Julieanna L. Richardson created a unique path to founding and heading up the largest national collection effort of African American video oral histories on record since the WPA Slave Narratives. With her diverse background in law, television production and the cable television industries, she combined her various work experiences and her passion for American Studies to conceptualize, found and build The HistoryMakers.
Richardson graduated from Brandeis University in 1976 with her B.A. degree in Theatre Arts and American Studies. It was during her studies at Brandeis that she first experienced the power of oral history, while conducting independent research on the Harlem Renaissance. While exploring the collections of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, Richardson interviewed historian John Henrik Clarke, tap-dancer Honi Coles, and actors Butterfly McQueen (Gone With The Wind) and Leigh Whipper (The Ox-Box Incident) as part of her project. Having access to these poignant life stories “made history really come alive for me,” says Richardson. “It is important that everyone have a sense of their own legacy.” From this early exposure, the seeds of The HistoryMakers project first took root.
Richardson received her J.D. degree in 1980 from Harvard Law School and began her career as a corporate lawyer at the law firm of Jenner & Block prior to serving in the early 1980s as the Cable Administrator for the City of Chicago’s Office of Cable Communications. She went on to found Shop Chicago, a regionally based home shopping channel. She then started her own production company, SCTN Teleproductions, which for eight years managed local cable channels, and served as the local production arm for C-SPAN.
The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Julieanna also sits on the Honors Council of Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and in 2011 was appointed to the Comcast NBC Universal African American Diversity Council. In 2012, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in the Humanities by Howard University; and in 2014, she served as the commencement speaker for Dominican University who also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in the Humanities. In 2014, Black Enterprise Magazine awarded Richardson the 2014 Legacy Award, its highest recognition of women’s achievement. That same year, Richardson was profiled in American Masters: The Boomer List, a PBS documentary and exhibition at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., shot and directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. In 2016, Richardson delivered Brandeis University’s 65th Commencement address, and also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. That same year, Richardson received the Pioneer Award at the 27th Annual Heroes and Legends Awards in Los Angeles, California. In 2017, she was one of 8 honored during the world premiere of HistoryMaker and artist Jonathan Green’s Requiem for Rice.
Richardson’s passion for preserving and sharing this rich history is still as strong, and will undoubtedly leave a unique and lasting legacy, for generations to come.
I would like to commend Julieanna Richardson for creating The HistoryMakers. The archives are a more inclusive chronicle of American history. Thank you for offering it to the world.
Julieanna L. Richardson created a unique path to founding and heading up the largest national collection effort of African American video oral histories on record since the WPA Slave Narratives. Richardson graduated from Brandeis University in 1976 with her B.A. degree in Theatre Arts and American Studies. Richardson received her J.D. degree in 1980 from Harvard Law School and began her career as a corporate lawyer at the law firm of Jenner & Block prior to serving in the early 1980s as the Cable Administrator for the City of Chicago’s Office of Cable Communications. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Richardson has received three honorary doctorates of humane letters – from Howard University, Dominican University, and her alma mater, Brandeis University, where she served as the 65th Commencement speaker in 2016. She was awarded the 2014 Legacy Award from Black Enterprise Magazine, and was profiled in 2014’s American Masters: The Boomer List, a PBS documentary and exhibition at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Richardson is committed to preserving and sharing this history and is leaving a unique and lasting legacy for generations to come.
George W. Bilicic heads Lazard Ltd’s Midwest investment banking business and global efforts in power, energy and infrastructure. In addition, he serves as a member of the Firm’s Investment Banking Committee and Deputy Chairman Committee. Other than his time at KKR, Mr. Bilicic has been at Lazard since March 2002. From May 2008 to October 2008, Mr. Bilicic served as a Managing Director and Head of Infrastructure at KKR. Previously, Mr. Bilicic had been a Partner in the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore from 1995. Mr. Bilicic left the Cravath partnership, effective January 2001, to begin his investment banking career at Merrill Lynch where he was a Managing Director in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department focused on power and energy clients. Mr. Bilicic has been involved in a number of community and other not-for-profit organizations including the following as a member of the Board of Directors (or equivalent), unless otherwise indicated: American Ballet Theater, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, Cristo Rey Network (current), Family Justice, Georgetown University Law School (current), Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club, Hofstra University, Metropolitan Planning Council (current), MFY Legal Services, NY Team Elite AAU basketball program (founder and team sponsor), Refugees International and YMCA of Greater New York. Mr. Bilicic is also a member of The Commercial Club of Chicago.
