ACLS Leading Edge Fellowships

The Leading Edge Fellowship program aims to demonstrate the potential of people with advanced degrees in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to solve problems outside the academy. In the first two cycles of the fellowship program, recent PhDs in the humanities will help communities respond to issues caused by the Covid-19 crisis and advance public understanding of the pandemic. Support for the first two cohorts of fellows has been made possible by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. A grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports the third cohort of fellows, named in Summer 2021.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows’ names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Abby Ang
Abby Ang
PhD, English, Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to The Center for Popular Democracy for the project “The Critical Role of Just Transition Policies in Response to COVID-19.”
see position description (abstract)
The Center for Popular Democracy works to create equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with high-impact base-building organizations, organizing alliances, and progressive unions. CPD strengthens our collective capacity to envision and win an innovative pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda. Over the last few years, local, state, and federal governments are beginning to seriously address climate change as a major issue, largely due to successful grassroots organizing and other advocacy, including by a number of CPD affiliate organizations. These affiliates are rooted in frontline communities, particularly low-income communities of color and immigrant communities that are the most vulnerable to catastrophic climate impacts. The Leading Edge Fellow will provide strategic research support to CPD and its affiliates to build a portfolio of federal, state, and local campaigns advocating for just transition policies, particularly as a means of recovering from the economic crises caused by the pandemic and the fossil fuel economy.
Rohma A. Khan
Rohma A. Khan
PhD, History, University of Rochester
Appointed to One Fair Wage for the project “Restaurant Workers and Sexual Harassment Under COVID.”
see position description (abstract)
One Fair Wage (OFW) is a national organization that is engaging workers, employers and consumers to raise wages and working conditions in the service sector and end all subminimum wages in the United States. One Fair Wage engages workers, employers and consumers to participate in policy advocacy, industry engagement, and narrative shift efforts to advance policy that would require all employers to pay the full minimum wage with fair, non-discriminatory tips on top, lifting millions of tipped and subminimum wage workers nationally out of poverty. In One Fair Wage’s research during the COVID-19 pandemic, workers reported harassment and increased health risk and public health responsibilities for far less income. The Leading Edge Fellow will conduct pilot research using this existing data, and lead a larger survey project, collecting information from up to 500 workers to generate policy briefs, editorial writing, and a report on the experiences of workers in 2021. With support from OFW’s staff, the Fellow will organize a convening to accompany the report, bringing together workers, advocates, and policymakers for dialogue.
S. Donald Bellamy (John)
S. Donald Bellamy (John)
PhD, Gender Studies, Arizona State University
Appointed to PRX for the project “Amplifying Inclusion: Building a Public Media Impact Framework.”
see position description (abstract)
PRX's mission is to lead changes that expand public media as a trusted source of knowledge, information, and inspiration for all. Strong public media is anchored in journalism, strengthened with diverse voices and amplified by innovative technology, but the industry is mired in longstanding systemic inequities and lags considerably when it comes to access, inclusivity and sustainability. The Leading Edge Fellow will join PRX Productions, a BIPOC-led unit focused on high-quality audio production and storytelling, to develop an impact framework focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The fellow will work directly with the Productions Executive Producer on assessing new projects coming into the portfolio, as well as prospecting with the Chief of Business Development and Content on yet unacquired work. The fellow’s project will directly help to reform the very essence of public media gatekeeping, which has long rested in the hands of a privileged few.
Lauren Lefty
Lauren Lefty
PhD, History of Education, New York University
Appointed to the Children's Defense Fund for the project "Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and the Development of a Teacher Training Institute"
see position description (abstract)
The Children’s Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. With the National Director of CDF Freedom Schools, the Leading Edge Fellow will organize a prospectus for the development of the CDF Freedom School Teacher Training Institute. The Fellow will engage education stakeholders in utilizing the CDF Freedom Schools model as a culturally relevant pedagogical practice for teachers and leaders in various school districts. They will be responsible for research, strategic planning, outlining hiring goals, developing digital teacher training toolkits, and publishing training materials. The Fellow’s work will contribute to the Children Defense Fund’s efforts to advance literacy learning grounded in culturally relevant and anti-racist pedagogies, provide spaces for affirming children and families’ histories and racial/ethnic affiliations, develop sociopolitical consciousness, engage in social action aimed at improving communities, and increase the cultural proficiency of the nation’s workforce.
