The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has named a new president, former Microsoft executive Andrea L. Taylor, who assumes the leadership role September 8.
Taylor, who has served as Microsoft’s director of Citizenship and Public Affairs in North America, will replace interim President Priscilla Hancock Cooper, who stepped into the role with the retirement of longtime BCRI President Lawrence Pijeaux in May 2014.
Taylor’s Microsoft resume includes managing “employee engagement and giving” as well as partnerships between the tech giant and donors, government and community-based organizations in the U.S. and Canada. She also is credited with creating and implementing Microsoft’s Elevate America and Elevate America Veterans, which provide tech skills training and resources to help people find jobs. She also started YouthSpark, described in press materials as “an initiative providing education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for 300 million youth worldwide.”
Before Microsoft, Taylor led grant programs with the Ford Foundation and the Benton Foundation, the latter organization dedicated to utilizing technology to provide knowledge and resources to help people improve their lives and become civically active. Taylor also served as a trustee of the Cleveland Foundation, the Council on Foundations, the Donors Forum of Ohio, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Ms. Foundation for Women and Philanthropy Northwest.
In addition she also serves as a trustee at Boston University, where she earned a degree in journalism, and on the board of The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African-American video oral history collection.
The selection committee that sought to fill Pijeaux’s place trumpeted Taylor’s appointment as a significant catch for the organization. “Andrea is a gifted leader with a long and distinguished career around purpose and impact,” said attorney Doug Jones, who co-chaired the search. “She is an extraordinary leader at an extraordinary inflection point for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.”
Calling the BCRI one of “the world’s most iconic and important civil and human rights organizations,” Taylor said in a press release that she wanted to see the institute utilize technology with the aim of broadening its audience worldwide.
“Every generation in society grapples with civil and human rights as a critical community priority. I deeply believe that the lessons of struggle, reconciliation and progress in Birmingham can serve as a guide for the future, inspiring people to strive for and achieve peaceful and productive solutions to their differences,” Taylor said.
Cooper, who has been BCRI’s Vice President of Institutional Programs since 2006, in addition to acting as president and CEO since 2014, said she looked forward to working with the new leader. “We look forward to her leadership as BCRI moves forward in this next phase of its development,” Cooper said in an email sent out over the weekend. “Personally, I look forward to a dynamic partnership with Ms. Taylor as I continue my work helping to shape and implement the vision for BCRI.”