Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice Board

Pauli Murray Center Board Officers

Mayme Webb-Bledsoe


Charmaine McKissick-Melton


Jeanette Stokes


Brittany Bennett


Board Members

Ria Aiken

Ria Aiken is the Director of the Mayor’s office of Emergency Preparedness for the City of Atlanta, GA. Prior to joining the City of Atlanta in 2015, Ms. Aiken was a Vice-President for Weston Solutions Inc., where she joined the company in 1996 as an intern and progressed through the ranks into roles of increasing responsibility providing technical and program support for large scale events and disasters such as Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, and Gustov, and Joplin Tornadoes. She provided regional strategic direction and leadership for over 175 client service managers, project managers, emergency response professionals, civil engineering professionals, construction managers, and environmental specialists across six states throughout the Southeast and Texas with a national and international client base. A member of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Cabinet, Ms. Aiken coordinates overall preparedness and mitigation strategies for departments with a $2B capital program budget, $600+ operating budget, supporting 8,500+ employees and 400,000+ residents, most recently serving in a lead role in the City of Atlanta’s efforts related to the Interstate 85 Bridge Collapse,Traffic Mitigation, and Recovery Efforts. Ms. Aiken serves as the Mayor’s Liaison for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), a member of the UASI Working Group, Co-Chair of the UASI Cyber-Security Infrastructure Committee, and a key member of the City of Atlanta Information Security Governance Board. Ms. Aiken is also a steering committee member and working group leader for the City of Atlanta’s 100 Resilience City Strategy Team, powered by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative to address challenges and opportunities arising in metro Atlanta as a result of urbanization, globalization, and climate change. Ms. Aiken has a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Texas – San Antonio.


Brenda Baker Coakley

Brenda Baker Coakley is a member of the Fitzgerald/Murray family. She is deeply committed to the preservation and history of African American life and culture which has resulted in her avid and enthusiastic dedication to museum life, and specifically African American museums. Ms. Coakley is affiliated with, and an active member of the following museums/ associations: Baltimore Museum of Art and Joshua Johnson Council; Franklin G. Burroughs Museum/Myrtle Beach South Carolina; Association of African American Museums; Association of Small Museums, Maryland Chapter; The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. She is a charter member of the Reginald Lewis Museum (Baltimore MD) and active volunteer at the Banneker Douglass Museum (Annapolis MD), Maryland’s state museum of African American History and Culture for which she was awarded The State of Maryland Governor’s Volunteer Service Certificate, August 2014 .

Ms. Coakley holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Howard University, Masters in Education from Towson University; post-graduate course work and professional certifications from/ at the University of Baltimore, North Carolina (UNC, Chapel Hill), Virginia (VCU, Richmond), Tulane, Tufts and Harvard.


Brittany A. Bennett

Brittany Bennett is passionate about creating equitable spaces and communities so that everyone in them can thrive. She is currently a Commercial Loan officer with Self-Help Credit Union, and was previously a Development, Policy, & Impact Associate also at Self-Help. Prior to that she gained a range of professional experience in economic development, local government management, and campaign organizing. In addition to her service on the Pauli Murray Center board of directors (treasurer), Brittany also serves as a member of the board of directors for Village of Wisdom, an educational equity organization, and has volunteered on the business team for Scalawag Magazine. Brittany is a South Carolina native who earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology/ Human Biology from Emory University and a Masters of Public Administration degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Chandra Guinn

Chandra Guinn is a native Mississippian who lived in Iowa & Maryland before making her home in the Triangle. She came to Duke in October 2005 to serve as Director of the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture. Chandra has completed degrees in Sociology at Bucknell University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her scholarly interests include Africana Studies historiography & pedagogy, Black women’s & men’s studies, intellectual entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and sociology of sport to name but a few. Chandra possesses a passion for her people and a desire to provide programs and services that propel us forward ever and backward never. In regards to her work at the Mary Lou Williams Center, Chandra has said “I feel privileged to serve as the Center director and will always strive to demonstrate excellence in action.” When she is away from the MLWC, Chandra enjoys educational outings & travel, watching sports & design shows, and going to used bookstores among other things.


Leoneda Inge

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s Changing Economy Reporter. She came to North Carolina in 2001 from Michigan and has spent most of that time tracking job loss and other major changes in the state’s Tobacco, Furniture, and Textile industries. In 2006, Leoneda and a team of journalists won an Alfred I. DuPont Award from Columbia University for the series – North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty.

