George Barrett | Executive Director |

George Barrett came to Chapel Hill in 2010, by way of Charlotte, NC, as a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. He graduated from UNC in 2014 with a degree in Anthropology. He joined the Jackson Center the following Fall as an Americorps Vista volunteer for Economic Development. Following his Vista year, George became the Associate Director for Organizing and Advocacy, and later served as Associate Director for four years. As Associate Director, George led university-community partnerships, directed the critical home repair program – Promise of Home– and was part of the project team for the Northside Neighborhood Initiative: a multi-partner initiative to preserve the future of the Northside, Pine Knolls, and Tin-Top neighborhoods. In July of 2020, George became the first full time, on-site, Executive Director of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center. George is a dancer, performer, and movement maker, with a passion for facilitating groups and communities to reach their self-determined goals.

Yvonne Cleveland | Director of Operations |

Yvonne Cleveland relocated from Brooklyn, NY to Chapel Hill, NC in 1989.  She is a dedicated member of St. Joseph C.M.E.—where she teaches Sunday School—and of the Chapel Hill Community Outreach Ministry. Yvonne believes the Jackson Center could not be a more perfect place for her to work serving others, helping those in need, and making a difference.  Sometimes she even thinks “it doesn’t feel like work at all!”  Yvonne is the mother of four children and the proud grandmother of Khaza Demetri Young.  She is currently pursuing an Associate’s degree in Office Administration at Alamance Community College.

Dr. Phyllis Joyner | Events and Projects Manager |

Phyllis has been part of the Marian C. Jackson Team since January 2020. She joins MCJC with excitement and the joy to serve as she uses her skills and abilities to preserve and uplift the Northside, Pine Nolls and Tin Top communities. “This position affords me the opportunity to listen to Community, advocate with Community and plan with Community, staff and MCJC partners in fulfilling the dream of restoration and preservation of the historic communities,” she shares.

A native of Durham, North Carolina who has worked in Wilmington, Delaware, Bethesda, Maryland, Atlanta, Georgia and the State of North Carolina championing the cause of the hurting and disenfranchised populations. Her experience in Social Work, Public Health and Education brings rich experiences in the areas that span working with the elderly, African American Males, women issues and serving North Carolina residents affected by natural disasters and poverty in the area of housing. She received a B.S. from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, M.P. H. from University of North Carolina and anticipating the receipt of the ED. D. from High Point University in the spring of this year.

Her ties to Chapel Hill include her membership of Russell Memorial CME Church in Durham, a sister church of St. Joseph CME and through the lives of life long friends of the Northside Community. Phyllis is the mother of a loving daughter, Dakya D. Sims and the daughter of the late Dorothy P. Joyner and Percy Joyner, who enjoys living the life of a proud 93-year-old African American Male in 2020.

Kathy Atwater | Community Advocacy Coordinator |

Kathy Atwater is a native of Chapel Hill and has lived in the Northside Community all of her life. Having retired from the State of NC after 30 years of service, Kathy is now pursuing a passion that she didn’t know she had until faced with the unending changes to her beloved community. As Community Advocacy Specialist, Kathy works with the community by providing resource information to neighbors who want to be able to stay in their homes. Because of the rise in property taxes, neighbors receive assistance with their property taxes hrough MCJC’s property tax support program. Through partnership with local attorneys, neighbors can have their wills and end of life documents prepared at no cost. Home repairs are also provided through service partners which allow neighbors to continue to live in their homes in comfort and safety. Kathy is a part of the Community Review Board, a group of neighbors who share the history of the community and conduct oral history interviews in the community to be published in the Northside Digital Commons on the Jackson Center’s website. Working with the Jackson Center has allowed Kathy to relive the memories of a neighborhood full of love, compassion, and caring and to look forward to the days when those memories will be reality once again.

Aisha Booze-hall | Senior Fellow |

Aisha Booze-hall is an alum of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she majored in Environmental Studies and African American and Diaspora Studies with a focus in Sustainability. Her passion lies in sustainable food systems, and this drew her to the Jackson Center’s partner food ministry, Heavenly Groceries, in January 2019. After developing a relationship with the women who run the center, she decided to continue investing in the community. She joined the staff as Heavenly Groceries Coordinator in January 2020 and works to strengthen relationships between service partners, the St. Joseph CME Church and the Jackson Center while improving the sustainability of the food ministry.

Brentton Harrison | Education & Youth Specialist |

Brentton Harrison is the youngest son of a southern preacher man, Rev. Troy F. Harrison (deceased). Brentton can’t remember a time when he hasn’t been serving others. Brentton loves to uplift others and to help them realize their power. He has a particular passion for educating and empowering youth arts and activism, which he has done as a mentor since 2011. Brentton is particularly renowned for delivering Jackson Center Valentine’s Day “song-a-grams” (to have your message sent, just call!). Brentton is creative, compassionate, and community-driven. One of his mantras is “ Aint none of us free, til we all free!! ” – Assata Shakur

Diana Nayeon Koo | Senior Fellow |

Diana Koo is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied Public Policy and Political Science. She began working at the Jackson Center in summer 2019, when she helped organize the 2019 Good Neighbor Initiative events. She stayed on as the Service Partner Coordinator. Now her focus is student engagement, where she facilitates meaningful service-learning opportunities for UNC undergraduate and graduate students. One of her favorite parts about her job is watching students grow attached to the Northside community and the Jackson Center family!

