Board & Staff
Director of Outreach & Lead Archivist
Joshua Burford is an award-winning historian, archivist, and educator with over 20 years of experience creating stronger communities for Queer and Transgender people across the U.S. He is perhaps best known for his work to preserve and make accessible the Queer history of the American South through the development of archival collections and oral histories. Josh is a nationally recognized educator and trainer who has worked with K-12 schools, colleges and universities, corporations, and non-profits to bring greater knowledge about the ways each can be more inclusive of diverse identities, engage in self-evaluation about best practices, and can create pathways for increased retention of minority individuals.
Josh is a native of Alabama who grew up in Anniston. He attended The University of Alabama for his undergraduate degrees in English and History. Josh finished his Master’s degrees in 2006 with an MA in American Studies (with a concentration in LGBT history of the late 20th century) as well a Masters in Library and Information Studies. His specialties include working with communities of color, diversity education, student development, and the creation of archives for the preservation of community history. A historian and archivist by training, Josh is passionate about education and advocacy for Queer Youth and the preservation and documentation of Southern Queer History.
In 2013 Josh began a project to document the Queer and Trans history of Charlotte North Carolina. This project has created new pathways to understand the complex and invisible history of Queer and Trans communities in the American South and has allowed Josh the opportunity to take the history of Charlotte into museums, boardrooms, schools, and virtual spaces all over the world. Josh is committed to the work of creating more affirming spaces for underrepresented groups in all walks of life and continues to advocate for those without a voice whenever he can.
Director of Research & Development
Maigen Sullivan has over 10 years of experience in community outreach, grant management, organizational development, and social justice education. Maigen earned her BA in History and her MA in Women’s Studies from The University of Alabama (UA). During her time as a graduate student at UA, Maigen was an instructor of Women’s Studies for the Department of Gender & Race Studies. Her research focused on Queer studies, body studies and Southern women. Her Masters Thesis won the Stephen Karatheodoris Memorial Award for Theoretical Writing in 2011, The Department of Gender & Race Studies Nominee for Outstanding Thesis in 2011, and The University of Alabama College of Arts & Sciences Runner-Up for Outstanding Thesis in 2011. Maigen is presently pursuing a PhD from University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Education in Studies of Diverse Populations.
Maigen was the founding organizer of Ladyfest Deep South a three day festival celebrating music, film, craft and food from women and Queer folks hosted in Tuscaloosa, AL and has been involved in a number of professional and volunteer organizations concerning Queer and women’s issues. She has worked for a number of nonprofits and higher education departments. Currently, she is an instructor for Women’s Studies at UAB and provides consultation and training to universities on how to create welcoming spaces for Queer and Trans people.
Soapy Jones is the owner of Left Hand Soap Company, Pink Box Burlesque and Brass Tack Events. She has a background in archiving, psychology, history, philosophy, and business administration. A native of nowhere, Soapy’s travels have provided opportunities to meet amazing, dedicated, passionate people, and introduce them to each other. Proud parent of Aidan (20) and partner to Erik. She doesn’t have any spare time to spend.
Warren Alexander O’Meara-Dates
Warren Alexander Dates is a native of Gadsden, Alabama. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from Miles College, a United Negro College Fund member institution. He obtained his license to preach in 2004.
In 2010 following his November 2009 HIV/AIDS diagnosis, Minister Dates founded The 6:52 Project Foundation, Inc. (6:52 Project). The 6:52 Project began leading the way of exploring the complexity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic as it partners with local, state and national individuals, organizations and corporations on January 16, 2010. Its resources targets individuals and organizations whose audience includes those affected and/or infected between the ages of 15-35 years.
Warren’s corporate work experience includes employ at The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation (NBCAHOF) in Atlanta, Georgia where he served as Vice-President of Programs & Fund Development. Prior to the Hall of Fame, Warren worked for the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity & Inclusion Institute in North Carolina. As Program Manager, Warren was responsible for corporate relationships and managed the Institute’s annual Chief Diversity Officers Forum.
Since 2014, Warren has served as a consultant for Alabama Public Health’s Office of HIV Prevention & Care. He was recently named Special Projects Coordinator and serves as Executive Producer of their Social Media Prevention Campaign, ‘Start Talking Alabama’.
Warren is the Founding Chairman of the Board of Directors for NEAL (Northeast Alabama) Together (an LGBTQ Community Support Group). On September 24, 2016, Dates married his love, Kevin, and is now Warren Alexander O’Meara-Dates.
