WBHP Steering Committee

Deborah Hall

Founder

Deb is the founder of WBHP.  She has a deep love of history and is excited to be a part of the project.  She is particularly interested in historic cemeteries and 19th century Black women club movements.  Deb is Director of Domestic Violence Services at YWCA Central MA.

David Conner

WBHP Communications Team

David is the Director of Community Engagement at Worcester Historical Museum (WHM) and steering committee member for the historical documentation team of the Worcester Black History Project. He is responsible for coordinating the ongoing collection of artifacts, archiving of oral histories, and accompanying educational programming at WHM. David has been involved in community organizing through historical documentation for the last 6 years.

Cheryll Toney Holley

Cheryll is a professional researcher, writer, and speaker specializing in African-American and Native American peoples in New England. Cheryll was born and raised in Worcester like generations of her family before her. A mom and grandma, she works at UMass Memorial Health and is the Sonksq of the Nipmuc Nation.

Cecilia Hylton

WBHP Communications Team

Cecilia lives in Worcester, MA with her family and serves on the Worcester Black History Project’s Steering Committee and Communications team. A former history teacher, Cecilia is passionate about Black history and learning about the unique history of African Americans in Worcester. 

Shanez’e Johnson

WBHP Communications Team

Shanez’e Johnson is a first generation college student majoring in Africana Studies at Wellesley College who is passionate about learning about herself and her people. She was born and raised in Worcester, MA and graduated from Bancroft High School.

Benetta Kuffour

Benetta is a retired Worcester Public School teacher.  She is active in the Worcester community and currently works part time as a Standardized Patient for UMass Medical School.  She is a descendant of Bethany Veney.

Robin Shropshire

Robin  was born and raised in Worcester and has returned home after stints in NY, DC and CT.  Now employed as a Technical Program Manager with Dell Technologies, Robin also serves on the Board of Governors for WCLOC Theater Company.

Xaulanda Thorpe

Xaulanda Thorpe is a spoken word poet from Worcester, Massachusetts.  She graduated from Boston University with a degree in biological anthropology in January 2020. During her time at BU, when she was not examining primate samples, she wrote short stories for Charcoal Magazine, a student-led publication. In 2021, Xaulanda’s poem was chosen for the African Burial Ground National Monument’s Still I Rise tribute to Maya Angelou.

Nellie Toney

Nellie is Co-Chair of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community  Breakfast Committee, Chair of the Nipmuc Elders Committee and is treasurer of the WBHP.

Kimberly Toney

WBHP Communications Team

Kimberly was born and raised in Worcester County, and works as Head of Readers’ Services at the American Antiquarian Society. With roots in the Black and Nipmuc communities in Worcester and Worcester County, her research interests include African American and Indigenous history.

William Wallace

Bill is Executive Director of Worcester Historical Museum.  He is committed to affirming the 146-year role of the Museum as the keeper of Worcester’s stories, gathered in community partnerships such as the WBHP.  Bill is a founder of the Friends of Hope Cemetery.