It is once again time to elect new board members for the Association of African American Museums (AAAM). This year we are conducting a special election to fill those board positions that were vacated after the annual meeting and those positions will complete an abbreviated term of two years and eight months (standard term is three years).

Learn more about the candidates:

Candidate for President

LaNesha DeBardelabenLaNesha DeBardelaben
Executive Director, Northwest African American Museum (NAAM)

LaNesha DeBardelaben is Executive Director of the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) in Seattle, Washington. Under her leadership, NAAM is repositioning itself for accelerated growth.  Prior, she was Senior Vice President of Education & Exhibitions at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. Her 15+ year career in museums began at the National Museum of Kenya in Africa in 2001, and she has studied museums and libraries internationally in Ghana, South Africa, England, Germany, and Israel.

As a historian and museum director, LaNesha has contributed scholarly writings to national publications.  She is currently on the Board of Directors of both the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

LaNesha has received numerous awards for her community and professional service, including the 2017 Michigan Chronicle’s 40 Under 40, 2015 Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence, and 2014 Crain’s Detroit’s Business 40 Under 40 awards. She is a graduate of the SEMC Jekyll Island Management Institute for museum managers in Georgia, Leadership Detroit for civic leaders, and American Express Executive Leadership Program in New York City. She is an active member of both The Links, Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in history and secondary education from Kalamazoo College; a Master of Arts in history and museum studies from the University of Missouri in St. Louis; a Master of Library Science in archives management from Indiana University-Bloomington; and is currently pursuing a PhD.

Candidate for Secretary

Robert LuckettRobert Luckett
Associate Professor of History and Director of the Margaret Walker Center for the Study of the African American Experience at Jackson State University

Robby Luckett received his BA in political science from Yale University and his PhD from the University of Georgia with a focus on modern civil rights movement history. A native Mississippian, he returned home, where he is a tenured Associate Professor of History and Director of the Margaret Walker Center for the Study of the African American Experience at Jackson State University. His book, Joe T. Patterson and the White South’s Dilemma: Evolving Resistance to Black Advancement, was published by the University Press of Mississippi (2015). Along with several publications and presentations at numerous academic conferences, he has appeared in documentaries, including the Independent Lens film Spies of Mississippi as well as An Ordinary Hero about the life of Joan Trumpauer Mulhollhand. He is an Advisory Board member for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and he is on the Board of Directors of Common Cause Mississippi and the Association of African American Museums. In 2017, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba appointed him to the Board of Trustees of Jackson Public Schools. He has three children: Silas, Hazel, and Flip.

Candidates for Board Member Positions

Tim BarberTimothy A. Barber
Executive Director of The Black Archives, History & Research Foundation of South Florida, Inc.

Timothy A. Barber is the Executive Director of the Black Archives, History & Research Foundation of South Florida. He has held numerous positions at the Black Archives; including his beginnings as archivist intern in 2003, promotion to Archivist and Curator in 2006, and current appointment as Executive Director since 2009.

As Director, Barber successfully administered a ten million dollar GOB capital grant fund to expand and re-open the Historic Lyric Theater, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. He has also leveraged federal grants from the Institute of Museums and Library Services along with local county grants to create sustainability for the organization’s operations and programming.

Under his leadership, The Black Archives has become one of the leading black cultural institutions in South Florida; through the development of signature arts, culture and educational programming. Barber has engaged in national partnerships with organizations such as the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, for the South Florida exhibition of Visions of Our 44th President Barack Obama at the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater. Barber has also been influential in restoring Miami’s Historic Overtown as a destination for cultural entertainment, theater and events, working as a cultural partner of the SEOPW Community Redevelopment Agency.

