Welcome to Scalawag’s Board of Directors

I’m thrilled to announce the growth of Scalawag’s Board of Directors with the addition of Taylor Jo Isenberg, Deborah Chay, W. Ralph Eubanks, Jamie N. Jones, and Kiese Laymon.

For the last year, the Scalawag team has searched for the most experienced and innovative folks in Southern writing, social engagement, and nonprofit development. The new Board members have shown that they walk the walk when it comes to building a more equitable South. They joined my co-founders, Sarah Bufkin and Jesse Williams, on the Board this summer. I serve ex officio as the Executive Director-Publisher, and Taylor Jo Isenberg currently serves as the Board Chair.

Scalawag has high ambitions for our reporting, storytelling, and community engagement. We’re thrilled that this incredible group will join us in that work. “I always wanted to work with a team of folk critically in love with the South's past, present, and future,” acclaimed author Kiese Laymon said. “I'm excited to help the bold, brave work of Scalawag be even bolder and more brave.”

The Board will work with the Scalawag team to realize our mission to “amplify voices of activists, artists, and writers to reckon with Southern realities as they are, rather than as they seem to be.”

Regarding her decision to join the board, Jamie N. Jones said, “Scalawag is a refreshing voice activating and engaging critical conversations necessary for a new South. I’m honored to support this talented team in their quest to catalyze dialogue into action.”

We are honored to publicly welcome these talented folks to the Scalawag community.


Taylor Jo Isenberg is the Chair of Scalawag's Board and the Managing Director of the Economic Security Project. Previously, she was the Senior Advisor to the President-CEO and Vice President at the Roosevelt Institute, where she led their national network. She grew up in North Carolina and now lives in New York City.

Deborah Chay started her career as an academic, and is now an organizational development and social impact consultant with Schaffer&Combs. She has fond memories of attending Song of the South and Gone with the Wind as a child and is excited to join Scalawag to help realize better and truer versions and visions of the South and its people.

W. Ralph Eubanks is a Visiting Professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He is the former Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review and the author of two memoirs, Ever is a Long Time and The Home at the End of the Road, about race, family, and Mississippi.

Jamie N. Jones is a co-founder of the residential contractor G. Crabtree Spaces as well as an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Jamie is co-founder of Impact Engine, a social impact investment fund in Chicago. She grew up in Eastern Tennessee and now calls Durham, North Carolina home.

Kiese Laymon is a Black Southern writer born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He now lives in Oxford where he is a Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. He's the author of the novel, Long Division, and the award-winning collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.