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Practitioners & Speakers

Each semester, the PublicsLab invites humanities leaders who are doing innovative and brave work both inside and outside the academy to share their knowledge and expertise with the Mellon Humanities Public Fellows and the broader Graduate Center community. Please find below our confirmed practitioners and speakers for the 2019–20 academic year.

Fall 2020

Weshoyot Alvitre

Weshoyot Alvitre is a Tongva/Scots comic book artist and illustrator whose work primarily is used to explore story through sequential art media. Known for her panel to panel narratives, Weshoyot focuses on the emotional impacts of historical events and current responses to politics, lending a human element to linear storytelling. Her work gives voice to the under-represented storylines of present, future, and past indigenous voices. Weshoyot served as the artist of Ghost River, and her art was featured in an eponymous exhibition at the Library Company of Philadelphia (November 15, 2019-August 31, 2020).

William D. Fenton, PhD

Dr. William D. Fenton is the Director of Research and Public Programs at the Library Company of Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. from Fordham University in August 2018 (Department of English). Will specializes in early American literature and the digital humanities, for which he has received numerous scholarships, fellowships, and awards. His digital humanities project Digital Paxton, served as the foundation of the Ghost River project. Will served as the creative director and project manager of the project, editor of the Ghost River volume, and curator of the eponymous exhibition at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Lee Francis, IV, PhD

Dr. Lee Francis, IV (Pueblo of Laguna) is the CEO and Founder of Native Realities LLC, an Indigenous Imagination Company, dedicated to unleashing the Indigenous imagination through popular culture, including comic books, graphic novels, games, toys, and collectibles. Founded in 2015, Native Realities has published the largest assortment of Indigenous-centric comic books in the world. Through Native Realities Lee also founded the Indigenous Comic Con in 2016 and opened Red Planet Books and Comics, the only Native comic shop in the world, in 2017. Lee served as the author and publisher of Ghost River.

Mike Mena

Mike Mena is a PhD student in Linguistic Anthropology at the Graduate Center and focuses on how ideologies of race and language converge in ways that reproduce hierarchical arrangements and income inequality.  He is currently conceptualizing a longitudinal ethnographic project on the neoliberalization of higher education in the United States.  In 2019, Mena’s YouTube channel, The Social Life of Language, was recognized with the Society for Linguistic Anthropology’s “Public Outreach and Community Service Award.”  The Social Life of Language continues to receive national and international recognition for its multi-modal pedagogical approach and as intellectually informed public activism.

Siovahn A. Walker, PhD, MPA

Siovahn Walker is a trained humanist, nonprofit professional and expert in managing and marketing mission-driven organizations, both nonprofit and for-profit. She is currently the Executive Director of the American Musicological Society as well as CEO and founder of Mayhunt Consulting, Inc., a New York State benefit corporation specializing in providing marketing and managing support for small businesses and nonprofits. Siovahn Walker previously served as Executive Director of the Council for European Studies (CES), Director of Outreach for the Modern Language Association (MLA), and Program Officer and Director of Communication for the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). She holds a BA in History from Brown University, an MA and PhD in History from Stanford University, a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from Columbia University, and a long list of trainings and certifications in various aspects of marketing, communications, fundraising, technology and management.

Spring 2020

Jill Cirasella

Jill Cirasella is the Graduate Center’s Associate Librarian for Scholarly Communication & Digital Scholarship. In this position, she oversees scholarly communication initiatives, thesis/dissertation services, and digital scholarship and preservation services. Her research focus is scholarly communication, broadly construed: recent projects examine anxieties surrounding open access dissertations, attitudes about practice-based library literature, and the professional experiences of hard-of-hearing librarians. She is committed to advancing ethical, community-led open access initiatives and serves on the boards of three open access journals.

Melissa DeShields

Melissa DeShields helps organizations build strong teams, develop strategy, and execute plans effectively.  A member of Frontline’s senior leadership team since 2015, Melissa has built a culture of learning, reflection, and deep connection between team members. She has led high-impact projects for Grantmakers for Girls of Color, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In particular, Melissa engineered the growth of A Gathering of Leaders into a community of 500 of the leading thinkers and doers focused on improving the outcomes for boys and men of color. Prior to joining Frontline, Melissa launched her own practice, DeShields Hagan and Associates. She has previously held senior-level positions at the Urban Affairs Coalition and at The Philadelphia Foundation. She is a graduate of Rutgers University.

