After a six-year tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, which included an assignment with the president of the United States, Michael was the proprietor of a small sales and marketing company in Atlanta, Georgia employing over 30 consultants. While living in Atlanta, Michael was also involved in Civil Rights issues and had the good fortune of working with Hosea Williams, the “battering ram” of the Civil Rights Movement. Michael has always been passionate about social justice issues, advocating for disadvantaged and marginalized groups.
Michael Glass is the former executive director of Northside Common Ministries, a non-profit organization that addresses issues of hunger and homelessness. He also is the former CEO of Dress for Success Pittsburgh, a non-profit organization which addresses the needs of economically disadvantaged women. Michael has more than 25 years of entrepreneurial, non-profit capacity building, and strategic management experience.
Also passionate about youth and education, Michael volunteered with the African Rural Schools Foundation supporting education for youth in East Africa, and he is the former board president of a Pittsburgh charter school. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Waynesburg University and an MBA from Point Park University. Michael’s background of military and business experience gives him a unique skill set for assessing problems and developing and implementing strategies.
Michael is probably the only person you will ever meet who has had breakfast with Henry Kissinger, lunch with Jonas Salk, dinner with Richard Nixon, has climbed Mt Fuji and has bathed in the Nile River.
Jamal Fisher has over fifteen years of working in higher education in the areas of student development and information science. He is currently working as a civilian Reference Librarian in the Department of Defense Joint Professional Military Education program. Jamal’s specialized skills overlap with his passion for knowledge management, research, inclusion,
teaching, leadership development, and community building.
Jamal earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, a Masters degree in Library & Information Science from North Carolina Central University, and a Professional Certificate of Online Teaching from the University of Wisconsin. Jamal joined the Graetz Foundation Board in 2013 and continues to serve as Secretary.
Jamal also serves as a consultant with the HBCU Library Alliance and is an active volunteer in religious and community organizations focused on advancing human rights. One of the values he admired about Robert and Jean Graetz is their empathy for others and how they used all they had to help anyone to feel valued, respected, and loved. One of his favorite quotations is attributed to Ella Baker, “Give light and people will find the way.”
Chaplain David E. Graetz, M.Div., M.A., BCC, formerly served as the Chief, Chaplain Service at the VA Health Care System in Lexington, Kentucky. In this capacity he was responsible for the religious and spiritual program for the Veterans in the Lexington, Kentucky area. This hospital also sponsors a Clinical Pastoral education program for 5 year-long residencies and internships throughout the year. Chaplain Graetz began his VA career at the Louisville VA Medical Center where he served as a staff Chaplain from 1992 to 2001. He was then selected as the Chief, Chaplain Service where he served until January of 2017. He transferred to the Lexington VA Medical Center in February of 2017. He was on a 60-day detail to the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center serving as the Acting Chief, Chaplain Service from April to May of 2018. He retired from the VA on April 30, 2023. He is a resident of Shelbyville, Kentucky. Ordained as an Elder of The Brethren Church of Ashland, Ohio in 1987, he served as Senior Pastor of the Highland Brethren Church in Marianna, Pennsylvania from 1986 to 1990. He completed a Clinical Pastoral Education Residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio in 1991. He is a board-certified chaplain with the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains with a Specialty in Leadership and Administration. He began his military service in the United States Navy on active duty from 1975 to 1979, serving with Patrol Squadron 24 out of Jacksonville, Florida. He deployed to Sigonella, Sicily, twice and once to Keflavik, Iceland, serving on a P3C flight crew that operated in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. He completed his naval service in the Reserves where he achieved the rank of First Class Petty officer. In 1984, he received a Direct Commission in the Army Reserves as a Chaplain Candidate. He transferred to the Army National Guard in 1985. