UNCF Leadership Team
- In March 2018, Murray was instrumental in Congress’ passage, and the Department of Education’s successful implementation of, a program which deferred thirteen institutions’ loans to the HBCU Capital Finance Program. This deferment, passed into law in only 52 days after its inception, was funded at $20 million a year and allowed those institutions a full reprieve from their federal loan burden while holding the loans from principal growth or interest
- In December 2019, Murray lead UNCF’s effort to unite the major education groups that represent minority groups’ interest to support the passage into law of the Fostering
- During the novel coronavirus pandemic, UNCF and Murray led a coalition of other minority education organizations in advocating to Congress the needs of HBCUs and their unique student The results were the following:
- The March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security (CARES) Act contained funding for most institutions of higher education for stabilization and students; but a special set-aside of $1.054 billion was added to the law specifically for HBCUs, TCUs, and
- In the December 2020 stimulus and appropriations bill, another set aside of $1.7 billion was added to the law specifically for HBCUs, TCUs, and Additionally, there was the permanent relief / forgiveness of debt of 45 HBCUs which was owed to the Department of Education. The loan relief totaled $1.5 billion forever wiped off the balance sheets of nearly half of all accredited HBCUs.
- In March of 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) contained a funding set-aside of nearly $3 billion for HBCUs and
- In fiscal years 2018 – 2021, in the regular appropriations process, HBCU programmatic increases alone total over $300 million
Dr. Michael L. Lomax
Since 2004, Dr. Michael L. Lomax has served as president and CEO of UNCF, the nation’s largest private provider of scholarships and other educational support to African American students and a leading advocate of college readiness: students’ need for an education, from pre-school through high school, that prepares them for college success. Under his leadership, UNCF has raised more than $3 billion and helped more than 110,000 students earn college degrees and launch careers. Annually, UNCF’s work enables 60,000 students to go to college with UNCF scholarships and attend its 37 member historically black college and universities (HBCUs).
At UNCF’s helm, Dr. Lomax oversees the organization’s 400 scholarship programs, which award 10,000 scholarships a year. He also launched the UNCF Institute for Capacity Building, which helps UNCF’s member HBCUs become stronger, more effective and more self-sustaining.
Under Dr. Lomax’s leadership, UNCF has fought for college readiness and education reform through partnerships with reform-focused leaders and organizations and worked to further advance HBCUs with Congress, the administration and the Department of Education. He serves on the boards of the KIPP Foundation, America’s Promise, Teach for America and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Before joining UNCF, Dr. Lomax was president of Dillard University in New Orleans and a literature professor at UNCF-member institutions Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. He also founded the National Black Arts Festival, was a founding member of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and served as chairman of the Fulton County Commission in Atlanta, the first African American elected to that post.
Early Reese is UNCF’s chief operating officer, responsible for directing UNCF’s internal operations, including legal, strategic planning, scholarship programs and services, finance, investments, human resources and administration and information technology.
Early has more than 35 years of financial management experience. Prior to joining UNCF, he was vice president of finance and treasurer of Trinity College in Hartford, CT, a liberal arts college with 2,200 students. Earlier, he was chief of finance and administration for the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, where he was an integral player in its business planning, budgeting, accounting, risk management and information technology activities. He also served in a variety of financial accounting and information services positions at Philip Morris. Early began his career in 1974 as an auditor for Price Waterhouse accounting firm.
A certified public accountant, Early graduated from Virginia State University in Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and received an executive MBA from The College of William and Mary.
He has previously served on the board of the Salvation Army in Hartford, the Urban League of Greater Hartford Advisory Board and the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance Board in Connecticut. In Colorado, he was a member of the Urban League Board and the Chamber of Commerce. And in Virginia, he was a member of the National Association of Black Accountants, the Richmond Community Blood Service and the Virginia State University Board of Trustees.
Maurice E. Jenkins, Jr.
Maurice E. Jenkins, Jr. was appointed executive vice president for field development of UNCF in 2011, with an annual campaign goal of $40.2 million focusing on fundraising strategy and execution throughout all of UNCF’s field offices across the country. In 2012, he was appointed to lead UNCF’s consolidated development operation. Jenkins is now responsible for UNCF’s total annual campaign goal of $64.6 million.
