Faculty Inaugural Symposium Speakers
April 8, 2016
Equality and Women Mapping the City: Atlanta, Detroit and New Orleans
View symposium schedule.
Mora Beauchamp-Byrd, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor of Art History and Curatorial Studies
Department of Art and Art History
Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd is visiting assistant professor of art history and curatorial studies at Spelman College. Prior to this appointment, she was visiting assistant professor of art history in the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University from 2014-2015. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and an Master of Arts in Visual Arts Administration at New York University. She also earned an Masters of Art in Art History from Columbia University. In 2011, she completed a doctorate in Art History at Duke University in the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies.
An art historian, curator, and arts administrator, she served as interim executive director at the New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History prior to her visiting assistant professor appointment at Duke. From 2008 through 2013, she served as assistant professor of art history in the Department of Art and Curator of University Art Collections at Xavier University of Louisiana.
Alix Chapman, Ph.D.
Comparative Women’s Studies Department
Alix Chapman, Ph.D., received his doctorate from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin. His dissertation, Break It Down: Black Queer Performance and the Politics of Displacement in New Orleans, addresses the ways in which home, heritage, and the body are reconceptualized in the wake of crisis.
Through a combination of performance ethnography and historical and literary critique, Dr. Chapman explores “Sissy Bounce," a local genre of hip hop that expresses Black queer people’s sexual and gendered displacement from the traditional home. Moreover, he looks at how this public culture intersects a public sphere in which socioeconomic disaster and reconstruction determine the life chances of all Black people.
Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D.
Division Chair for Arts and Humanities
Founder and Director of Digital Moving Image Salon, and Professor
Artist and educator Ayoka Chenzira, Ph.D., is an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed film and video artist, and one of the first African Americans to teach film production in higher education. A pioneer in Black independent cinema, Dr. Chenzira is one of the first African-American women to write, produce and direct a 35mm feature film. Her work, "Alma’s Rainbow," is one of Billboard Magazine’s top 40 home video rentals. She is also noted as the first African-American woman animator.
She received her degrees in film production and education from New York University and Columbia University's Teachers’ College. Many of her films are in permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and some have been translated into French and Japanese.
Sheri Davis-Faulkner, Ph.D., C'97
Director for Community Engagement
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
Sheri Davis-Faulkner, Ph.D., is the director for the Westside Communities Alliance in the Ivan Allen College of the Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In her role, Davis-Faulkner works to build an alliance between Georgia Tech’s campus community and a network of community partners on Atlanta’s Westside by promoting ethical university-community engagement. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Spelman College, for more than four years.
A native Atlantan and interdisciplinary scholar, Davis-Faulkner completed her doctorate in American studies in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University. She also holds a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from The Ohio State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Political Science from Spelman College.
In addition to being in the academy, Davis-Faulkner also has experience working in national and international arenas for labor, women’s rights, and social justice. She currently serves as a board member for the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, a community-based environmental justice organization; and board chair for a free and affordable community health provider, the HEALing Community Center. Both organizations advocate for and serve Westside communities. She currently lives with her family on the Westside, where her son studies music, plays chess, and attends The Kindezi School.
Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor of Ethics and Political Values
Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
University of Texas
Video: Shirley Franklin at The Atlantic Forum on Urban Progress - Private Investment
Shirley Franklin, former two-term mayor of Atlanta, joined the LBJ School of Public Affairs as the Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor of Ethics and Political Values in 2013. She served as mayor of the City of Atlanta from 2002 to 2010. She was the first female to hold the post and became the first African-American woman to be elected mayor of any major Southern city.
Her public service career began in 1978 when she served as the commissioner of cultural affairs under Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson. She was later appointed as the nation's first woman chief administrative officer or city manager, where she was responsible for the daily operations of a city government with nearly 8,000 employees. She was charged with guiding the development of Hartsfield International Airport, a new city hall, a new municipal court building, and 14,000 net housing units.
