Averett University Introduces New Board Chair, First Woman of Color in Distinguished Position

Posted on November 29th, 2022 by Matt Bell

Averett University introduces its alumna and seven-year Trustee Dr. Annie Wimbish ’81 as Chair of the Averett Board of Trustees – the first woman of color to serve in the role.

Wimbish has been a professional leader and educator across the South for nearly 40 years, serving in roles from teacher assistant to superintendent of schools in four states – Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi. She has been instrumental in building leadership capacity across the United States as a senior associate with the Schlechty Center for Leadership and School Reform and now continues to prepare, develop and support leaders with the Leadership Solutions Group, LLC.

An Averett Trustee since 2015, Wimbish has held several Board leadership positions including serving on and chairing the Academic and Student Affairs Committee and the Governance Committee. She began her role as Chair of the Board this July 1, leading the almost 30-member Board in her first full Board meeting as Chair on Averett’s Main Campus this month.

“Dr. Wimbish embodies the essential and extraordinary qualities that distinguish her as an individual and as an educator,” said Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “Her path to Averett University (then Averett College) as a young woman was inspirational in that she had to overcome many obstacles to even enroll. The same can-do spirit, work ethic, determination and positive outlook on life that enabled her to thrive at Averett against odds, are the very same qualities that helped fuel her success throughout her distinguished career as an educator.”

During her tenure as principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent, Wimbish supported schools in creating inclusive cultures and values. She was the first female African American to serve as superintendent in Hattiesburg Public School District, where she was named as one of “Mississippi’s Top Business Women of the Year” by Mississippi Business Journal, and was named “Mississippi Administrator of the Year” by the Mississippi Association of Office Professionals. She is the author of “Rubber Bands on My Socks: The Reflections of a Sharecropper’s Daughter – Family, Poverty, Potential and Progress”, and is published in the American School Board Journal with the article “Who Not to Hire:  A Superintendent Reflects”.

A self-proclaimed “higher education enthusiast,” Wimbish has dedicated her time and talents preparing teachers and administrators at Averett, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Grand Canyon University and Old Dominion University. She serves as leadership coach for aspiring administrators through the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and has served on numerous boards at the local, state and national levels. She is a sought-after facilitator and motivational speaker.

“I am honored to be selected and trusted by my talented Trustee peers to serve as Chair for the prestigious Averett University. As a first-generation graduate of an organization (Averett) that I could only dream of attending as a child, my life was changed,” said Wimbish. “In my years as a Trustee, I’ve been blessed to observe hundreds of others experience and testify to their transformations as well. Currently, more than 50% of our incoming students are first generation; that’s life changing for the students, their families and the community. That’s one of the many reasons I love Averett; that’s why I serve. I am thankful for the opportunity and look forward to watching all of our students and Averett continue to grow.”

The Halifax County native earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education from Averett in 1981. Committed to lifelong learning, she later received her Master of Education (Curriculum and Instruction) and an Education Specialist degree (Supervision and Administration) from the University of Virginia, and a Doctorate of Education in educational leadership from Fayetteville State University.

Wimbish was Averett’s 2016 Spring Commencement speaker and was a 1993 recipient of the University’s Frank Campbell Service Award, which recognizes alumni for a specific service for Averett or for serving in the manner shown by Averett President Emeritus Dr. Frank Campbell.

“Over the course of my career, I can think of few individuals who have reflected such a unique combination of intellect, professional acumen, maturity, polish and poise with such a humble, genuine and engaging personality,” said Franks. “We are very blessed and so grateful to have her at the helm of our great university’s Board leadership.”

In addition to education, Wimbish shares a love for faith, family and community. She is married to Retired Warrant Officer Ray, has three adult children (one deceased) and seven grandchildren. She is a member of Mountain Grove Missionary Baptist Church in South Boston, Virginia where she and Ray served as chairpersons of the Marital Ministry.

Averett’s Board of Trustees is comprised of a diverse group of community and business leaders from various states across the country who are providing governance in support of the university’s mission and continued success.