Corporate executive John M. Hairston, Jr. was born on January 16, 1943 in Johnson City, Tennessee. His family later settled in Gary, West Virginia, where Hairston attended Wilcoe Grade School in nearby Wilcoe, West Virginia. Hairston graduated from Gary District High School at age seventeen, and went on to receive his B.A. degree in English from Bluefield State College in 1964. He then earned his M.A. degree in education administration from Cleveland State University in 1971.
Hairston began his teaching career in 1964 at Kennard Junior High school in Cleveland, Ohio. He also taught at East High School. During his twenty-seven year career with the Cleveland Public School District, Hairston held various positions such as project manager in the Compensatory Education Department, staff development director and chief of Community Relations. In 1991, he was hired as the director of external programs at the NASA Lewis Research Center (NASA Glenn) in Cleveland. In this role, he worked closely with individuals like Congressman Louis Stokes and Dr. Julian Earls, director of NASA Glenn Research Center, to facilitate a relationship between the Center and the Cleveland community. Hairston promoted scientific literacy and developed outreach programs to support the community and local businesses. Hairston was appointed by State Schools Superintendent John M. Goff and Governor George Voinovich to serve on the Cleveland School Board. He was elected and became president to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in 1998. In 2006, Hairston became the assistant administrator for the Office of Education at NASA Headquarters. He returned to the NASA Glenn Research Center as external programs coordinator, before retiring in 2008 as senior executive, after seventeen years of service. From 2008 to 2011, Hairston acted as the chief of communications for Cleveland Public Schools, after being recruited by then CEO Dr. Eugene T.W. Sanders. He also joined the board of trustees of the Cleveland Public Library. In 2012, Hairston became the district director for the 11th District Congressional office in Warrensville Heights, under Congresswoman Marcia Fudge.
Hairston received numerous awards for his work, including the Ohio Continuing Higher Education Association Program Innovation Award; NASA’s Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive and Exceptional Achievement awards; and the key to the city of Cleveland from Mayor R. Michael. He served as trustee of the Cleveland Public Library, as co-chair of Cleveland Empowerment, collaboration chair of the United Way of Greater Cleveland, president of the board of Glenville Development Corporation, and chair of the deacon board at Imani Temple.
Hairston lives in Cleveland, Ohio and has four children.
John M. Hairston, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 28, 2018.
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Corporate executive John M. Hairston, Jr. (1943 - ) taught in Cleveland Public Schools for twenty-seven years, and served as the director of external programs at NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center for seventeen years.
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