He began his extensive career with UNCF as a project manager in 1990. In 1993, he was promoted to area development director for Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, and in 1997, promoted to vice president, Southeast Field Operations. In May 2006, he became senior vice president, Southern Field Operations, with supervisory responsibility for one of three UNCF regional offices in the U.S., overseeing fundraising activities of nine UNCF offices covering 13 southern U.S. states with an annual goal of $18.8 million.
Jenkins is a native of Washington, DC. He attended Howard University and the University of Maryland in College Park, where he received his bachelor’s degree. He moved to Atlanta to attend Clark Atlanta University Graduate School and later taught in the Atlanta Public Schools System.
LaJuan H. Lyles
LaJuan Lyles is a seasoned executive, whose human resources and business operations experience and career spans Fortune 100 and nonprofit organizations. She joined UNCF as director of human resources in 1999. In 2000, she was named vice president of human resources. She was appointed to senior vice president, chief administrative officer and head of human resources in 2005 and is responsible for managing talent and organizational effectiveness through the human resources department; payroll administration; business continuity/disaster recovery; and purchasing, lease negotiations and building management through the administrative services department. In 2021, she was named Executive Vice President, People and Culture.
Prior to joining UNCF, Lyles held several senior management positions in human resources at Fannie Mae, including director of organizational development, in which she was responsible for orchestrating major organizational change initiatives, and director of staffing, in which she managed executive, professional and technical recruitment. Before that, she held senior management positions in human resources at Freddie Mac and Seabury & Smith/Marsh and McLennan.
She began her career as an assistant controller with Marriott Corp. Her strong managerial skills, counseling and training capabilities led her to change careers from accounting to human resources. She was a member of the Marriott executive team and provided leadership over human resources for numerous midsize to large hotels across the country, including starting human resources and payroll departments in new and acquired hotels.
Lyles received a master’s degree in organizational development from American University and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Hampton University. She is an experienced trainer and is certified in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Benchmarks 360 Degree Feedback.
She is a member of numerous professional and civic organizations, including the Society of Human Resources Management, National Association of African American Human Resources Professionals, American Management Association, American Society for Training and Development, Chesapeake Bay Organizational Development Network and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Seth T. Bardu joined the executive team of UNCF as senior vice president and CFO in May of 2018, and oversees the financial affairs of this institution among other responsibilities. He had served as CFO of the Columbia Union Conference from January 2006 to August 2017. Columbia Union serves as the parent and sponsoring entity to Adventist Healthcare (MD), Kettering Health System (OH), Washington Adventist University (MD) and eight other regional organizations within the mid-Atlantic states of the United States. In addition to his role as CFO, he played significant governance roles in non-profit organizations such as healthcare, publishing, global disaster and relief, human services for people with disabilities among others. He transferred from the Northeastern Conference in New York, where he also served as CFO from November 2002 to December 2005. Bardu had other financial leadership roles before his arrival in New York with Southern Union Conference (Decatur GA), Adventist Health System (Madison, TN) and South Central Conference (Nashville TN).
Bardu is a mission-focused financial administrator, who believes people are the most critical investment in any organization. He thinks leadership should, among other areas of emphasis, focus on mentorship/coaching, succession planning and learning development. Some of his achievements have been in areas including financial leadership, gender equality, RIF/turnaround, nonprofit scaling and financial planning and analysis. He is a trained facilitator/trainer with the Arbinger Institute with emphasis on “Outward Mindset Skills for Leaders” and “Developing and Implementing an Outward Mindset.”
Bardu was born in Monrovia, Liberia. He received his bachelor of science degree in accounting from Oakwood University [a UNCF-member institution] and an MBA from Andrews University (MI), where he also did some doctoral work in leadership. In 2017, Oakwood University named him as one of the most influential alumni in its 120-year history. He was also inducted into the Delta MU Delta by the same university. He and his wife Teresa have two children, Jessica and Godfrey.
Desireé C. Boykin, Esq.
Desireé Boykin is the senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for UNCF. She joined UNCF in 2002 and provides advice and counsel to the UNCF Board of Directors, senior staff and member presidents in the areas of higher education, insurance, constitutional law, intellectual property, corporate compliance and corporate governance. She was elected secretary of the corporation in October 2017. Additionally, she practices probate, contracts, employment and nonprofit law. Desirée manages UNCF’s legacy portfolio (testamentary gifts), which has resulted in more than $67 million in revenue during her tenure.