Suzanne F. Boswell
Suzanne F. Boswell
PhD, English Literature, Rutgers
Appointed to the Center for Court Innovation for the project "Reimagining Public Safety and Community Development"
see position description (abstract)
The mission of the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) is to help create an effective and humane justice system by designing and implementing programs, performing original research, and providing reformers around the world with the tools they need to launch new strategies. The Community Development and Crime Prevention department (CDCP) at CCI leads a range of neighborhood-based public safety initiatives in New York City. In a time of growing calls to invest in non-policing approaches to community safety, the Leading Edge Fellow will be working with the Center’s CDCP department, which focuses on creating safe and thriving neighborhoods by establishing pathways out of poverty, healing trauma, establishing safe and vibrant public spaces, and solving neighborhood-level issues through deep engagement with resident stakeholders. The Leading Edge Fellow will work within neighborhood-based projects alongside CDCP staff in order to best understand, assess, and document community-led public safety strategies. In addition to helping to create and implement a community safety research strategy, the fellow will directly support the work of the CDCP’s community-based projects.
Brittany Levingston
Brittany Levingston
PhD, English and African American Studies, Yale University
Appointed to Pennsylvania Humanities Council for the project “August Wilson’s Century Cycle and the African American Experience in Pennsylvania.”
see position description (abstract)
Pennsylvania Humanities Council’s mission is to put the humanities in action to create positive change in the lives of residents and communities. Its work is grounded in people and champions their creativity and big ideas. It brings Pennsylvanians together to shape the future through the power of stories, reflection, and relationships. The ten plays of Pennsylvania native August Wilson’s Century Cycle (including Fences, The Piano Lesson and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) chronicle the collective memory, history, and dreams of African American families across the twentieth century. PHC is currently developing a slate of programs exploring scenes and monologues from the ten Century Cycle plays in conjunction with a range of community organizations across the state, an embodiment of PHC’s humanities-based approach to civic engagement. The Leading Edge Fellow will build this program from the ground up, developing connections for PHC across the state, interacting with scores of organizations, humanities professionals, and funders. The fellow will develop relationships between PHC and communities willing to host Century Cycle projects, work with PHC staff to write and develop proposals for funding, and plan events.
Amanda M. Brush
Amanda M. Brush
PhD, Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara
Appointed to Services and Advocacy for Gay Elders for the project “Identifying the Critical Concerns of LGBT Elders of Color.”
see position description (abstract)
SAGE is America's oldest and largest non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults, focusing on the issue of LGBT ageing. SAGE is dedicated to expanding access to our programs and services among LGBT communities of color, particularly African-American, Latinx and Asian communities, communities which have been disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The Leading Edge Fellow will help SAGE identify the need for programming and services desired among these LGBT elders. The Leading Edge Fellow will conduct an environmental scan, including conducting focus groups, to connect directly with these communities and identify what these needs are. The fellow will work with SAGE staff, affiliates and partner organizations such as the Diverse Elders Coalition and the National Resource Center to draw insights and translate findings into briefs, papers, infographics, and other resources that support on-the-ground organizing efforts.
Noëlle Lopez
Noëlle Lopez
PhD, Sociocultural Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara
Appointed to National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution for the project “Educational Justice Activism in Washington, DC: Digital Access and Technological Literacy.”
see position description (abstract)
Located in Washington DC, the National Museum of American History empowers people to create a just and compassionate future by exploring, preserving, and sharing the complexity of our past. Washington, DC is home to a vibrant network of activists that raise money to provide school supplies, devices, and hotspots for local families in need; gather and disseminate information about educational resources; and raise awareness of the causes and consequences of educational inequity. The shift to distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated longstanding social and economic inequities. The Leading Edge Fellow will conduct oral histories of individuals involved with educational justice initiatives that address digital access and technological literacy in DC-area schools. The fellow will document the work of educational justice activists, providing future museum audiences an understanding of the challenges faced by students and families in gaining access to educational enrichment and the consequences of systemic racism in the United States.
Xavier Buck
Xavier Buck
PhD, History, University of California, Berkeley
Appointed to Thurgood Marshall College Fund for the project “Center for Social Justice at Thurgood Marshall College Fund.”
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1987 and named for the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African American justice, Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the only national organization exclusively representing the Black College community. TMCF’s mission is to ensure student success by promoting educational excellence and preparing the next generation of workforce talent through leadership development. TMCF serves these students and schools by partnering with corporations, government agencies, and similar workplaces. The Leading Edge Fellows will become part of a team building a new Center for Social Justice. The fellows will lead the Center in developing a research platform for engaging scholars at HBCUs in two areas of research: identifying and evaluating programs that set out to bridge the equity gap for the Black community, including ongoing research that seeks to document those gaps; and identifying and proposing changes to public policies that impede opportunities for Black Americans while deconstructing systemic barriers to advancement. The fellows will complete an environmental scan of research by area and categorize it into a publicly available and searchable database, and will write position papers and policy whitepapers on select topics within these research areas.
