Alabama Humanities names new leadership

Alabama Humanities Foundation elected a Huntsville-based biotechnology executive as its new chair along with naming five new members to its board to lead the organization in 2016.

AHF elected Lynne Berry, director of Advancement for HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, as its new chair.

Named to the board of directors were:

Dr. Carmen Burkhalter, dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Alabama; Dr. Kern Michael Jackson, director of the African-American Studies program at the University of South Alabama (USA) and distinguished tenured faculty member in the Department of English at USA; Dr. Michael Burger, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of History at Auburn University-Montgomery; Dr. Daniel C. Potts, neurologist and co-author of A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver; and Trey Granger, Chief Deputy Clerk of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

Lynne Berry

Berry is vice president for Advancement at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

A native of Huntsville, she graduated from Lee High School and Vanderbilt University. She was the founding executive director of the Community Foundation of Huntsville/Madison County. She has served in the offices of former Congressman Bud Cramer and Senator Jeff Sessions. She has been a high school teacher and a NASA department head. She has worked to promote Huntsville’s tourist attractions, to preserve its historic sites and to protect the area’s natural environment.

She also serves on the board of directors for Leadership Alabama, Alabama Humanities Foundation, Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program.

She is a member of the Senior Selection Committee for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. She was a member of Class 1 of Leadership Huntsville and Class 3 of Leadership Alabama and is a past board chair for both of those organizations.

“I look forward to serving as the board chair in 2016 for the Alabama Humanities Foundation,” Berry said. “The humanities enrich and illuminate our lives, especially the history and literature of the state of Alabama. I’m excited about working to ensure that all citizens of Alabama have access to meaningful humanities-based programs AHF offers.”

Dr. Carmen Burkhalter

Prior to Burkhalter’s arrival in the Shoals area, she spent 20 years at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While at UA, she was a faculty member in the Department of Communicative Disorders, Senior Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Director of Technology for the College of Arts and Sciences. She is originally from Columbia, SC. Her degrees are from Columbia College and The University of Alabama.

“I am thrilled to be chosen to join the Alabama Humanities Foundation,” she said. “The Humanities are at the heart of liberal arts. As Dean of Arts and Sciences, I am in the business of advocating for a liberal arts education. The liberal arts are at the heart of engaged, innovative citizens who can communicate clearly, think critically, and problem solve. The humanities are at the heart of our democracy. I look forward to doing my part to promote these values that make our society so great.”

Dr. Michael Burger

Burger has taught courses in ancient, medieval and early-modern European history, women’s history, and in religious studies, as well as the modern history of the West. The author of Bishops, Clerks, and Diocesan Governance in Thirteenth-Century England: Reward and Punishment (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and The Shaping of the West (Broadview Press, 2008; second edition, University of Toronto Press, 2013), he has written various articles on medieval history. He has also edited a primary source collection, Sources for the History of Western Civilization (Broadview Press, 2003; second edition, University of Toronto Press, 2015). He holds the Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the B.A. from Michigan State University. His chief claim to fame is having once lived in a former 12th-century chapel that had been converted into a residence.

“I’m delighted to join the AHF’s Board,” Burger said. “The AHF has a distinguished record of fostering the humanities in our state, and so benefiting us all. I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Dr. Kern Michael Jackson

Jackson is a nationally recognized expert in folklore and ethnomusicology. He earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 2004. In addition to his Ph.D, Dr. Jackson earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and African American Studies from the University of Virginia and a Masters of Arts in African American Studies from the University of Wisconsin.

Jackson is well-known for his teaching methodology, where he allows students to experience and live history in a manner that bridges classroom study and first-hand field experience.

In addition to his academic contributions, he is the former curator of minority history for the Museum of Mobile and is a pre-eminent expert on Gulf Coast Carnival and Mardi Gras, serving as historian for the seminal documentary, Order of Myths (2008), as well as appearing in multiple episodes of Alabama Public Television Series, Alabama Journey Proud. His collaboration is often sought out for production and consultation of the cultural historical landscape of the deep South.