Dr. Kathryn Wall | Mellon Project Manager, Public History |

Kathryn Wall joined the Jackson Center as a project manager and part of the oral history team in Summer 2019. A three-time graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and long-time associate of the Southern Oral History Program, her first contact with the Northside neighborhood was interviewing Edwin Caldwell, Sr. and Edwin Caldwell, Jr. in the 1990s. She is proud to serve this community and is thoroughly enjoying getting to know the warm and wonderful people who call it home. Kathryn holds a BA, MA, and Ph.D. in US history and is working on a certificate in documentary audio from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. When she is not at the Jackson Center, she enjoys creating audio documentaries, teaching history to local homeschooled tweens and teens, assistant-coaching the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics varsity softball team, puppeteering with Paperhand Puppet Intervention, and coaching the people of Durham in the fine art of axe throwing at Urban Axes. She lives in Orange County with her amazing teenage daughter, a charming basset hound, and three sweet rescued cats.

Hudson Vaughan | Northside Neighborhood Initiative Consultant |

Hudson Vaughan is a Co-Founder of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center.  He grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, in a community where a diverse group of neighbors took up the fight for the future of the community through creative community development — and continues to combat gentrification today. After graduating from UNC in 2008, he became grounded in Chapel Hill because of the power of Mrs. Jackson, Pastor Troy Harrison, and Della Pollock’s vision for radical Beloved Community grounded in history. Prior to the Jackson Center, he worked for the Southern Oral History Program and served as an Interview Fellow for the Breaking New Ground Project. During his time at the SOHP and the Jackson Center, he has conducted over 200 interviews, created an undergraduate oral history internship program, processed dozens of interviews now available at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and coordinated several oral history and documentary projects. In 2016, Hudson was the Alumni Recipient of the UNC Diversity Award for his role in the formation of the Northside Neighborhood Initiative, a multi-million dollar housing initiative aimed at retaining long-time neighbors, providing affordable housing opportunities for families, and ensuring a diverse future for one of Chapel Hill’s most historic communities. He lives in Northside in one of the historic stone houses with his wonderful wife, Maggie, and newborn son, Charlie.

Mae McLendon | Community Connector |

Mae was born in the little town of Red Springs, NC. Her mother moved her “kicking and screaming” to Orange County in 1964.  She now cannot imagine living anywhere else.

She was educated in the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. She earned a BA in Sociology and Master of Social Work from UNC- Chapel Hill. Her employment history includes working with NC Department of Correction (now Public Safety) where she retired with 25+ years of service. Other positions after retirement include serving as Volunteer Coordinator at Durham County Cooperative Extension, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County and Interfaith Council for Social Service.  She is currently employed part-time as a Facility/Activity Supervisor, Town of Carrboro’s Recreation and Parks Department.

As a volunteer coordinator Mae practices “what she preaches” and learned from her mother about giving back.  Some of her past civic activities include serving on Chapel Hill Planning Board; Orange County Board of Social Services, Board of Directors of Inter-Faith Council for Social Services and, NC Inmate Grievance Resolution Board.

Her current activities include serving as Coordinator and member Planning Committee for Chapel Hill Carrboro CROP Hunger Walk, and, member Orange County Affordable Housing Advisory Board.  She is very active in her church, St. Paul AME in Chapel Hill, serving as member of Steward Board, member of Usher Board, member of Duhart-Clark Women Missionary Society, unofficial photographer and editor of e-newsletter which she started and sends out weekly to members.

She has been active in local politics since 1968 serving in various positions on the precinct, county and state level. Her association memberships include NAACP (Chapel Hill – Carrboro Branch); American Correctional Association; NC Correctional Association; NC Association of Volunteer Administration, and State Employees Association of NC.

Her awards and recognitions include Marsha Riddle Lifetime Achievement Award from the NC Association of Volunteer Administration; Irene Briggarmen Lifetime Achievement Award from Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce; Mildred Berkley Outstanding Service Award, Inter Faith Council for Social Service ; Rebecca Clark Community Service Award from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Branch NAACP, Mary C. Terrell Service Award from National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the H. G. “Gus” Moeller Outstanding Service Award from the NC Correctional Association,  and Outstanding Contributor to Volunteerism from the International Association of Justice Volunteerism.

Mae is the daughter of the late Amos and Martha McLendon.  She had two sisters Hattie Miles (deceased) and Helen Galbreath.  She is the proud mother of Anissa “Niecy” McLendon.

Anna Spencer | Public History Research Fellow |

Anna Spencer joined the Jackson Center as a Public History Research Fellow in Summer 2020. She is a recent graduate of the UNC Library Science master’s program, and also holds a MS and BS in public history. She is excited to work with the community and is looking forward to meeting and interacting with community members in the future. One of her favorite parts of her jobs is listening to the oral histories of community members and learning the histories of the area. When not working, she enjoys baking, crocheting, and visiting museums and historic sites.

Janet Xiao | Special Projects Director |

In her part-time role as Special Projects Director, she is supporting the Jackson Center team with operations, development, and strategic planning. Originally from Hong Kong and Beijing, Janet found a home in Durham & Chapel Hill-Carrboro through the beloved community of the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), where she worked for nearly a decade in relationship-based housing and economic justice. Janet holds a B.A. in Public Policy and Religion and a Master in Theological Studies from Duke University. In addition to her work at the Jackson Center, she enjoys sharing hearty food, paddling on local waterways, gardening, scifi/fantasy, board and video games, and marine animals — with a special love for manatees.