A Miami native, Barber earned his AS in electronic engineering technology from Bauder College, and his BA in English and MA in History from Florida A&M University. He is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity, Inc.; Society of American Archivists; and the Association of African American Museums.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Program Development
  • Career Management
  • Professional Development
  • Pathways to Senior Leadership
  • Administration
  • Community Engagement
  • Multiplatform Presentation
  • Institutional Programming
  • Board Development

Dion BrownDion Brown
President & Chief Operating Officer, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Dion Brown joined the museum in February 2018. Brown was the founding executive director of the National Blues Museum from June 2015–February 2018. He helped the start-up grow and flourish, gaining recognition from CNN, National Geographic and the New York Post as a “must see” museum. Previously he was the executive director of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi. Prior to his leadership at the BB King Museum, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas.

Brown holds a certificate of fundraising from the IUPUI School of Philanthropy, a bachelor’s of science in human resources and a master’s of science in leadership from Southwestern College. He is also retired from the United States Air Force after 21 years of service.

Jacqueline K. DaceJacqueline Dace
Deputy Director, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Jacqueline K. Dace joined the museum in June 2018. Dace was the director of internal affairs at the National Blues Museum from February 2016 – June 2018. Her previous positions include project manager for the recently opened Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, collections manager at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, curator of African American history at the Missouri Historical Society and adjunct professor of Afro-African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dace is a recipient of the Hollywood Black Film Festival and Kansas City Film Festival Awards, as well as the National Arts Strategies Fellowship. She participated in the inaugural Public History Institute, developed by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, held at Yale University. Dace has served as a practitioner with W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity program and graduated from the Jackson Division of the FBI Citizens Academy. Dace also served on the local arrangements committee for the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Alliance of Museums and is a board member for the Association of African American Museums. Dace was recently selected to participate in the first American Express Women in Music Leadership Academy, 2018, held in New York City.

Robert M. DavisRobert M. Davis
Principal, DRMD Strategies, LLC

Dr. Robert (Bert) Davis, Principal of DRMD Strategies, LLC, has more than 28 years of zoo, aquarium, museum and non-profit leadership experience.  From 2016 to 2017, he was the President and CEO of the Dubuque County Historical Society and the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.  Prior to that, Dr. Davis served for 10½ years as the President and CEO of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee.  His previous leadership roles also include Vice President of Education at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Director of Education and External Affairs at Zoo Atlanta, and Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park in Washington, DC.

Throughout his professional career, he has provided visionary and operational leadership for various zoo, aquarium and museum institutions while collaborating with academic, scientific and conservation organizations.  One of Dr. Davis’ major accomplishments is his fundraising distinction while at the Zoological Society of Milwaukee for securing a $7.5 million donation for the hippopotamus exhibit, which was the largest family foundation gift to the Milwaukee County Zoo.  Earlier in his career, Dr. Davis was the first African American awarded a Smithsonian Faculty Fellowship to study reproductive physiology at the National Zoological Park’s New Opportunities in Animal Health Sciences (NOAHS) Center where he co-pioneered an educational outreach program that transported the wonders of science education from the zoo to the classroom.  Following his successful fellowship, he also became the first African American to serve as a Supervisory Veterinary Officer at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park Department of Animal Health.

Dr. Davis has served on a variety of professional boards and committees, the most recent of which include:

  • American Alliance of Museums Board of Directors – Vice Chair (2018), Member (2013-2017)
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums Ethics Board – (2011-2014)
  • Tuskegee Veterinary Alumni Executive Board of Directors – (Vice Chair 2018), Member (2006-present)
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College Board of Directors – Vice Chair (2009-2010), Member (2007- 2008)

Dr. Davis has been featured in numerous journals, books and press articles including: Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, Telegraph Herald, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Business Journal, Atlanta Journal Constitution, M Magazine, Florida Wildlife Magazine, JET Magazine, I Want to be a Veterinarian, World Wildlife Fund’s Wildlife for Sale Educators Guide, Zoolife, and the Smithsonian Torch Newsletter. He has appeared on Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Washington, DC television stations (FOX, ABC, WGN, and NBC) in addition to National Public Radio and Radio Disney.