In 1991, Franklin joined the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games as the top ranking female executive, and served as senior vice president for external relations. In this position, she was instrumental in the development of the Centennial Olympic Park and served as ACOG’s primary liaison with labor unions, civil rights groups, neighborhood and community organizations, and environmentalists.
Franklin also serves as the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Purpose Built Communities and as a member of the board of directors of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Women With a Vision Inc.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Video: Empowered: Deon is Making a Difference in New Orleans
Deon Haywood is the Executive Director of Women With A Vision Inc., a New Orleans-based community organization founded in 1991 to improve the lives of marginalized women, their families, and communities by addressing the social conditions that hinder their health and well-being. Since Hurricane Katrina, she has led the organization to a vibrant locally-rooted international network addressing the complex intersection of socio-economic injustices and health disparities.
In 2009, Haywood oversaw the launch of WWAV’s NO Justice Project, a campaign to combat the sentencing of women and trans* people arrested for street-based sex work under Louisiana’s 203-year-old “crime against nature” felony-level law, which resulted in a federal judicial ruling and the removal of more than 700 women from the sex offender registry. Currently, Haywood sits on the board of BreakOUT!, a youth-led organization fighting the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans. She also holds the auspicious honor of being crowned the Mardi Gras 2012 Queen of New Orleans’ own Krewe du Vieux, themed “Crimes Against Nature.”
Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Ph.D., C'95
Manager for Education and Advocacy Programs
National Wildlife Federation
Na’Taki Osborne Jelks is a nationally-recognized leader in engaging urban communities and youth of color in environmental stewardship through hands-on watershed and land restoration initiatives, environmental education, and training.
In 2001, Jelks co-founded the Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program, National Wildlife Federation’s multi-cultural, youth environmental education and leadership development program that engages urban youth in investigating causes of environmental challenges, helps them connect to nature, fosters their leadership of youth-led community action projects, promotes civic engagement, and nurtures leadership skills for building personal environmental stewardship.
In addition to her work with the National Wildlife Federation, Jelks is board chairperson of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, a community-based organization that recently launched the Atlanta Children’s Forest Network in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to engage Atlanta youth and families in environmental education, service learning, and outdoor physical activity on over 355 acres of publicly owned, forested greenspace in Southwest Atlanta.
Jelks is an alumna of Spelman College and Emory University and is currently a doctoral candidate at the Georgia State University School of Public Health.
Olivia LaFlamme, C'2014
Olivia LaFlamme is a queer Black feminist currently residing in the Historic West End neighborhood of Atlanta. The Spelman College alumnae class of 2014 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Women's Studies and a concentration in social justice. They work as a childcare provider and postpartum doula and will be attending DePaul University's Women and Gender Studies master's program in the fall of 2016. They have a passion for Black liberation, reproductive justice, Black art and creativity, and building community.
Detroit, Michigan Video: Monica Lewis Patrick Testimony Video: Monica Lewis Patrick and Debra Taylor Video:
: Monica Lewis Patrick on Detroit Water Shut Offs
Monica Lewis-Patrick, who says she “likes being a free Black woman in America,” is the co-founder and outreach coordinator for We the People of Detroit. We the People of Detroit is leading a community research project that consists of Mapping/Surveying (Hybrid CDC Model)/ Water Testing and Storytelling to examine the current policies of shutting off water to Detroit residents who are in water bill arrears; while also researching the impact of decisions that caused Flint to drink poison water within the larger regulatory environment of regionalized and privatized water authorities (i.e. Great Lakes Water Authority and Karegnondi Water Authority).
Lewis-Patrick is an alumna of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Mona Taylor Phillips, Ph.D., C'76
Coordinator, Faculty Inauguration Steering Committee
Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Mona Taylor Phillips,Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at Spelman College, and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She also coordinates the Ida B. Wells-Barnett/Social Justice Distinguished Lecture and Performance Series, as well as the College’s First-Year Interdisciplinary Big Question Seminars. Dr. Phillips also served as director of the Teachings Resource and Research Center for five years.