“I am delighted to part of the Alabama Humanities Foundation because there are so many worlds in our state ‘waiting to be noticed.’ This foundation is an important conduit where we as a community open our hearts and our minds and listen to the many diverse voices who are waiting to speak with us,” Jackson said. “Like Bill Ferris reminds us, ‘these voices are like sign posts along a highway that will lead us on a journey of discovery.’ ”

Dr. Daniel C. Potts

Potts is one of Maria Shriver’s Architects of Change. He has championed life-affirming care for those with Alzheimer’s disease/Dementia and their caregivers.

On staff at Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, Potts is also founder and president of Cognitive Dynamics Foundation and medical director at Dementia Dynamics, LLC. Through these two institutions, Potts channels inspiration and hope gained through caring for his father, Lester, who became an acclaimed watercolor artist in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease. Potts has told his father’s story of triumph, hope and creativity internationally.

An eight-time Patient Choice Award winner and one of America’s Top Physicians, Potts holds a BS in biology from Birmingham-Southern College and received his MD from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. He completed his internship in internal medicine and was chief resident in neurology under Dr. John N. Whitaker at the UAB School of Medicine.

Potts is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Dr. Potts is an affiliate of the Alabama Research Institute on Aging and the University of Alabama Honors College, and he is on the clinical faculty at both the University of Alabama and the University of South Alabama Medical Schools.

A noted writer, Potts co-authored the best-selling Neurology for the Boards, has authored numerous articles, is a reviewer for several journals and blogs at Recently, Potts co-authored Treasure for Alzheimer’s with Richard Morgan, PhD, and Finding Joy in Alzheimer’s with Marie Marley, PhD. In addition to professional writing, he has been a lyricist for nationally known composers and has published six books of photographs and poetry.

Potts serves on the Alabama Alzheimer’s Task Force, Alabama Coalition for Culture Change, and the board of directors of Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama. He recently co-convened the ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s advocacy network, and is Editor-in-Chief of Seasons of Caring, the first-ever multi-faith collection of meditations for dementia caregivers.

“Marveling at my father’s beautiful watercolor art created in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease, and experiencing the transformative power of creativity in my own life, I now passionately advocate for the increased use of the arts and humanities both in caring for and supporting individuals with cognitive disorders and their caregivers, and more broadly in educating people from youth through old age. I am thankful to have been asked to serve on the board of the Alabama Humanities Foundation.”

Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a 1991 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and a gubernatorial appointment to the AHF board. Prior to his US District Court post, he served as general counsel to the Alabama Secretary of State, Director of Elections in Montgomery County, and was instrumental in the implementation of the Help America Vote Act in Alabama. He created the Montgomery Election Center, which is a state-of-the-art election resource for the citizens of Montgomery County.

Granger’s Art and Democracy project was nationally recognized as the nation’s best practice in elections in 2009, and the project was awarded the national prize for Election Administration. In addition to his role with the United States Courts, Granger served as faculty for the Auburn University College of Liberal Arts and Honors College, and he works closely with the university on several civic, historic and cultural projects.

He earned a degree in History in 1987 at Birmingham-Southern College and has been passionate about historic preservation and Alabama history all of his life. He is an avid collector of Alabama-made furniture. As a student at Birmingham-Southern, he spent a summer chronicling information on Alabama architecture and traveled the State to assemble interviews, photographs and historical references regarding over 200 structures.

Granger served as an advisor to the PEW Foundation and its Make Voting Work Initiative. He was appointed by Governor Robert Bentley in 2012 to serve as one of 12 commissioners on the Alabama Historical Commission He also served as a director of the Central Alabama Red Cross, Leadership Montgomery, the Landmarks Foundation and as a community advisor to the Junior League of Montgomery.

Granger said he was looking forward to his service on the board, noting the far-reaching impact of Alabama Humanities Foundation across the state.

“This is an impressive class of leaders,” said AHF Executive Director Armand DeKeyser, “and it is an honor to be able work with them all this year as we continue to promote and advocate for the humanities in every corner of Alabama.”