Back Bay Executive Director Graham to Retire in December

The Rev. Alice Graham, Ph.D.

The Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Miss., has announced that the Rev. Alice Graham, Ph.D., executive director, is retiring. Her last day will be Dec. 31, 2020. Graham has been executive director of Back Bay since 2015.

During her time at Back Bay, Graham has developed program initiatives that move clients from receiving emergency assistance to long-term sustainability.

“Dr. Graham has led a gallant effort in meeting the needs of the under-served and enhancing the value of the organization in the community,” wrote Laura Payne, development coordinator, in a Back Bay blog post announcing Graham’s retirement. “Her passion for serving others is exemplary.”

Originally from Chicago, Graham graduated from Spellman College in Atlanta with a B.A. degree. She earned an M.Div. degree from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary and a Ph.D. in pastoral psychology and counseling from Northwestern University, both in Evanston, Ill. She is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Church, USA, and a certified Fellow, Retired, of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

While at Spellman, Graham became influenced by the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and got involved in the Civil Rights Movement, joining a march in Atlanta. Though initially reluctant to participate, Graham told WLOX Biloxi in 2018 that she found the experience life changing. “What I realized in that march was that in order for the nation to change, people had to work together,” she told the station.

The experience, and King’s message of hope and love, became the foundation of her life’s work. For 30 years, she served as a pastoral counselor, during which time she co-founded the Pastoral Ministries Institute in Reston, Va. She served for 10 years, from 1999-2009, as professor of pastoral care and counseling at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, N.C. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she served for five years as executive director of Interfaith Partnerships in Gulfport, Miss., before being called to Back Bay.

“Back Bay Mission is demonstrating the importance of responding to the needs of the persons we serve from the place of our shared humanity. This allows for compassion and respect, which are key components for partnering with clients for effective movement toward long-term sustainability,” Graham says. “The relationship between participant and staff member cannot be reduced to data collection and checkpoints, but focuses on the needs/aspirations of the individuals being served.

“Supporting a culture of kindness, patience, justice, and love has been my goal as executive director. I pray that that is my legacy.”

Michael J. Readinger, president and CEO of CHHSM, says Graham’s insight and collegiality will be missed. “Although we in CHHSM will miss Rev. Graham’s presence, I have no doubt that the next stop in her faith journey will be fulfilling and enriching for her and for all who have the pleasure of serving with her,” he says.

The Back Bay Board of Directors has begun the process of identifying candidates to continue leading Back Bay Mission in its mission to strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives.

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