African American

African American

The African American Knowledge Community (AAKC) increases members' awareness of, knowledge about, and appreciation for issues unique to African American professionals working in higher education and student affairs. The AAKC also seeks to educate the NASPA membership on trends and issues related to African-American professionals and students through sharing information on research, campus issues, and mentoring.

Message from the Co-Chairs

Welcome to the African-American Knowledge Community! The AAKC brings together professionals of all degree and experience levels to increase awareness of, knowledge about, and appreciation of trends and issues impacting African-American professionals and students. We welcome your participation with creating and sharing knowledge about the African-American experience in higher education. It is our goal to connect the members of this constituency, mentor and raise the profile of Black students, staff, administrators and faculty on campuses across America and globally.

Get Involved

AAKC Chair Nominations (2022-2025 term)

We are accepting nominations of dynamic NASPA members to serve as the next National Chair, or Co-chairs, for NASPA’s African American Knowledge Community (AAKC). National Chair(s) work to advance and serve the collective efforts of the AAKC and lead the creation of new knowledge that benefits AAKC members and the NASPA community. The AAKC Chair is elected for a three-year term: one year (March 2022-March 2023) as AAKC Chair-/Co-chair-elect and two years (March 2023-March 2025) as AAKC Chair/Co-chairsNominations can be made on behalf of member(s) or by self-nomination

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Serve as a visionary and provide strategic direction for the Knowledge Community, the leadership team, and its members.

  • Maintain awareness of national and global trends in student affairs and higher education that affect Black/African African college students and higher education professionals.

  • Promote and participate in the production of new knowledge (e.g., national conference program submissions, scholarly publications) that advance the mission and goals of the AAKC

    • Chairs and Co-Chairs are required to produce at least two to three pieces of knowledge each year. Chair and Co-Chairs can do this in collaboration with the leadership team.

  • Recruit members to the AAKC and NASPA to non-members.

  • Coordinate regular meetings with the leadership team, which comprises various coordinators, chairs, and regional representatives.

  • Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with other Knowledge Communities.

  • Oversee AAKC signature programming at annual national NASPA events.

  • Coordinate and maintain regular communication (e.g., newsletters, blogs, social media posts) with AAKC members.

  • Maintain AAKC webpage and historical documents.

  • Work closely with NASPA personnel.

    • This position reports to the Assistant Director for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice and Knowledge Communities. This includes but is not limited to:

      • Monthly attendance at Knowledge Community leadership meetings

      • Submission of quarterly board reports to NASPA KC Leadership Team

      • Attendance at annual training and workshops related to the role(s)

  • It is important that the Chair(s) of the AAKC understands and can represent the experiences of student affairs professionals who identify as Black, African American, or other racial or ethnic minorities in the African Diaspora.

Travel Obligations

Attend the NASPA Annual Conference and participate in all conference activities of the Knowledge Community, including business meetings, receptions, symposia, pre-conference workshops, the Communities Fair, and marketing events. Stimulate and provide promotional visibility of the KC at the NASPA Annual Conference and at regional conferences. Conduct KC business meetings during the NASPA Annual Conference.

Time Commitment

Chairs/Co-Chairs are expected to dedicate a minimum of 2 hours a week to AAKC related work, while the expectations of time may fluctuate depending on the quarter/semester and what the KC has planned.


  • Must possess a national and global awareness of contemporary issues, experiences, advancements, and research related to Black college students and higher education professionals

  • Must have at least five years of professional experience in higher education

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Must have a current NASPA membership and maintain membership throughout their term

  • Comply with NASPA’s non-discrimination policy and commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice.

  • It is important that the chair of the AAKC understands and can represent the experiences of student affairs professionals who identify as Black, African American, or other racial or ethnic minorities in the African Diaspora. 

Preferred Qualifications

  • Have previous experience serving on the AAKC or other NASPA related initiatives that advance the AAKC’s mission.

