ECU Alumni Association announces new board members

The East Carolina University Alumni Association (ECUAA) welcomed six new members to its board of directors. The newly elected members Joel Banjo-Johnson, Robert Heddrick, Angela Hill, Nadia Jones, Kenneth Nealy and Kendrick Whitehurst, joined the board in July and are eligible to serve two three-year terms that conclude in 2029.

Board members are responsible for providing strategic direction and professional expertise to support the university’s alumni engagement initiatives. The new members will bring varied experiences and perspectives to inform, involve and serve the ECU family throughout their lifelong relationship with the university.

From top left, Robert Heddrick, Angela Hill, Joel Banjo-Johnson, Nadia Jones, Kenneth Nealy and Kendrick Whitehurst are the newest members of the East Carolina University Alumni Association Board of Directors. (Contributed photos)

The alumni association’s Amanda Murer said the new board members bring varied perspectives to the organization and will work to advance the alumni association and connect with the 195,000-plus alumni around the world.

Maj. Joel Banjo-Johnson ’09 is from London and earned her bachelor’s degree and commission at ECU through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program. She is the chief of operations, Air Force Global Strike Command, public affairs, where she serves as the advisor to the Air Force Global Strike commander and leads communication operations for the headquarter and numbered Air Forces, supporting 25,000 members.

“I am proud of my constant engagement with ECU students along their academic and career journeys. I stay in constant communication with students from the AFROTC detachment, the communication department and the German department,” Banjo-Johnson said. “The reward of seeing them win is truly priceless.”

In addition to serving on the alumni board of directors, Banjo-Johnson holds an executive committee position with Entrepreneurship Enterprises, educating young adults on fiscal management, responsibility and entrepreneurship.

Rob Heddrick ’05 is the project manager – Skyrise for Otis Elevator Company, and directly responsible for 244 Skyrise units. He serves as the primary point of contact for assigned major projects and liaison for customers and internal stakeholders.

“I’m sure like many, I feel that I was given so much as a student at ECU. I’ve also had the privilege of participating in alumni chapters in New York, Dallas and Charlotte,” Heddrick said. “I feel a certain indebtedness to ECU because of the monumental impact that the university has had on my life. I love telling people that I graduated from ECU. I believe that we all play a role in the future success of the university, and it requires a distinct pride to be an ambassador and example of the university.”

Heddrick is also an American Red Cross donor and volunteer, he participates in a monthly highway cleanup for the Adopt-A-Highway program, and he volunteers weekly in a third grade classroom assisting with reading, comprehension and vocabulary. He’s also a leader for the ECU alumni chapter in Charlotte.

Dr. Angela McCall Hill ’01 has been an educator for 21 years. She is an elementary learning facilitator for Johnston County Public Schools and was recently named principal of Dixon Road Elementary. She is a lifelong learner who has used her experience at all three educational levels as well as her time in six different districts and learning entities to grow as an educator.

“I am most proud of my representation of East Carolina University in the educational arena and the fellow graduates that I have positively influenced to attend East Carolina University. As a teacher and school leader, I have had countless students come to know about the university through their interactions with me,” she said.

In her free time she enjoys cheering on the Pirates, traveling to new places and training for her next 5K.

Dr. Nadia Jones ’06 is the director of strategic partnerships at Atlanta Speech School with diverse full-scale experience leading educational, financial and operational strategies for multi-site education learning centers and community organizations.

“I am most proud of working with university advancement to establish and fund a scholarship in the name of a person who is very near and dear to ECU and its student body,” Jones said. “This person has served this institution for decades and truly embodies our motto: Servire. I am honored to be a part of cementing this person’s legacy in this way.”

As part of her service on the alumni board, she wants to use her 18 years of experience as an education and youth development executive to partner with the College of Education to support and further the early literacy work being done at ECU.

Kent Nealy ’03 is an assistant administrator for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

“Former student-athletes are passionate about East Carolina University, the students, the programs and the sports. As former student-athletes, we sometimes need to learn how to support the university other than by attending sporting events,” Nealy said. “Although this is a great way to support current Pirates competing, there are different ways to get involved.”

In addition to his role on the alumni association board of directors, Nealy is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and a mentor with Tennessee Achievers for 10 high school males seeking college enrollment.

Ken Whitehurst ’92 brings extensive experience in banking and wealth management as a strategic business leader to the board of directors. Leadership, organizational skills and ability to build relationships are evident in his long career in the banking and wealth industry.

“I am a passionate Pirate and have supported ECU through active and regular participation in ECU events in Charlotte as well as Greenville. I have also supported ECU through regular financial gifts. But the contribution I am most proud of is instilling the love for ECU in my daughter,” Whitehurst said. “She has grown up as a Pirate and only applied to ECU, as there was no other university she would consider attending.”

He has given significant time to many community and service organizations, including the Cabarrus Arts Council, Charlotte Rescue Mission, United Way of Pitt County and Literacy Volunteers of Pitt County.