Leoneda has won several other first place awards – including three Gracie Awards from the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television, several Associated Press Awards and a Salute to Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Leoneda has worked in commercial and public radio for many years and has produced reports for news magazines on NPR, Marketplace, and Voice of America.  Leoneda is a graduate of Florida A&M University.  In 1995, Leoneda was named a Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan.  In 2008, she received her Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University where she was a Knight-Bagehot Journalism Fellow in Business and Economics.  In 2009, Leoneda traveled to Tokyo, Japan as a fellow with the Foreign Press Center.


Robin Kirk

Robin Kirk is a Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and Faculty Co-Chair of the Duke Human Rights Center at FHI. She is also the director of the Undergraduate Certificate Program in Human Rights at Duke. In addition to her teaching, Kirk has written three books, including More Terrible Than Death: Massacres, Drugs and America’s War in Colombia (Public Affairs) and The Monkey’s Paw: New Chronicles from Peru (University of Massachusetts Press). She is a co-editor of The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University) and co edits Duke University Press’s World Readers series. An essayist and award-winning poet, she has published widely on issues as diverse as the Andes, torture, the politics of memory, family life and pop culture. Her essay on Belfast, “City of Walls,” is included in the Best American Travel Writing anthology of 2012 (Mariner Books). In the Fall of 2006, she was a Fulbright lecturer at the Human Rights Center at Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey. Kirk authored, co-authored and edited over twelve reports for Human Rights Watch, all available on-line. In the 1980s, Kirk reported for U.S. media from Peru, where she covered the war between the government and the Shining Path. She continues to write for US media, and has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Sojourners, The American Scholar, the Raleigh News and Observer, the Boston Globe and other newspapers.


Barbara Lau (Executive Director, ex-officio)

Barbara Lau is director of the Pauli Murray Project at the Duke Human Rights Center/Franklin Humanities Institute where she connects her commitment to justice with her belief in the power of community organizing. She is also the Executive Director and lead developer of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice, a newly formed non-profit organization focused on transforming Murray’s childhood home into a center for history, education, the arts and social mobilization. Lau’s 20 years experience as a folklorist, curator, radio producer, and author includes producing To Buy the Sun, an original play about Pauli Murray; directing the Face Up: Telling Stories of Community Life community mural project; and curating two major exhibitions about Cambodian American traditions.


Mary McClintock Fulkerson

Mary McClintock Fulkerson is a professor in the Duke University Divinity School whose primary teaching interests are feminist theologies, theology and culture theories, authority in theology, and the theological interpretation of scripture. Her book, Changing the Subject: Women’s Discourses and Feminist Theology, examines the liberating practices of feminist academics and non-feminist church women. She has written articles challenging theologies that make heterosexuality normative Christianity. Her next book, Traces of Redemption: Theology for a Worldly Church, interprets the doctrine of the church in light of racial diversity and the differently abled. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Professor McClintock Fulkerson has been involved in national ecclesiastical bodies and chaired New Hope Presbytery’s Task Force on Human Sexuality.


John McCann

John McCann has more than 25 years experience in helping leaders work more effectively. He has worked with more than 300 of the nation’s leading cultural institutions including the Association of Arts Presenters, Dance/USA, National Alliance for Musical Theatre, Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, Chicago Opera Theatre, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the National Symphony Orchestra. His clients within the philanthropic community have included the Wallace Foundation, Bush Foundation, Maryland State Arts Council, Grantmakers in the Arts, Grantmakers in Education, and the National Endowment for the Arts. McCann has assisted in the formation of unique partnerships and strategic alliances including Latino New South, a coalition of the Levine Museum of the New South, Atlanta History Center, and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; and the Global Artist Network involving the Museum of International Folk Art, International Folk Art Alliance and leading folk artists from Rwanda, Afghanistan, Ghana, and seven other nations. Both projects are initiatives of the Innovation Lab, a program of EmcArts, Inc. He has also facilitated the discussions leading to the merger of Tribeca Film Institute and Renew Media; Company of Fools and the Center for the Arts; and of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Dance Theater Workshop to form New York Live Arts. McCann is co-founder and currently a board member of EmcArts, a nonprofit social enterprise for learning and innovation in the arts.