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Circleville Bible College in Circleville, Ohio, in 1983, and his Master of Divinity degree in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary in 1986. In addition, in 2008 he earned a Master in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College. He is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Ministry Degree program at Ashland Theological Seminary. Chaplain Graetz became the Assistant Chief of Chaplains for the Army National Guard on 17 January 2014 and was promoted to Brigadier General on December 11, 2014. He became the Joint Chaplain for the National Guard Bureau in August of 2015. His previous chaplain assignments include serving as the Joint Force Headquarters, Senior Army Chaplain for the Kentucky Army National Guard, the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, 1/123rd Armor Battalion, the 737th Maintenance Battalion, 1/110th Infantry Battalion, the Deputy Staff Chaplain for the 377th Theater Support Command in Camp Arijan, Kuwait, and the Staff Chaplain for the National Support Element in Taszar, Hungary. He has served in the Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky Army National Guards’ and served with the Tennessee Army National Guard while in Kuwait. He retired from military service on January 31, 2017. His military education includes the Chaplain Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College, the Division and Chaplain Colonel Courses, the United States Army War College and the Defense of Civil Authorities Course. Chaplain Graetz has served in Operation Joint Forge, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Jump Start as well as serving on an activation in a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF). He served in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. His military awards include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the Army Reserves Component Achievement Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters, the Navy Aircrew Insignia and the Kentucky Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster. He has three daughters and three sons-in-law, one who is a chaplain in the Indiana Air National Guard and a VA Chaplain in Marion, Indiana. He has three grandsons, Josiah, Isaiah, and Benjamin and four granddaughters, Kloey, Hannah, Lily and Isabella.
Reggenia Watson Baskin is a native of Montgomery, Alabama and was born on Maxwell A.F.B. As a product of a military family, she received her early education on K.I. Sawyer A.F.B. in Michigan and Grand Forks A.F.B. in North Dakota. She credits the multicultural interactions afforded in the subculture of military life for her love of all people and ability to celebrate differences. She is a graduate of Auburn University with post graduate studies completed at Florida Mechanical & Agricultural University in Tallahassee, Florida. Because Reggenia was in the north as the Civil Rights movement unfolded in Montgomery...she would be taught and inspired through the lenses of Pastor Robert and Jeannie Graetz. These beloved Civil Rights icons would also become the heroic teachers for all of the students at Bethany Christian Academy as well as "bonus" parents for Reggenia... a connection she regards as one of the greatest blessings of her life. Reggenia retired in 2021 after teaching for 42 years and serving students and their families in Alabama, North Carolina and Florida. She is the founder of "At HOME In My Heart," a ministry for Homeless individuals specifically in the downtown area of Montgomery. Additionally, she is the founder of "Truth For Youth Outreach" and serves children and families in crisis. Her philosophy for life was born from four cancer battles ... "I shall pass this way but once therefore if there is any good I can do I must do it NOW for I shall not pass this way again."
Wanda Howard Battle is founder and CEO of Legendary Tours, LLC. She is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, and a 1977 graduate of Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in Music, having specialized in Vocal Performance. Along with being a talented singer, she is a master storyteller, and tour guide who has a passion for human and civil rights and social justice. She is best known for her powerful tours at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where she works to build a collaborative community. Music and message are artfully used to invite everyone with whom she engages to “Be Love and Be Light,” as members of the Beloved Community.
Jill Friedman currently serves the Montgomery, AL community as a photographer activist. Documenting community activities from festivals and fairs to protests and parades (and everything in between), Jill has established relationships across Montgomery’s diverse community as she immortalizes stories and scenes of Montgomery. Her photographs have appeared in numerous local and national publications and on the walls of several art shows.
Prior to moving to Montgomery in 2018, Jill lived in Oakland, CA, where she worked for over 20 years as a labor union attorney and organizer/educator with the National Treasury Employees Union. Having earned a M.S.W. prior to becoming a lawyer, Jill also brought social work skills to her legal representation of and advocacy for federal employees. Longer ago in her past, Jill worked as a community organizer with the United Farm Workers Union, expanding and sustaining support in NYC for the agricultural workers who feed our nation. Jill moves through life with hope and optimism that collective action will breathe life into the words “with liberty and justice for all."
