Young Professionals Board

AHA's Young Professionals Board is made up of young Alabama leaders who help us create more AHA Moments for inquisitive minds statewide.

Our YP Board grows awareness for the humanities and helps us implement new humanities programs.

See below for members' roles, bios, and photos.

Jessica Chriesman, Birmingham, Board Chair

Jessica Chriesman is the director of education and outreach at Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, in Birmingham. At Sidewalk, Jessica plans learning opportunities for kids and adults, filmmakers and film fans alike, through the lens of film and media. Previously, she served as manager of communications and engagement at Opportunity Alabama where she shared the stories of communities across the state. She also spent four years at at Impact America as the creative lead for communications and media production across the organization’s programs.

Jessica earned a B.A. in Filmmaking and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and in 2020 received an executive certificate in Arts and Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice and National Arts Strategies. In 2021, Jessica was named a MAP Fellow, working with the Jane Goodall Institute on their storytelling strategy. She uses filmmaking to tell Southern stories through the lenses of food and culture, social justice and history, and more. Since 2015, she’s had the privilege of screening her films in festivals across the United States.

Isaac Jones, Birmingham, Vice Chair

Isaac Jones is a music artist and Birmingham native. He currently works in his hometown as an implementation manager for Case Status working to help member-based nonprofit organizations improve their community engagement via software tools. Isaac is also a member of the Young Professionals Board for Urban Impact.

Alexis Sankey, Birmingham, Secretary / Treasurer

Alexis Sankey is a native of Highland Home, Alabama, and currently lives in Birmingham. She works as a development operations coordinator for the Alabama Children’s Hospital Foundation. Alexis is a graduate of Auburn University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Community and Civic Engagement. She also received an M.S. in Business Leadership and Organizational Development from Amridge University.

Alexis possesses a love for helping people, especially those in dynamic organizations that work to advance the community. She focuses on nonprofit administration and capacity building for community organizations, and has more than eight years of experience in outreach, events, program management, organizational development, financial operations, and database administration.

Alex Cate, Athens

Alex Cate is the director for entrepreneurship programs at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, in Huntsville. There, he leads the implementation of innovation programming for resident companies, including technology commercialization and the development of the Institute’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Prior to joining HudsonAlpha, Alex worked in Nashville, Tennessee, in public and government affairs where he represented clients in the nonprofit, utilities, education, and technology sectors. While in Nashville, he led event planning for The Southern Festival of Books, Humanities Tennessee’s annual celebration of the written word.

A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Alex graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in journalism and electronic media. He lives in Athens, Alabama, with his wife, daughter, and dog.

Krishula Edwards, Montgomery

Krishula Edwards is a native of Montgomery and a graduate of Booker T. Washington Magnet High School. She attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, where she received her bachelor’s degree in political science and her first master’s in public administration. She then attended Troy University where she received a second master’s degree, in counseling psychology in clinical mental health.

Professionally, Krishula is the director of the Carastar Crisis Diversion Center, a medically monitored short-term crisis stabilization unit offering services for those experiencing mental health crises. She is a certified clinical trauma professional counselor who helps individuals with their mental health. Krishula also owns her own company, Edwards Essentials, LLC, through which she provides motivational speaking and consulting services.

In addition to her role with the Alabama Humanities Alliance, Krishula is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and a member of the local Beta Nu Omega chapter. She is also a member of the Alabama Mental Health Counseling Association Division under the Alabama Counseling Association. Krishula is deeply engaged in her Montgomery community, particularly with the Junior League of Montgomery, Mayor Steven Reed’s Young Professional Council, National Council of Negro Women, and The Kiwanis Club. 

LoRen Modisa, Mobile

LoRen Modisa is a native of Mobile, Alabama. After graduating from Murphy High School in 2009, she began her undergraduate education at Florida A&M University and completed her studies at the University of South Alabama (USA). She went on to earn a Master of Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in public development and social services from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. LoRen is now a doctoral student in USA’s College of Education, where she pursues research on the socialization of historically marginalized students on higher education campuses.

The majority of her professional career has been dedicated to community development and social impact work. She has worked and/or served with the U.S. Peace Corps (Botswana); the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation; and Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama. Currently, she serves as diversity coordinator within the USA College for Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and as an instructor within the USA Honors College. LoRen recruits and supports students who are typically underrepresented or marginalized from careers in medicine. She has been recognized for her work through USA’s Leadership South, as well as Mobile Bay’s “40 Under 40.”

Lisa Simmons, Opelika

Lisa Simmons, Ph.D., serves as a program evaluator at the Auburn Center for Evaluation in the College of Education at Auburn University. Lisa is a graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University (M.A.) and Auburn University (B.A. and Ph.D.). Her professional work with K-12 schools and nonprofits spans Alabama and includes support for STEM education, health and safety, and out-of-school programming. Lisa grew up in Birmingham and is proud to be on the Young Professionals Board working to advance the mission of the Alabama Humanities Alliance.

Membership

The AHA Young Professionals Board seeks to sustain a board of young professionals across the state of Alabama that represents a diverse cross-section of identities and professions. The board, which generally meets bi-monthly, consists of up to 15 young professionals from the state of Alabama between the ages of 21 and 40.

Individuals may apply for membership anytime. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested applicants must complete the online application form below, which includes submitting a resume and a statement of interest detailing your leadership skills, involvement in other organizations, and why you would be a good candidate for the YP Board. Please send all AHA YP Board inquiries to ahanews@alabamahumanities.org.

Apply Here

Signature Events - Reflect, Alabama

The first Reflect, Alabama online conversation was curated in the summer of 2020 in response to the raging coronavirus pandemic. Seeing an end to in-person events and a dire need for meaningful human connection, the AHA YP Board developed an online conversation series that invited Alabamians to explore life during the pandemic with experts from the education, journalism, public health, governmental and community sectors. Since then, the event has evolved into a bi-monthly online conversation series with Alabama experts and community representatives on humanities topics such as women’s suffrage, LGBTQ+ history and social justice.