Leadership

Staff Directory

SENIOR LEADERSHIP 

Henry Hicks III - President & CEO 

H. Beecher Hicks III’s professional experiences are in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, joining the National Museum of African American Music in 2009 as a board member, becoming President and CEO in 2013. His banking experience includes roles as an investment banker at Bank of America and as a partner with private equity group Red Clay Capital Holdings. In 1998, Henry was appointed by President William J. Clinton to be a White House fellow, serving as senior adviser to the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service

and launched the AmeriCorps Promise Fellows program. He is a member of the boards of directors for Leadership Nashville, the Center for Nonprofit Management, and the Nashville Downtown Partnership. Henry is a graduate of Morehouse College and earned an MBA in finance from UNC Chapel Hill. He is married to Crystal, an elementary educator, and they have two sons.

Dion Brown - COO 

Dion Brown recently joined the NMAAM team as the Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining NMAAM, Brown was the Managing Director of Nonprofit Services. Dion Brown is an accomplished nonprofit leader with a proven track record on defining visions, leading teams through strategic planning, conducting analysis of operations and building budgets that work.  He utilizes this experience to ensure NMBL’s clients like the America’s Black Holocaust Museum are delivered Strategic Plans that exceed expectations, or Empower Missouri have superior interim leadership during the changes and demands of a pandemic. Brown prides himself on building teams and producing programming that will engage the community. In addition, he works with board members and staff to adopt culturally responsive strategies and navigate challenging situations.

Prior to his leadership at NMBL Strategies, Brown was the President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. In short order, Brown analyzed and completed the fiscal year operating budget, reducing annual expenses by $1M. He also built strong collaborative partnerships with donors and with several organizations including the YWCA, Jewish Federation, African American Chamber, Cincinnati Police Department and the LGBQT community among others. These relationships helped to secure over $1M in new funding.

Brown was the Founding Executive Director of the National Blues Museum before his work with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.  During his tenure with the Blues Museum, he helped the start-up grow and flourish, gaining recognition from CNN, National Geographic and the New York Post as a “must see” museum. Prior to the National Blues Museum, Brown was the   Executive Director of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi. While museum programming, tours, and attendance greatly expanded under Brown’s leadership, he simultaneously raised funds, balanced the organization’s budget and positioned the organization as a viable business and a strong community resource and champion. 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.   He was recognized by the Delta Business Journal as one of its “Top Minority Business Leaders.”  Brown also sits on the Board of the Association of African American Museums (AAAM)

Bill Jeffries - VP of Development 

William Jeffries recently joined the NMAAM team as the Vice President of Development. Over his 21- year career in the cultural nonprofit fundraising world, he has held positions at the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra; Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia; State University of New York, Purchase College; and Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Connecticut. The Association of Children’s Museums published an article he authored on his unique fundraising model in 2015.

In addition to his fundraising experience, he has also served as the project director for two year-long international cultural exchange projects, one in Brazil and the other in Romania, funded by the American Alliance of Museums and the United States Department of State. While with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, he created an education master plan recognized by the American Symphony Orchestra League and launched a cutting-edge multi-media music education program that expanded the orchestra’s reach to a three-state region to ultimately serve over 40,000 students and students annually.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, he completed a Master’s Degree in Community Planning at the University of Maryland and more recently a rigorous 8-month Executive Certification Program at the University of Pennsylvania on Social Impact Investments.

James Munch - VP of Finance 

James C. Munch joined the NMAAM team bringing more than thirty years of experience in finance and accounting.    As the Vice President of Finance, James is responsible for providing leadership and direction to NMAAM’s accounting department.   

James has broad experience in finance and accounting to include retail, manufacturing with Fortune 50 companies, and spent the last eight years in the nonprofit sector.   In his most recent position as Vice President of Finance and Administration for the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, James had oversight on nearly five hundred funds with an investment portfolio in excess of $130 million.   James also spent eighteen years teaching accounting, finance, and economics as an adjunct instructor to local colleges and universities.