Prior to joining UNCF, Desirée was an associate attorney at the law office of John Paul Simpkins, where she was responsible for all phases of general civil practice including personal injury, product liability, family law and medical malpractice.
She has numerous professional and civic affiliations, including membership in the National Bar Association, the Greater Washington Area Chapter Women Lawyers Division, Howard University Alumni Association, DC Club and the Howard University School of Law Alumni Association.
Desirée has a law degree from Howard University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Howard University.
Larry A. Griffith
Larry Griffith serves as a senior vice president at UNCF where he is responsible for the strategic management of UNCF’s more than 400 scholarships, programs, internships and fellowships.
Larry joined UNCF in 2007 as vice president for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, a 20-year, $1.6 billion scholarship initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is the nation’s largest scholarship program. Prior to joining UNCF, Larry was an executive director and assistant vice president at the College Board. In these capacities, he was responsible for providing overall leadership and management as well as directing and implementing national outreach initiatives and leading as the College Board’s representative to key national higher education professional organizations and associations.
From 1998 to 2002, Larry was director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Delaware, where he completed his tenure in 2003 as assistant dean in the College of Arts and Science. Before that, he was the associate director of admission at Brown University, director of college counseling at Gonzaga College High School and as an undergraduate admission officer at The College of William and Mary.
He currently serves on the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE) and in 2014 he was appointed by the governor of Virginia to serve on the board of Norfolk State University. His additional board service has included tenure on the boards of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, the National Scholarship Providers Association and the Collegiate Directions, Inc. He is active in his community through his involvement and membership in civic organizations.
Larry has a bachelor’s degree from The College of William and Mary and a master of education in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.
Lodriguez Murray joined UNCF in 2017 as vice president of public policy and government affairs. He was made Senior Vice President in 2019. In this role, he develops and drives strategies to influence and mobilize action in the U.S. Congress and executive branch on the public policy priorities of UNCF, its 37 member HBCUs and the 50,000 students they serve. Murray is also a member of the advisory board of the HBCU Capital Finance Program, has served on the Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking on borrower defense, and leads UNCF’s social and criminal justice portfolios.
Since joining UNCF, he has moved quickly to establish the organization as a difference maker on behalf of its membership and HBCUs overall. Major policy accomplishments include:
Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act. This law, passed by Houses of Congress on the same day, December 10, 2019, provides $255 million a year—in perpetuity—for HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to fund their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. Of that total, $85 million must go to HBCUs annually. This was a landmark standalone bill which was propelled to the top of legislative priorities by the #ProtectingOurFUTURE campaign, a pivotal, award-winning online platform led by UNCF which resulted in 62,000 emails and 3,000 phone calls.
Murray has had extensive previous government affairs experience representing academic centers, patient rights organizations and private companies. He began his career in Washington as a special assistant for the late Rep. Charles (Charlie) W. Norwood, Jr. (GA). It was in Norwood’s office that he learned the congressional authorization and appropriations processes as well as the importance of customer/constituent services.
Upon leaving Norwood’s office, Murray spent more than a decade working in government affairs as a lobbyist and senior vice president at Washington’s top firm specializing in healthcare and disparities. He has represented the interests of Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University Health Sciences Institutions, Tuskegee
University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, National AHEC Organization, Nation Council for Diversity in the Health Professions (NCDHP), Zimmer Inc.’s Movement is Life, American Liver Foundation and OraSure Technologies, Inc. Murray additionally served as the executive director of the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools, the group of historically Black graduate schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine.
Under Murray’s leadership, the firm’s landmark achievements include the elevation of the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, to the level of an Institute at the National Institutes of Health and safeguards in federal legislation protecting programs for HBCUs and funding on an annual basis for programs to assist with the education of minority health professions students.
A native of Augusta, GA, Murray is a first-generation high school and college graduate, having received a UNCF scholarship while attending Morehouse College. Recognitions for Murray include the original Congressional Black Caucus “40 Under 40” award in healthcare, a special award of recognition from Xavier University’s Health Disparities Conference, and named as one of Washingtonian Magazine’s “Most Influential People” (Education) of 2021. In 2021, Lodriguez received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from UNCF-member institution Talladega College.
We are currently recruiting for this open position.
