Washington, DC, June 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Board Chairman Charles Merinoff announced today the election of four new directors to the TMCF Board of Directors.   Sean Lee from The Coca-Cola Company, Jeffrey J. Hurd from Equitable Holdings, Byron Taylor from Sidley Austin LLP, and April Payne-McMillan daughter of TMCF Founder Dr. N. Joyce Payne were unanimously elected during the May 25th board meeting.

“We are thrilled to welcome these four new directors,” said TMCF Board Chairman and Co-Chairman, Breakthru Beverage Group, Charles Merinoff. “The diversity and depth of their experiences and perspectives, coupled with their passion for the mission of TMCF, will play an invaluable role in advancing the impact of our work.”

Newly Appointed TMCF Board of Directors:


Sean Lee, Global Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company

Sean Lee currently serves as Chief of Customer Experience and senior vice president, The Coca-Cola Company, leading the North American Food Service and On-Premises Operations organization He brings more than 25 years of global operations and executive experiences from both military and Fortune 100 companies.

Sean was named Chief of Customer Experience in 2022, leading a networked team comprised of food service operations and customer service teams including all North American Syrup Producing Plants, National Foodservice Distribution, Contact Center & Sales Support, Freestyle/Dispensed Equipment, and Customer Field Operations and parts warehouses. This team is focused on delivering the highest quality Coca-Cola beverages and an unparalleled experience from launch to landing.

Previously, Sean has served as VP Global Operations and Workplace Service, Chief Security Officer, VP of Aviation Services, and various other leadership positions with Hewlett Packard, MassMutual Financial Group, and The U.S.A.F. Additionally, he currently serves on the board of directors of the Coca-Cola Federal Credit Union, Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

Lee is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science in general sciences/physics, as well as the USAF Russian Language Area Studies Immersion Program at the University of St. Petersburg in Russia. He has completed certificate courses in Strategic Operational Agility through Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning, as well as Aviation Safety & Security with the University of Southern California and the DoD/FAA Advanced Instrument School. Finally, he earned his master’s degree in business administration in management from Emory University in Atlanta.

Jeffrey J. Hurd, Chief Operating Officer, Equitable Holdings

Hurd is the Chief Operating Officer of Equitable Holdings and a member of its Management Committee. He has strategic oversight of the company’s Human Resources, Information Technology, Service Operations, and Communications departments. Mr. Hurd also has responsibility for the Innovation & Design Office.  This group drives a culture of iterative thinking, leads the implementation of  New Ways of Working across the company, and educates teams on agile methodologies and customer-centered approaches to problem-solving. In addition, Mr. Hurd leads the company’s ESG strategy and programs and other key functional areas including Procurement and Real Estate.

Previously, Hurd had a nearly 20-year career at AIG, where he amassed deep industry experience in his roles as chief operating officer, chief human resources officer, chief administrative officer, and various leadership roles in the legal department.  Mr. Hurd currently serves on the Board of Directors for Alliance Bernstein. He previously has held a variety of board positions, including United Guaranty Corporation, a leading mortgage insurer, and the post-IPO board of AIA Group, a top insurance company in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Hurd received his Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Union College.

Byron Taylor, Co-Leader of Sidley’s Environmental

Byron Taylor is a member of the Sidley Austin Executive Committee and co-leader of Sidley’s Environmental Practice group. His practice includes civil litigation, crisis response, compliance counseling, internal investigations, regulatory advocacy, and environmental aspects of transactions.

Byron assists clients and advises boards in high-stake matters following major environmental incidents, including matters that involve both environmental regulatory issues and related tort claims. He also frequently provides key strategic advice on regulatory and permit matters and defends clients against alleged violations of a variety of federal and state environmental laws. Some of Taylor’s notable cases include:

  • Representing a medical device sterilization company in regulatory litigation, permitting matters, and new rule development relating to ethylene oxide air emissions at multiple facilities across the country.
  • Assisting a petroleum refining company in obtaining the air emission construction permit for a major expansion and negotiating an innovative agreement with an environmental citizen’s group concerning the project.
  • Defending a petroleum refining company against claims of excess flaring and an upset event that included a release affecting a nearby neighborhood.
  • Defending a manufacturing company in a RCRA 3008(h) correction action matter concerning a currently operating facility.
  • Defending a Midwestern electric utility company in a Clean Air Act New Source Review enforcement matter that ultimately was dismissed by the federal court.
  • Defending an electric generating station against an interstate claim that emissions from the plant violated the law in the neighboring state.

Over the past several years, Byron has become well known for his work on complex Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act matters. Byron was named the Litigation — Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Chicago in the Best Lawyers’ 2013 edition. He also has been recognized as a leader in Chambers USA 2013-2022 in Environment: Litigation, which noted he “feels like a steady hand for clients in difficult negotiations.” In 2019, Byron was named by Crain’s Chicago Business to its list of “Notable Minorities in Accounting, Consulting & Law.”

Within the firm, Byron is a co-chair of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and serves on the Lawyer Training and Professional Development Committee and the Counsel Committee. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a law degree from The University of Chicago Law School.

April Payne-McMillan, Program Analyst, Child Care Subsidy Program, Office of Human Resources, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

April Payne-McMillian serves as a program analyst for the CCSP, a $3.6M national program that supports employees to subsidize the costs of childcare. To improve the efficiency of the program, she has mastered an automated records management system (CCRMS) that captures and electronically processes thousands of payments through an Invoice Payment Processing System (IPPS) to childcare providers across the country.

In 2010, Payne-McMillian worked at The Library of Congress, Office of the Librarian in the Special Events Department. She served as a special assistant in supporting such major events as the Gershwin Prize Award honoring Paul McCartney and several other icons.

Before her tenure at the Library of Congress, Payne-McMillian developed her career in the music industry, where she provided marketing and promotional events for Sony Music and several recording startups. She worked closely with the late LeBaron Taylor of Sony and assisted in organizing several major entertainment events during the early years of the nationally recognized Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

In 1995, April became the Senior Vice President of Global Productions and Entertainment, Inc. She was responsible for managing the company’s multi-national entertainment/event, contracts, artists, marketing, and strategic planning, as well as assisting in the development of the company’s long-term direction and operating and performance targets.

She worked toward an advanced degree in public health/biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University and studied at the University of Alabama. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of the District of Columbia, where she started her career in biostatistics and strategic planning on a grant from the U. S. National Institute of Health.



Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member schools include the publicly supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions, enrolling nearly 80% of all students attending black colleges and universities. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also the source of top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs.

TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF, visit

CONTACT: Rob Knox Thurgood Marshall College Fund [email protected] 

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