Presidential Search Committee

Jonathan Porter photo

Jonathan Porter

Chair, Presidential Search Committee and First Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees

Jonathan Porter currently serves as the Senior Vice President for Customer Operations for Alabama Power Company. He provides strategic leadership over customer operations, including the company's business offices, the Customer Service Center, Business Service Center, and Online Customer Services organizations. He previously served as the Vice President of Birmingham Division for Alabama Power Company, where he was responsible for the company’s operations, sales, customer service, economic and community development and external affairs activities for more than 430,000 customers across six counties in north central Alabama. Porter serves as a member of the board of directors for the Jefferson County Education Foundation, Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority, Birmingham Jefferson Inland Port Authority, INROADS Inc., REV Birmingham Inc., Birmingham Business Alliance, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama Power Foundation, Alabama Business Charitable Trust Fund, and the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club. Porter is Chairman of the 2021 Birmingham World Games Foundation.  Porter also serves as a Board Trustee of Tuskegee University and member of the Newcomen Society of Alabama. Porter is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham, has been featured in Who’s Who in Black Alabama, was recognized as a “Top 40 under 40” by the Birmingham Business Journal, and was recognized as one of “20 leaders for the next 20 years” by Bhm Biz magazine. Porter graduated cum laude from Tuskegee University in 1995 with a B.S. degree in Business Administration. While at Tuskegee, Porter was a 4 year letterman in football and was an All-Conference Scholar-Athlete. Porter later received his MBA from The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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Heshmat Aglan, Ph.D., P.E.

Dean, College of Engineering

Dr. Heshmat Aglan serves as Dean of the College of Engineering (COE) at Tuskegee University. Dr. Aglan has a Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of London, England and an M. Eng. and B.S. from Assiut University, Egypt all in mechanical engineering, and a two-year Post-doctorial fellowship at the Department of Macromolecular Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio. Dr. Aglan has worked at Tuskegee University for 25 years strengthening teaching, research and outreach with local, national and internationally recognized research. He is a registered professional engineer in both Alabama and Ohio. He has earned numerous honors and awards including a four year appointment in June 2015 by Governor Bentley of the State of Alabama to the State Board of Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Elastomers and Plastics, Sage Publishers, Inc., and Associate Director Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Education Coalition (AMSTEC). Dr Aglan has been responsible for a large number of funded projects at the national and international levels. He has shared his cutting edge engineering research with NASA, DOD, DOE, NSF, DHS, Federal Railroad Administration, Raytheon, Nucor Steel, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other companies. He has more than 130 refereed journal articles disseminating his research work.

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Cassandra P. Cooper

Vice Chair of the Staff Senate and Secretary of the Eminent Associates

Cassandra P. Cooper serves as Webmaster and Web Content Specialist at Tuskegee University. Cooper's educational background includes an MS degree in Information Systems & Security Management (2017) and a BS degree in Electrical Engineering (1999), both from Tuskegee University. She serves as Vice President of the Tuskegee University Staff Senate, advocating for the rights and well-being of university staff members. She is also a member and Recording Secretary of the Tuskegee University Eminent Associates, a group dedicated to supporting the university's mission financially, and fostering relationships with alumni and friends. She is advisor for the TU Student Yearbook, and her involvement in the Faculty-Staff Choir showcases her passion for music and the arts. Cooper's dedication, professionalism, and outstanding service were recognized when she was named the TU Staff Employee of the Year (Technical/Paraprofessional) in 2023. Additionally, Cooper's commitment to family values is evident through her family's selection as Family of the Year (2021) by the Family Guidance Center of Alabama. This prestigious recognition was given for their support of each other through countless struggles, and because of the longtime service rendered to their church family and the Tuskegee-Macon County community. 

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Joseph G. Grasso, J.D.

