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Dear Howard University Community,
The Howard University Board of Trustees has worked diligently to keep our Howard community abreast of successes and improvements to our beloved University. This Summer, we have been immersed in identifying new candidates to add to our board. We are proud to share that this work led to the selection of six new members.
The diverse backgrounds of our new members include finance (operations and investments), law, communications and health sciences. We are delighted to announce and welcome the new members to our Howard University Board of Trustees including the two winners from the 2020 student elections. The new general trustee members are:

  • Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), a position he assumed in April 2017. At RWJF, Besser leads the largest private foundation in the country devoted solely to improving the nation’s health. In his role, Besser is a leading voice on the importance of health equity, advocating for racial justice, full inclusion of people with disabilities, and a COVID-19 response and recovery that prioritizes those most impacted. Learn more about Richard Besser


  • Brent Drenon (JD ’21), winner of the 2020 student elections. 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. Learn more about Brent Drenon


  • Abigail Hall (BA ’21), winner of the 2020 student elections. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard and has just completed her first year at Harvard Law School. Learn more about Abigail Hall


  • Depelsha McGruder (BA ’94), chief operating officer and treasurer of the Ford Foundation. Based in New York, she oversees Ford’s global operations and finances. Prior to joining the foundation in 2020, McGruder served as COO of New York Public Radio (NYPR), where she oversaw internal operations and strategic planning for WNYC, WQXR, Gothamist.com, The Greene Space and New Jersey Public Radio. Learn more about Depelsha McGruder


  • Christopher J. Tyson (BArch ’98), most recently named president of the National Community Stabilization Trust. Previously, he was the president and chief executive officer of Build Baton Rouge (BBR), Baton Rouge’s redevelopment authority and land bank, where he reported to the authority’s Board of Commissioners and worked closely with the mayor, elected officials, business leaders, and community organizers to develop and revitalize disinvested areas, drive economic impact through equitable investment, and advance partnerships to increase community-wide capacity. Tyson currently holds the position of the Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Professor of Law at the Louisiana State University Law Center. Learn more about Christopher J. Tyson


  • Chris Washington (BA ’92), an independent marketing consultant, working primarily in the entertainment industry. He works as a professional DJ known as The Legendary Chris Washington and has previously served as the master mixer on New York City’s WBLS-FM radio station. He is a past president of the Howard University Alumni Association (HUAA), overseeing a 29% increase in membership during his presidency. Washington graduated from the Howard University School of Communications in 1992 with a degree in broadcast journalism. He has been a board member since 2019 and currently serves on the board’s student life and development and alumni relations committees. Learn more about Chris Washington

We look forward to you having an opportunity to engage with our new trustees. 

Excellence in Truth and Service, 

Howard University Board of Trustees