Georgia businessman Milton Jones has been named the new chair of the board for the United Negro College Fund, making him the first Black person to serve in the role in the organization's history, according to a release from the fund. 

The former Bank of America executive founded Peachtree Providence Partners and has spent decades as a business leader in Atlanta. He has also previously served as Vice Chair of the board and chair of the finance committee.

“Since 1944, UNCF has played an integral role in changing the life trajectory for each student it has served, and l look forward to continuing that legacy,” Jones said in a statement.

“Our member institutions and students remain the focus of our collective efforts. As we progress each year, we will grow our organization by building upon the strong foundation laid at UNCF’s inception and strengthened throughout its history,” he added. 

Since 2006, Jones has been part of the board for the philanthropic organization, which helps manage and fund scholarships designated for Black students attending HBCUs across the country.

Jones is taking over for former Booz Allen Hamilton CEO and chairman William Stasior, who served as board chair for 11 years. 

“All of us at UNCF are excited to have Milton become our new board chair. Milton brings a wealth of business knowledge and a thoughtful and collaborative leadership approach that will help us thrive and continue to drive UNCF’s and our HBUCs’ impact and growth,” UNCF President and CEO Michael Lomax said in a statement. 

Lomax, who was president of Dillard University and has previously taught at Morehouse College and Spelman College, added that he has known Jones for four decades. 

The board chair is generally a major business leader, and former occupants of the role include John D. Rockefeller, III, former Revlon president and CEO Jack Stahl and others. 

In the organization's press statement, it's noted that Jones is serving in a variety of roles outside of the United Negro College Fund, working as vice chairman of the Meharry Medical College board of trustees, treasurer and a board member of 100 Black Men of America and past chairman of The Atlanta Business League and 100 Black Men of Atlanta.

Many online were surprised that the organization, which has existed for more than 77 years, has never had a Black person serve as board chair. 

"We are incredibly proud of Milton as he assumes this role with UNCF. Milton's life and career are a testament to his devout commitment to helping others and serving the community. We know he will do excellent things and leave a legacy that inspires others to support and revere our country's HBCUs," said Angela Webb, a founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners. 

The United Negro College Fund is the country's largest private organization working to provide scholarships, support and opportunities to Black students, and the fund's website said Lomax has helped raise more than $3 billion for over 100,000 Black college students. 

As Blavity previously reported, Lomax said that since the protests over police brutality and racism last summer, the organization has received an influx of support, allowing them to help more Black people get through college than ever before. 

“When George Floyd died, was murdered, something happened that I didn't expect, and that is just people at every economic level, in every way of giving. I mean, 100,000 people have made contributions online to UNCF since his death," Lomax told KIPP co-founder Dave Levin in December.

"We didn't have to issue a statement about our commitment to Black lives," Lomax said. "We didn't have to issue a statement about our commitment to justice and equity. People just knew that. And they felt like if I'm going to do something productive and constructive about it, this is a place to do it."