Micah Gilmer

Micah Gilmer is a researcher and writer who helps Frontline understand how the social technologies of racism and patriarchy create inequitable American systems. He works with clients to design research processes, build strong organizational cultures, and evaluate impact. Micah led the development of Frontline’s seminal report “Why We Can’t Wait” and contributed to “Gender Norms: A Key to Improving Outcomes Among Young Latinas.” His work has positioned Frontline as a national thought leader on issues of race and gender. Prior to leading at Frontline, Micah completed a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at Duke University. His research is featured in the forthcoming book The Big Black Man Rules: Race, Manhood, and the Education of Black Boys. He also examined the connections between Zulu hip-hop, politics, and opportunity in Soweto, South Africa. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2004.

Stacy Hartman

Stacy HartmanStacy Hartman is the director of the PublicsLab at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. At the PublicsLab, she manages the Mellon Humanities Public Fellowship program, which trains early career graduate students in the humanities in the methods and practice of public scholarship. The first interdisciplinary cohort of 12 public fellows begins in September 2019. In addition to the fellowship program, Dr. Hartman is responsible for developing the PublicsLab internship program, managing a robust slate of events related to public scholarship, and serving as the managing editor of the program’s website. Before coming to The Graduate Center in 2018, she was the project manager of Connected Academics at the Modern Language Association. She is currently co-editing a volume titled Mission Driven: Reimagining Graduate Education for a Thriving Humanities Ecosystem. She holds a PhD in German Studies from Stanford University.

Miriam Laytner

Miriam Laytner photoMiriam Laytner is a PhD student in cultural anthropology. She is interested in the intersections of science, faith, and the understanding of climate change. Her interest in climate change stems from six years as a scuba instructor and hiking guide across North America, Australia, and the Caribbean. She holds an MA in oral history from Columbia University, an MA in cultural anthropology from the University of Oklahoma, and a BA in History from Barnard College.

Mike Mena

Mike Mena is a PhD student in Linguistic Anthropology at the Graduate Center and focuses on how ideologies of race and language converge in ways that reproduce hierarchical arrangements and income inequality.  He is currently conceptualizing a longitudinal ethnographic project on the neoliberalization of higher education in the United States.  In 2019, Mena’s YouTube channel, The Social Life of Language, was recognized with the Society for Linguistic Anthropology’s “Public Outreach and Community Service Award.”  The Social Life of Language continues to receive national and international recognition for its multi-modal pedagogical approach and as intellectually informed public activism.

Katina Rogers

Katina Rogers is co-director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where she guides and mentors graduate fellows, develops programming, and exercises administrative oversight over all aspects of the program. She is also Director of Programs and Administration for HASTAC, the online scholarly network, and co-director of a new $3.15 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the Humanities Alliance, a partnership between the Graduate Center and four CUNY community colleges.

Dr. Rogers’s scholarly work focuses on many aspects of higher education reform, including scholarly communication practices, professionalization and career development, public scholarship, and advocacy for fair labor policies. Her first book, titled Putting the Humanities PhD to Work: Thriving in and beyond the Classroom, will be published by Duke University Press in July 2020 and is available for pre-order. Rogers holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Cihan Tekay

Cihan Tekay is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the Graduate Center and a graduate fellow at the Futures Initiative, where she is the Institutional Leadership and Administration Specialist. She is interested in the global emergence of novel forms of citizenship, and how people’s engagement with science, technology, and popular political ideologies shape visions of the future. She is currently writing her dissertation on the political economy of electrification in Turkey during the early 20th century. Cihan is committed to public scholarship, academic freedom, and imagining fair and equitable futures for the university. She has been engaged in various public scholarship projects in Turkish and English for the last decade. Recently, she started recording podcasts for the Status Audio magazine, where she interviews fellow anthropologists working in Turkey. She has been a co-editor of the Turkey section on since 2013.

Siqi Tu

Siqi Tu is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her work focuses on the areas of urban sociology, immigration, education, elites, and contemporary Chinese societies. Tu was born and raised in Shanghai, China and moved to New York City in 2012. She developed her interest in immigration and urban neighborhoods as a keen observer of diverse communities in different metropolitan areas. Her dissertation, “Destination Diploma: How Chinese Upper-Middle Class Families ‘Outsource’ Secondary Education to the United States”, investigates why and how Chinese upper-middle-class families make decisions to send their children to the United States to attend private high schools, some as young as 14 years of age, and it analyzes the actual lived experiences of the students of this “parachute-generation”. She has served as a guest speaker on Sinica Postcast and wrote op-eds for Sixtone and Chinafile.

