AHF’s Young Professionals Board is an organization comprised of culturally-savvy professionals throughout Alabama. The YP Board’s mission is to increase awareness of AHF amongst a broad demographic by implementing programming events and activities that display cultural awareness. The board cultivates young professional members into leaders who have a strong understanding of the benefit of the humanities.
JESSICA CHRIESMAN, Board Chair
Jessica Chriesman, board chair, is a filmmaker from Birmingham. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she made a variety of films. Since 2015, she has had the privilege of screening films in festivals across the United States. Compelled by stories of people and places, in her budding career Jessica has focused on spreading the stories of nonprofit organizations and the populations they serve. She is currently the Media Production Coordinator for Impact America.
STEPHANIE L. COKER, Ph.D.
Stephanie L. Coker, Ph. D., a native of the Mississippi Delta, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and English from Mississippi College and the master’s and doctoral degrees in French from Louisiana State University. She spent a year teaching English at the Université d’Angersin France. During her professional career, she has taught French courses at universities in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.
A resident of Florence, Alabama since 2016, Coker is Assistant Professor at the University of North Alabama where she is passionate about introducing students to cultures of the French-speaking world. In the classroom, she incorporates music, film, literature, and current events to develop students’ language proficiency as well as their cross-cultural understanding. Each year, she coordinates National French Week events on campus and hosts local high schools for “French Day at UNA.”
Collaborating with the Department of Visual Arts & Design, she co-directs an interdisciplinary summer program for UNA students in Paris, France. With a grant from the FACE Foundation (French-American Cultural Exchange), she organized the UNA TournéesFilm Festival.
Her research focuses on the late-medieval hero, Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), and how French authors depict her story throughout the centuries. Her most recent publication examines the American television series Joan of Arcadia. In 2017, she gave the keynote address at the 8thannual Salon de Jeanne d’Arc in New Orleans where she discussed Jeanne’s role in popular culture.
Actively involved in the worship team at her church, she also volunteers at Motion Student Conference in Birmingham.
Krishula Edwards works as a Sexual Assualt Counselor for a nonprofit organization, The Family Sunshine Center. She is a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida (B.S. in Political Science and M.P.A. in Public Administration) and Troy University in Montgomery (M.S. in Counseling & Psychology). She is a long term member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, a member of The Junior League of Montgomery and a board member of The Ivy Foundation of Montgomery. She loves Alabama and the rich culture. The humanities develop informed and critical citizens. Without the humanities, democracy could not flourish.
Amelia Johnson is the Director of College Advising at Indian Springs School. Originally from Montgomery, she earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies from Kenyon College and a Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. She loves Birmingham and Alabama and is proud to work with AHF to increase awareness of our rich cultural landscape among other young professionals across the state.
ISAAC JONES, Vice Chair
Isaac Jones is music artist and native of Birmingham. He currently works in Birmingham as an Engagement Consultant for Daxko working to help member-based non-profit organizations improve their community engagement via software tools. He is also a member of the Young Professionals Board for Urban Impact.
Laura Pitts is the Director of the Scottsboro Public Library in Scottsboro, Ala. Originally from Oakman, Ala., she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and English from the University of Alabama, a Master’s degree in English and Creative Writing from The University of Alabama Birmingham, and a Master’s Library Information Studies from The University of Alabama. Laura is a member of the Scottsboro Rotary Club, where she is chairman of the organization’s Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) Day program, the American Association of University Women Jackson County Chapter, The Association of Rural and Small Libraries, the American Library Association, serves on the Alabama Author’s Awards Committee, serves on the state LSTA Grant Committee and is the Alabama Library Association’s Executive Board Member at Large for the North, and is the 2021 President-elect for the Alabama Library Association.
When she is not being a librarian, Laura spends time with her labrador retriever, Leonardo da Vinci, who enjoys being at the library just as much as she does.