Member of the Board of Trustees

Joe Grasso is a partner in Wiggin and Dana's Litigation Department and Co-Chair of its Insurance Practice Group. Joe is also a member of the Firm's Art and Museum Law Practice Group. His work includes analysis of coverage, defense and monitoring of claims involving various types of insurance and reinsurance coverages, including aviation, marine (including hull, liability, cargo, yacht), fine art and specie, energy, general liability, professional liability and political risks. Prior to joining Wiggin and Dana in 2008, Joe was a partner at Thacher Proffitt & Wood in New York. From October 2005 to April 2006, Joe worked in the General Counsel's office of one of the premier syndicates at Lloyd's of London. In addition to representing underwriters, Joe also represents multinational manufacturers, financial advisers, art dealers, ship owners and other parties in a wide variety of commercial disputes. He has also acted as an arbitrator and a mediator. Joe is admitted to practice in New York and Pennsylvania and a number of Federal Courts including the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second and Fifth Circuits. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York State Association, and the Associations of Average Adjusters of the United States and Canada and of the United Kingdom. He is a Proctor member of the U.S. Maritime Law Association and was elected as a Director in 2015 (he is also the immediate past Chair of the Committee on Marine Insurance and General Average).

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Kennedi "Grace" Jackson

Student Government Association President

Kennedi "Grace" Jackson, a Senior political science major from the Capitol City of Montgomery, AL currently serves as the 2023-2024 Executive SGA President. Through her tenure at Tuskegee University she has developed professionally and personally in order to successfully maintain this position. Throughout Ms. Jackson’s time at Tuskegee University she has served as the 2021-2022 Sophomore Class President, and 2022-2024 Executive SGA Vice President. Ms. Jackson is interconnected with a network of HBCU SGA Presidents through the NASAP President’s Consortium. She currently serves as the National PR Director for this Consortium. Outside of TU, Grace works diligently in the realm of civic engagement working with the Southern Youth Leadership Development Institute and the Open Society University Network as an advocate for educational equity. Ms. Jackson is also a Spring 2022 initiate of the Gamma Kappa Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

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Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman

CEO Inside Out Learning, Inc.

Dr. Lamm-Hartman is an award-winning global executive and presentation coach, leadership development consultant, speaker, writer, and educator. She is the CEO and founder of Inside-Out Learning, Inc., specializing in leadership and personal development. Inside Out Learning is an active member of WBENC and the global Women’s President Organization which only 3% of women owned businesses meet their requirements for membership. With over 25 years of global experience, Sharon has worked across the United States and Europe as well as Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand for clients such as Boeing, American Express, GE’s Leadership Development Center, Exxon, E*TRADE, ARCO Chemical Company, Mobil Oil Corporation, Berlex Pharmaceuticals, Fannie Mae, Arizona Society of CPA’s, Volvo Corporation, and the National Reconnaissance Office. She has designed and delivered over 3,000 innovative programs, including many executive presence and presentation skills programs. Dr. Lamm-Hartman has coached thousands of CEO’s, executives and entrepreneurs worldwide.She worked internally at ARCO Chemical in International Training and Development. Dr. Lamm-Hartman holds a doctorate from Columbia University in Leadership and Organization Development, a Masters in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, and two Bachelor degrees.

Lillie Lanier

Lillie Lanier

President - Tuskegee National Alumni Association, Inc. (TNAA)

Lillie A. Lanier, current President of the Tuskegee National Alumni Association has served on the Executive Board of TNAA from 1994 to the present.  Lanier, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, received her BS degree in Clothing and the Related Arts from Tuskegee Institute in 1971. She worked in New York and Paramus NJ until she returned to Birmingham Alabama and became the first African American buyer for the Pizitz Department Store chain in 1975.  She moved to Atlanta GA where she has held a variety of marketing and management positions. She retired from Bauder College, a subsidiary of Kaplan Inc., the Washington Post now Graham Holdings as a professor, Assistant Director of Admissions, Director, and International Student Advisor where she worked for over 34 years. Lanier was first elected First Vice President of the Atlanta Tuskegee Alumni Club, and then elected President for four (4) years.  During her tenure as president, membership increased to 350 paid members. Lanier has served on the Strategic Planning Committee, the search committee for the current Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Athletic Director, Reginald Ruffin, and Chief Financial Officer, Dexter Odom. She is a volunteer and financial supporter of Tuskegee University, and a $1000 Plus Gold Eminent Associate.  

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Gregory S. Nixon, J.D.

