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.

Jessica Chriesman, Board Chair

Jessica Chriesman is a nonprofit communications professional based in Birmingham. She’s the manager of programs and engagement at Opportunity Alabama where she shares the stories of communities across the state. Previously, Jessica worked at Impact America as the creative lead for communications and media production across the organization’s programs.

She 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, Vice Chair

Isaac Jones is a music artist and native of Birmingham. He currently works in Birmingham 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, 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.

Stephanie L. Coker, Ph.D.

Stephanie Coker holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and English from Mississippi College and master’s and doctoral degrees in French from Louisiana State University. She taught French at universities in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Oklahoma before becoming assistant professor at the University of North Alabama.

Stephanie enjoys introducing students to cultures of the French-speaking world. In the classroom, she incorporates music, film, literature, and current events to develop students’ language proficiency and cross-cultural understanding. Each year, she coordinates National French Week on campus and hosts high school students for “French Day at UNA.” With a grant from the FACE Foundation, Stephanie also organizes the UNA Tournées Film Festival. In addition, she leads an interdisciplinary summer program for UNA students in Paris.

Krishula Edwards

Krishula Edwards is a certified clinical trauma professional counselor who helps individuals combat domestic violence, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. She also owns her own company and provides counseling, motivational speaking, and consulting services. A Montgomery native, Krishula attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida, where she received her bachelor’s in Political Science and her first master’s in Public Administration. Krishula earned a second master’s degree, from Troy University, in Counseling Psychology in Clinical Mental Health.

She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and her local Beta Nu Omega chapter. Krishula is also part of Junior League of Montgomery, the Mayor’s Young Professional Council, National Council of Negro Women, Kiwanis Club, Community Action Partnership of Middle Alabama, and the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority. And she is president of the Alabama Mental Health Counseling Association, helping to break the stigma against mental health statewide.


Erin Hutchins

Erin Hutchins is a native of Anniston and the beloved daughter of Carl and Joyce Hutchins. An alumna of Auburn University, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in May 2009. In December 2011, Erin graduated with her Masters of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from Auburn University, and received a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Organization and Community Governance.

Erin returned to her beloved alma mater to work and now serves as the inclusion and diversity coordinator in the Office of Alumni Affairs for the Auburn Alumni Association. Since December 2015, she has worked tirelessly to provide meaningful and engaging programs and events for alumni of color, as well as alumni who are differently abled or part of the LGBTQ+ community. The largest event to date is Black Alumni Weekend, which in 2019 had 600 attendees as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the integration of Auburn athletics.

Amelia Johnson

Amelia Johnson is the director of college advising at Indian Springs School. Originally from Montgomery, she earned a B.A. in religious studies and women’s and gender studies from Kenyon College and a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Amelia loves Birmingham and Alabama and is proud to work with AHA to increase awareness of our rich cultural landscape among other young professionals across the state.

Lisa Simmons, Ph.D.

Lisa Simmons 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.


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 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

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.