Reneé Kesler, President of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, will be the guest speaker at the Morristown Task Force on Diversity’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast on January 20.
Established in 1975, Beck is as an African American teaching and learning museum and cultural center that serves as a State of Tennessee designated primary repository of black history and culture in the city of Knoxville and throughout East Tennessee.
As the storehouse of African American history and culture, Kesler ensures that Beck remains dedicated to this mission. Kesler envisions leading Beck to becoming the desired place that people go to learn, discover and experience the rich legacy of African Americans inside a vibrant Cultural Corridor.
Prior to assuming the leadership of Beck, Kesler launched, in 2007, an independent consulting firm, RK Consulting, a Certified Tennessee Department of Transportation Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and a Certified Women Business Enterprise by the Governor’s Office of Diversity Business Enterprise. The firm specialized in Administrative and General Management Consulting Services.
Formerly, Kesler served as the Director of the City of Knoxville’s Community Development Department. Her responsibilities included administration of a $30 million-dollar budget consisting of local, state and federal funds for the development of the city’s disadvantaged communities and neighborhoods, various redevelopment and revitalization's plans, oversight of the city’s Disability Services, Fair Housing Program, Empowerment Zone and joint City/County Initiative for the 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. Kesler has a strong financial background with 15 years of banking experience serving as Vice President and Regional Community Development Officer covering all of Northeast Tennessee and Virginia.
Kesler has committed numerous years to public service including serving on countless boards, committees and taskforces. She served, for 10 years, as Chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She has numerous appointments to include: Appointment by Mayor-Elect Bill Haslam to Mayoral Transition Team, Appointment by the Honorable Mayor Bill Haslam to Industrial Development Board, Appointment by the Honorable Mayor Victor Ashe as a Commissioner for Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation, along with numerous honors including: Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity 2015 Robert Booker Service Image Award, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance 2015 Peacemaker Award, and Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. Alpha XI Chapter Bronze Woman of the Year Award 2007-2008.
In addition to her professional and public service work, the Reverend Kesler is a Licensed Ordained Associate Minister at Mount Calvary Baptist Church. She is currently enrolled in Covington Theological Seminary pursing a Master of Ministry degree followed by a Doctorate of Ministry degree.
Kesler is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, graduate of Leadership Knoxville and graduate of the University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Associate Program.
She is also a Professional Instructor with the University of Tennessee, Department of Professional and Personal Development, Continuing Education.
Kesler is a native of Knoxville and is married to Christopher of Augusta, Georgia, a math teacher at Knoxville’s West High School and varsity basketball coach.
In addition to Kesler’s speach, there will be music, recognition of the MLK Essay Contest winners and Community Award Winners
Doors open at 7 a.m., for breakfast The program starts at 7:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church in Morristown. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and veterans.
Tickets can be bought at the door.