Young Professionals Board

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.


Arden K. Blackwell, is Executive Director of The National Business League of Alabama, an economic development agency empowering self-sustainable African-American communities. She’s a Birmingham/Homewood native and Alumna of TROY University with a B.A. in Humanities & Leadership Development. Arden also serves as Ward 2 Representative for The Homewood Arts Council. As the result of constant self-education in the Sociology of Community Development, Arden began her free-lance career at age 17 with the founding of her first student organization at Homewood High; and a second organization her senior year at TROY. Leveraging The Arts as a means of community development, Ms. Blackwell has curated endeavors for BMA’s Art on the Rocks, Art Walk Birmingham, Homewood City Hall and the renaissance that is Ensley’s Revitalization.

Jessica Chriesman is a filmmaker from Birmingham, Alabama. 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., 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.

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 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.

DAWN LEE, Immediate Past Chair
Dawn Lee is the Education Activities Specialist for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (B.A. Art History) and The George Washington University (M.A.T. Museum Education) Dawn began her career of service by volunteering with the Birmingham Museum of Art followed by internships with The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center​ and The National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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.

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 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 Boardseeks 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.

Register here