Home » YMICC Director Andrew Shannon Shares His Vision for the Historic Institution

YMICC Director Andrew Shannon Shares His Vision for the Historic Institution

by The Urban News

Andrew Shannon’s career has focused on creating activities, education, and opportunities for youth, as well as building and strengthening underserved and overlooked communities.

In mid-April the YMI Cultural Center—originally the Young Men’s Institute—named Andrew Shannon its new director.

Though he’s a native of Wilmington, NC, the core of Shannon’s background comes from Newport News, Virginia, where he began a 35-year career shortly after finishing college at Winston-Salem State, which he attended on a basketball scholarship. Soon thereafter he married his high school sweetheart, and they have two grown daughters, both involved in types of public service.

But after college, Shannon’s career took him north on a journey that has encompassed community engagement, youth programs, Civil Rights, and a vision in which “you let your reach exceed your grasp.”

When we sat with Dr. Shannon for an interview shortly after his appointment, he began by laughingly explaining why he has always been interested in community engagement. “When I was growing up in Wilmington, they had one big event, the Azalea Festival. That was it. A festival about flowers, but not people!”

First stop, Newport News, VA

“When I moved to Newport News, I worked with the City Department of Parks and Recreation as a Park Ranger. It’s a city of 200,000 people, and it’s 26 miles long. The northern part is mostly white, and southern part, called the South East, is where most of the Blacks live.”

A Park Ranger’s job, he told us, is functionally that of a policeman. But from the outset Shannon directed his focus at interaction with the community, especially in South East Wilmington. He recalls with a chuckle, “They called me Ranger Andy. Because I wanted to get involved in the community. I did interpretive programs like nature hikes, and leading kite flights. I wanted to get to know people in the community—not to arrest them for doing wrong, but to talk about…

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