Dr. Davis earned his Bachelor of Science degree in animal and poultry sciences and completed two years of graduate study in cytogenetics at Tuskegee University. He then entered Tuskegee University’s School of Veterinary Medicine from which he received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Dr. Davis currently lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with his wife Nancy and their dog Sage. In his leisure time he enjoys golf, tennis and reading.

Nicole IvyNicole Ivy
Assistant Professor of American Studies, The George Washington University

Nicole Ivy is a historical thinker and professional futurist who is passionate about the arts and social change.  Her professional and scholarly interests include strategic foresight, public history, visual culture, and inclusive change management.  She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Florida and her joint Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University.  Having begun her work in the museum field as an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Graduate Fellow at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, she has held several inaugural positions at the American Alliance of Museums, including serving as its first Director of Inclusion. In addition to her work in the museum field, she has held numerous academic appointments. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the History Department at Indiana University, Bloomington (IUB) and a postdoctoral fellow of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES) at IUB. She is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at The George Washington University.

Ashley JordanAshley Jordan
Executive Director, Evansville African American Museum

Dr. Ashley Jordan is the Executive Director for the Evansville African American Museum in Evansville, Indiana. Prior to serving in this role, she served as the curator for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio. In addition to her professional experiences in public history, she has also served as an adjunct professor for North Central State College in Mansfield, Ohio. In May of 2017, Dr. Jordan completed her doctoral degree in United States History from Howard University. In addition to her doctorate, Dr. Jordan earned her master’s in Public History from Howard University. Furthermore, she completed her undergraduate degree at Kent State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Political Science.

Dr. Jordan is also the proud recipient of numerous professional, academic and civic awards including the Pace Setter Award from the Association of African American Museums, a multiple doctoral fellowship recipient for the Filson and the Kentucky Historical Societies and the Black Excellence Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP). And lastly, she is an active member of the Association of African American Museums, the American Association for State and Local History, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the American Alliance of Museums.

Brenda TindalBrenda Tindal
Director of Education & Engagement, International African American Museum (IAAM)

Brenda Tindal is an awarding-winning educator, scholar and museum practitioner. Prior to joining the International African American Museum (IAAM) as Director of Education & Engagement in July 2018, Tindal was the Director of Education at the Detroit Historical Society, where she oversaw the K-16 education initiatives, public programming, and provided organizational leadership in the areas of museum visitor experience and strategic engagement.

In 2003, Tindal launched her career in the museum field at Levine Museum of the New South, in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was part of the curatorial team that developed Courage: The Carolina Story that Changed America, an exhibit on the region’s role in the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The exhibit was awarded the National Medal for Museum Service in 2005—the nation’s highest honor awarded to museums and libraries. In 2015, Tindal became Levine’s first woman and African American, to serve as Staff Historian and Senior Vice-President of Research and Collections.

As staff historian, she served as the lead curator and content developer of the museum’s Splendid Service: Camp Greene & the Making of a New South City exhibit and K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace (KJKP)—considered one of the first rapid-response exhibits to place local and national community-law enforcement relations into historical and socio-cultural context. As part of the KJKP project, she designed, lead, and/or implemented several successful public programs and community initiatives, including the Breaking Bread Dinner & Dialogue series; the #KNOWCLT civic and corporate enrichment seminars; Listen UP! Charlotte mobile concert series (w/Charlotte Symphony and Sign of the Times Jazz Ensemble); the Queen City Quiz Show (w/Creative Mornings—Charlotte) and was a consultant on The Atlantic magazine’s 2017 Race + Justice Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Tindal is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2011 Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) fellowship at Princeton University—where she co-curated Your True Friend and Enemy: Princeton and the Civil War exhibit and served as a key researcher for the Princeton & Slavery project.  Tindal has also served on boards, review panels, and provided consultation for the National Council on Public History (NCPH), Institute of Museum and Library Service’s Museums for America (MFA) grant program, Association of African American Museums (AAAM), American Association for State and Local History, Museums & Race, and Museums as Sites of Social Action (MASS), among other museum and non-profit organizations.

