Two Community Leaders Join African American Heritage & Culture Center

Valerie Taylor Best and Leesa Jones
Valerie Taylor Best and Leesa Jones

AAHC Board President, Carol Bonner Becton, welcomes two community leaders to AAHC leadership. During its recent meeting, the Board of Directors elected a new Director to its Board and appointed a new member to its Board of Advisors.

Valerie Taylor Best is elected to a three-year term on the AAHC Board of Directors. A retired educator and sign language interpreter for the hearing impaired, Ms. Taylor Best was employed early in her career by the FDA, Office of the Commissioner, the United Way, and the VA Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Ms. Taylor Best is a community leader through Women’s Ministry, Family Life, The Black Caucus of Greensboro, the NAACP, and is a Certified Temperament Analyst. She is the designer/owner of Val’s Crowns. Working through workshops and small group ministries Ms. Taylor Best encourage women to be their best self beyond trauma and adversities.

Leesa Jones founded the African American Walking History Tours® in 2009.  She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Washington (NC) Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum. Established in 2016, the Museum is a National Park Service “Underground Railroad Network to Freedom” site. Ms. Jones is an active researcher and presenter of the stories of escaping of slaves along the waterfront and greater eastern NC overland routes. Born, raised and educated in “Little Washington,” Ms. Jones attended City University of New York and was a teacher for thirty-two years. She has been an ordained minister for twenty-four years.

Valerie joins fellow AAHC Board of Directors in leading AAHC: President Carol Bonner Becton, Vice President Mike Williams, Treasurer James Copland IV, Secretary Andrea Nix and Directors Rick Fisher, Tahira Copland, Joy Harsen.

Leesa joins fellow AAHC Board of Advisors in support of the organization: Jacqueline B. Atkinson, Sabrina Bengel, Mark Best, Maria Cho, D’Aja Fulmore, Bernard George, Lynn Harakal, Edward Lee Hood, Gerry King, Nelson McDaniel, Mickey Miller, George Ollid, Jaki Shelton Green, Larry Rosenstrauch, Reverend Garry Slade, Timothy Thompson and Ben Watford.

Founded in 2019 AAHC is a 501C3 North Carolina Nonprofit Organization. AAHC is supported by private contributions and donations and grants from The Harold Bate Foundation, the NC Arts Council and Craven Arts Council. Since its founding, AAHC has presented Community Forums, exhibits featuring local artists, music and heritage seminars, and is currently producing original interviews for its Oral History Library. These interviews and archives of others from partners around New Bern will be promoted by AAHC in its social media and on its website,

By Carrie Gallagher, Executive Director