Anne Valk

Anne Valk is a specialist in oral history, public history, and the social history of 20th century United States. Before coming to The Graduate Center, she was associate director for public humanities and a lecturer in history at Williams College, where she taught experiential and community-based classes in oral history and public history. Prior to that, she was associate professor of history and director of women’s studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and deputy director of the Center for Public Humanities at Brown University.  She has written extensively in the areas of women’s history, history of feminism, and oral history. Her books include Radical Sisters: Second-Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington, DC, 1968-1980 and Living with Jim Crow: African American Women and Memories of the Segregated South, co-authored with Leslie Brown and recipient of the 2011 Oral History Association Book Prize. Valk has served as president of the Oral History Association and is book series editor of the Oral History Series published by Oxford University Press.

Luke Waltzer

Luke Waltzer is the Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he supports GC students in their teaching across the CUNY system and beyond, and works on a variety of pedagogical and digital projects. He previously was the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Baruch College. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the Graduate Center, serves as Director of Community Projects for the CUNY Academic Commons, is a faculty member in the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program, and directs the development of Vocat, an open-source multimedia evaluation and assessment tool. He serves on the editorial collective of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, and has contributed essays to Matthew K. Gold’s Debates in the Digital Humanities and, with Thomas Harbison, to Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki’s Writing History in the Digital Age.

Bianca Williams

Bianca Williams

Bianca C. Williams is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at The Graduate Center and Faculty Lead of the PublicsLab. She earned her PhD in Cultural Anthropology and a graduate certificate in African & African American Studies, from Duke University. Dr. Williams is a recipient of the American Anthropological Association & Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology. Her research interests include Black women and happiness; race, gender, and equity in higher education; feminist pedagogies; and emotional labor in Black feminist organizing and leadership. She is the author of The Pursuit of Happiness: Black Women, Diasporic Dreams, and the Politics of Emotional Transnationalism (Duke University Press, 2018). Dr. Williams has also written about “radical honesty” as feminist pedagogy in the collection Race, Equity, and the Learning Environment, and has published on #BlackLivesMatter, plantation politics and campus activism, and tourism in the journals Souls, Cultural AnthropologyTeachers College Record, and on the blogs Savage Minds and Anthropoliteia.

Robert Yates

Robert Yates photoRobert Yates is a PhD student in the Department of English. Robert’s research focuses on early modern literature and culture, with particular interests in drama, embodiment, and popular festivities. As a public scholar, Robert continues to work with educational institutions to develop curriculum and systems of professional development for teachers of literature and writing. Before arriving at The Graduate Center, Robert worked as a Graduate Associate at Georgetown University’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), as well as a curriculum designer of English courses at D.C. Public Schools. Robert holds an M.Phil. in Education from the University of Cambridge and a M.A. in English from Georgetown University.

Fall 2019

Glory Edim

Glory Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club and online community that celebrates the uniqueness of Black literature and sisterhood. In fall 2017, she organized the first-ever Well-Read Black Girl Literary Festival. She has worked as a creative strategist for over ten years at startups and cultural institutions, including Kickstarter, The Webby Awards, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She received the 2017 Innovator’s Award from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes for her work as a literary advocate. Her first anthology, Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves, was published by Random House in 2018. She serves on the board of New York City’s Housing Works Bookstore and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Ms. Edim will speak on the opening panel of “AGENCY + CARE = The Power of Black Women Reading” on 22 October 2019 and facilitate a workshop on 23 October 2019.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Alexis Pauline GumbsAlexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all sentient beings. Her poetic work in response to the needs of her cherished communities have held space for multitudes in mourning and movement. Alexis’s co-edited volume of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016) has shifted the conversation on mothering, parenting and queer transformation. Alexis has transformed the scope of intellectual, creative and oracular writing with her triptych of experimental works published by Duke University Press (Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity in 2016, M Archive: After the End of the World in 2018 and Dub: Finding Ceremony forthcoming in 2020.) Alexis and her primary collaborator Sangodare has shown the world a Queer Black Feminist Love Ethic in practice through projects such as Mobile Homecoming and Black Feminist Film School. She holds a PhD in English, African and African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University.

