George Barrett Headshot

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

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 is an active member of the Voices of Joy choir. 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 proud mother of four children and four grandchildren.

Michelle R. Brown Headshot

Michelle Rolanda Brown | Director of Development |

Michelle Rolanda Brown (MRB) came to Chapel Hill as a student in 2014 and remained in the Triangle area following graduation in 2018 in order to continue work with the Silent Sam Movement. Following the monument’s toppling, MRB served as a teacher for 3 years, first as a preschool teacher, then a middle school and high school Youth Activism teacher, and most recently as a school-age Urban Garden & Kitchen teacher. MRB is passionate about building inclusive, safe and thoughtful communities, and felt drawn to the Jackson Center due to their commitment to thoughtfully and intentionally serve the community.

Outside of work, MRB dances with a local Salsa team that teaches the African roots of the Latin dance, and frequently travels for Salsa and Bachata conferences.

Christine Abernathy Headshot

Christine Abernathy | Director of Housing Justice |

Christine first got involved with the Jackson Center when they were a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. Since then, they have remained connected through their work at Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, by leading youth empowerment initiatives, and through volunteering with Orange County Rape Crisis Center. They are passionate about ensuring everyone has a decent place to live, and energized to work alongside neighborhood leaders to bend the housing market towards justice. Outside of work, you can find them practicing a yogic lifestyle, discovering plants, doodling, and writing poetry.

Dr. Kathryn Wall Headshot

Dr. Kathryn Wall | Co-Director of 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.

Anna Spencer | Co-Director of Public History |

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.

Aisha Booze-hall | Director of Education |

Aisha Booze-Hall is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They have a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in sustainability and a secondary bachelor’s degree in African American and Diaspora Studies. They spend the majority of their time teaching civil rights-driven and local history-focused history in classrooms throughout the triangle. They partner with Activate! IFC and Southern Vision Alliance to coordinate the Chapel Hill Sankofa Freedom School, a two-week intensive training camp for young folks to learn about the importance of activism, local history, and their power as youth. Their work focuses on creative avenues of telling your story, youth power, and sharing history as a mechanism of healing. They also co-coordinate the Marian Cheek  Jackson Center’s Link program that partners long-term residents with students to mentor and build relationships with one another.

Diana Nayeon Koo | Director of Communications and Student Engagement |

Diana Koo graduated from 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 and managed the completion of the Northside Census. Now she works on student engagement, where she shares the histories, values, and traditions of the Northside, Pine Knolls, and Tin Top communities with UNC students while engaging them as partners in service and advocacy. She facilitates meaningful service opportunities for UNC student service partners, organizes neighborhood events and outreach to student neighbors, and hosts workshops, service days, and orientations for interested volunteers and groups.

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.

Mae McLendon, Community Connector Pictured Above

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.

Joshua Norrell | Learning Across Generations Coordinator |

Joshua was born to a military family, relocated to Chapel Hill in 2007.

He grew up in the community of Elliott woods and spent his days playing in the Hargraves Center and walking the streets of Northside.

Joshua found his passions to serve others through volunteering at the animal shelter and for local community programs. He followed that passion into the hospitality sector and after working in the triangle in this capacity he decided he needed to do more for the community that raised him. He began to make strides towards community work surrounding child education through volunteering at the local boys and girls club helping with various tasks, this is where he would learn about The Marian Cheek Jacson Center. After joining the Jackson Center as a way to focus his passion into the local community he began his work as the new Education Coordinator. He supports coordinating and collaborating with educators and administrators throughout chapel hill, helping facilitate current and future Learning Across Generations workshops, programming for freedom schools, and he also leads the Fusion Youth Radio Program and supports his colleges with their endeavors in the organization. He looks forward to serving his community to the best of his ability.

Cameron Milne | Student Engagement Intern |

Cameron’s roots are in Wilson, North Carolina. She arrived in Chapel Hill in 2019 as a UNC student, and two years later was first introduced to the Marian Cheek Jackson Center through the Carolina Center for Public Service. Learning about the Jackson Center and becoming an active participant in its process of community building instilled a dedication to serve the people of the place she now calls home. As the Student Engagement Intern, she recruits, trains and coordinates student volunteers throughout their involvement with Northside. In addition, she works alongside the lovely ladies and community volunteers of Heavenly Groceries of St. Joseph CME to ensure food gets where it needs to go: people’s homes. 

Travis Alston | Northside Neighborhood Initiative Construction Manager |

Travis was born and raised in Chapel Hill with a background in Construction, Project Management, Code Enforcement, and Inspections. He looks forward to serving the Northside Neighborhood with his experience and desire to serve this great community. 

Gillian Kepley | 2024 Summer Fellow |

Gillian Kepley is a current student at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Political Science with minors in Social and Economic Justice and History. She is involved with many service organizations on UNC’s campus which introduced her to the amazing work of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center. As a Summer Fellow, she will be working on planning events and helping coordinate volunteers.

Avery Baker | 2024 Summer Fellow |

Avery arrived in Chapel Hill, N.C. from Charlotte, N.C. as a UNC student. She recently graduated in May 2024 with Bachelor’s degrees in Communications and Public Policy, and a minor in Education. She is also currently pursuing an accelerated Master’s degree in Public Policy at UNC. She first learned about the Jackson Center through working with the Community Empowerment Fund and taking service-learning courses at UNC. Avery is looking forward to assisting the Education and Public History teams with programming and evaluation this summer.