Laura Mangels
Laura Mangels
PhD, Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Appointed to the Colorado Children’s Campaign for the project "Building Resilient Kids and Families across CO through Responsive Policy Solutions"
see position description (abstract)
The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research, policy, and advocacy organization based in Denver and committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. The Campaign advocates for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child well-being in health, education and early childhood learning and development. The Leading Edge Fellow will lead a project focused on assessing and bolstering the mental and behavioral health of Colorado children and families in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fellow will develop a series of reports illustrating the mental and behavioral health of children and families before COVID-19, as well as the likely and/or documented effects of the pandemic. Most importantly, the reports are expected to include responsive policy solutions with the potential to improve mental health among communities hardest hit by the pandemic and its economic and social effects. The fellow’s work with help soften the ground for legislation at the state level, benefitting Colorado children and their families.
Jesse S. Chanin
Jesse S. Chanin
PhD, Sociology, Tulane University
Appointed to the Freedom Project Network for the project "Liberatory Education Models: Understanding the Impact of Justice-Focused Education in Mississippi"
see position description (abstract)
The Freedom Project Network consists of three Mississippi-based youth empowerment organizations and two college access and persistence initiatives, Freedom Summer Collegiate and the Alumni College Success Program. Taken together, Freedom Fellows participate in a 10+-year youth empowerment fellowship from 7th grade through college graduation focused on activism, authentic self-expression, academic enrichment, college access, and college completion. Now that these projects have developed cohesion as a seventh-grade-through-college-graduation fellowship, Freedom Project Network has a unique opportunity to integrate these components more fully, to assess the impact of these programs as they build on each other, and to develop means of assessing the impact of this experience overall and over a long-term period on students’ ultimate social and economic empowerment. The Leading Edge Fellow will lead these efforts over the course of the 12-month fellowship, collecting and assessing individual program outcomes, soliciting information and feedback from program stakeholders, and developing integrated systems of program evaluation and assessment.
Hana Masri
Hana Masri
PhD, Communication Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Appointed to ACCESS for the project "Using the Power of the Humanities to Improve Health Outcomes for the Arab American Community"
see position description (abstract)
ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) is the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the United States. The work of ACCESS cuts across all sectors, from direct social services to legislative advocacy and from public health research to arts and culture, through the work of ACCCESS’s Arab American National Museum, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The Leading Edge Fellow will experiment with using the power of the humanities to address public health issues in the Arab American community, such as substance use, domestic violence, environment, children and family, and other social determinants of health. The fellow will work with the ACCESS communications team to translate scholarly research for a general public, offer their scholarly perspective as a member of the planning committee for the 9th ACCESS Arab Health Summit and develop an interdisciplinary project on a health issue facing the Arab American community.
Casely E. Coan
Casely E. Coan
PhD, Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English, University of Arizona
Appointed to Southwest Folklife Alliance for the project “Support Systems for Traditional Artists in the Southwest Creative Economy.”
see position description (abstract)
The Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA) is a non-profit organization working to build more equitable and vibrant communities by celebrating the everyday expressions of culture, heritage and diversity in the Greater Southwest. SFA is the National Endowment for the Arts’ State Folk Arts Partner to the Arizona Commission on the Arts and serves hundreds of traditional artists and communities annually through festivals, research & documentation, storytelling, training, and direct cash support to heritage-based artists in the region. The Leading Edge Fellow will join SFA’s staff team as a Research Manager to conduct a field scan of the existence and efficacy of support systems for traditional artists in the Southwest region. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, the fellow will produce a report that will help inform strategic directions for the wellbeing of the heritage arts economy in the region, identifying patterns, gaps, networks, and opportunities. The fellow will also work with the editor of SFA’s online journal, “Borderlore,” to use the data collected to help inform and craft profiles, narratives, and featured stories that can amplify advocacy efforts.