Dr. Gumbs will speak on the opening panel of “AGENCY + CARE = The Power of Black Women Reading” on 22 October 2019 and facilitate a workshop on 23 October 2019 on the topic of “Freedom is a Practice: An Oracle Workshop.”

Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff

Lindsay Sarah KrasnoffLindsay Sarah Krasnoff is a historian, journalist, and consultant working at the intersection of global sport and diplomacy. Author of The Making of Les Bleus: Sport in France (2013) and Basketball Empire: A Hidden Story of the NBA’s Globalization (in process), she has written for The Athletic, CNN International, ESPN, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and others. Krasnoff is a Research Associate with the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS University of London. She holds a PhD in History from The Graduate Center (City University of New York), MA in Journalism and French Studies (NYU), and BA in International Affairs (The George Washington University).

Dr. Krasnoff will be facilitating a series of four workshops on the topic of public communication.

Patricia A. Matthew

Patricia A. MatthewPatricia A. Matthew is an associate professor of English at Montclair State University. She teaches courses in British Romanticism, the history of the novel, and British abolitionist literature. She is the co-editor of a special issue for Romantic Pedagogy Commons and has published essays and reviews in Women’s Writing, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, and the Keats-Shelley Journal. She’s the editor of Written/Unwritten: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) and has published essays and books reviews on diversity in higher education in PMLA, The ADE Bulletin, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, The New Inquiry and The Atlantic. Her work on diversity has been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. In addition to essays on race and popular culture, she is currently writing a monograph about sugar, gender, and British abolitionist literature.

Dr. Matthew will give a workshop on Public Writing and the Early Career Scholar and a talk on Whiteness as an Institution: Publics and Pedagogies, both on 27 September 2019.

Sara Ogger

Photo of Sara OggerSara Ogger is the Executive Director of Humanities New York, the state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities and sole statewide voice for the public humanities since 1975. Under her leadership, Humanities New York has introduced innovative, popular and accessible public programs such as the “Public Humanities Fellows” and “Democracy and the Informed Citizen.” A seasoned advocate for the public humanities before Congress and the NYS Legislature, Sara began her work at Humanities New York as Grants Officer in 2002, becoming Associate Director and gaining significant state funding for Humanities New York before being appointed to the Executive Directorship in 2007. Dr. Ogger holds a PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Princeton University and earned her BA at Bryn Mawr College.

Dr. Ogger will teach a day-long workshop on 15 November 2019 the topic of “Humanities Design: A Primer and Workshop Exploring Equity, Access, and the Public.”

Christen Anne Smith

Christen Anne Smith is a Black feminist anthropologist, social justice advocate, associate professor of Anthropology and African and African Diaspora Studies at The University of Texas at Austin and founder of Cite Black Women, a campaign that brings awareness to the structural, gendered, racial discrimination that Black women face in the culture of academic and non-academic citation. A Latin Americanist by training, Smith has written and taught extensively on the transnational dimensions of the Black feminist tradition, including Black women’s intellectual contributions to the Americas, and Black women’s unique experiences with state violence in the Americas. Her book, Afro-Paradise: Blackness, Violence and Performance in Brazil  [] (University of Illinois Press, 2016) chronicles Black Brazilians’ experiences with police violence in Bahia and the relationship between this violence and the state’s construction of Bahia as an exotic tourist site.

Dr. Smith will speak on the opening panel of “AGENCY + CARE = The Power of Black Women Reading” on 22 October 2019 and facilitate a workshop on 23 October 2019 on the topic of “Cite Black Women: Radical Praxis, Healing from Erasure.”

Jamia Wilson

Jamia Wilson photoJamia Wilson is the executive director and publisher of the Feminist Press. She is the author of Young, Gifted, and Black and Step Into Your Power, co-author of Road Map for Revolutionaries, and wrote the introduction and oral history to Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World. She is the recipient of the 2018 NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumnae Award, the Planned Parenthood Southeast “Legend in the Making” award, and her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Essence, Rookie, Refinery29, CNN, the Washington Post, Elle, and more.

Ms. Wilson will speak on the opening panel of “AGENCY + CARE = The Power of Black Women Reading” on 22 October 2019 and facilitate a workshop on 23 October 2019 on the topic of “The Future of Feminist Publishing.”

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