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Board of Trustees Welcomes New Members


Dear Howard University Community,

As this year comes to an end and we pause to reflect and enjoy the holiday season, the Board of Trustees wishes to congratulate the entire Howard University community for an incredible year and productive semester. While the world remains a challenging and often trying place still in the midst of the pandemic, we are blessed to be part of a welcoming community and family at Howard.

Bringing this year to a close, we want to be sure to reiterate that your voice, and the voice of all Howard University community members, is essential to our shared future success. The Howard University Board of Trustees is deeply committed to elevating your voice to ensure that student, alumni, faculty and staff perspectives are represented in advancing the future of our collective community. We acknowledge the importance of having diverse backgrounds, perspectives and areas of expertise representing our community.

Looking ahead to 2022 and in keeping with our commitment, we are excited to share many new updates that will deepen our engagement with our community as we expand the board. Today, the Board of Trustees is excited to announce four new trustees for next year. We wish to extend the warmest of welcomes to our new trustees, all of whom are alumni. Two of these new board members are recent graduates of Howard who won the 2020 student elections to serve on the board, but, due to COVID-19, were not seated as planned during the 2020-21 academic year. Their names are included below and their full bios can be found at the end of this message.

Tyra A. Mariani (BBA ’97) and Bruce Thompson (BA ’79) will begin three-year terms effective January 1, 2022.

Brent Drenon (JD ’21) and Abigail Hall (BA ’21) will also join the board for one-year terms beginning on July 1, 2022.

Additionally, we’re also enthused to inform the community that a new advisory group, the Trustee Candidate Identification Advisory Council (TCIAC), will be formed and launched in 2022. This council is designed to deepen and expand the pool of candidates that will be eligible for consideration by the Governance Committee, bringing different voices, collaborative spirits and commitment to the best interests of Howard University. These candidate recommendations will add to the many avenues that exist to become a Board of Trustees member.

The TCIAC will be comprised of approximately seven to nine members, a majority of whom are not currently serving on the board. Members of this council will operate on a volunteer basis and will assist in networking and outreach to individuals. While this council is not a part of the board structure, it will receive direction from the Governance Committee in relation to the kinds of expertise needed to complement those currently serving on the board.

We are delighted to create another opportunity for the board to engage with those dedicated to Howard and to foster another avenue to find trustee members who can serve the University. We are also excited about having members of the community (students, alumni, etc.) have a stake in choosing those who may serve their community.

To close out 2021, we thank every member of the University community for their passion and dedication to Howard. In the new year, we will have more updates to share as we continue to create new ways to engage the entire Howard family. The coming year will be prosperous, and we look forward to taking it head on as a strong community.

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Tyra A. Mariani (BBA ’97)

Mariani is president of the Schultz Family Foundation, based in Seattle, Washington, where she partners with the Schultz family and its Board of Trustees to work to address inequality by creating opportunities for individuals and communities facing obstacles to economic and social mobility. Before joining the Schultz Family Foundation, Mariani was president and chief operating officer at New America, a think tank committed to exploring new and more effective ways of solving public problems. A former chief of staff to the U.S. deputy secretary of education and deputy chief of staff to the U.S. secretary of education in the Obama Administration, she helped shape policies and programs impacting education from early learning through college, including the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and RESPECT, an effort to elevate and transform the teaching profession. After graduating from Howard University as co-valedictorian and summa cum laude recipient, Mariani went on to earn a master’s degree in business from Stanford University.

Bruce Thompson (BA ’79)

Bruce E. Thompson is president of the Hospitality Development Company, a hotel development, operating and ownership group with three Marriott-franchised hotels in operation and two more in development. Most recently, Thompson served as interim president and CEO of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), a nonprofit, professional member-based association dedicated to creating educational, wealth-building and growth opportunities for Black students, professionals and entrepreneurs. In that capacity, he led planning and implementation of a highly successful, first-ever virtual conference and career fair and achieved outstanding organizational growth and financial performance during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic disruption. Previously, as vice president and chief separation officer of Arconic, a U.S. industrial company specializing in lightweight metals engineering and manufacturing, he was responsible for guiding the company’s separation strategy and driving efficient workplans to ensure a successful transition to two world-class businesses. Thompson received a BA in economics from Howard and holds an MBA from Stanford University and an MPA from Princeton University.

Brent Drenon (JD ’21)

Brent Drenon, winner of the graduate student election, received his law degree from Howard in 2021. He was a Derrick Bell Scholarship Recipient and an Edmund & M. Pioleau Scholarship recipient, and he was on the Howard Human & Civil Rights Law Review. Drenon also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in legal studies from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, where he was a President’s Merit Scholar, made the dean’s list, and played Division I football. As a student at Howard law, Brenon served internships with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the D.C. Public Defender Service, and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Currently, he works as an associate for Winston & Strawn LLP, an international law firm.

Abigail Hall (BA ’21)

Abigail Hall won the 2020 undergraduate student election. She graduated summa cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard in the Spring of 2021 and is in her first year at Harvard Law School. While attending Howard, Hall was a Capstone Scholar and was named to the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s list for three consecutive years. She is the recipient of the Washington Government Relations Group Foundation’s Terri Grier Memorial Scholarship, the George Floyd Memorial Foundation Legal Scholarship and the Jamaican Howard Affinity Network Scholarship. During the 2019-2020 academic year, Hall served as a senator within the Howard University Student Association (HUSA) Senate. While earning her bachelor’s degree, she completed internships with the Congressional Black Caucus, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Office of the Attorney General for D.C., the Federal Judicial Center, law firms Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and Jenner and Block LLP, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, and Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote.

Excellence in Truth and Service, 

Board of Trustees