On Thursday, June 24, 2021, at the annual meeting of the Winston-Salem Urban League, the board elected two new directors. Board chair, Dr. Marquis Barnett announced Audrey Biesk and Jessica Leach as directors.

Audrey Biesk, a native of San Diego, California, began her career at WMBF News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she covered several hurricanes, including Hurricane Matthew’s destruction in Lumberton, North Carolina in 2016. She reported in Myrtle Beach during Hurricane Florence in 2018 and anchored nine hours of coverage for Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Biesk has served as the morning anchor at WXII since November of 2020. Biesk holds a Bachelors in mass communications from Concordia University – Irvine, California.

Jessica Leach is a native of Winston-Salem. She served as president of the Young Professionals from 2013 to 2016 and held the Young Professionals board position during that same period. Leach is a Senior Clinical Research Associate at IQVIA. Leach holds a Bachelor of Science in cellular and molecular biology from Hampton University and the Master of Public Health from the University of Virginia. 

Dr. Barnett remarked, “Audrey brings a refreshing new voice to the board while Jessica, as a long time Urban Leaguer, will provide stability. We are excited to welcome our new directors as we continue the Urban League’s commitment to community service and social justice advocacy.”

CEO, James Perry, celebrated former board member, James Shaw, who passed away in November of 2020. Perry remarked, “Mr. Shaw was a persistent moral voice and fiscal hound that never hesitated to push the Winston-Salem Urban League to be more aggressive in pursuit of its mission.”

Perry also discussed the Winston‐Salem Urban League’s advocacy and programmatic successes, including serving more than 6,000 Winston-Salem residents with employment, education, health and policy programming and activities.

Board Chair, Dr. Marquis Barnett remarked, “The COVID-19 pandemic. A racial reckoning. Protests. Riots. And perhaps, the most consequential and logistically challenging election of our lives. The events of the past year have tested even the most organized, well funded and structurally sound organizations. I am proud to say that were the 2020-21 fiscal year a test for organizational mettle, then the Winston-Salem Urban League would have passed with flying colors.”


More about the Winston-Salem Urban LeagueThe Winston-Salem Urban League is a near 70-year-old civil rights organization that empowers and advocates for African Americans and other disenfranchised communities and promotes socioeconomic progress and parity through education, training, and civic engagement.

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