Donna M. Carroll is in her 23rd year as president of Dominican University, a comprehensive Catholic university of 3,600 students, located 10 miles west of Chicago. She is the first lay president of the institution, which was founded in 1901 by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters
Prior to her appointment at Dominican, Dr. Carroll served as Secretary of the University at Fordham University (NYC), and Vice President, Dean of the College and Dean of Students at Mount Vernon College in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Carroll has presided over a period of tremendous growth at Dominican University—in size, quality, and stability. During her tenure, the full-time faculty has doubled, new schools and programs have been established, the operating budget increased four-fold, two campaigns raised almost $100 million in new assets and the physical plant expanded significantly, including the purchase of a second campus. In 2013, the university welcomed more new undergraduates than the total undergraduate enrollment when Dr. Carroll was appointed in 1994.
Named one of 20 Chicago “Women to Watch in 2010” by Crain’s Chicago Business, Dr. Carroll also is identified regularly as one of the “100 Women of Influence” by Today’s Chicago Woman and was listed among the top ten women in education by the Chicago Sun-Times. In March 2013, she was honored as a “Woman of Purpose” by Womenetics. In addition, Dr. Carroll is the recipient of the CEO Leadership Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
An outspoken advocate for immigration reform and the rights of undocumented students, Dr. Carroll, on behalf of Dominican University, was honored with the 2012 Community Change Maker Award from P.A.S.O., a community-based social justice organization dedicated to serving Latino youth and their parents in Chicago’s western suburbs. In 2013, she received “Strangers No Longer” Award from the Archdiocese of Chicago. She recently was honored with the “Moral Courage” Award from Faith in Public Life.
Dr. Carroll chairs the board of the Immigration Ministry Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is a member of the executive committee on the School Board of the Archdiocese, and is in her third term as a director of Rush Oak Park Hospital. She also currently serves on the boards of Fordham University, Interfaith Youth Core, and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. She is a member of The Chicago Network and the Economic Club of Chicago.
Dr. Carroll received her bachelor’s degree in English from Wellesley College and master and doctoral degrees in higher education administration and counseling from the University of Cincinnati. She is a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Educational Management, and Leadership Washington. Dr. Carroll also writes and lectures widely on topics related to higher education, leadership and vocation.
Antoinette Cook Bush is Executive Vice President and Global Head of Government Affairs at News Corp. Ms. Bush joined the new News Corp from Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom LLP, where, over her nearly 20-year tenure, she rose to become the Partner in charge of its Communications Group. In this role, she represented leading media/entertainment and telecom entities in regulatory, legislative and transactional matters. Ms. Bush also served as Executive Vice President of Northpoint Technology Ltd. from 2001 to 2003. Prior to her first stint at Skadden, Arps, Ms. Bush served as Senior Counsel to the Communications Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has oversight for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In this role, she was the principal staff person responsible for legislation involving communications issues, including the Cable Television Act of 1992. From 1981 until she joined the U.S. Senate Committee staff, Ms. Bush practiced communications law in Washington, D.C.
Paula DiPerna is a strategic global environmental and philanthropic policy advisor, and writer. She serves currently as Special Advisor to CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project). In addition, Ms. DiPerna is a member of the Board of Advisors of Global Kids, based in New York City, whose mission is to develop global citizenship. She also serves on the Circle of Advisors of Rachel’s Network, which links women philanthropists who have environmental interests. DiPerna is also a juror of the 2019 Eliasson Prize for Global Leadership, awarded by the Tallberg Foundation, based in Sweden, and the 2019 100andChange initiative of the MacArthur Foundation, based in the United States. DiPerna has also served on the Board of Advisors of the NTR Foundation, based in Dublin, Ireland, which was dedicated to environmental grant making. Ms. DiPerna has also been a Visiting Fellow at Civic Exchange, Hong Kong, focused on emerging issues in Asia and a Resident Fellow at the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation, to further her work on environmental finance.
