Meet AHA's Team

We are thinkers. We are collaborators. We are facilitators. The Alabama Humanities Alliance team helps drive creativity and inquiry. We believe our state is better when people are engaged in storytelling, lifelong learning, and civic purpose.

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Chuck Holmes

Charles W. (Chuck) Holmes, Executive Director

A distinguished career in journalism formed Chuck’s passion to lead the Alabama Humanities Alliance. Chuck believes in the power of storytelling and civic engagement to propel positive change. The humanities, he says, provide the vital ingredients that tell us who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Years in public radio and newspapers took Chuck around the world, but he has deep roots in Alabama (his mother from Decatur, his father from Birmingham). In 2017, he came back South from Washington, D.C., to lead and expand WBHM, Birmingham’s NPR affiliate. Previously, at NPR and Atlanta-based Cox Newspapers, he served in leadership roles and as an editor and correspondent, including postings in Jerusalem and Moscow. At NPR, he shared a Murrow Award for Afghanistan war coverage and a Peabody Award for The Race Card Project, a grassroots storytelling initiative.

Chuck holds a B.A. from George Washington University and an executive leadership program certificate from Harvard Business School. He serves on several nonprofit boards and is active in Leadership Alabama (2020) and Leadership Birmingham (2018).

Laura C. Anderson, Special Projects Coordinator

Laura Anderson brings significant public history, museum, and nonprofit experience to her role at the Alabama Humanities Alliance. She is a graduate of the Seminar for Historical Administration, Getty NextGen Leadership Institute, and Jekyll Island Management Institute. She served as president of the Society of Alabama Archivists, a term on the national History Leadership Awards committee of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), and currently serves on the board of PACERS, Inc., and the Alabama Historical Association’s executive committee. Before joining AHA, Laura worked as celebration and documentation coordinator for the Program for Rural Services and Research at the University of Alabama, followed by 15 years at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) in the positions of archivist, oral history project director, and director of special projects. 

Laura’s publications include contributions to Museums in a Global Context: National Identity, International Understanding (AAM Press, 2013), Fostering Empathy Through Museums (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and AASLH’s History News magazine, as well as Civil Rights in Birmingham (Arcadia, 2013), a book of photographs on behalf of BCRI. 

An alumna of the University of Montevallo, Laura earned graduate degrees in American Studies from the University of Alabama and History from the University of West Georgia.

Alma Anthony

Alma Anthony, Operations Manager

With significant experience in office management and nonprofit operations, Alma provides the highest quality administrative and accounting management service to the daily operations of AHA.

She did her undergraduate work in business administration at Samford University and has served in many capacities to assure that AHA operates effectively. Alma also serves as a liaison to the AHA Executive Committee and Board of Directors, as well as plans and executes all aspects of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings.

Rachel M. Hartsell

Rachel M. Hartsell, Program Coordinator

Rachel Hartsell is from Chelsea, Alabama, and worked as a public and private school teacher for many years. She is a graduate of the University of Montevallo, holding a B.A. in History and a Master’s in Secondary Education. Rachel has always had a fascination with the humanities, and she cites her late father as having the greatest influence on her.

Rachel has been the recipient of several honors during her teaching career. She was named “Teacher of the Year” twice and has attended numerous national conferences on different historical topics. Rachel was awarded a prestigious Alfred Lerner Fellowship with the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous in 2018 and completed her fellowship at Columbia University.  In 2019, Rachel was selected to be a Summer Scholar at Maine’s Bowdoin College through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Rachel is looking forward to serving, participating, and learning together with the Alabama Humanities Alliance for many years to come.

Phillip Jordan

Phillip Jordan, Communications Director

Phillip Jordan believes the humanities can connect us to our past. They can also help us better understand our neighbors today and, indeed, the wider world around us. As AHA’s communications director, he’s passionate about promoting the incredible cultural organizations we work with statewide — and highlighting the power of the humanities to create a better, more vibrant Alabama.

A son of the South who was raised in Georgia and Tennessee, Phillip graduated with dual degrees in journalism and history from Samford University in Birmingham. After stints at two Alabama newspapers, he transitioned to nonprofit communications and marketing, working in higher education, healthcare, and housing. Today, Phillip is pursuing a master’s degree in the humanities with an emphasis in creative writing. At any given moment, he’s also likely pursuing more Alabama barbecue and a game of catch at Rickwood Field.

Graydon Rust

Graydon Rust, Grants Director

A longtime resident of Prattville, Graydon received a bachelor’s degree in history from Auburn University at Montgomery and a Master of Library and Information Studies degree from the University of Alabama. 

Before joining AHA, Graydon worked as a student in the Reference Room at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and as operations specialist for the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, where he managed the commission’s grant program and the Alabama Bicentennial PastPort project. Graydon also spent three years working in sustainable agriculture, including farms in the rural areas of Dallas and Perry Counties in Alabama’s Black Belt.