John F. Burness, retired senior vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke University and an adjunct professor in the Dewitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy, has been elected chair of the Durham Technical Community College Board of Trustees. He has been a Durham Tech Trustee since 2009 and previously served as vice chair of the Trustees.
Burness is a longtime education advocate locally and nationally. Among several civic activities locally, he was the founding chair of the board of directors of the Durham Communities in Schools dropout prevention program and a director of the Durham Public Education Network. He headed the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, which generated some $15 million to support partnerships with seven Durham Public Schools, community-based health clinics and an extensive program for affordable housing for first-time homebuyers in collaboration with Self Help, the Durham Land Trustees and the City of Durham.
Nationally, Burness is on the board of Private College 529, a consortium of nearly 300 private colleges and universities dedicated to help families save for higher education.
In 2010-11, he was on leave from the Sanford School to serve as interim president of Franklin and Marshall College, his alma mater, where he was a trustee for several years.
Dr. Tara L. Fikes, retired former director of Housing, Human Rights, and Community Development for Orange County and adjunct instructor at the UNC-CH School of Government, was elected vice chair. Their terms last one year, and can be renewed.