  • Knowledge of NASPA programming, initiatives, competencies, and constituents

Nomination Procedures

Nomination Packets must include the following:

  • The nominee’s name, NASPA member ID, professional title, institution, preferred phone number, email address, member type, and expiration date. Nominees running as Co-Chairs should include this information in one document.

  • A current resume or curriculum vita (pdf format preferred). Nominees running as Co-Chairs should include both resumes or curriculum vitae on one document.

  • Professional headshot(s)- NASPA will use photo(s) on the election ballot. Please send the photo(s) to a member of the election committee, since they cannot be uploaded to the volunteer portal.

  • A candidate(s) statement (500 - 700 words) that clearly and concisely articulates the nominee’s philosophy, purpose, and goals. Nominees running as Co-Chairs should create one statement. Statements will be posted directly to the election website without editing; therefore, candidates are strongly encouraged to check statements for errors before submission.

Nomination packets must be submitted by October 28th by 11:59 PM PST to the Volunteer Central. The position is not posted to the Volunteer Center yet, we are working to get a technical issued resolved. We will notify members as soon as it is posted.

The position is determined by an election with votes received from AAKC members and approval of the NASPA Board of Directors. Elections will open in January 2022.

Regional Opportunities

Serve as a regional representative for the African American Knowledge Community. Regional representatives assist with moving the AAKC national agenda forward and lead KC activities within the region. Each region has a leadership team structure similar to the national leadership team. The regional teams work to increase the number of NASPA members who affiliate with AAKC, host AAKC activities at regional and national conferences, and connect African Americans and those interested in the African American experience across the region. Connect with your regional representative for more ways to get involved in your region. 

Interested in serving as a regional rep? View Volunteer Central for our vacant positions and other leadership team opportunities!

Region I Claude E.P. Mayo
Region II Chazz Robinson and Yannick Brookes
Region III Dr. Laquala C. Dixon and Gourjoine M. Wade
Region IV-E Rodrina Moore and Dr. Lisa N. Jackson
Region IV-W Dr. Janine M. Weaver-Douglas
Region V Portia Anderson
Region VI Dr. Brandon Hildreth



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Leadership Team

Knowledge Community leaders are NASPA volunteers who have generously devoted their time to their Knowledge Community. Chairs are elected by the Knowledge Community members while Regional representatives are selected from within the Region. Additional roles are selected by the Knowledge Community.


African American Knowledge Community 2021 Awards - Congratulations to our Recipients!!
  • Umoja Award for Graduate Students- Lordana Guillaume, Florida International University
  • Nia Award for Mid-Level Professionals- Adrain Smith, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
  • Sankofa Award for Senior Student Affairs Officers- Shawna Cooper-Gibson, PhD, Seton Hall University

Below you will find information about each award.

Umoja Award for Graduate Students

This award is presented to an exemplary graduate student in student affairs and services. This individual is a rising young professional who continuously seeks to integrate their research and practice with the needs of the African American population. The graduate student nominated for this award should demonstrates the principals of the award, Umoja: the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, "I am We," or "I am because We are."

Kuumba Award for New Professionals

This award is presented to an exemplary new professional in student affairs and services. This NASPA member has worked 1-4 years in the student affairs field and has contributed in various ways to the student culture on campus and the African American Knowledge Community. The new professional nominated for this award should demonstrates the principals of the Kuumba: Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.

Nia Award for Mid-Level Professionals

This award is presented to an exemplary mid-level professional in student affairs and services. Mid-level professionals have a minimum of 5 years full-time experience in the student affairs field. This NASPA member has been involved with the organization for a number of years, has been actively involved with African American Knowledge Community. The Mid- Level professional nominated for this award should demonstrates the principals of Nia: Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.

Sankofa Award for Senior Student Affairs Officer

This award is presented to a Senior Student Affairs Officer that has provided the support and commitment to the African American Knowledge Community. This NASPA member has provided leadership and guidance to African Americans in higher education. The Senior Student Affairs Officer nominated for this award should demonstrates the meaning of Sankofa, “teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward.” 

