC A& T, Southern University, Winston Salem State and Clark Atlanta University. His production company, Ohh Dip!!! creates content across multiple platforms, which includes the Why Not Us franchise of shows with NC Central Men’s Basketball and FAMU Football. Paul co-launched the Social Change Fund United dedicated to investing in and supporting organizations focused on empowering communities of color and advocating for the human rights of all black lives. His philanthropic efforts have earned him the 2016 ESPYs “Humanitarian of the Year” award, 2016 Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award, the NBA Community Assist Award five times, and most recently the inaugural Kobe and Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award for his significant contributions to the advancement of girls’ and women’s basketball and advocacy for the WNBA.
Quinton T. Ross Jr.
Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., is entering his fifth year as President of Alabama State University, having assumed the leadership role at his alma mater on October 3, 2017. His tenure has been marked by transformative and innovative leadership that has included a 130 percent increase in fundraising, expansion of national and global partnerships, advancement of strategic initiatives under the brand of “CommUniversity,” and an increased emphasis on student success. President Ross is a three-time graduate of Alabama State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science, a Master of Education degree in Secondary Education English, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Law. Dr. Ross is a distinguished career educator with more than 28 years of experience in Higher and K-12 public education. Prior to becoming the University’s 15th President, Dr. Ross served with distinction as a senator in the Alabama Legislature for four terms.
Ruth J. Simmons
Ruth J. Simmons is President of Prairie View A&M University. Prior to joining Prairie View, she served as President of Smith College from 1995 to 2001 and President of Brown University from 2001 to 2012. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Dillard University and a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University. Simmons serves on the Council of the Smithsonian National Museum of History and Culture and the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch.
Janeen Uzzell is the Chief Executive Officer at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the largest Black STEM community impacting society and industry. In her former role as the Chief Operating Officer for the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, Janeen drove process improvement and helped launch the Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund to address racial inequities in free knowledge. For nearly two decades, she held various roles at General Electric, working in healthcare technologies in some of the world’s most challenging environments. As the head of Women in Technology, she accelerated the number of women in technical roles. Her previous roles at GE included Global Director of External Affairs and Technology Programs, Director of Healthcare Programs at GE Africa (where Janeen lived for several years as an Ex-Pat in Accra, Ghana), Director of Global Healthcare Programs, Director of Healthcare Disparity Programs, and Director of Service Operations. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the United Nations Global Leadership Award and one of ADWEEK’s Top Black Women Trailblazers in Tech. Janeen received her Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and an MBA in International Business from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Janeen fuses her passion for social justice and her leadership to shine light on inequality in tech spaces and forge opportunities for others. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her family and friends in Washington, D.C.