Member of the Board of Trustees

Gregory Nixon is Head of Strategic Investments for Cerberus. In his role, he focuses on investment opportunities with the potential to drive technological, security, and defense advancements across sectors and geographies. For over a decade, Mr. Nixon has partnered with Cerberus and its affiliates across a diverse array of projects and investments. He has been a Managing Director with Cerberus’ industry-leading operations team, Cerberus Operations and Advisory Company, and has served on the Board of Directors for several Cerberus portfolio companies, including most recently Navistar Defense, where he is Chairman, and Sparton Corporation. Prior to rejoining Cerberus in 2021, Mr. Nixon served in a variety of senior executive roles leading significant global strategic and operational initiatives. His experience includes leadership roles at DynCorp International (a Cerberus portfolio company), CH2M Incorporated, McKinsey and Company, and Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. He also served as an executive advisor to Tracker Capital Management, a venture capital investor founded by Cerberus Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Feinberg that invests in high-potential technology growth companies.

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John E. Page, J.D.

Member & Past Chair of the Board of Trustees

John Page is Senior Corporate Vice President, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility and Legal Officer of Golden State Foods Corp. (GSF).  Joining GSF in 2004, John is responsible for all legal, governance and compliance matters for the company. Additionally, John provides executive leadership for GSF’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, which include environmental initiatives, diversity efforts, and community involvement.  John has been honored for his leadership a number of times and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Tuskegee University. He has also served as 2014/2015 Chairman of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Board of Directors, and as President of the National Bar Association. The Orange County Business Journal named him their inaugural General Counsel of the Year; and in 2010, John received the National Bar Association’s highest award, the C. Francis Stradford Award, for his service to the NBA and to the legal profession. In 2011, the African American Managing Partner Network honored John with the Corporate Counsel Pathfinder Award. 

Dr. Melissa Reeves

Melissa Reeves, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry

Melissa S. Reeves is a Full Professor and Assistant Department Head in the Department of Chemistry who began at Tuskegee University in Fall 1995.  She received her B.S. in chemistry at University of Florida and her Ph.D. in chemistry at Indiana University at Bloomington.  Her research interests have ranged from calculating transition states of small molecule reactions in solution to molecular dynamics of polymers. More recently, she has been involved in discipline-based educational research.  In the teaching arena, she was part of the Physical Chemistry Online (PCOL) group in the early 2000s, has worked on two American Chemical Society Physical Chemistry Exam Committees, and works as part of the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning Physical Chemistry Laboratory (POGIL-PCL) community.   She currently serves on the ACS Exams Institute Board of Trustees and the POGIL Project Steering Committee. Reeves is also the faculty advisor for Tuskegee's Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society (TU SCACS).

Joan Robinson-Berry

Joan Robinson-Berry

Senior VP and Chief Engineer (Ret) - Boeing Global Services

Joan Robinson-Berry has over 35 years of progressive global and domestic experience possessing a unique blend of “hands-on” engineering, operations, supplier management and program management experience. Recognized as a top leader in corporate America and innovative thinker who has an exceptional ability to apply business and analytical skills to exceed financial and technical results. Recently retired as Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer for Boeing Global Services (BGS) responsible for “product and services safety; technical integrity and engineering for a $22 billion business unit. Previously, she led a $6-billion-dollar global engineering and maintenance / modifications team for all Boeing government and commercial product lines worldwide. She has also served as VP & GM for Commercial airplanes in South Carolina with responsibility for leading the development of a comprehensive site strategy for 787 Airplane Production Operations, Engineering Design Center, IT Centers, Interiors Responsibility, Propulsion Center, and Technology Center. Prior to this assignment, she was Chief Procurement Officer-VP leading the overall strategy, contracting, daily management and development of the $8-billion-dollar spend. Joan holds a MS in Engineering Management & Business Administration and a BS degree in Engineering Technology. 

Dr. John Solomon

John Solomon, Ph.D.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering 

Dr. Solomon is a Tenured Full Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department of Tuskegee University (TU), AL. He received a Ph.D. from Florida State University (FSU) in 2010. Dr. Solomon's research interests include high-speed flow control, actuator development, experimental fluid mechanics, micro-scale flow diagnostics, and engineering education. He holds three US patents on high-frequency microactuator technologies developed for high-speed flow control applications. The National Science Foundation has supported Dr. Solomon's research through grants such as the Research Initiation Award, Excellence in Research (EiR), and Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE). He was selected as a summer faculty research fellow at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in 2019 and 2020. Dr. Solomon received the Faculty Achievement Award from Tuskegee University in 2023. Dr. Solomon has published and presented 50 technical papers in various journals and AIAA and ASEE conferences.

