Keynote Speaker announced for Friendship Council’s MLK celebration at TFAC

Published 1:11 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

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Dr. Tiece M. Ruffin will be the Keynote Speaker at the Friendship Council’s annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 5 p.m. on January 27, at the Tryon Fine Arts Center, located at 34 Melrose Avenue in Tryon. 

Music will be provided by The Burns Sisters and the youth choirs of Star Bethel and Church of the Living God. A free, catered reception will follow. This program is made possible by a generous Free Community Event Grant from the Polk County Community Foundation.

Ruffin is a full Professor of Africana Studies and Education at the University of North Carolina Asheville, North Carolina’s designated liberal arts and sciences university. She chairs the Department of Education, directs the Africana Studies Program and teaches undergraduate courses in inclusive and justice-based education.

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With over twenty-five years of educational experience spanning several positions in schools and various educational settings in the United States and internationally, she has real-world experience as a high school special education teacher, special education administrator for a public school district monitoring educational services for students with disabilities, and as a teacher-educator preparing teachers in public and private universities.

She is an accomplished professional with the honor of representing the United States of America as a cultural and academic ambassador in Ghana and Malawi on U.S. Fulbright Scholar exchanges and as a U.S. Department of State citizen diplomat through the funding and implementation of two public service projects, one in Ghana, on deaf education, and one in Asheville on culturally responsive literacy. She also has the distinction of being the 2020 University of North Carolina System Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching recipient for UNC Asheville, a North Carolina-West Education Policy Fellow, Past-President’s Fellow of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar in the U.S. Department of Education.

As a 14-year resident of Asheville, N.C., Dr. Ruffin is a veteran teacher-educator and defender of human rights as an education justice advocate, consultant, and freedom fighter working to dismantle oppressive and structurally inequitable education systems. In her community, she is a widely recognized scholar-activist, having received the Rosa Parks Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County in 2022 for fostering a culture of inclusion in the Asheville community, a Co-THINKK Community Leader Award in 2021 for being an influential leader doing systems-level change work alongside and in partnership with the community, and also in 2021, a Tzedek Social Justice Fund Impact award in acknowledgment of her work to make Asheville a place where everyone can thrive.

She is married to Dr. Agya Boakye-Boaten and has two sons, Barfuo Abayie Boakye-Boaten, and Agya Boakye-Boaten, II.


Submitted by Donna Tatnall