Tim Lennox retired in 2019 on the 50th anniversary of his first news broadcast, on a radio station in New York. About half of his career was spent on radio, then the second half on TV. His last on-air work was with Montgomery stations CBS 8 and ABC 32. Virtually his entire career was in the news end of broadcasting, at stations in New York, New Jersey, and in Alabama at stations in Birmingham and Montgomery (including hosting "For The Record" on Alabama Public TV for a decade). He served as President of the Alabama Broadcaster's Association and the state chapter of SDX., won multiple awards for his work, and mentored many younger broadcasters, some of whom even recall it fondly.
In retirement, he has taken on a part-time position that allows him to use his experience, working at the Alabama Capital Building as a docent.
Claire Patrese Sams Mccalh Milligan grew up in The Movement. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, two years before Brown v. Board, Claire at the age of three was riding daily with her grandfather in the community carpool supporting the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott. This yearlong carpool for transporting domestic workers was fundamental to the success of the Boycott that led to the nationwide crusade to end legalized segregation. At the age of thirteen, Claire walked in the final leg of the Selma-Montgomery March on March 25, 1965. Claire’s grandfather, her "Big Daddy," was Charlie Albert McCall, a descendant of enslaved families in Lowndesboro, Alabama.
Claire’s grandfather taught her well. Claire never left The Movement. Claire is humbled upon reflecting that “I’ve been in The Movement all my Life.”
After turning down several generous offers from predominantly white institutions, Claire accepted an academic scholarship from Fisk University in 1969. While in Nashville, she organized a community service organization, "Faith in Action,” and mentored neighborhood children.
In her sophomore year Claire caught the attention of a visiting speaker to the Honors Program who recommended her to become the first female African-American intern in the office of Senator Edward Kennedy for the spring term of 1971. Claire returned to Nashville for the fall semester of 1971 and enrolled in classes at Fisk and Vanderbilt Universities.
She was active in the local prison reform movement and stopped attending school mid- term. Although she did not graduate from Fisk, Claire is still an active alumna of the class of 1973.
After Fisk, Claire’s life took several dramatic turns. She moved to Atlanta in a more radical mode and became a left-wing labor organizer sympathetic to armed resistance. Eventually she fled an abusive relationship, determined to drive her Volkswagen to California. In Houston she ran out of money and into new friendships that led her to abandon the atheist core of dialectical materialism and return to her faith roots in the Baptist church.
She describes her spiritual journey as a path through many traditions, from baptist to agnostic to atheist to student of Vedanta back-to-baptist to evangelical Christian to confirmation in the Episcopal Church in 2006. In 2018 Claire was a founding member of the Rev. Dr. Robert E DuBose, Jr.: Alabama Gulf Coast & Birmingham, AL Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians [UBE]. Although currently a self-described “unapologetically inactive” Episcopalian, Claire lives to affirm the mission of the Alabama Diocese’s Truth, Reconciliation and Justice Commission, on which she was active over twelve years. The Commission “recognizes that our ‘Past is Imperfect...but in our Present there is Hope.’ We live to see the Face of God in each other.”
In 1983 Claire earned a degree in Economics cum laude from the University of Houston. Her family moved back to Montgomery in 1989 to provide care for Claire’s mother and maternal grandparents. She was employed in banking and software design. Claire credits her six years as Financial Aid Director at Trenholm State Technical College [1989-1995] as being the most rewarding season on her professional journey. In 2006 she created the Internal Audit Division for the State of Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education. While Senior Auditor, Claire retired from her career in higher education in 2012. Since retiring, Claire has been led to her calling as a Writer and entrepreneur.
Claire’s activism continues to the present day. She is a member of the Montgomery (AL) Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, and is a sustaining supporter of Mama Ntombi’s Community Projects [MNCP] in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Blessed to survive her attempt to end her life in 2001, she is a mental health activist and an outspoken opponent of the death penalty. Claire is also a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps for the Climate Reality Project.
Claire was married 1978 – 2002 to her dear friend, photographer/poet Bill Milligan. She is the mother of Evan Milligan who, with a law degree, is director of a statewide civic engagement network. She is a passionate gogo to her miracle, biological grandchildren, Ruby Zahra and Elijah Ray. Claire is happy to be
mamamilligan to Evan’s wife, Jennifer Taylor, and to “a score of other chil’renZ in the US, Africa and Brazil.”