Charmaine McKissick-Melton

Charmaine McKissick-Melton is an Associate Professor in Mass Communications at North Carolina Central University. A Durham native, she is the youngest daughter of the late Judge Floyd B. McKissick Sr., an attorney and civil rights leader, and grew up in the midst of the civil rights movement. From 1993-1996 she was a Lyman T. Johnson Research Teaching Fellow and in 1992 she was awarded the Coca-Cola Minority Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame where she taught a course titled “The Civil Rights Movement and Beyond.” Prior to her appointment at NCCU, she was Associate Professor and former Chairperson of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Bennett College in Greensboro, NC.


Ferina Moses

Ferina Moses has worked in marketing, sales and management for over 45 years, and has served youth and young adults through leadership, education, community organization and churches worldwide. She holds a Bachelor’s from Wesleyan University and a MA in Education from the University of Massachusetts, where she established a Community Outreach Program for University students to “Bridge the town gown relationship.” Moses served as the Director of Youth Ministry for Trinity Church Wall Street for over twenty years, and is the past President of the Congregational Council at Trinity Church/St. Paul’s Chapel, New York. Serving the diverse population at Trinity, Moses has been an instrumental force in Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice teaching respect for differences while at the same time encouraging the common goals of the community.


Victoria Joyner Phillips

Victoria Phillips was born in Southwest Central Durham and has over thirty years experience as a public administrator, community organizer, trainer, and counselor with agencies that serve low-income communities. Victoria served as the Housing Director of one of the nation’s largest public housing authorities in Atlanta, GA. She has broad experience in working with grass roots organizations as well as experience as a consultant for a nationally recognized firm that specialized in working with private and non-profit organizations and governmental agencies addressing urban and community revitalization. Since returning to Durham in 2002, Victoria has volunteered with the Southwest Central Durham Quality of Life Committee and serves on the Housing Committee, the Allocations Committee, and the Steering Committee.


Jeanette Stokes

Jeanette Stokes is an ordained Presbyterian minister and a graduate of Smith College (1973) and Duke Divinity School (1977).  In 1977 she founded the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South and currently serves as its Executive Director. Jeanette is the author of 25 Years in the Garden, a collection of her essays, and the co-editor of God Speaks, Women Respond, a collection of essays by women in ministry.  She likes to write, paint, dance, garden and lead workshops on women, spirituality, creativity and social justice. In 2006, the Resource Center sponsored a project called Art & the Feminine Divine, which included an exhibit of over 175 works of art by more than 100 North Carolina artists.


Dorothy Thomas

Dorothy Thomas is an American human rights activist and an independent consultant on human rights. She was a 1998 MacArthur Fellow, and a 1995 Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.  She graduated from Georgetown University with an M.A. in 1984. She is senior program advisor to the US Human Rights Fund. She was founding director of the Human Rights Watch, Women’s Rights Division, from 1990 to 1998. She was a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, from 2007 to 2008. She is a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. She is a director of the Ms. Foundation for Women.  In 1998 she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Bill Clinton. She is the author/editor of several articles and reports on human rights, including Into the Bright Sunshine: The Value of Human Rights in the United States, and Close to Home: Case Studies of Human Rights Work in the United States. She holds an MA from Georgetown University, which awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1995. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Ms Foundation for Women and serves on the advisory boards of the ACLU human rights project, Breakthrough Communications, the Four Freedoms Fund, Human Rights Watch’s US program, and the US Human Rights Fund.


Mayme Webb-Bledsoe

As a veteran of Durham grassroots work, and a staff member of Duke University’s Office of Community Affairs, Mayme Webb-Bledsoe plans and implements strategies through an “Empowerment Model” to improve neighborhood environments.  She is a ToP qualified trainer and she provides support and technical assistance to community partners, nonprofit organizations, local government, civic groups and the private sector organizations. She has been coaching the creation of the Quality of Life Project using ToP methods in a participatory community plan for six Southwest Central Durham Neighborhoods. In 2006, Duke University Samuel DuBois Cook Society recognized her community development work by presenting her with Community Betterment Award.


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One Response to “Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice Board”

  1. I am one of the thousands of white Americans who had not heard of Pauli Murray until recently, in spite of being raised in North Carolina, and educated at Duke, class of 1964. Finally I began learning about Murray at the marvelous seminar celebrating John Hope Franklin last October. I’ve just finished The Firebrand and the First Lady by Patricia Bell-Scott and have begun reading Proud Shoes.

    Is it possible to visit the Pauli Murray Center or is it still in development?

    Posted by: Mary Lucas | April 28, 2016 at 9:50 am | Reply