Paula DiPerna is a frequent global public speaker, media commentator, guest lecturer, and panelist. She has extensive online presence and is widely published author of books and articles. Her book, “Cluster Mystery: Epidemic and the Children of Woburn, Mass” is a touchstone of environmental epidemiology. Ms. DiPerna is a member of the Women’s Forum of New York, and the Council on Foreign Relations and is based in New York City.
Randy Mehrberg supports Jenner & Block’s Corporate, Litigation, and Restructuring and Bankruptcy Practices, as well as the Energy and Regulatory industry groups. He has more than 35 years of experience in private practice and as a chief legal counsel and a strategic business leader for multi-billion-dollar public companies.
In addition to his transactional and litigation experience, Mr. Mehrberg twice served as general counsel for large public companies, ran a subsidiary of a multinational company, and was also a government GC. Mr. Mehrberg has had significant P&L responsibility, led thousands of employees, managed multi-million-dollar budgets, and directed M&A and corporate strategy at two public companies.
Mr. Mehrberg has worked across all aspects of corporate law, including mergers and acquisitions, financings, securities, corporate governance, regulatory, commercial transactions, government relations, restructuring, work-outs, tax, real estate, environmental and labor and employment. He also has significant litigation experience, including internal investigations.
In addition to his legal experience, Mr. Mehrberg has had leadership experience at major, complex organizations, including serving as executive vice president, chief administrative officer/chief legal officer at Exelon, the United States’ largest electric utility at the time, and as president of PSEG Energy Holdings, a multi-billion-dollar subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group. At PSEG, Mr. Mehrberg also had responsibility for the parent company’s strategy, M&A, government affairs, communications, human resources, diversity and inclusion and philanthropy.
Mr. Mehrberg began his legal career in 1980 as an associate at Jenner & Block, where he became a partner in 1986. In 1993, he became general counsel and lakefront director for the Chicago Park District. He returned to the firm in 1997 and stayed until he joined Exelon as its general counsel in 2000. He rejoined Jenner & Block in 2016 after serving, most recently, as executive vice president and general counsel at Vail Resorts.
Mr. Mehrberg earned his J.D. degree in 1980 from the University of Michigan, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with his B.S. degree in economics in 1977. He has served on the boards of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the University of Michigan Law School Dean’s Advisory Council, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Millennium Park, the NJTV Public Television, the Center for Collaborative Change, the Latin School of Chicago, the Museum of Science & Industry, Northwestern Law School Corporate Counsel Institute, and the Association of General Counsel.
He has received several awards, including the Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee, Legal Services Award from the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the David C. Hilliard Award from the Chicago Bar Association, the Award for Service to the Poor from the Catholic Charities, and the H.O.P.E. for the People Man of the Year award.
Al B. Reid is the Vice President of Corporate Development at Abbott Laboratories. Reid serves as a corporate strategist and mergers & acquisition professional for the Abbott executive management team by providing strategic advisory and operational management support for their global businesses. Reid has provided executive leadership for a variety of global growth initiatives including acquisitions/spin-offs, strategic partnerships, divestitures and geographic expansion in key emerging markets. Prior to joining Abbott in 2000, Reid held a variety of positions at Baxter Healthcare, Dun & Bradstreet, Paramount Communications and the Federal Reserve Bank in management consulting, treasury, corporate finance and strategy roles. He serves on the Board of Directors at Senior Helpers, Chicago Youth Centers and the Aurelia Group. Reid is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (MS) and Clark Atlanta University (BA).