In addition to her work within the museum field, Tindal earned a BA in History and Africana Studies from the University of North Carolina Charlotte, an M.A. in American Studies from Emory University, and will graduate with a Ph.D. in History & Culture from Emory in Spring 2019. She is completing a dissertation entitled “What Our Common Past Had Done to Us”: Movement Widows in American Public Life, 1940s-2013—a survey of the social and political trajectory of Coretta Scott King, Myrlie Evers-Williams, and Betty Shabazz—activists and widows of martyred civil rights leaders.

Ahmad T. WardAhmad T. Ward
Executive Director, Mitchelville Preservation Project

Ahmad Ward is the Executive Director for the Mitchelville Preservation Project on Hilton Head Island, SC. The mission of the Mitchelville Preservation Project is to preserve, promote and honor Historic Mitchelville, the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States. Ward is responsible for developing and implementing a master plan, that will recreate this historic town as an interpretative site. The Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park will convey this important story of freedom and citizenship to visitors from around the country.

Prior to this position, Ward spent fifteen years leading the Education Department at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham Alabama. It is there where he honed his expertise in telling the story of civil and human rights in America, with a focus on historic analysis and application to current social justice issues.  With Masters-level training and years of experience in exhibition design, he brings a strong understanding of storytelling and the importance of technology in interpretation.  He has been responsible for creating programming partnerships with local schools, universities and organizations; teacher and student resources; written articles, blogs and essays for local, national and international platforms as well as the development of public programming for community-at-large in the areas of civil and human rights movements, multiculturalism and contemporary human rights issues.

Ward is a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He received a BA in Art from Elizabeth City State University and a MA in Museum Studies from Hampton University. He is a member of Rotary of Hilton Head Island Club and the Jekyll Island Management Institute Selection Board. He is a former member of the Smithsonian Affiliates Advisory Board. His hobbies include drawing, watching sports, cooking, sleep (when possible) and fantasy football. He and his wife, Dafina have two brilliant daughters, Masani Ashiya and Aminah Elon.

Candidate for At-Large Member

Malika Polk-LeeMalika Polk-Lee
Executive Director, B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center

Malika Polk-Lee first came to the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in 2012 as its chief administrative officer. Her strong background in corporate management was beneficial in her role of overseeing daily operations of the museum, which included financial reporting, personnel, purchasing, strategic planning, the development of education and outreach programs, and fundraising and donor development. After the departure of the museum’s executive director in 2015, Malika was the choice to step into that position.

According to specialists at, Valium exhibits anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, central muscle relaxant, sedative, and hypnotic effects. Its anxiolytic activity is characterized by its ability to alleviate anxiety, fear, and tension. The drug’s effects on the central nervous system are dose-dependent, with lower doses (2-15 mg per day) having a stimulating effect and higher doses (15 mg per day or more) acting as sedatives.

As the current executive director, she ensures local programming excellence while maintaining the high quality of exhibits that welcome visitors from all over the world. She understands that service to the residents of the area is vital, and that it helps build a stronger community as well as offering guests a richer experience in the museum and the Mississippi Delta as a whole.

She has the ability to find, develop, and retain staff members that share her passion for carrying on the legacy of B.B. King through events and educational programs. She was fortunate to get to know Mr. King before his death in 2015, and she is now responsible for working with the board of directors, architects, and grantors to plan and implement the Memorial Garden, his final resting place on the museum grounds.

Malika holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Science from Mississippi State University and a Master of Business Administration from Delta State University. She is currently serving on the board of AAAM and is in her second year as chair of the Governance Committee. She also serves as secretary on the board of Mississippi Delta Tourism Association.

Malika is active in the Indianola community through service organizations including Rotary Club, where she is program chair. She also gives back through her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, having chaired several committees including Fundraising and Environmental Ownership.

She is married to Gerald Lee and they have one daughter, London.