Hayti Heritage Center gets a new director
Angela Lee has been named the new executive director of The St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, the organization that runs Hayti Heritage Center.
Lee, who began her tenure as director Jan. 3, said she is looking forward to “re-energizing the organization and moving forward” in the months ahead. One goal will be to work with the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation’s board of directors to put forth a plan for the popular Bull Durham Blues Festival.
“Certainly, it is in our plan to continue this event,” Lee said in a phone interview. “We know we will have to re-energize it, reintroduce it… [and] restore it to what it could and should be.”
St. Joseph’s has been without a full-time director since March 2011, when former director Dianne Pledger left. The organization had since operated with an interim director.
Like many non-profit organizations, St. Joseph’s has been hit by the recession. Last summer, the organization had to furlough two daytime employees. The Blues Festival also has had tough times. Circumstances beyond Hayti’s control forced the festival to move from the Durham Athletic Park for several seasons. Last year, the festival returned to the DAP, its historic home, but attendance was down.
Besides the festival, St. Joseph’s also has a visual art gallery, a dance studio, an after-school program, and space for event rentals. Lee said she wants to continue enhancing those programs.
“We’ve got a beautiful performance hall that just has to be utilized,” Lee said, referring to St. Joseph’s Performance Hall (formerly St. Joseph’s AME Church). Numerous artists – musicians, spoken word artists, dramatists -- have performed in the historic church, and saxophonist Branford Marsalis has recorded several albums in the space.
“There’s so much here … We want to develop it fully so that everyone can benefit,” Lee said.
The St. Joseph’s Foundation selected Lee after a nationwide search. Lee will be responsible for the day-to-day operations, providing operational oversight and direction to achieve the foundation’s goals and mission. She will partner with the public and private sectors and community organizations.
Most recently, Lee, of Chapel Hill, she was an instructor in the Crossroads 21st Century Program in Orange County. Crossroads is a federal enrichment program for students in grades K-12. Lee also was the program director for Grape Arbor Development Corporation’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Grape Arbor is a Chapel Hill-based nonprofit that provides programs for youth and families.
Lee is a member of Justice United, a nonprofit advocacy organization; The Forget Me Not Project Board of Directors; and the Trustee Board at St. Paul AME Church of Chapel Hill. She earned a B.A. degree at Harvard University and a J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We are tremendously excited about Angela joining us in this important leadership role at St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation,” said Lynn Harris, board chair. “These are challenging times for nonprofits. Angela’s extensive experience working in nonprofit organizations, education, and her involvement in the community make her an excellent fit to re-energize and move the organization forward.”
St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, founded in 1975, is a non-profit African-American cultural and educational institution committed to preserving the Hayti Heritage Center, and the former St. Joseph’s AME Church, a national historic landmark.