In addition to having an MBA and two bachelor’s degrees, James has advanced training from the Wharton School of Business on Strategic Partnering for Finance Leaders.  James has advanced training on project and risk management, and is Greenbelt certified in Six Sigma.

Laura Purswell, SHRM-SCP - VP of Talent

For someone who’s spent a career in corporate management, Laura Purswell places perhaps a surprising value on creativity. “I’ve always been rather a ‘driven’ person, and I went into college with considerable focus. But looking back, what I enjoyed most about those years were my photography classes – capturing a vision and then making it come alive in the darkroom.” 

Both her determination and creativity can be seen in her academic career. She designed her own Communications major at Tulane University’s Newcomb College, drawing on her fascination with group dynamics and her skills in public speaking. While she did not, at the time, envision a career in Human Resources, it was a natural evolution and she soon found she thrived in that environment. Her more than 25 years of leadership and executive experience include executive management positions in government, small and emerging businesses, and not-for-profit organizations as well as national and global corporations. 

A warm and engaging “people person,” Laura instinctively puts a human face on complex operational issues. “I guess because I’m truly interested in people, they’ve always come to me for support. Over the years, I’ve developed a real interest in employee performance. I’m convinced that many issues in a company arise when managers expect employees just to know what to do, without being told; they fail to explain, and then they’re surprised when employees can’t or don’t perform. You just have to look at things from a different angle.” 

Finding such a perspective gives her special pleasure. “In my job, I think I’m happiest when I can see the solution to a problem or issue, and I know I can make that solution work. I’m instinctively drawn to people who are driven, but driven by a passion for what they do and the people they do it for. They make a difference. And I want to do the same.” 

Tamar Smithers - Sr. Director, Education

Tamar Smithers is a professional actress, singer, arts administrator and educator. She has over 15 years of experience in the arts administration and higher education fields. As Senior Director of Education and Exhibitions for The National Museum of African American Music, she is instrumental in creating culturally specific programs and curricula for all ages. In this role, she is committed to arts engagement and audience development and oversees all educational/curatorial programming while developing and fostering relationships with local schools, sponsors, and other non-profit organizations both locally and nationally.

Tamar has served as Secretary for the Eastern Great Lakes chapter of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and currently serves on the Association for African American Museums Membership Committee, Board of Directors for The Nashville Repertory Theatre, and Music Makes Us Advisory Council for Metro Nashville Public Schools. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and also a member of Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority, Inc., a business and professional organization. Tamar holds a BFA in Acting from Syracuse University as well as an M.S. in Arts Administration and C.A.S. in Higher Education Leadership from Le Moyne College. She is a community minded person and has a true passion for mentoring and being a positive role model for our youth.

Tamar eagerly encourages our young people to believe that no matter what their circumstances may be, if they continue to pursue their dreams, anything is possible!

Key Staff

Dr. T.B. Boyd, III

Legacy Board Member

Legacy Board Members

Dr. T. B. Boyd III is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. As a1965 graduate of Pearl High School, he began hismatriculation through Tennessee State University, graduating in 1969 with a B.S. degree in Business. Dr. Boyd is a 1980 recipient of the D.D. degree and a 1983 recipient of the Doctor of Letters.

Upon his graduation from Tennessee State University, he became a full-time employee at the R. H. Boyd Publishing Corporation, (formerly known as The National Baptist Publishing Board) in the position of Personnel Director. He began his career in the family business working in the bindery and mailing rooms in high school in the early 60’s. In 1972, Boyd was assigned to design and oversee thebuilding of a new corporate headquarters where it would house all aspects of the corporation including the Publications Division, Marketing Division, Operations, and Distribution Division. This 65,000 square foot facility was completed in December of 1974.

Dr. Boyd is a recognized leader in the religious publishing industry and has continued to play a pivotal role in the development of Christian materials for African-American churches throughout the country.
In 1975, Boyd put together a team of top national music directors, songwriters, publishers, and performers to develop one of the finest church hymnals that has ever been produced, the New National Baptist Hymnal, which includes compositions of some of the most noted African-American Christian songwriters. After more than two years of research and marketing, this hymnal quickly became one of the best-selling hymnals in America, with millions of copies sold throughout the world.