Sekou Biddle leads UNCF’s advocacy efforts to ensure more African American students will be college-ready and better prepared to enroll in and complete college by driving sustainable education reforms that benefit students and empower parents and communities to demand improvement. He manages UNCF’s advocacy platform, which includes three major components: grasstops partnerships, grassroots engagement and messaging and research. In addition, Sekou also leads UNCF’s Student Professional Development Programs, preparing students to navigate from college to early-stage careers by exposing students to industry-sector career opportunities through summer and semester training.
He has more than 20 years of experience in urban public education reform and is a former at-large member of the District of Columbia City Council. He represented Wards 3 and 4 on the District of Columbia State Board of Education. As executive director of the southern region of Jumpstart for Young Children, he partnered trained adults in year-long relationships with pre-school-aged children to prepare them for success in school.
Sekou previously was director of community outreach for KIPP DC, which operates 16 schools in the District of Columbia. Prior to this, he trained and supported first- and second-year teachers as a program director with Teach For America, the national teacher corps. He has hands-on experience in the classroom working as a teacher in New York City, Atlanta and Washington, DC. While in the Atlanta Public School System, he provided professional development for elementary school teachers through the Elementary Science Education Partnership, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Sekou has a bachelor’s degree in business from Morehouse College and a master of education degree in early childhood education from Georgia State University with a focus on urban education. He also completed advanced studies in education policy at Georgia State.
Robert Rucker is the vice president of planning, budgets and information technology for UNCF, where he is responsible for overseeing the design, implementation and communication of UNCF’s strategic vision, planning and operational improvement initiatives. Additionally, he leads the information technology department. Robert joined UNCF in 2005 as vice president of transformation, driving efforts to strategically align resources to support organizational change initiatives.
Robert began his career as a change agent in 1979 with Bank of America in its consumer bank operations, where he assumed numerous roles including his final position as senior vice president/senior change manager. In that capacity, he managed change initiatives for the 6,400-unit nationwide banking center network.
He received his bachelor’s degree in communications from Howard University and a master’s degree in business and public administration from Southeastern University. He also has a post-master’s certificate in information technology-telecommunications from Johns Hopkins University, an executive certificate in strategy and innovation from MIT and certifications as a public purchasing officer and professional buyer from the Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council.
Since July 2011, Richard Shropshire has been responsible for overseeing all of UNCF’s branding, marketing and communications efforts, including the production of “UNCF An Evening of Stars” with BET networks and the 2013 re-launch of the “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” PSA campaign. He is charged with developing brand, marketing and communications activities that promote, enhance and build the organization’s reputation. Prior to his current role, Richard worked as a marketing consultant for the organization, providing strategic partnership expertise to drive the development of corporate, retail and media partnerships (BET, Essence/CNN, Foot Locker, Ford, Merck, Pepsi, P&G and Target) and a strategic plan for the overall growth and development of “UNCF An Evening of Stars.”
Earlier, he was a senior vice president, management director at Saatchi & Saatchi, New York. Richard’s experience includes brand marketing/strategy, advertising account direction and business development with other iconic brands, including Pepsi, Frito-Lay, American Express, Time Inc./People magazine, and P&G.
Richard received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University.
Development Vice Presidents
Paulette Jackson, Senior Vice President, National Development and Operations, has more than 25 years of experience in the area of higher education fund development. In her current position, Paulette is responsible for directing a $21 million annual campaign supporting national strategic initiatives from corporate, foundations, high net worth individuals, and various grassroots constituencies. In addition, she leads the organization’s efforts in direct response, donor management and development operations.
Paulette has a master of arts in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a bachelor of science in psychology from Cameron University in Oklahoma. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Planned Giving Design Center Network and the Association of Advancement Services Professionals. Formerly a member of the Matching Gift Advisory Council for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), she was a contributor on the CASE 2005 Matching Gift Administration publication, Examining the Evolving World of Matching Gifts.
Paulette currently serves as a volunteer member for the Washington, DC, Chamber of Commerce’s Business Growth and Development Committee and Workforce Development Committee. Active in her church, she is a volunteer on its scholarship and hospitality committees.
Diego Aviles is vice president, development, for the Northeast Region (Boston, New York and Newark), based in New York. In this role, Aviles develops and implements comprehensive annual fundraising goals, objectives, budgets and plans for all areas of management responsibility to achieve maximum growth, optimal yield and increase retention of donors.
