About Dr. Lucenia Dunn

l_dunnThe hallmark of the career of Lucenia Williams Dunn, PhD has been the innovation to improve the lives of people.  Growing up in historic Tuskegee, Alabama, she learned early that giving back to help improve the lives and conditions of others was not just a cliché, but also an important commitment in one’s life.  She is an administrator who is a visionary and often the first in diverse venues.

Her venture into the professional world was through the Tuskegee Institute Community Education Program (TICEP) where she learned about the impact of poverty on communities and the education of children.  She taught English, Reading and Social Studies to children by day and English to adults by night.  This was also her first effort at recruiting and helping enroll students in college from rural communities through a special program directed by Dr. Bert Phillips, Dean of Students at Tuskegee Institute.  Through the TICEP experience, she learned about the Black Belt counties of Alabama and the dire need for focused attention on education, community and economics.

Dunn served as Program Director of the Center for Educational Action, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, where she managed the development of groundbreaking teacher training programs. She managed also the development of improved curriculum to ensure the success of African American children as well as the inclusion of African American History to make certain all students learned about the countless contributions made by African Americans who made life better for America and the world.

At the National Council of Negro Women, Incorporated in Washington, DC, she managed national programs in education, economic development and health education.  In her position as Director of the Bethune Education Center, Dunn focused on improving the lives of women through economic and community development projects and programs.   This included the management of the Black Family Reunion, a festival held in five major cities that attracted a cumulative of over one million people.

Her professional experience in government included organizing the first Office of Public Information for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and serving as Manager of Operations for the Office of the City Administrator, District of Columbia Government, Washington, DC. In this experience, Dr. Dunn helped to design and implement the “Model for Excellence Program” to improve government operations and services to citizens.

Dr. Dunn was the first in several arenas:

  • Hired by Allegheny Community College to organize the first Office of Financial Aid and Work-Study, she was the first African American administrator for the community college in the city of Pittsburgh, PA
  • Organized and managed the first certification program for Head Start teachers in the nation, Jackson, MS
  • Managed one of the first infant Day Care centers for babies 6 weeks to 3 years of age as part of a longitudinal study at the University of Pittsburgh.

Through her involvement with art, Dunn saw the necessity of promoting and preserving African American contributions and artifacts. Appointed by the Governor of the State of Maryland, and elected Vice Chair, she served on the Commission for the Study of African American History and Culture. She served also on the Founding Board of Directors of the Reginald Lewis African American History Museum, Baltimore, MD, and the Board of Directors of the Banneker Douglass Museum of African American History, Annapolis, MD.  In addition, Dunn served as a creative advisor to the national and international acclaimed photographic essay, Songs of My People.

She served two terms on the Executive Council of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), a national organization founded by Carter G. Woodson in 1915.  As Chair of the Strategic Planning and Governance Committee, she managed the development of the strategic planning process and updated the governance procedures to strengthen the Board’s administrative infrastructure.  She served also on the Nominating, Finance, and Public Relations and Marketing committees.

In the year 2000, Dr. Dunn made history by becoming the first woman elected mayor of the City of Tuskegee in Alabama with 63% of the vote and launched the renovation of its finances, administration and public image.  In addition to her responsibilities as a mayor, Dunn served simultaneously as Superintendent of the Utilities Board and Executive Director of the Tuskegee Macon County Head Start Program.

While there were many accomplishments as Mayor, she is most proud of circumventing the closure of the Head Start Program by the Federal Government, thereby retaining a $2.4 million dollar program and approximately 72 jobs of primarily rural women, and negotiating the retention of the Tuskegee Airmen Museum at Moton Field.  Furthermore, at the request of the Governor, Dunn planned and coordinated the development of a countywide proposal and $100,000 financial participation that resulted in the successful recruitment of the Hyundai Automobile Plant to Hope Hull, Alabama thereby enabling the city and Macon County to be a first tier business site.

Prior to becoming Mayor, she was co-founder and Executive Vice President of DDL, Inc., an international corporation that engaged in professional services, marketing, and economic development opportunities for communities and small businesses.  In addition, she shares her wisdom, knowledge and skills as a consultant to various organizations on program development, strategic planning, fund raising, and public relations and marketing.

She is the recipient of the Sankofa Award in Politics by the University of Pittsburgh, in recognition of her political leadership and was nominated Woman of the Year by the District of Columbia Government among other awards and recognitions.

Currently, Dr. Dunn is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation, Incorporated, a non-profit organization founded by Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, that has as its mission the eradication of HIV/AIDS and human trafficking.

In June of 2013, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Dunn the first President/CEO of the Tuskegee Macon County Community Foundation, Incorporated.

She is a graduate of Fisk University (BS), Nashville, TN, Tuskegee Institute (University), (MEd), and University of Pittsburgh, (PhD), Pittsburgh, PA.  She is a member of The Links, Incorporated and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a life member of the National Council of Negro Women, and the proud mother of one daughter, Ayanna.