Ashley Cheyemi McNeil
Ashley Cheyemi McNeil
PhD, Literary Studies and American Studies, Georgia State University and Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Appointed to Full Spectrum Features for the project "Hidden Histories Digital Humanities Training Program for K-12 Teachers"
Full Spectrum Features (“FSF”) is one of the Midwest’s leading film and media nonprofit organizations working to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the independent film industry. As a BIPOC-led/founded organization, FSF has developed numerous programs that address systemic issues that have historically prevented people of color, women, LGBTQ-identifying individuals, the disabled, and other marginalized groups from fully participating in the creation and exhibition of independent cinema. The Leading Edge Fellow will assume a key leadership role in designing and executing Hidden Histories, a teacher training program that will enable K-12 teachers to utilize FSF’s award-winning digital humanities programs to teach history in the classroom. Branches of the Virginia Public Library will serve as key locations for hosting professional development seminars for K-12 teachers, and public humanities programming. The fellow will play a crucial role in developing and releasing Hidden Histories, which will serve as a model for teaching other histories of marginalized people through narrative cinema.
Ashley C.J. Daniels
Ashley C.J. Daniels
PhD, Political Science, Howard University
Appointed to the National Conference on Citizenship for the project "Black Girls Vote Research Network"
see position description (abstract)
The National Conference on Citizenship is committed to strengthening democracy by supporting local leaders and nonpartisan projects dedicated to citizen engagement and public service. Black Girls Vote, Menlo College, and National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) are exploring interest in a network of scholars, funders, and Black led organizations doing innovative voter turnout work in Black communities. Black Girls Vote’s “Party at the Mailbox” effort showed extraordinary turnout effects on low propensity voters and incorporated survey, interview and focus group conversations to provide rich data on the mechanisms driving this impact. The Leading Edge Fellow will do the research and engagement work necessary to create a new network of scholars, funders, and Black-led community organizations working together to co-create new knowledge about voting culture programs in Black communities. The proposed network would explore opportunities for scholars and Black led organizations to partner and begin building a more robust knowledge base about which voter turnout strategies best serve Black communities.
Melanie Meinzer
Melanie Meinzer
PhD, Political Science, University of Connecticut
Appointed to The Center for Cultural Power for the project "Cultural Power Impact & Learning Implementation"
see position description (abstract)
The Center for Cultural Power (Cultural Power) was founded in 2019 by Favianna Rodriguez to build an institution and a field that centers artists as powerful agents of social change, integrating a decade of experience as the project CultureStrike. Cultural Power supports Artist Disruptors who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) as well as Queer, Trans and Migrant artists dedicated to transformational creative practice and to dismantling systems of oppression. The Leading Edge Fellow will manage the implementation of evaluation protocols and tools within Cultural Power, using an evaluation plan based on a year’s work with the research and evaluation firm Learning For Action. The fellow will create a deliberate and strategic process to roll out evaluation protocol and practices across all teams at the organization, piloting methods to track impact effectively. With strong impact tracking systems in place, CCP can iterate their programmatic approach, which will better support artists and creatives in their network, and help philanthropic supporters understand how cultural strategy centered around BIPOC artists can make change.
Lindsay Nicole Bianca Drane
Lindsay Nicole Bianca Drane
PhD, History, University of Houston
Appointed to Hunger Free America for the project "SNAP Outcomes: How Public Benefits Impact Recipients’ Lives"
see position description (abstract)
HUNGER FREE AMERICA is a nonpartisan, national nonprofit group working to enact the policies and programs needed to end domestic hunger and ensure that all Americans have sufficient access to nutritious food. With an estimated 54 million people, including 18 million children, struggling with food insecurity, a historic surge in federal funding for SNAP (formerly called Food Stamp) benefits dwarfed the sharp hike in food distributed by charitable food pantries and soup kitchens nationwide: from March 2020 to July 2020, the total SNAP caseload in 33 states increased from 30.8 million to 35.2 million. The Leading Edge Fellows will gather evidence of the positive impact SNAP has on recipients and how it helps them get ahead in life by researching the long-term impacts of SNAP on past and current recipients, both famous and non-famous. The fellows will collaboratively produce a report outlining the benefits of the SNAP program for individuals, families, and communities, using a variety of sources, to be used by Hunger Free America and affiliates to advocate for maintaining and expanding policy to end hunger in America.
Elizabeth Michael Melton
Elizabeth Michael Melton
PhD, Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Appointed to the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life for the project "Curating the Religions Texas Archive"
see position description (abstract)
The Institute for Diversity and Civic Life (IDCL) is a non-profit organization based in Austin, TX with a mission to create more inclusive public spaces through storytelling, research, and education. Their current programs focus on oral history and narrative work, including the Religions Texas oral history initiative. The Leading Edge Fellow will join IDCL to contribute to this initiative, a digital public humanities project that explores Texas as a site of religious encounters and a meeting place for people and communities from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. Religions Texas catalyzes the power of stories to transform – to amplify underrepresented voices, empower Texans to tell their stories on their own terms, and diversify the historical record. The fellow’s primary focus will be curating this archive to maximize public engagement with the Religions Texas initiative and support the public understanding of religious and cultural diversity in Texas.