Dr. Phillips received her Bachelor of Arts from Spelman College in 1976, and Master of Arts and doctorate from The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Dr. Phillips has spent a good portion of her professional life engaged in research about the social contexts of Black women's health, with a particular focus on women's experiencing of psychosocial stressors during pregnancy. She has served as principal investigator and co-principal investigator of several NIHCHD research ethnographic projects, and her publications have appeared in The Journal of Child and Maternal Health, Ethnicity and Disease, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, American Journal of Health Studies, and The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Dr. Phillips was selected to be a Pew-Carnegie Scholar with The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and her Carnegie Foundation project is often cited by other professionals who are interested in advancing best practices in teaching and learning in higher education. Dr. Phillips’ research about pedagogy has appeared in the edited volumes "Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning" (editor: Pat Hutchings), and Included in "Sociology: Learning Climates that Cultivate Racial and Ethnic Diversity" (Editors: Chin, Berheide and Rome).
She has an essay in the soon-to-be published, Well-Being and Higher Education: A Strategy for Change in the Realization of Education’s Greater Purposes (AAC&U, Donald W. Harward, editor) of Child and Maternal Health, Ethnicity and Disease, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, American Journal of Health Studies, and The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Jacqueline Royster, Ph.D.
Dean, Ivan Alan College of Liberal Arts
Georgia Tech University
Westside Communities Alliance
Jacqueline Jones Royster, Ph.D., is dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She holds the Ivan Allen Jr. Dean’s Chair in Liberal Arts and Technology and is a Professor of English in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.
Dr. Royster’s research focuses primarily on the rhetorical history of women of African descent, and she has interests in the intersections of civil rights and human rights, and the development and uses of literacy. She has authored numerous articles and books that illustrate a confluence of concerns in literacy studies, women's studies, and cultural studies.
Her publication highlights include the following:
Books -- Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1997), Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change Among African-American Women (2000), Profiles of Ohio Women, 1803-2003 (2003), Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies (co-authored, 2012), Double-Stitch: Black Women Write About Mothers and Daughters (co-edited, 1991), Calling Cards: Theory and Practice in the Study of Race, Gender, and Culture (co-edited, 2005); a college textbook (a reader) for writing courses, Critical Inquiries: Readings on Culture and Community (2003); and two school textbook series — Writer’s Choice (consulting writer) for grades 6 – 8 Reader’s Choice (co-editor) a literature series for grades 9 – 12, both published by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. Recently submitted for publication is Women at War: Diaries, Memoirs, and Letters from the American Civil War.
Dr. Royster has held various leadership roles in English professional organizations including: chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and chair of the executive committee of the Modern Language Association’s Writing Division. Her awards include: the CCCC Braddock Award (2000); the state of Ohio’s Pioneer in Education Award (2000); the MLA Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize (2001); the Columbus YWCA Woman of Achievement Award (2004); the CCCC Exemplar Award (2004); the ADE/MLA Frances Andrew March Award (2006); Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award (2014); Fellow of the Rhetoric Society of America (2014).
Anne Collins Smith
Curator of Collections
Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
Anne Collins Smith, a native of New Orleans, is the curator of collections at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. She is a cultural curator, art historian, and cultural worker in the literary, visual, and performing arts. Smith received a Bachelor of Arts in English and art history from Spelman College and an Master of Arts degree in visual arts administration from New York University. She served as an intern at the Cinque Gallery, which was founded by artists Romare Bearden, Ernest Crichlow and Norman Lewis. She was also the Romare Bearden Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Smith was the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College where she began to fuse interdicisplinarity with her curatorial practice. At the Davis Museum, she curated the exhibition, "The Space Between: Artists Engaging Race and Syncretism." Smith’s interests include: arts, the economy, social uplift,arts leadership, audience development, cosmopolitanism; material culture, public art, and visual culture. She is also extremely interested in the evolving role of the curator, and, African Diasporic continuity in artistic and cultural practices.
