Ben Chavis headshot

Benjamin F. Chavis, Ph.D.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is an African American Civil Rights Movement leader and icon. He is an author, organic chemist, United Church of Christ ordained minister, and PBS TV Executive Producer/Host of The Chavis Chronicles. Dr. Chavis is also the Environmental Justice & Racial Equity Fellow at Duke University.

He is currently President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). He also chairs the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO).  Dr. Chavis worked side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as Youth Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in the 1960s.  As a political prisoner member of the Wilmington Ten in North Carolina, he spent the majority of the 1970s unjustly incarcerated for alleged crimes for which the Wilmington Ten ultimately received a “Pardon of Innocence.”  In 1982, he was the first person to coin the term “environmental racism” during civil rights protests of racial and environmental injustice in Warren County, NC.  In 1993, Dr. Chavis was the youngest person to be elected as Executive Director and CEO of the NAACP.  Dr. Chavis has earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina, Duke University and Howard University.


Jay Pearson, Ph.D.

Dr. Jay A. Pearson is an Associate Research Professor of Global Health, Faculty Research Scholar of DuPRI’s Population Research Center, Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society.

Jay A. Pearson’s research, teaching and advocacy address how policy sponsored and structurally rooted social inequality influence the social determination of health disadvantage. A native of Hertford County North Carolina, Pearson’s early experiences in the rural agricultural south shaped and informed his professional interests. Pearson began his public health career as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras where he worked as a child survival health specialist training and evaluating midwives and local health workers.

Dr.Jay Pearson Headshot