Ron Daise- Chairperson
South Carolina - Ronald Daise, a native of St. Helena Island, SC, is a writer, actor, educator, and TV performer. His productions about Gullah heritage began after the publication of his first book, Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritage, in 1986. In its sequel, Gullah Branches, West African Roots, Daise utilizes memoir, historical documentation, photographs, traditional and nontraditional spirituals to showcase cultural connections he has witnessed first-hand. He has presented stories, music, history and lectures at museums, theaters, conferences and educational institutions across the country. From 1994-1998, Daise and his wife Natalie starred in Nick Jr. TV's award-winning Gullah Gullah Island, for which they also served as cultural consultants. Daise is Vice President for Creative Education at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC, where he presents a weekly Gullah/Geechee program series. He is a recipient of the S.C. African American Heritage Commission's 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1996 South Carolina Order of the Palmetto and the 1997 State of South Carolina Folk Heritage Award, given for lifetime achievement and excellence in folk art that has enriched the lives of the people in their community and state. He and his wife have two adult children.
Althea Natalga Sumpter (SHPO), Vice Chairman
Ethnographer and producer Althea Natalga Sumpter, a native of St. Helena Island, South Carolina, uses digital media technology to document the Gullah culture incorporating traditional historical, genealogical and documentary research. She holds a Doctor of Arts in Humanities (concentrations in African/African American Studies and New Media Technology) from Clark Atlanta University, as well as Bachelor and Master of Media Arts degrees from the University of South Carolina. With two decades in the production industry, she is an Emmy-nominated producer and editor and former Assistant Director of Media Services and Production at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta. She has taught at Georgia Institute of Technology, Clark Atlanta University and Georgia State University. Dr. Sumpter currently teaches digital media production at The Art Institute of Atlanta. Her experience as a researcher for the South Carolina Department of Archives & History gives her special insight into exploring genealogy and culture. She is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Charles H. Hall, Jr. (SHPO), Secretary
After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Charles Hall earned a Diploma in Physical Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh and pursued studies at Air University in the United States Air Force. Mr. Hall owned and developed a physical therapy clinic and a home health care agency between 1970 and 1998 managing over 120 employees. He served in the U.S. Air Force for four years and accumulated ten years with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Hall serves as the President of the Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society (SICARS), whose mission is to preserve the Gullah/Geechee culture and construct a Gullah/Geechee Cultural Village on Sapelo.
Ralph Johnson - Treasurer
Ralph Johnson is a Professor at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU), School of Architecture and Director, FAU Center for the Conservation of Architectural and Cultural Heritage. He was the former director of the FAU Center for Urban Redevelopment and Education. He received his Bachelor's degree in Architecture from Howard University, a Master's degree in City Planning and a Master's degree in Architecture, both from Yale University.
Prior to FAU, Professor Johnson was the Assistant Dean of the University of Florida, College of Architecture, Director of the College's Research and Education Center for Historic Preservation and liaison to the College's Preservation Institute: Nantucket (PI: N) and the Preservation Institute: Caribbean (PI: C). During his tenure there he was selected by United States ICOMOS to study Architectural Conservation at the International Center for the Restoration of Monuments (ICROM) in Rome, Italy. Professor Johnson serves on numerous preservation boards of directors including Trustee Emeritus, Florida Trust for Historic Preservation; the African American Preservation Alliance; historic Bonnet House and Gardens, Fort Lauderdale; Expanding and Preserving Our Cultural Heritage, the S. D. Spady Museum and Cultural Center in Delray Beach; the 1000 Friends of Florida, Inc; and, the Smart Growth Partnership of South Florida.
Zelda Grant- Commission Administrator and Creative Assistant
Native of Georgetown, SC. After high school, the next three decades
in Atlanta, Georgia provided the proverbial, "window to the world".
Academic studies there included Merchandising, Art Therapy and Psychology.
This only enhanced her God-given skill of creativity (sewing at age 10).
Gaining all the work, community and social experiences that she could, her sights were redirected to home.
Five years ago, the longing for her Gullah roots brought Grant back to
the table with insight, expression, organizational skills, professionalism,
culture awareness and a deeper artistic vision. Her love of Gullah Geechee culture and hunger for a role in its presentation and preservation has
well-suited her for the many tasks at hand. Zelda Grant joined the GGCHCC
in June 2009.
Michael Allen - National Park Service Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Coordinator
Michael Allen began his public career as a Cooperative Education Student with the National Park Service in 1980. Mr. Allen has served as a Park Ranger and is now the Community Partnership Specialist for Fort Sumter National Monument and Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. He played a major role in the National Park Service's Gullah-Geechee Special Resource Study, which examined the feasibility and suitability of establishing educational centers along the southeast coast as well as determining ways to increase interpretation and preservation of the Gullah/Geechee culture and history.
In October 2007, Mr. Allen was instrumental in the establishment of the Gullah Geechee Heritage Commission. He provided inspiration and guidance to ensure that the nine year journey became a reality. He continues to provide hope, opportunity and support to grass root organizations in the wider Gullah Geechee Community. Finally Michael's motto is, "to understand the present and move toward the future, you must first know and accept your past."