History of the Yale Black Alumni Association

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The Yale Black Alumni Association (YBAA) developed out of a planning retreat that was held in January 2008 at the Afro-American Cultural Center (the House) at Yale and facilitated by Mark Dollhopf, executive director of the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA).

A joint effort between the AYA and black alumni, under the direction of Shared Interest Group (SIG) director Nicholas Roman Lewis ’93, the YBAA was formed to serve, to involve, and to inform the Yale community of Black alumni in order to build networks, promote mentoring opportunities, create initiatives, and execute programs that connect alumni to each other, their communities, current Black students and faculty, and Yale.

Representing four decades of alumni, the retreat attendees (pictured above) unanimously voted to create an organized entity, the Yale Black Alumni Association (YBAA). Immediately following the retreat, task forces were formed to survey alumni as well as current students for input on the mission statement, to research the legal formation of a non-profit organization, and to benchmark black alumni associations at peer institutions.

In September 2010, YBAA held its first annual retreat in New Haven, CT, following initial organizational work performed by the officers who were selected earlier that year. The gathering of approximately twenty alumni and staff marked the official launch of both the YBAA and its National Advisory Council (NAC), which is composed of non-voting board members who provide assistance and guidance, as needed.

YBAA Founding Natl Board

The YBAA Inaugural Board members were:

Janifer Lighten ’83 (Chair)                                      C’Ardiss Gardner Gleser ’08
Heather Davis ’95 (Secretary)                                Rene Herbert ’07 M.P.H.
Tracy Campbell ’96 (Treasurer)                             Nicolas King ’98
Stephen Brown ’93 (Parliamentarian)                  Nicholas Roman Lewis ’93
Ngozi Okorafor ’95 (National Co-Historian)        Ivy Onyeador ’11 (student delegate)
Amber Wiley ’03 (National Co-Historian)             Nondumiso Tembe ’09 M.F.A.
Richard Albert ’00, ’03 J.D.                                      Maxim Thorne ’89, ’92 J.D.
Sheryl Carter Negash ’82                                       Phoebe Tree ’77

National Advisory Committee
Victor Chears ’74 (Chair)
Vera Wells ’71 (Vice Chair)
Pamela George

The activities surrounding that 2010 meeting resulted in the following:

  • Organizational incorporation
  • Adoption of bylaws
  • Development of an official logo
  • Creation of an annual calendar of meetings and events
  • Relationship building among members of the YBAA and NAC, as well as with leaders of the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) and Afro‐American Cultural Center (AACC)
  • Establishment of initiatives related to:
    • Membership and development
    • Programming
    • Communications
    • Campus Relations
    • Regional Chapters

Since 2010 the YBAA has organized, sponsored, and co-sponsored events — such as, Yale Day of Service events, the Higher Education Initiative, the Summer Institute for the Arts, the Summer Service Project, Y-Apply, and regional welcome receptions for incoming Yale students — in locations including, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Ghana, Los Angeles, New Haven, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

Early programs of note include:

  • The Summer Institute of the Arts, which offered classes in Musicology, Music Theory, Critical Listening, and Master Classes, such as Careers in Music and Technology and Music in Los Angeles, CA and The Bronx, New York, NY, in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
  • Higher Education Initiative (HEI), which provides current Yale undergraduates the opportunity to meet, mentor, and encourage youth to go to college, while helping to identify prospective applicants for Yale College and/or other colleges and universities. HEI allows YBAA to promote the message that college is for everyone.
  • YBAA Book Award, an annual scholarship for academic achievement, called the Yale Black Alumni Association Achievement Award, which began at the Edward Brooke Charter School in Boston, MA.
  • YBAA Day of Service Projects, which are often–but not exclusively–centered on education and mentorship. Many of YBAA’s projects expand beyond the one-day events or are repeated annually.

YBAA also hosts social, cultural, educational, mentoring, volunteer, and family outing events through the various chapters across the United States. The extensive and impactful work that YBAA has done to date has been recognized by the AYA with chapter, program, and leadership awards.

YBAA Founding National Advisory Committee