Erin Hutchins is a native of Anniston, Ala., and the beloved daughter of Carl and Joyce Hutchins. An alumna of Auburn University, Erin received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in May 2009. In December 2011, she graduated with her Masters of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from Auburn University, and received a Graduate Certificate of Nonprofit Organization and Community Governance. While in graduate school she was inducted into the Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society, the Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society, and was the National Forum for Black Public Administrators Scholarship Recipient in 2011.
With a passion to build sustainable communities, Erin began her career in Albany, Ga., in November 2011 and committed to a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany for the United Way of Southwest Georgia. During her year as an AmeriCorps member, she participated in several community initiatives, her most notable accomplishment was spearheading the Community Hygiene Drive, which she continued throughout her time in Albany.
In November 2012, Erin furthered her career in youth development and accepted the charge to serve as the Program Director for the Albany Area YMCA 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Program, which offers free academic and enrichment opportunities during non-school hours to students in the Dougherty County School System (DCSS). During her tenure with the 21st CCLC Program, Erin successfully managed two grants valued at $4 million, allocated resources, and established partnerships that provided exciting learning opportunities for her students. In addition to her administrative duties, Erin maintained a presence and relationship with over 600 children and their families. Under her leadership, the program received the Dougherty County School Systems Partners In Excellence Award in 2015.
Erin is a graduate of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Institute for Leadership Development’s inaugural class of 2015; and the recipient of the 40 Under Forty Award in 2013 and 2015 presented by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and The Albany Herald.
Erin has recently returned to her beloved alma mater, Auburn University, and now serves as the Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator in the Office of Alumni Affairs for the Auburn Alumni Association. Since December 2015, Erin has worked tirelessly to provide meaningful and engaging programs and events for alumni of color as well as alumni who are differently abled and, part of the LGBTQ+ community. The largest event to date is Black Alumni Weekend which in 2019 had 600 attendees as they celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Integration of Auburn Athletics.
ALEXIS SANKEY, Secretary / Treasurer
Alexis Sankey is a Highland Home, AL native who moved to Birmingham to further her work with nonprofits and civic organizations. Sankey has over 8 years of experience with developing and implementing community programming, outreach strategies, grants, communications, and capacity building. Sankey attended Auburn University and received a BA in Psychology with a minor in Community and Civic Engagement and later received an MS in Management and Leadership from Amridge University. Alexis Sankey is the Founder of Social Services Consulting currently assisting with a government contract for the AL Air National Guard.
PENNY S. SEALS
Penny S. Seals serves as the Assistant Director of Samford University’s Academic Success Center. Originally from Mobile, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Samford University and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Wheaton College in Illinois. She is currently pursuing a PhD degree in Educational Studies in Diverse Populations from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Lisa Simmons serves as an External Evaluator at the Auburn Center for Evaluation in the College of Education at Auburn University. She is a graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University (MA) and Auburn University (BA and PhD). Her professional work with K12 schools and nonprofits in Alabama spans the state and includes may efforts to improve the quality of life for students and their families through STEM education, health and safety initiatives, and out-of-school programming. Lisa grew up in Birmingham and is proud to be on the Young Professionals Board working alongside the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
The ALABAMA HUMANITIES FOUNDATION (AHF) Young Professionals Board (YP Board) seeks to establish membership of young professionals across the state of Alabama and represent a diverse cross section of professionals from business, academic and nonprofit sectors. The membership consists of 20 young professionals from the state of Alabama that are under the age of 40 (21-40).
Individuals may apply for membership twice during the calendar year. The first deadline for applications is March 15 and the second deadline is November 15. Interested applicants must complete and submit an application, resume, and a statement of interest. Please call (205) 558-3980 for more information. Find the application at this link.
We are in a time of great confusion, pain and uncertainty, but we believe communication is one of the keys to forging human bonds and understanding.
On June 18, join the Alabama Humanities Foundation Young Professional Board, in conjunction with the David Mathews Center for Civic Life and the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities (Auburn University College of Liberal Arts) as we facilitate a statewide reflection and conversation on who we are as Alabamians in the time of COVID-19.
This series will witness intimate virtual conversations between Alabamians and experts in the industries of public health, education, journalism, government and community. You don’t want to miss it.