Smith participated in the Art Leaders of Metro Atlanta, Independent Curators International’s Curatorial Intensive, Getty Leadership Institute’s Museum Leaders: The Next Generation, and the Association of Art Museum Curator’s Mentorship programs. She recently organized the exhibitions, "Maren Hassinger . . . Dreaming" (2015) and "Howardena Pindell" (2015); and her curatorial projects in progress include: "Eye Ten (I10)", "Real Good Hands," and "Always a Pleasure."
Gloria Wade-Gayles, Ph.D.
Founding Director of the SIS Oral History Project
Faculty Mentor for Spelman's Independent Scholars
Gloria Wade Gayles, Ph.D., earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from LeMoyne College, a Master of Arts in American Literature from Boston University (as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow), and a doctorate in American Studies from Emory University. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Meadville-Lombard Theological School of the University of Chicago and named the CASE Professor of Teaching Excellence for the State of Georgia.
A recipient of the Emory Medal for outstanding scholarship and
service of an alumna of Emory University, she has been a DuBois Fellow
at Harvard University and Eminent Scholar’s Chair at Dillard University.
Her publications include numerous articles in national journals and six books, among them Pushed Back to Strength: A Black Woman’s Journey Home; No Crystal Stair: Race and Sex in Black Women’s Novels, and “My Soul Is a Witness”: African American Women’s Spirituality . Her most recent publications are In Praise of Teachers (Beacon Press, May 2003), and Conversations With Gwendolyn Brooks University Press of Mississippi, December 2003).
Recently she conducted research on a critical study of the community as savior in selected African-American novels. In August 2000, she was named Eminent Scholar’s Chair in Independent Scholarship and Service Learning at Spelman College. In addition to being the faculty mentor for Spelman's Independent Scholars program, she is founding director of the SIS Oral History Project and RESONANCE, a choral performance group at Spelman College.
Monica White, Ph.D.
Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
University of Wisconsin
Video: Land & Sovereignty in the Americas: Monica White
Monica M. White, Ph.D., earned a doctorate in sociology from Western Michigan University. She is an assistant professor of environmental justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a joint appointment in the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. She is also a former Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.
Dr. White's research engages communities of color and grassroots organizations that are involved in the development of sustainable community food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. Her publications include, “Sisters of the Soil: Urban Gardening as Resistance Among Black Women in Detroit” and “D-Town Farm: African-American Resistance to Food Insecurity and the Transformation of Detroit.”
She is currently working on her first book, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, which contextualizes new forms of contemporary urban agriculture within the historical legacies of African-American farmers who fought to acquire and stay on the land. Using historical and contemporary examples, Freedom Farmers examines the development of farmers’ cooperatives as strategies of resistance, and documents the ways that these organizations, in general, and Black farmers specifically, have contributed to the Black Freedom Movement.
Faculty Inaugural Symposium Speakers
April 18-19, 2016
Equality: Sacred Spaces, Black Women, Silences and STEM
Mentewab Ayalew, Ph.D.
Mentewab Ayalew, Ph.D., is an associate professor of biology at Spelman College. She obtained her doctorate in plant cellular and molecular biology at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Agronomie de Toulouse in France. Since joining the faculty ranks at Spelman, she has put considerable emphasis on the integration of research, teaching and student development. Her research interest is in understanding the biological basis of plants’ adaptation to various stresses, especially exposure to antibiotics produced by soil bacteria.
Among other awards, her pioneering research was recognized by the receipt of the Spelman Presidential Award for Excellence in Research. In the process, she has mentored more than 30 students in her lab. Collectively, the students presented more than 40 poster and oral presentations in local and national conferences, and 10 of the students contributed to her publications. Many of these students who have graduated are now in graduate schools. This track record was made possible not only through her own research grants (NSF, QEM), but also through synergistic relationships and collaborations with other programs on campus (MBRS-RISE, HHMI), and summer programs at other institutions with which she interacts (Michigan State University, MIT).
