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Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader -- Free Film Screening and Panel Discussion
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Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader -- Free Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Free film and panel discussion of the North Carolina documentary "Chairman Jones: An Improbable Leader." Join East Carolina University, Wildacres Leadership Initiative, and filmmaker Anna Jones as she shares her inspiring and award-winning film about leadership, faith, untold stories of success in the rural South, and the amazing work of her father -- a black farmer with a 7th grade education in eastern North Carolina -- who incredibly became the first black North Carolina school board chairman.

When: Monday, April 1, 2019
Where: East Carolina Heart Institute Conference Center
115 Heart Drive
Greenville, North Carolina  27834
Contact: Hunter Corn

Online registration is closed.
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Join us for an evening of film and fellowship

Doors open at 5:30pm for reception and light refreshments 

Film begins promptly at 6:00pm

All are invited to a free screening of the award-winning North Carolina documentary Chairman Jones—An Improbable Leader, which tells the story of James Henry Jones, a self-educated farmer who emerges as a trailblazer during the 1969 school desegregation crisis sparked when Northampton County, North Carolina  refuses to implement the U.S. Supreme  Court’s 1954 decision to fully integrate the public schools.  After freeing himself from Jim Crow sharecropping in the 1950s, Jones launches a personal campaign to free black children from Jim Crow education.  He places his own children on the front lines, brings blacks and whites together for dialogue, and helps integration tip toe into Northampton, transforming the educational landscape for everyone.  His leadership as North Carolina’s First Black School Board Chairman introduces a new era in education and has a marked effect on racial progress in the State.

Born on a former slave plantation in 1916, Jones died in 1984, the year that the Northampton County school system received accreditation for the first time in its history, largely due to his vision and efforts. His story unfolds through his daughter Anna's conversations with those who participated in the integration movement and witnessed his extraordinary courage and leadership.

After the screening

A moderated dialogue with panelists including: director and narrator of the film, Anna Jones; local Friday Fellows Todd Fraley and Danny Ellis will take questions and comments from the audience. Together, we will reflect on how this story of citizen leadership, faith, and working within and outside of unequal systems, can all provide individual and collective leadership models for change right now.


Let's come together - educators, students, and community members - to enjoy a beautiful film about the difference one man made because he decided to.

“I discovered a movement of a people from segregation to cooperation around education for the children of Northampton County.” --  Anna Jones, Director

“Given those stresses and given those tensions, invariably there rises up in that kind of situation some individual, some groups of people who say, 'We've got to move forward.'” --  Bill Friday, former President of the UNC System, as interviewed in the film


The William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations is a leadership development opportunity for North Carolinians who wish to positively impact their communities through leadership grounded in honest and civil dialogue aimed at abating gridlock, improving human relations, and advancing a just democracy.  This film is a part of the 2017-2019 Friday Fellowship curriculum.  As a part of the effort to provide more Fellowship training to all North Carolinians, the Fellowship's parent organization, Wildacres Leadership Initiative, is pleased to bring this filmmaker and film about North Carolina leadership to the community.

Panelist Bios

Anna Jones is an executive consultant with the Sable Consulting Group, a management consulting firm located in Villanova, Pennsylvania. She is also an award- winning, first-time documentary filmmaker.   Following a corporate management career at IBM Corporation, she immersed herself in art studies at North Carolina Central University and Duke University, including the Center for Documentary Studies.  Anna resides in Durham, NC  where she is a member of The Southern Documentary Fund, Durham Arts Council, Duke Chapel Advisory Board, and Durham Rotary Club.   She holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Business from North Carolina Central University with additional study at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY,  the American Institute for Managing Diversity, Atlanta, GA  and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Danny Ellis currently teaches supply chain management and business modeling in the College of Business at East Carolina University. He earned his MBA at ECU and holds a PhD from Capella University.  Danny is a William C. Friday Fellow for Human Relations from the class of 2008 and currently serves on the Fellowship's oversight board.   Danny has worked in various change and leadership roles including time as a hospital administrator and directing sales and marketing groups.  Danny often speaks and teaches in the fields of leadership and organizational development.



Todd Fraley is Director of the EC Scholars Program and Associate Dean for Academic Programs at East Carolina University.  Prior to his position in the Honors College, Todd taught in the School of Communications at ECU.  He holds bachelor's degrees in Political Science and Sociology from James Madison University and enarned his MA and PhD in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Georgia, Athens.  Todd is also a William C. Friday Fellow for Human Relations from the class of 2011.  He serves on the board of the Greenville Community Shelter and coaches youth soccer and baseball. 


Please feel free to share the poster below.  Click here for the link.


Wildacres Leadership Initiative is connected with Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC.