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Advisory Board

Ian Beamish, Ph.D.
Dr. Beamish is an assistant professor of History at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He received his Ph.D. in U.S. history from Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on slavery in the South and specifically in the Lower Mississippi Valley. He is currently interested in the public history of slavery in Louisiana. Before coming to Louisiana, he taught at universities in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Canada. Dr. Beamish resides in Lafayette

Michael Bell
Mr. Bell is a community activist and humanitarian. He is the founder and president of the Felicité Humanitarian Historical Society of Iberia Parish. Following retirement, Mr. Bell opened the first farmers’ market at 520 Hopkins Street (location of the current Envision Da Berry Market) and recruited young people in the neighborhood as employees. Mr. Bell established the Felicité Society to honor Felicité, a free woman of color credited with selflessly nursing many Iberians during the 1839 yellow fever epidemic. He is also a long-time historian of the Benjamin family of Cypress Island (St. Martin Parish) and the Bell family of Clover Hill (St. Martin Parish). Most of his education was completed in the segregated public schools of Iberia Parish, including Jonas Henderson High School.

Shane K. Bernard, Ph.D.
Dr. Bernard holds degrees in English and History from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (where he serves as a Fellow of the Center for Louisiana Studies) and a doctorate in History from Texas A&M University. For over a quarter century he has served as historian and curator to McIlhenny Company — maker of TABASCO® brand products — and Avery Island Inc. Bernard is the author of several books about south Louisiana history and culture and has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including the BBC, CNN, NPR, The History Channel, the New York Times, Smithsonian.com, and National Geographic. His latest publication is Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou. Dr. Bernard resides in New Iberia.

Carl Cooper, Jr.
Mr. Carl Cooper Jr. is an entrepreneur, an active community leader, and a spiritual teacher. After graduating high school he worked in the oil field as an industrial painter and attended Southwest Louisiana Community College (SLCC) of Lafayette. Carl has a passion for entrepreneurship, history and African studies. He is a member of the community-based nonprofit, Envision Da Berry, and serves as its board president. He is manager of Envision Da Berry’s Hopkins Street Market and is actively engaged in the George Washington Carver Community Garden.

Joyce Deyon-Sallier, CPA
Mrs. Deyon-Sallier is a Certified Public Accountant from New Iberia, and current resident of Houston. She is a descendant of former enslaved Africans on New Iberia-area plantations. Mrs. Deyon-Sallier is a graduate of Rice University (B.A., Managerial Studies; B.A., Sociology). She currently operates her own CPA firm. Previous experience includes Chief Financial Officer of a multinational entertainment company, Director of Internal Auditing for a major university, and business manager to several music artists and entertainers. She has extensive experience in accounting and auditing, including solving complex and non-routine issues for non-profit organizations.

Sandra Egland
Ms. Egland, a native of New Iberia, is the first historian to document the history of blacks in Iberia Parish, in Glenn R. Conrad’s New Iberia: Essays on the Town and its People. She was educated in segregated Iberia Parish public schools and attended private universities around the country. Ms. Egland was instrumental in the erection of a state historic marker in the New Iberia Civic Center commemorating the legacy of Felicité, a former Santo Domingo slave who nursed the citizens of New Iberia during the 1839 yellow fever epidemic. Ms. Egland was a member of New Iberia’s Historic Preservation Commission for several years. She is a descendant or relative of early black educators, artists, and business leaders.

Marcia Burns Patout
Mrs. Patout is the Director of the Bayou Teche Museum in New Iberia. She works closely with Dr. Hayes, founder of the IAAHS, in developing with local residents an inclusive, accurate, and complete narrative of the history of Iberia Parish. Mrs. Patout also works closely with IAAHS to expand the Bayou Teche Museum’s offering of exhibits and educational experiences about the history of the local African American community. Mrs. Patout married into the Patout family of east Iberia Parish who during the antebellum period owned one of the largest antebellum sugar plantations in the area. The family owns the present-day M. A. Patout Sugar Mill of Patoutville.

Daphne Thomas
Mrs. Daphne Thomas, a native of Franklin and long-time resident of New Iberia, is a businesswoman, children’s book author & illustrator, storyteller, performing artist and amateur family historian. She is founder of the New Iberia-based summer enrichment program for young girls, Building Beauty Inside and Out (BBIAO). In summer 2017, as part of the Purchased Lives slavery exhibit at New Iberia’s Bayou Teche Museum, Mrs. Thomas performed several Iberia Parish slave narratives in conjunction with a presentation by UL history professor Dr. Ian Beamish. She also served on a focus group organized by New Iberia’s Shadows-on-the-Teche plantation home as part of a 2018 National Trust for Historic Preservation assessment.

Warren White
Mr. Warren White is a member and fundraising chair of the New Iberia West End Community Neighborhood Association, a successful New Iberia nonprofit organization established to revitalize the West End neighborhoods of New Iberia. West End was the location of several antebellum plantations and the center of black commerce from the early to mid-20th century. Many historically significant buildings still exist in this area. Most early back professionals (physicians, pharmacists, educators, among others) and business owners (stores, funeral homes, dance halls, restaurants) lived and worked on the West End. Mr. White has also been a member of the Masons (Rising Star Lodge #84) for twenty years.

Caryn L. Winters, Ph.D.
Dr. Caryn L. Winters is a native of Iberia Parish and an assistant professor of Communication Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She has collaborated with Dr. Hayes, founder of the IAAHS, in presenting public talks about the history of African Americans in Iberia Parish. Recently, she co-presented a paper at the 2018 annual conference of the American Public Health Association in Atlanta about a 1944 racial incident in New Iberia that resulted in the violent expulsion of all the town’s black doctors and the impact that event had on the black and poor of the parish. Dr. Winters was educated in the public schools of Iberia Parish. She completed her undergraduate education at Loyola University in New Orleans and received her master’s degree from the Department of Communications at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Dr. Winters earned her Ph.D. in Communication Studies at Penn State University. She is a native of Iberia Parish and a descendant of former West Africans enslaved on local plantations. Dr. Winters resides in Lafayette.

Cheylon Woods, MLIS, MA
Mrs. Cheylon Woods is the Director and Archivist of the Ernest J. Gaines Center in the Agnes Dupre´Library at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She graduated with the MLIS from LSU-BR. Mrs. Woods is a certified Library of Congress trained in Digital Preservation, Outreach, and education. She holds dual undergraduate degrees in History and Political Science from Louisiana Tech University. She is a member of the Association of the Study of African American Life and History. Mrs. Woods has an MA in Heritage Resources from Northwestern State University. After graduating, she was awarded an IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Studies) fellowship through HistoryMakers (oral history archive based out of Chicago) where she was assigned to work as an archivist at the Alabama State Department of Archives and History. She actively worked with communities and prominent figures in the region to fill in information gaps related to African-American history in the state of Alabama.

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