Leadership Team

Leadership Team
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Woodrow “Woody” Keown, Jr.

President & Chief Operating Officer
wkeown@nurfc.org

Keown joined the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in November 2019 building on a career as an entrepreneur, business investor, philanthropist, corporate executive and community leader. He has been a leader in the Greater Cincinnati community, serving as part of the Jordan Crossing, Bond Hill & Roselawn Revitalization Fund, Allen Temple AME Church and Montgomery Community Church. Additionally, Keown is a mentor through Winton Hills Academy and former board member of the Dan Beard Council of Boy Scouts of America. He is also a former Procter & Gamble executive.

Dr. Ashley Jordan

Senior Director of Development
ajordan@nurfc.org

Prior to rejoining the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in 2020, Dr. Jordan served as the Executive Director for the Evansville African American Museum in Evansville, Indiana. In addition to her professional experiences in public history, she has also served as an adjunct professor for North Central State College in Mansfield, Ohio. Dr. Jordan is also the proud recipient of numerous professional, academic and civic awards including the Pace Setter Award from the Association of African American Museums, a multiple doctoral fellowship recipient for the Filson and the Kentucky Historical Societies and the Black Excellence Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As a lecturer, Dr. Jordan has given a TEDx Talk titled, “It’s Not My Story, Why Should I Care?” speaking to the importance of preserving cultural sites in America. In January 2020, Dr. Jordan received the Champions of Diversity Award sponsored by the Indiana Minority Business Magazine. This award celebrates individuals and organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion in their professional lives throughout the state of Indiana. Dr. Jordan earned her doctorate in United States history from Howard University in May 2017 and graduated with a BA in history and a minor in political science from Kent State University in 2008.

Christopher Miller

Senior Director of Education & Community Engagement
cmiller@nurfc.org

Christopher Miller is an accomplished museum professional with 16 + years of public history experience. His areas of expertise include historical research and certified interpretation, museum administration and public program development. Miller directs initiatives that build public awareness of history and advances initiatives related to social justice, equity, cultural competency and legacies of the Underground Railroad. He advocates for educating the public about the complete narrative of America through the lens of the African American experience. Miller earned his MA in Public History from Northern Kentucky University in 2017, becoming the first African American male to graduate from the program, and his BA in English from Northern Kentucky University in 2004. Before graduating Cum Laude from Northern Kentucky University, Miller earned a fellowship with the Institute for Freedom Studies where he served as a Research Assistant decoding antebellum runaway slave ads.  He assisted in developing a comprehensive database from primary source documents highlighting the attempts of enslaved persons to free themselves from enslavement.

Andrea Howard

Director of Event Services & Retail Operations
ahoward@cincymuseum.org

Andrea Howard has spent her career supporting museums and their initiatives. She has been a member of the staff at Cincinnati Museum Center since 1999, beginning in the Education department and then moving to the Events department. Andrea was excited to begin working with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center as part of the merger with Cincinnati Museum Center in 2012. As a member and leader in the Events department at both amazing venues, she has been able to work with political leaders, sports heroes, entrepreneurs, awards celebrations and an amazing array of clients from around the globe.  As a passionate supporter of museums in general and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Cincinnati Museum Center in particular, she enjoys spending time in the Events department, Retail Operations team and the newest initiative she is involved in, Implicit Bias.

Pamela Dock

Executive Administrative Assistant to the President
pdock@nurfc.org

Pamela joined the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in August 2006 working in the Executive office on a part-time basis supporting Mr. John Pepper. Pam has worked in several departments during her time with the organization, including supporting the CFO in the Finance Department and working as an Education Coordinator in the Education Department, liaising with school groups and the docent volunteer group. Prior to joining the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Pam spent 29 ½ years with the Procter & Gamble Company. Pam also serves as Lead Pastor with her husband at the Harac Parech Ministries in the Bond Hill Community and is the founder of the Total Woman’s Mentoring Ministry.

Richard Buller

Director of Facilities
rbuller@nurfc.org

Richard Buller began his journey at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in 2003 as the museum's Chief Building Engineer. He assisted with construction and commissioning equipment for the facility. Previously, Buller served as the Assistant General Manager at The Cincinnatian Hotel, where he capped a 20+ year career in the hospitality industry.

Kristen Walker

Manager of Guest Services
kwalker@nurfc.org

Kristen Walker joined the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center team in March 2021 after extensive work in the arts, nonprofit, education, retail and customer service industries. She continues to find opportunities to lead and impact generations through dialogue and interdisciplinary approaches.

Kristen earned her MA in American Studies and BA in Theatre and Performance Studies from Kennesaw State University.

Cody Hefner

Senior Director of Marketing & Communications
chefner@nurfc.org

Cody joined the National Railroad Freedom Center in 2019, and also works for Cincinnati Museum Center, which he joined in 2011. In his eight years in the marketing department of the two organizations he has been involved in the development and implementation of marketing and communications plans for over a dozen major exhibitions and several events, including Unlocking the Gates of Auschwitz 70 Years Later (2015) and Motel X (2019), as well as supporting the 2014 International Freedom Conductor Awards and Martin Luther King Jr. Day efforts in 2020 and 2021.

In Cody’s efforts to drive revenue through attendance and reputation through brand awareness, he garners consistent media coverage for the organization and has made it a much sought-after voice on historic and contemporary issues. Cody has a BA in history and American Studies and MA in history from Miami University.

 

Katie Bramell

Director of Museum Experiences
kbramell@nurfc.org

Katie Bramell is a museum professional with over 8 years of public history experience. She joined the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center as an intern in 2015 and a staff member in 2016. Her passion is sharing the untold stories of history, and she loves to think of new, creative ways to engage museum guests. Her primary fields of study include the Underground Railroad, human rights and early 20th century American history. She holds an MA in Public History from Northern Kentucky University (2016) and a BS in history from the University of Central Missouri (2013). Her capstone thesis project titled Confederate Memory: Symbols, Controversy & Legacy earned her local and national attention with its adaptation into a temporary exhibition at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in 2018.

 

Ali Hawkins

Director of Special Initiatives
ahawkins@nurfc.org

Alexandra (Ali) Hawkins identifies, develops and implements community-engaged initiatives that leverage the intersection of arts and activism to inspire individuals to take informed, collaborative action for social justice.

Before joining the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Ali participated in Remote Year, a program that allowed her to travel internationally and work remotely simultaneously. During her time with Remote Year, she was the National Institutional Giving Consultant for the Breakthrough Collaborative and a Grant Writer for Facing History and Ourselves while living in South Africa, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and Bali. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Ali served a Visiting Research Fellow at Rothberg International School at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. While in Israel/Palestine, she also worked as a Development and Communications Consultant at Neve Shalom – Wahat al-Salam, the region’s only intentionally integrated community.

From 2014 to 2017, Ali was the Executive Director of Breakthrough Cincinnati, a local affiliate of the national Breakthrough Collaborative. During the 2013-2014 school year, she taught Upper School History and coached Varsity Gymnastics, Middle School Softball and Middle School Soccer at Cincinnati Country Day School. From 2008 to 2012, Ali worked as a Development Assistant with Facing History and Ourselves in New York City. While in graduate school, she supervised and mentored pre-service student teachers in social studies education in New York City Public Schools and co-founded an after-school program for high school students called Youth Historians in Harlem. During the 2006-2007 academic year, Ali taught International Baccalaureate (IB) Modern European History and Advanced Placement (AP) United States Government and Politics, and coached Varsity Outdoor and Indoor Soccer at St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Maryland.

Ali graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wellesley College in 2006 with a BA in History. She holds an MA in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University (2009) and an MBA from Xavier University (2017).