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The Gloucester Institute Hosts Alumni Weekend Celebrating a Legacy of Leadership and Excellence

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The Gloucester Institute (TGI) recently hosted its first alumni reunion, celebrating the role that it has played in shaping future leaders over the last 17 years.

Founded in 2006 by Charles Everette and Kay Coles James, The Gloucester Institute has been quietly instrumental in molding emerging leaders, many of them students from the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. In nurturing young African-American leaders, the Gloucester Institute pays homage to Dr. Robert Russa Moton, whose historic home, Holly Knoll, is the headquarters for programming and events.

Moton, former Tuskeegee Institute and Hampton University president, retired to Holly Knoll on the banks of the York River in 1935. Considered by many the cradle of the civil rights movement, Holly Knoll is where the idea for the United Negro College Fund was born. Great Civil Rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis used Holly Knoll as a retreat and haven.

In Dr. Moton’s day, Gloucester was a place for leaders to strategize and create solutions for challenges in the Black community. Charles and Kay Coles James’ have captured Dr. Moton’s philosophy in the TGI programming.

In addition to setting goals and strategizing about how they can support Gloucester and advance the mission, the weekend was a true family reunion replete with boat rides, kayaking, massages, yoga, wine tasting, cookouts, a dinner gala and a Sunday gospel brunch with the newly formed gospel choir of Virginia Union University.

“We continue to say that Holly Knoll is a hidden gem, an undiscovered treasure,” said Deana Bass Williams, who served as the first Executive Director of the Gloucester Institute. “That has to change. It was exciting to reconnect with Emerging Leaders and other alums. These historic grounds have influenced so many over the years. We have committed to making sure that the Gloucester story and solutionist mindset is shared throughout the world.”

Pictured above Kay Coles James co-founder of the Gloucester Institute and Deana Bass Williams the non-profit's first executive director at the 2023 Alumni reunion.


In the fall of 2023, The Gloucester Institute will be featured in’s Our American Story Series. Subscribe to receive notifications of BPALiveWire content and events.


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