Signature Events

AAKC Signature events 

1.      African American Business Meeting (Open to everyone),  national conference

2.      African American Men's and Women's Summit and AAKC Annual Networking Reception, national conference 

3.      Soul Soiree, national conference

4.      Candid Conversations, national conference

5.      First timers conference navigation, national conference

6.      Vice President’s Circle, national conference


More information to come!

Past Programs

African American Knowledge Community Professional Mentoring Program

The AAKC has developed a Professional Mentoring Program to develop strong professional bonds in strengthening future student personnel administrators, while aligning them with their professional goals. The purpose of this program is to have continued developmental communication in the field of higher education, both for the mentor and mentee.

To request immediate information, send all inquiries to [email protected].


Please find past spotlights below:

African American Knowledge Community Public Policy Briefs

 The African American Knowledge Community produces public policy briefs on issues impacting the African American experience in Higher Education. Please contact the [email protected] for more information and/or if you are interested in writing a public policy brief.

African American Knowledge Community Webinars

The African American Knowledge Community sponsors two webinars every year focused on issues impacting the African American experience in higher education. On February 6, 2013, we co-sponsored"Looking Beyond Latinos: The True Face of Undocumented Students" webinar with the Latino Knowledge Community. In 2014, the AAKC sponsored  a "State of the African American Professional" webinar on February 12, 2014 and "State of the African American Student" webinar in May 2014. 


The African American Knowledge Community compiled the following list of resources; however, inclusion on this list does not represent an endorsement of the information, site, or organization by NASPA and any of its entities. 

This portion of the site is under construction as we develop resources that you need. 

If you have any resources in mind, please share that information with us here

Recognitions and Transitions

This June we celebrated #BlackJoy across our social media pages. We want to provide one final recognition of some of our colleagues who graduated and progressed in their careers during this challenging year. This section will highlight folks that have accomplished something noteworthy or transition to new and exciting positions. 


Let us know what you think about this feature in our new feedback form!


July 2021 Recogntions and Transitions


Recognition of new Graduates: 



Degree program/Title of your Degree

Thesis/Dissertation Title

Dr. Brandon R. Brown

Trevecca Nazarene University 

Doctor of Education in Leadership & Professional Practice 

Dissertation - The African-American Male Resident Assistant: Exploring the Relationship Between Academic Self-Efficacy, Sense of Belonging, and Overall College Experience

Nicole Phillips, Ed.D.

University of Georgia

Student Affairs Leadership


Margaret L. Sebastian, Ph.D.

University of Northern Colorado

Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership & Applied Statistics and Research Methods

I don’t have to stay here! The experiences of Black women, higher education administrators who experienced a professional transition and/or promotion to a historically white institution during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Suraju Jolaoso, Ed.D.

Baylor University

Curriculum & Instruction / Learning & Organizational Change

When They See Us: A Multiple Case Study to Understand Recruitment and Retention of Black Faculty at Predominantly White Institutions


Transitions to New Positions: 




Suraju Jolaoso, Ed.D.

2U, Inc.

Academic Recruiter II

Prince Robertson

Illinois Wesleyan University

Dean of Students for Inclusion and Advocacy

Eboni Ford Turnbow, Ph.D. 

Humboldt State University

Dean of Students

Keyah Levy 

Simpson College

Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Dametraus Jaggers, Ph.D 

Tennessee State University

Director of the Quality Enhancement Plan 

Matthew Miles, M.A.

South Louisiana Community College

Program Manager

Aja C. Holmes, Ph.D. 

University of San Francisco 

Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Community Living 

Cynthia Polk-Johnson, Ph. D.

Tennessee Tech University 

Vice President of Student Affairs 

Joseph Ballard II

Iowa State University

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Campus Life 

Justin McMillan

Johnson County Community College

Coordinator of Student Rights & Responsibilities