Julieanna L. Richardson, Founder and President of The HistoryMakers, has a unique and diverse background in theatre, television production, and the cable television industry created a unique path to founding and heading up the largest national collection effort of African American video oral histories on record since the WPA Slave Narratives. With a diverse background in law, television production and the cable television industries, she combined her various work experiences and her passion for American Studies and history to conceptualize, found and build The HistoryMakers. The HistoryMakers is a national, 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution headquartered in Chicago with regional offices in Atlanta, Georgia and the Washington, D.C. area. The HistoryMakers organization is committed to preserving, developing and providing easy access to an internationally recognized, archival collection of thousands of African American video oral histories. A 1980 graduate of Harvard Law School, Richardson graduated from Brandeis University with a double-major in Theatre Arts and American Studies, where she did extensive oral history interviews on the Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes. She worked as a corporate lawyer at the Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block prior to serving in the early 1980s as the Cable Administrator for the City of Chicago Office of Cable Communications. Richardson currently sits on the Honors Council of Lawyers for the Creative Arts. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Howard University (2012), Dominican University (2014) and Brandeis University (2016). She has also served as the commencement speaker for Dominican University as well as Brandeis University 65th commencement. In 2014, Black Enterprise magazine awarded Richardson its 2014 Legacy Award, its highest recognition of women’s achievement. That same year, Richardson was profiled in American Masters: The Boomer List, a PBS documentary and exhibition at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Media executive Andrea L. Taylor was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1947. After graduating from Charleston High School in 1964, Taylor moved to Boston and graduated from Boston University in 1968 with her B.A. degree in journalism. In 1988, Taylor founded and directed the Ford Foundation’s Media Fund. She then became the president of The William Benton Foundation in 2001. From 2004 to 2006, Taylor served as the vice president of the Education Development Center, and as the director of its Center for Media and Community. Taylor also founded Davis Creek Capital. In 2006, Taylor was named as the director of North American Community Affairs at Microsoft Corporation. Taylor was also a member of the board of directors for the Film Forum and Ms. Foundation for Women. Taylor received the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University and the 2013 Creative Spirit Award from the Black Alumni Association of Pratt Institute.
As the Education Coordinator for The HistoryMakers, Amrita works on educational outreach for the organization. Her involvement with The HistoryMakers began in 2013, when she first joined the team as a Science Writer and Researcher. Following a continued association as a consultant, Amrita came back on board our staff in 2019. She has a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA, and is experienced as a science writer.
Civic leader Amy Tate Billingsley was born on November 29, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois. Billingsley received her A.B. degree in mathematics and humanities from the University of Chicago in 1958; her M.A degree in counseling psychology from Ohio State University in 1961; and her M.B.A. degree in marketing and management from the University of Baltimore in 1982. Her parents Herman Tate and Inez Duke Tate, were both active community leaders. Billingsley’s great-grandfather, Jesse Chisholm Duke, was a prominent newspaper editor; her grandfather, Charles Sumner Duke was a world-renowned architectural engineer. Billingsley assisted her husband, Andrew Billingsley, with the classic book, Black Families in White America. She worked in the Clinton administration with historically black colleges and with Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. She helped found the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc., lobbying for African American women in the emerging women’s movement. Billingsley also served as The HistoryMakers coordinator in Washington, D.C.
A HistoryMaker herself, Harriette Cole began interviewing subjects for The HistoryMakers in 2014. To date she has interviewed hundreds of the nation’s leading African American thinkers, business leaders, educators, scholars and scientists. Cole loves engaging so many dynamic African American leaders and capturing their stories. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Harriette launched her career in The Big Apple at Essence Magazine where she worked as lifestyle editor and later fashion director. Harriette was the founding editorial director of Uptown Magazine as well as the creative director and editor-in-chief of Ebony Magazine. A bestselling author, Cole has written 7 books about how to live a great life. She is a nationally syndicated advice columnist, of Sense & Sensitivity, a life coach and a media trainer. Her clients have ranged from Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Andra Day and Party Next Door to the National Urban League, Thurgood Marshall Academy and Hunter College. Founder of the educational platform DREAMLEAPERS, Cole has devoted her life to helping people access and activate their dreams.
Crowe has been steeped in African American arts and culture, and the humanities for over 30 years. With an undergraduate degree in history from Wright State University, he has held a variety of positions including theater manager; assistant editor for Third World Press, the largest black publisher in the United States; and manager of an African American bookstore. In his current position, he interviews HistoryMakers and completes research. As of July 2009, Crowe has conducted around 900 interviews for The HistoryMakers’ project.
