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Microsoft alumni honor BCRI’s Andrea L. Taylor

Andrea Taylor, President and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in the museum Wednesday January 6, 2016. (Photo by Frank Couch)
Special to The Times

The Microsoft Alumni Network honored former Microsoft executive and current President and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Andrea L. Taylor with its 2018 Integral Fellow Award on October 18. The award recognizes outstanding Microsoft alumni who make meaningful differences in the daily lives of others by applying their talents, time and resources. Taylor accepted the award at a special luncheon Thursday on Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond, Washington.

Taylor previously served more than eight years with Microsoft in Redmond as the director of citizenship and public affairs for North America. In 2015 she was appointed President and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where she is leading a transformation of the BCRI. Under Taylor’s leadership, the BCRI has increased its focus on public education and community engagement and is implementing the BCRI’s strategic plan to increase awareness of the Institute, promote the success of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, facilitate superb educational, curatorial and archival assets and build a healthy, adaptive and sustainable institution that is financially self-sufficient and nationally significant.

The Microsoft Alumni Integral Fellow Award has had 17 honorees in its 10 years of existence, and Taylor is the 2018 recipient. “It’s an incredible honor to receive this recognition from Microsoft, truly one of the world’s leading transformational companies. My experiences at Microsoft helped to prepare me for this leadership role in Birmingham,” Taylor said. “Our work at the BCRI is ongoing, because society continually strives towards social justice and human rights for all people.”

In bestowing the award, the Microsoft Alumni Network cited Taylor’s participation as a 16-year-old girl at the 1963 March on Washington, where the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to some 250,000 peaceful protestors. Taylor’s participation in that historic event was a formative experience and has influenced her personal and professional engagement with social activism and the preservation of human rights. Andrea calls the institute a “museum of the future about the past with a responsibility to ensure that today’s youth feel empowered to get involved and make a change in the world, just as the young people who marched with Dr. King did 55 years ago.”

The Microsoft Alumni Network Integral Fellow Award also provides a $25,000 gift to the honoree’s chosen nonprofit organization. “Of course, for me, that’s the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute,” Taylor said.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. The BCRI is a cultural and educational research center that promotes a comprehensive understanding of the significant civil rights developments in Birmingham that changed our world.

For more information, visit www.bcri.org or www.nps.gov/bcri.