On December 3, 1976 the Board of Directors appointed him as a member of the Board of Directors, making him the youngest executive to ever hold a membership on the Board. In April 1979, he was elected as the fourth-generation President and Chief Executive Officer.
In 1978, Dr. Boyd was appointed to the Board of Directors of Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company, the nation’s oldest African-American full-service bank, founded in 1904, and elected Chairman of the Board in 1982. In 1992, Dr. Boyd was appointed to the Board of Directors of First Union Bank. In order to serve on two bank boards, he was given special permission by the Comptroller of the Currency of the United States. Dr. Boyd is also a member of the National Bankers Association.

Boyd is a member of the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, and past president of Chi Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He is also a past member of the Nashville Symphony Association. Dr. Boyd has been listed in Who’s Who of America, Who’s Who of Finances in America, Who’s Who of Black America, Personalities of the South, Community Leaders of America, Personalities of America, Outstanding Among Blacks, and Men of Achievement.

He is the recipient of many civic and governmental awards, including the Great Seal of the United States Award (1986); named Nashville’s Best Dressed Man in 1987, and he was named A the March of Dimes Man of the Year in 1990.

In 2002, Dr. and Mrs. Boyd were named by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine as one of Nashville’s Most Beautiful couples. Boyd holds keys to a number of cities around the country. He has been named the #1 Most Influential African American in Tennessee by Post Magazine and one of Nashville’s 100 Most Influential by the Nashville Business Journal and Business Nashville’s “Power One Hundred.”He is a member of the 100 Club of Nashville, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, former member of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation Board of Directors, Tennessee Historical Society, Music City Coalition, and a former commissioner of the State Human Rights Commission, and chairman of the African American History Foundation of Nashville, Incorporated.
Dr. Boyd served as the 1989 and 1990 Middle Tennessee Chairman for the United Negro College Fund Telethon.

Dr. Boyd also served as a board member of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau and chairman of the foundation for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. In 1982, Dr. Boyd became a member of the Meharry Medical College Board of Trustees and served as vice chairman for 25 years. On two occasions he received the Salt Wagon Award from Meharry denoting his acts of kindness and philanthropy. Boyd served for four years as the Inaugural President of the 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee and served on the National Board of the 100 Black Men as Vice President of Finance.

Boyd is a former Board member of Florida Memorial College, and a former member of the Tennessee State University Foundation. He is also a former Board member of Maryville College, and a former member of the Board of Trustees of the historic Belmont University.
Dr. Boyd was inducted into the Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame in 2005. He was the 2008 Thurgood Marshall awardee in Business, the recipient of the National Trumpet Award in Business in 2008, and he received the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Hall of Fame Award in Business in 2009. Dr. Boyd was inducted into the Blair & Beckwith Religious Hall of Fame in 2011.

Dr. Boyd and his family were also featured in the March 2012 issue of Ebony Magazine entitled “The Boyds: Coolest Black Family in America, No. 3.”
Dr. Boyd and his family have donated $1 million and artifacts from the R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation to The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in the national mall in Washington, DC. There are three exhibits dedicated to the Boyd family. The Boyd’s have also contributed $1 million to National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) in Nashville, TN, where Dr. Boyd serves as a founder and Legacy Trustee.
In October 2017, Dr. Boyd retired as President/CEO of R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation and transitioned to Chairman Emeritus. He was succeeded by LaDonna Boyd. Dr. Boyd became Chairman Emeritus of Citizens Savings and Trust in 2019.

Over the years, Dr. Boyd has competed nationally in full marathons (26.2 miles) and enjoyed offshore power boating. He is an avid collector of antiques and rare watches.

Dr. Boyd is married to the former Yvette Jean Duke. They are the proud parents of four children: T. B. IV, LaDonna Yvette, Shalae’ Shantel, and Justin Marriel.

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