Hickey is very proud to have been a videographer for The HistoryMakers from the start. A 25-year industry veteran, Matthew Hickey produces, directs, edits, and shoots for video, still photography and feature films. His production experience includes live events, talk shows, travel shows, corporate training, documentaries and drama. His work has appeared on WTTW, C-SPAN, Fox Sports, The International Channel, ESPN, and many other broadcast and cable TV outlets. Hickey was formerly Production Manager for SCTN Teleproductions, The HistoryMakers, Take 1 Video Productions and the Athenaeum Theatre.
Broadcast journalist Randall Pinkston was born on March 3, 1950 in Yazoo County, Mississippi. He received his B.A. degree in history in 1973 from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi and his J.D. degree from University of Connecticut in 1980. Pinkston began his broadcasting career as an announcer with WJDX-FM Radio in Jackson, Mississippi. After working as an anchor with the local Jackson news station, WLBT-TV, Pinkston was hired at WJXT-TV, a Post-Newsweek owned CBS affiliate in Jacksonville, Florida, as urban affairs director. He then worked for another CBS affiliate, WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut as anchor, reporter and public affairs producer from 1976 until 1980. Pinkston went on to work as a correspondent at WCBS-TV in New York until 1990. In 1990, he was hired as a CBS News White House correspondent, and in 2013, became a freelance journalist with Al Jazeera America. Pinkston received three Emmy Awards for his work.
As the Travel and Producing Coordinator for The HistoryMakers, Courtney Shareef is responsible for the logistics of the video oral history interviews that make up the archive. She works closely with the Founder and Executive Director and the Vice President of Business and Operation to identify history makers across the country. Courtney earned her B. A. in Print Journalism with a minor in Afro-American studies from Howard University and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago.
Zhu Sun joined The HistoryMakers in 2011. As the Vice President of Business & Operations, she leads The HistoryMakers’ business and financial operations, keeping the organization moving on the right track. She has also been supervising the production of The HistoryMakers’ PBS TV Tapings, the Back To School With The HistoryMakers program, as well as conferences and local receptions since 2012. Once the Library of Congress became the permanent repository for The HistoryMakers in 2014, she supervised the processing team as they published over 2,000 interviews to The HistoryMakers Digital Archive within a two-year period. Her career began when – due to her impressive academic record – she was recruited to work as Financial Assistant to the Associate Dean of the College of Engineering shortly after graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago, serving for two years. She received her B.S. degree in Electronic Commerce from Central University of Finance and Economics, a top business school in China, and her Master of Science in Accounting and MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is both a registered CPA with the State of Illinois and a Chartered Certified Accountant with Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
GLORIA E. SWANSON is the owner of GS TRANSCRIPTIONS, a minority owned, woman owned, transcription company, located on the South side of Chicago.
Gloria always loved typing. At twelve years old she begged her father for a typewriter. His response was, “I’ll buy you a typewriter when you get into high school.” Gloria got a double promotion and got into high school six months earlier than expected at thirteen and her parents bought her the Smith-Corona typewriter.
Due to her “flying fingers” and dexterity, after high school, she was urged to study court reporting. After majoring in Court Reporting at Chicago College of Commerce in Chicago, Gloria worked as a legal secretary for over 30 years at a number of prominent Chicago law firms.
In 2004, Gloria started GS Transcriptions as a home-based transcription company while continuing to work as a legal secretary during her daytime hours. Over the years, she recruited legal secretarial friends and acquaintances to transcribe with her from their homes.
GS Transcriptions is the lead transcription company working with "The HistoryMakers", a Chicago-based not-for-profit organization. The HistoryMakers are preserving and archiving the videotaped oral history, first-person interviews of African American heroes, famous and unsung.
GS Transcriptions' transcribers are ninety-nine percent former or current legal secretaries who are accurate and fast. Gloria and her transcribers have the distinctive honor and unique opportunity to hear the life stories of hundreds of African American men and women who are interviewed by The HistoryMakers to document their stories. As of 2014, The HistoryMakers’ videotaped interviews are housed in The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.