Prior to joining UNCF, Aviles served as the YMCA’s vice president of fund development where he gave leadership to the Y’s Annual Campaign, which raises more than $8 million to ensure that New Yorkers of all ages have access to the Y’s essential programs. Aviles earned his B.A. in psychology from Queens College, CUNY.
Therese Badon has been employed with UNCF since 2005. Due to her fundraising success, she has been promoted several times within the organization. She currently serves in the role of vice president of development and is responsible for overseeing 12 local offices and 38 staff members with an annual revenue goal of $19 million. She previously served as the regional development director for UNCF, overseeing five states with a $7 million annual goal. Before coming to UNCF, Badon served as the executive director of alumni relations and annual giving at UNCF-member institution Dillard University in New Orleans. She also served as a banking officer at Capital One Bank, where she worked for 12 years.
Throughout the latter part of her career, Badon has been a strong advocate and supporter of education for minorities and low-income students aspiring to fulfill the dream of earning a college degree. She is engaged in efforts to help improve schools, health disparities and assistance to families from low-income communities.
In addition, after one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit U.S. soil—Hurricane Katrina—Badon had the privilege of working with two former U.S. presidents, President Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush, on the “Wave of Hope” campaign in 2005 that generated more than $4 million to support seven damaged colleges and universities along the Gulf Coast.
Badon is an elected official of the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee representing District E. She is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and served on the alumni relations commission for CASE. She has been rated as a “faculty star” for her presentation skills during the CASE/Kresge HBCU Learning Institute, and she is a Kresge Advancement Fellow. She is published and acknowledged in the book, “Changing the Odds: Lessons learned from the Kresge HBCU Initiative.”
Badon has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Dillard University in New Orleans. She has served as commencement speaker for St. Mary’s Academy, Women’s Day speaker and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Speaker at St. Peter Claver Church and has participated in several other speaking engagements. She served as a member of the City of New Orleans Human Relations Commission, appointed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former Mayor C. Ray Nagin. Currently, she serves as a board member for the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans, board member for Marillac Health Center, board member for KIPP New Orleans Schools and former board member for the Girls Scouts of Southeast Louisiana.
She was honored in 2008 and 2014 as one of New Orleans “Business Women of the Year” and she also received the 2014 “Role Model Award” from the Young Leadership Council and numerous other awards and recognition for her work in the community. Badon is a member of The Links, Inc., and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Badon is a notary public in New Orleans and the wife of New Orleans Clerk of First City Court Austin Badon, Jr., and mother of son Ayden.
Fred D. Mitchell serves as vice president of development for UNCF’s Mid-Atlantic and Midwest region and oversees the operations and fundraising activities of UNCF’s 12 offices located across the Northeast and Midwest. Mitchell is responsible for raising more than $17 million annually in support of UNCF’s national campaign. Mitchell joined UNCF in 2001 as the regional director for corporations in Chicago, IL. Since that time, he has worked as an area development director in Indianapolis, IN, and Newark, NJ, and as the regional development director in New York.
Before joining UNCF, Mitchell was Midwest area director with Western Union Financial Services in Chicago, responsible for directing sales, marketing and daily operations while overseeing an agent network of 2,500 agent locations across eight states. Mitchell has received numerous awards for his work in the community, and was honored with the key to the city of Indianapolis prior to him leaving in 2005. In 2010, he was nominated and selected to take part in the American Express Leadership Academy for Not-for Profit Leaders. In 2016 Mitchell was selected as a co-chair for the CASE/AADO Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership conference. During the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 fiscal years, Mitchell and his teams in New York and Indianapolis were credited with securing three of the largest gifts in UNCF history. His Northern-Midwest division was awarded the “Division of the Year Award” for 2014-2015 for its performance and contribution to the organization’s overall performance.
Mitchell is a former trustee at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, and is a founding member and immediate past president of the Clark Atlanta University Alumni Association of New Jersey, and a 37-year member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Mitchell is a native of Seattle, WA. Mitchell earned a bachelor of arts degree in business administration/marketing from UNCF-member institution Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA. He is married to Emily Nichols-Mitchell and has two daughters, Lauren, a graduate of Clemson University and Georgia State University, and Morgan, a recent graduate of Georgia State University.