Dr. Ayalew is also the co-director of the Living and Learning Community of STEM Scholars, a program initiated in fall 2015 to foster the intellectual engagement and provide mentoring and development opportunities to Spelman students aspiring to pursue a STEM Ph.D. or an M.D./Ph.D.
Evelynn Hammonds, Ph.D., C'76
Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science
Evelynn Hammonds, Ph.D., is the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Her current work focuses on the intersection of scientific, medical, and socio-political concepts of race in the United States. She is completing a book on the history of biological, medical, and anthropological uses of racial concepts entitled, The Logic of Difference: A History of Race in Science and Medicine in the United States, 1850–1990. She is also completing the MIT Reader on Race and Gender in Science co-edited with Rebecca Herzig and Abigail Bass.
Dr. Hammonds was named a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer (2003–2005) by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. She has been a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and a Fellow in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In July 2005, Dr. Hammonds was named senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity at Harvard University; and in March 2008, Dr. Hammonds was named dean of Harvard College.
Dr. Hammonds earned a doctorate from the Department of History of Science at Harvard University, a Master of Science degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Spelman College. Prior to her position at Harvard, she taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at MIT, she was the founding director of the MIT Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology and medicine. Dr. Hammonds has also served as a visiting professor at UCLA and Hampshire College.
Kimberly Jackson, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry and Chemistry
Kimberly M. Jackson, Ph.D., is an associate professor of biochemistry and director of the new Interdisciplinary Food Studies program at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She is co-director of a new living and learning community for STEM scholars, an initiative whose goal is to improve access to research careers for women of color, while addressing a critical national need by cultivating talent for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce.
Author of "Realigning the Crooked Room: Spelman Claims a Space for African-American Women in STEM," Dr. Jackson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Alabama State University and her doctorate in Biochemistry from Clark Atlanta University. She did some of her graduate work at the University of Turku in Finland and completed her postdoctoral studies in cancer biology at Emory University. A 2015-16 Fulbright scholar, her varied research efforts focus on the use of novel therapeutic agents for hormone refractory prostate cancer and the role of minority-serving institutions and women of color in diversifying the STEM pipeline.
She maintains a strong and solid research program, has written a host of publications, and has secured more than one million dollars in funding from multiple agencies to support her research. Dr. Jackson has held a research fellow position at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts; and a visiting faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School in the systems biology department in Boston. She serves on the advisory board/committee for COACh for Women Scientists and Engineers and the American Chemical Society Committee on Minority Affairs.
Alondra Nelson, Ph.D.
Dean of Social Science, Professor of Sociology
New York, New York
Alondra Nelson, Ph.D., is dean of social science and professor of sociology and gender studies at Columbia University, where she was formerly director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Dean Nelson is also the founding co-director of the Columbia's campus-wide Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies Council. Prior to joining the Columbia faculty in 2009, she was on the faculty of Yale University and received its Poorvu Award for teaching excellence.
Nelson’s research examines the intersections of science, medicine, and inequality. Her books include Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History; and Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life. Her book, Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination, was recognized with four scholarly prizes, including the Mirra Komarovsky Book Award. Her most recent book is The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome.
Chair-elect of the Science, Knowledge and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association, she has appeared an expert guest on "StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson." Dean Nelson is a member of the NSF-funded Council on Big Data, Ethics, and Society, sits on the editorial boards of Social Studies of Science and Public Culture, and serves on the board of advisers of the Data & Society Research Institute. Her essays, reviews, and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Science, Boston Globe, and on National Public Radio.
Cynthia E. Winston-Proctor, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
Principal Investigator of the Identity & Success Research Lab (ISRL)
Cynthia Winston-Proctor, Ph.D., is a narrative personality psychologist. She is also a professor of psychology at Howard University, principal of Winston Synergy, L.L.C., and co-principal investigator of the NSF HU ADVANCE-Institutional Transformation Initiative. Her academic and practice work focuses on the psychology of success of women within academic and corporate environments. Dr. Winston-Proctor also translates research to develop culturally relevant psychological science, research design and analysis, computational thinking, and behavioral cybersecurity education models for middle school, high school, and undergraduate learning environments.