Roger Torbert is the Vice President of Education at the Birmingham Zoo. Among his many duties, he coordinates Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Access for the Zoo as it serves its staff and the community as a whole. He has served on the board of Central Alabama Pride and the Highlands School Foundation.
Roger is the proud dad of two, Alex (26) and Tulley (17). In his spare time, he enjoys creating art and spending time with his partner, Randall.
Mateo Pereda lives in Florence, AL, where they serve as President of the Board for Equality Shoals, an LGBTQ+ community-building, education, and advocacy organization. Access to and support of the arts is an issue they hold dear to their heart. As a poet and sometimes artist, Mateo knows firsthand how creative expression can have an enriching and positive impact in our personal lives.
Jerald Crook hails from Bay Minette, Alabama. He attended Auburn University where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a minor in Sustainability. He began his professional career working in public and academic libraries before joining the Alabama Bicentennial Commission staff as community relations specialist. There he served as liaison between the commission and local organizations and bicentennial committees. Jerald is currently the programs coordinator for the Alabama Humanities Foundations where he primarily coordinates Alabama History Day, the state affiliate of National History Day, a national history competition for 6th-12th grade students. The recent recipient of a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Jerald is an avid arts and humanities enthusiast and advocate who enjoys finding ways to leverage these disciplines to development and strengthen community bonds. He finds a means of doing this through his own nonprofit project, Higher Ground Society, which uses arts programming to forge community and facilitate conversation about societal issues.
Thomas E. Bryant
Thomas E. Bryant, a native of Daphne, AL, and graduate of the University of Alabama (B.A.) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (M.A.), is an accomplished nonprofit professional with nearly two decades of management experience in the arts, culture and humanities industry, most notably statewide program development and management at all levels, and including grantmaking and grant management, constituent outreach and relations, and board member engagement. Throughout his career he has demonstrated excellence in identifying and cultivating strategic relationships across a wide spectrum of demographics, institutions, and industries. His consultative and interpersonal skills have resulted in professional and institutional relationships of impeccable trust and confidence on the state and national level. A proud, active member of the Alabama LGBTQ community, Thomas considers his great-grandfather (an Atlanta pastor), his grandmother (a school teacher in rural Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement), and his husband (a longtime activist in Birmingham’s LGBTQ community) to be key inspirations in his volunteer work in support of Human Rights and LGBTQ historic preservation in South.
Julia Brock is a native of Rome, Georgia, and is an assistant professor of History at the University of Alabama. She practices, studies, and teaches public history with a special interest in museums, digital history, oral history, and community partnerships.
Wayne Coleman, Head of Archives and Technology for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Archives Department, is responsible for overall management and direct supervision of the archive’s collections. Since starting with the Institute, it has been his responsibility to formulate and implement all policies and procedures, hire personnel, acquire collections, process archival materials, and provide for the overall physical care of the Institute’s collections that are used for research purposes.
Tony G has been a proud and active member of the LGBTQ+ community since the age of 8 years old. Tony is non-binary/non-gender conforming and welcomes all pronouns. As a photographer and content creator since 2008, Tony has added all forms of mass media to his repertoire. Tony has always had an affinity for history and its preservation. Tony presents himself as a pillar of the community through his activism and philanthropy. This is one reason why Tony accepts all pronouns because Tony respects and loves them all. Tony loves everything about gay culture and upholds our history which continues to provide the next generation with a better way of existing. Tony has experience with many productions throughout the southeastern region. Some productions were fashion shows, hair shows, beauty pageants, dance performances, music videos, public assemblies, club showcases, nightclub openings, and variety shows. Tony becomes inspired by everything and attempts to explore the unseen beauty and unity in all facets. His passion for art has taken him in many elevated directions when it comes to networking, presentation of art, and culture. Tony believes in sharing knowledge, educating, and challenging oneself to create a better self.
iHP Graduate Student, University of Alabama
Shannon Wheeler is a senior at The University of Alabama studying public relations with minors in criminal justice and psychology. Her biggest passion in life is improving the lives of animals as seen in her previous experience working and volunteering with them. However, she is also incredibly passionate about LGBT+ history, people, and causes. As a member of the community herself (and with almost no straight friends), she finds it incredibly important that she learn about where it all began and how it developed over time, as no one else has taught her about it before.
Undergraduate Intern, University of Alabama
Sammy Sawyer is a sophomore at The University of Alabama studying English and Economics with minors in History, Italian, and Liberal Arts. He is specifically interested in researching Queer literature in the South. He is also working in his hometown of Atlanta and helping to prepare for the iHP expansion into Georgia.