a junior in 1980, David Hoard was a recurring face on the front
pages of Oberlin town and campus newspapers. He and eight other
students embarked on a 33-day, 420-mile trek to retrace the Underground
Railroada winter term project that would take them through
the back roads of Greensburg, Kentucky, and through Ohio into Oberlinfreedom.
In the interest of authenticity, the Oberlin nine dressed in simulated
slave garb and made the majority of their journey at night, sleeping
outside in churches or barns.
People who escaped slavery beat the system, Hoard told
the Oberlin Observer in 1980. They went ahead and made a new
life for themselves. They were people of little resources, but they
started their own towns.
The project was a powerful lesson dotted with angry motorists, racial
slurs, fatigue, and sore feet. But the weary group was also met
with supporters: those offering a place to sleep and a couple who
provided a pot of homemade soup, cookies, and fruitcake.
Twenty years later his journey through those dusty roads remains
a source of conversation and inspiration. Oh yeah, somehow
a reporter got hold of the story and did a big article when I got
here in 1999, says Hoard, vice chancellor of development and
university relations at North Carolina A&T University. Through
that experience I developed wonderful relationships with people
and learned how important human interaction is.
Months before their journey, the group, led by Hoard, received a
$10,000 youth grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities,
perhaps foreshadowing Hoards career in fundraising. During
his four years as vice chancellor for development at North Carolina
Central University, he helped raise about 60 percent of the universitys
$50 million capital campaign. At A&T, he brokered an agreement
with a developer to build a $28 million, 804-bed modern student
housing facility near campus. He and his staff have raised $30 million
in less than two years towards an eventual campaign of $150 million.
Undaunted by even more work, Hoard was named CEO last June of the
International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, where he needs
to raise $10-15 million for a proposed full-scale museum at a former
Woolworths building downtown. In 1960 four A&T students
sparked a national movement in the store by refusing to leave an
all-white lunch counter.
My father (the late Rev. Walter Hoard 57) ended up being
president of the NAACP chapter in New York and performed similar
work in Milwaukee and Chicago, so its in my blood, Hoard
says. And Ive been lucky to have a lot of leadership
opportunities throughout my career.
I cant accomplish these things by myself, he adds.
I have a good group of people working with me. But I do pride
myself on having good listening and fairly good people skills. I
am able to provide people with what they want and also accomplish
my objectives for my jobs.