Winston-Proctor is on the editorial board of the American Psychological Association journal, "Qualitative Psychology;" President of the Society of STEM Women of Color, and vice chair of the board of Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science. She received the NSF CAREER Award for her early career work on the psychology of success and the meaning of race within the lives of African-American scientists and engineers. This award is among the most prestigious awards for early career U.S. scientists and engineers. Dr. Winston-Proctor earned her doctorate from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University (Phi Beta Kappa). Previously, she served as director of educational programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Professor at Brown University.
Faculty Inaugural Symposium Speakers
September 14-15, 2016
(Re)making Detroit: Black Women, Art and Sacred Spaces
Aimee Meredith Cox, Ph.D.
Associate Chair and Tenured Assistant Professor
Department of African American Studies
Aimee Meredith Cox. Ph.D., is a cultural anthropologist and tenured professor of African and African American Studies at Fordham University. She received her doctorate in anthropology from the University of Michigan where she also held a postdoctoral fellowship with the Center for the Education of Women. Dr. Cox’s first book is Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (Duke University Press, 2015). She is on the editorial board of The Feminist Wire and on the founding editorial board of Public: A Journal of Imagining America.
Dr. Cox also trained on scholarship with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, toured extensively as a professional dancer with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble/Ailey II, and is the founder of The BlackLight Project, a youth-led arts activist organization that operates in Detroit, Michigan, Newark, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York.
Distinguished Visiting Scholar-Detroitist
Department of Drama and Dance
Aku Kadogo is an international theater director, choreographer, performer, educator and cultural arts curator. Kadogo has directed and created theater works in Australia, Korea, Europe and the United States. This multi-faceted artist directs highly energetic, imaginative, original theater works.
For the Adelaide and Perth International festivals she devised and directed Ochre & Dust (2000) working with indigenous women of the Central Australian desert. For the Art & About Festival in Sydney, Australia, she devised and collaborated with Detroit visual artist Tyree Guyton on "Singing for that Country" (2004). She was the director of the Black Theater Program at Wayne State University in Detroit, where she conducted arts residencies, directed works by Ruby Dee, Langston Hughes, August Wilson, Will Power, Chris Tysh and Djanet Sears; and developed a performance studies course.
Kadogo was a guest Musical Theater faculty member at Yongin University in Yongin, South Korea (2011-2013). There she devised original works in Korean and directed large-scale musicals. She also worked with professional companies LATT Children’s Theatre, SADARI and REM. In 2014, she was Spelman College's Distinguished Visiting Professor and she now serves as Visiting Scholar. She has producing several events at the College and premiered Jessica Care Moore’s work in progress, Afrofuturistic Choreopoem: Salt City; Heidelberg TV by Tyree Guyton, and was in conversation with performance artist/artistic director Marc “Bamuthi” Joseph.
Ashante’ Reese, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Ashanté M. Reese, Ph.D., joined the Spelman College department of sociology and anthropology as an assistant professor in 2015. She completed her doctorate in anthropology (with a specialization in race, gender, and social justice) at American University in 2015 where she also earned a Masters in Public Anthropology in 2013. Her dissertation, “Groceries and Gardens: Race, Place, and Food Access in Washington, D.C.,” is an ethnographic exploration of food access and community building in a D.C. neighborhood. Situating the neighborhood in historical and contemporary perspectives, she specifically examines the roles of race and class in the gradual decline in food access and in the ways residents actively navigated the decline.
In addition to her food studies work, Dr. Reese has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Baltimore, Maryland in which she interviewed aging Baltimore residents about their diabetes care and management to ascertain similarities and differences across race, gender, and class.