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Vice President Archives - Community | Union Institute & University

Union Announces New Board of Trustees Member

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students | No Comments

Sharon Dunbar is the newest member of the Union Institute & University Board of Trustees.

Sharon Dunbar

Vice President | Human Resources, General Dynamics Mission Systems

Sharon Dunbar is the newest member of the Union Institute & University Board of Trustees. She serves as the Vice President, Human Resources for General Dynamics Mission Systems where she oversees human resource operations, internal communications, community relations and investments for the 13,000-employee company. Dunbar retired from the United States Air Force in 2014 as a Major General.

“It is a distinct honor to welcome Sharon to the Board of Trustees. I first got to know Sharon when she was a Kellogg Fellow. Sharon’s devotion to her country, selfless service to her career and community, and her legacy of ethical leadership parallel Union Institute & University’s mission to engage, enlighten, and empower our students in a lifetime of learning, service and social responsibility,” said Dr. Roger H. Sublett, President of Union Institute & University.

Dunbar is looking forward to contributing to Union’s growth. “My goal is to contribute to Union’s advancement and its immense contribution to the academic community and communities as a whole,” said Dunbar. “I believe Union offers incredible value to higher education. Its flexibility to educate adults while they balance the demands of life is an opportunity to advance in every aspect,” said Dunbar. “I have seen the difference this flexibility makes to the men and women transitioning from a military career to civilian life.” When approached by Dr. Sublett to join the Board of Trustees, her first reaction was one of humility. 

“I was surprised and honored to be asked to join the Board of Trustees. Dr. Sublett has been a mentor since my days as a Kellogg Fellow. He is dedicated to giving back and I couldn’t decline the chance to make a difference in higher education alongside him,” said Dunbar.

During her 32-year Air Force career, she served in a variety of acquisition, legislative affairs, and human capital positions. She commanded organizations at every possible level, including a mission support squadron, Air Force Basic Military Training, an air base wing, and the Air Force District of Washington where she was responsible the Air Force’s Washington operations. 

Learn more about Sharon
Dunbar’s Illustrious Career

MLK Student Fights To End Sex Trafficking

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students | No Comments

Read how Deborah J. Richardson’s participation in the MLK Ph.D. program influences her resolve to continue to seek justice for children sold into sex slavery.

Deborah J. Richardson

Current Student | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies

Deborah J. Richardson is a Ph.D. student in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies Specialization program. She is Executive Vice President of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, an organization committed to connecting the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements. She recently served as the Interim Chief Executive Officer during the organization’s search for a permanent CEO.  Prior to joining NCCHR in 2011, Deborah had served as Chief Program Officer at Women’s Funding Network in San Francisco, California; CEO of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation; Director of Program Development for Fulton County Juvenile Court; founding Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Fund (now Youth Spark); and Managing Director of the National Black Arts Festival.

Ph.D. student Deborah J. Richardson learned about courage as a child who grew up on the same street as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s parents, the Rev. and Mrs. Martin Luther King Sr. “The work I do now is a direct reflection of what I saw and learned growing up,” said Richardson, Ph.D. student in Union Institute & University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies Specialization program and Executive Vice President of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

That work includes fighting, for over 15 years, to change the systemic conditions that contribute to sex trafficking and social inequality for women. She credits her participation in the MLK program with the resolve and theoretical knowledge needed to continue designing leading programs for girls victimized by trafficking and testify before Congress on the legislative and cultural conditions that facilitate the demand to purchase children for sex.

“My advocacy work in addressing human trafficking has been significantly informed by both Dr. King and my public policy courses at Union Institute & University. Human trafficking is based on the economic model of supply and demand. Because of the demand of customers who want to purchase sex from underage children, the trafficker recruits, grooms and makes available the child,” said Richardson. “Until we interrupt the demand, there will always be victims. Our efforts through the International Human Trafficking Institute at The Center for Civil and Human Rights is to redirect the conversation from awareness about human trafficking to action that eliminates the conditions where victims are in demand in the first place.”

Union’s MLK program examines Dr. King’s teachings and how his legacy continues to inform social change. “In his last book:  Where Do We Go From Here:  Community or Chaos?  He predicts a time when we will forget the principles of nonviolence social justice—eliminating racism, militarism, and poverty. Forty-eight years since his death, one has only to read a newspaper or listen to any local or national media outlet and affirm his prediction has come to fruition,” said Richardson. She muses on her studies and challenges her Union peers to reflect on how they will best use their great privilege of education and the access it provides to work for sustainable lives for all.

“Dr. King said charity is good, but at some point, the person has to ask what are the social conditions that make charity necessary. Union students may contribute to these efforts by having conversation, in their sphere of influence, on the social construction of gender, where the objectification of women is reinforced and often encouraged. We can also interrupt one of the most pervasive forms of human trafficking—labor trafficking, by purchasing fair trade items and insuring our own companies are securing items that have a slavery-free supply chain."

Deborah Richardson’s many achievements include the Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Theological Seminary, The Pathbreaker Award from Shared Hope International, The Big Voice Award from Georgia Voices for Children, and the Community Service Award from Spelman College. Richardson holds a Master of Arts in Leadership from St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, California.

Learn more about Union’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Studies Specialization program