UNCF Birmingham Hosts Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan

Discussion focused on CIA initiatives to enhance diversity within the national security workforce

Media Contact
Cynetra McMillian
UNCF Communications

The Birmingham area office of UNCF hosted a private dinner with special guest CIA Director John Brennan on Sept. 13 at The Summit Club. Focused on key initiatives centered around diversifying the CIA national workforce, several business, civic and education leaders, including the Honorable William A. Bell, Sr., Birmingham mayor; AC Roper, Birmingham police chief; Cheryl Smith, UNCF senior vice president public policy and governmental affairs, and Al Denson, president and CEO Birmingham Airport Authority, gathered to share, learn and grow through conversation.

Denson is the 2017 UNCF Leadership Council chair and a graduate of UNCF-member school, Stillman College. The Birmingham Airport Authority, a longtime supporter of UNCF, sponsored the dinner last Tuesday evening.

“We have long supported UNCF and all the great work they do, said Denson.”  “I have always been of the mindset that our students are the future of our community therefore it is imperative that we all work together to ensure that they have a fair opportunity to be successful. I am grateful to Director Brennan for being our special guest for this worthwhile event.”

“We are grateful for the continued support of the Birmingham Airport Authority and were elated to host Director Brennan and his delegation,” said Cheri Wilson, UNCF area development director. “His sincere, insightful remarks were inspirational and ignited hope for the future for a more diverse workforce—a place for our HBCU students and graduates to grow, serve and lead in the government and where their intelligence, skill, character and perspective are valued.”

CIA Director John Brennan
CIA Director John Brennan

“We need women and men from diverse backgrounds who instinctively understand how different cultures operate, said Brennan”  “We need people who bring different perspectives and ways of thinking about difficult problems. Otherwise, we risk falling into the trap of group-think. From my perspective and that of my senior leadership, the business case for diversity is undeniable. This is why working with organizations like the United Negro College Fund and HBCUs like Miles College to create a diverse pipeline of officers is at the forefront of CIA’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

Events such as these bring the pursuit of higher education and the rights of all students to the forefront. Understanding the importance of the discussion, several members of historically black colleges and universities were engaged during the question and answer portion with Brennan, including Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, president, Bennett College; Dr. Perry Ward, president, Lawson State College; Dr. George T. French, president, Miles College; Dr. Leslie N. Pollard, president, Oakwood University; Dr. Myra Burnett, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, Spelman College; Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, president, Talladega College; and Dr. Brian Johnson, president, Tuskegee University.


About UNCF
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.