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Ray Whiteman

Member of the Board of Trustees

Ray Whiteman is a Founder and Managing Partner of Stellex Capital Management. Prior to establishing Stellex, Mr. Whiteman was a Partner at The Carlyle Group and a Managing Director and Co-Head of Carlyle Strategic Partners. Prior to joining Carlyle in May 1996, Mr. Whiteman was a Vice President and Group Head in the Leveraged Finance Department of Credit Lyonnais. Mr. Whiteman has also held several positions at both Citicorp and The Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. Mr. Whiteman currently serves as a director on the board of Titan Acquisition Holdings L.P. and Cisco Investment Holding LLC. In the past, Mr. Whiteman served as the Chairman of the boards of MHI Holdings LLC and Morbark Holdings LLC and on the board of Diversified Machine, Inc., RPK Capital Partners, LLC, Metaldyne, LLC, Stellex Aerostructures, Inc., Brintons Carpet Limited, DPG Aerospace and Service King, as well as the investment committee of RLJ Equity Partners, an affiliate of The Carlyle Group and Robert L. Johnson. Previously, Mr. Whiteman has served on the boards of numerous Carlyle portfolio companies such as US Marine Repair, Norfolk Drydock and Shipping Company, Key Plastics, Breed Technologies and The Aerostructures Corporation. Mr. Whiteman has also been a member of the Executive Committee of the National Symphony Orchestra of The John F. Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

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Carla C. Whitlock

Member of the Board of Trustees

Carla C. Whitlock is a financial services professional, with experience in risk management, regulatory governance and supplier (vendor) relations.  She now serves as Principal with Sankofa Partners. She was formerly First Vice President with SunTrust Bank (now Truist) Enterprise Risk division, where she had consumer credit oversight responsibilities, including reporting to federal and state regulatory agencies.  Prior to this role, she led that division’s supplier management risk program. During her career at SunTrust, which began in 1999, Whitlock has been in the unique position of managing projects and portfolios in Corporate and Investment Banking, Enterprise Risk and the Consumer Program Management office at those divisions’ inceptions.  She is a Certified Project Manager through the Project Management Leadership Group. Community engagement and college football are among her passions.  She has given more than 20 years of continuous service to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and is an ex-officio member and former president of the Ivy & Roses Community Fund.  Additionally, she has held a number of positions at the local, district and conference level with the United Methodist Church in Mississippi and North Georgia. 

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Barron M. Witherspoon, Sr.

Second Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees

Barron M. Witherspoon, Sr. retired as the Senior Vice President for Industry Affairs for Proctor & Gamble.  In that role, he led the company's external interface with trade associations & thought leaders impacting public policy, industry standards across the consumer goods industry. He also oversaw the development of all trade policies & practices and is located at P&G's worldwide headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Previously, he was VP Global Operations for Strategic Revenue & Pricing Management where he worked across all business units and geographies to develop and implement topline growth strategies. Prior to this, he was VP and General Manager for P&G's Asia business, responsible for all customer-facing operations in ASEAN (Southeast Asia), Australasia, India (and later Korea & Japan). Based in Singapore, he led P&G’s business in a trading environment of over 7 million outlets – the highest store concentration in the world. His region spanned 13 time zones & served 1/3 of the world’s consumers. Prior to this assignment, he led the company’s global Paper Products business with Wal-Mart, the company’s largest customer. Mr. Witherspoon joined Procter & Gamble’s general advertising department in 1985 and held numerous line and staff positions in marketing, finance and customer business development. 

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Norma B. Clayton

Ex Officio, Presidential Search Committee and Chair of the Board of Trustees

Norma Clayton is the retired vice president for Learning, Training and Development at The Boeing Company. Prior to this role, she led a number of important assignments, including a Global Sourcing Initiative to increase growth and productivity. She has also held leadership roles within Boeing Defense, Space & Security, including vice president of Supplier Management and Procurement, and vice president and general manager of the Maintenance and Modification Centers. Clayton has held leadership roles throughout her career at Fortune 500 companies including Lockheed Martin, General Electric, RCA and General Motors.  Among many community activities, Clayton serves as First Vice Chair of Tuskegee University’s Board of Trustees, Boeing executive focal for Michigan State University, and is a member of Leadership America, the American Society of Industrial Engineers and the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources.