ZORA!® Festival National Planners
Known affectionately as “The Brain Trust,” the ZORA! Festival National Planners first met in 1991 in preparation for the 5th Annual ZORA! Festival, “An International Celebration,” scheduled to take place in January 1994.
Its members came from the ranks of America’s most distinguished scholars, cultural and civic leaders; and,ultimately, it was they who were responsible for establishing the stature of the ZORA! Festival as an award-winning , internationally recognized event. The current members continue the tradition established by their predecessors.
N.Y. Nathiri, MS (Library Science)
Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Inc. (P.E.C.)
N.Y. Nathiri has worked in the field of historic preservation for more than three decades, all of that time having been spent on behalf of her hometown, Eatonville, Florida, which Zora Neale Hurston popularized as “the oldest incorporated African American community in the United States.” She is a founding member and currently the executive director of the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Inc. (P.E.C.), a historic preservation/cultural arts/community revitalization organization, best known for its sponsorship of the annual Zora Neale Hurston™ Festival of the Arts and Humanities (ZORA!® Festival). Under her leadership, P.E.C. programs have received national recognition, including the ZORA!® Festival’s being named “One of 25 Cultural Tourism Success Stories” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and being the recipient of the “Regional Destination Award in the Humanities” from the Cultural Olympiad (Atlanta, 1996). She has also led the organization’s grants efforts, which cumulatively, have seen P.E.C receive funding totaling several millions dollars.
Nathiri holds an undergraduate degree in history from Ithaca College (New York) and a Master of Science degree in library science from Syracuse University. She is the compiler and editor of the award-winning volume, ZORA! Zora Neale Hurston: A Woman and Her Community (Sentinel Communications, 1991). She is also the recipient of several honors including being named “Hero of Preservation” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Mary Call Darby Collins Award presented by the Florida Secretary of State “In recognition of dedication and volunteer action that has forever changed the course of historic preservation in Florida.” In addition, she is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Rollins College.
Currently, she serves as Vice President for Cultural Heritage Tourism on the Board of Directors for the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance, Inc. (HBTSA), a multi-state heritage preservation and economic development initiative.
Julian C. Chambliss, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
José B. Fernández, Ph.D.
University of Central Florida
Honorable Johnny Ford
Historic Black Towns and
Settlements Alliance, Inc. (HBTSA)
Vivian D. Geary, CMP
Universal Orlando Resort
Lonnie Graham, MFA
Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park
Maryemma Graham, Ph.D.
University of Kansas
Michelle Bachelor Robinson, Ph.D.
Trent Tomengo, MFA
Seminole State College of Florida
Eleanor Traylor, Ph.D.
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