Tessa A. Eidelman
Tessa A. Eidelman
PhD, Community Research and Action, Vanderbilt University
Appointed to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for the project "Internet Access as a Health Imperative: Defining the Health Outcomes and Cost Savings of Broadband Networks in Unconnected Communities"
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1974, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a national research and technical assistance organization that constructs the foundation and frame upon which communities can take charge of their local resources, their economies, and their environmental future. ILSR is currently undertaking research alongside the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI) to explore the cost savings and positive health outcomes for communities resulting from the installation of fiber networks in rural areas for a constellation of promising telemedicine interventions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, asthma, and cancer. The Leading Edge Fellow will join, continue, and expand upon this foundational work with a focus on both urban areas and rural population centers along with ILSR’s broadband team and our network of allies—including rural municipal broadband networks, groups like the SRBWI, the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)—who are deeply invested in arguing for infrastructure investment to tackle existing social and racial justice inequities.
Julia Mollenthiel
Julia Mollenthiel
PhD, English Literature, University of Miami
Appointed to The Brotherhood Sister Sol for the project “The Future Project: Youth Centered Change in a Post-COVID NYC.”
see position description (abstract)
For more than 25 years, BroSis has been at the forefront of social justice, educating, training and organizing to challenge inequality and champion opportunity for all. With a focus on Black and Latinx youth, BroSis is where young people own the power of their history, identity and community to create the future they want to see. With programs that span the arts, environment and international study to college, career and wellness, BroSis provides far-reaching opportunities for young people to transform their lives and communities. The Leading Edge Fellow will join efforts to translate our bold and transformative vision into concrete policy initiatives and strategies that leverage organizing, coalition building, and strategic communications to achieve change at the city and state levels. The fellow will work closely with organizational leadership and an organizing team to advance policy campaigns around our various initiatives, including our efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline in NYC public schools, and organizing for racial justice, economic justice, environmental justice and criminal justice
Shauna N. Gillooly
Shauna N. Gillooly
PhD, Political Science, University of California, Irvine
Appointed to Sembrando Sentido for the project “Mapping Civic Solutions to Ensure Fair Use of Public Resources in Puerto Rico.”
see position description (abstract)
Sembrando Sentido is a non-profit organization that seeks to harvest knowledge, tools and inspiration to strengthen efforts for more transparent, responsible, fair, inclusive and efficient government practices in Puerto Rico. It drives government reform by making Puerto Rico’s government data truly open and building knowledge and power in our communities to improve, monitor and safeguard the use of public resources. The Leading Edge Fellow will carry out an in-depth evaluation of methodologies, tools and mechanisms to further engage, mobilize and empower civil society in becoming active change agents of government reform in Puerto Rico, particularly in the areas of public financial management, public contracting, and anticorruption. These areas, while of critical importance to ensuring equal and fair economic and social development, are highly complex and technical, often intimidating and preventing citizens from taking active part in them. The fellow will help Sembrando Sentido look for solutions that have been successful in activating civil society across the globe and explore their application to the context of Puerto Rico.
Sara Partridge
Sara Partridge
PhD, English, New York University
Appointed to Thurgood Marshall College Fund for the project “Center for Social Justice at Thurgood Marshall College Fund.”
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1987 and named for the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African American justice, Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the only national organization exclusively representing the Black College community. TMCF’s mission is to ensure student success by promoting educational excellence and preparing the next generation of workforce talent through leadership development. TMCF serves these students and schools by partnering with corporations, government agencies, and similar workplaces. The Leading Edge Fellows will become part of a team building a new Center for Social Justice. The fellows will lead the Center in developing a research platform for engaging scholars at HBCUs in two areas of research: identifying and evaluating programs that set out to bridge the equity gap for the Black community, including ongoing research that seeks to document those gaps; and identifying and proposing changes to public policies that impede opportunities for Black Americans while deconstructing systemic barriers to advancement. The fellows will complete an environmental scan of research by area and categorize it into a publicly available and searchable database, and will write position papers and policy whitepapers on select topics within these research areas.
Gabrielle G. Gonzales
Gabrielle G. Gonzales
PhD, Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
Appointed to Hunger Free America for the project "SNAP Outcomes: How Public Benefits Impact Recipients’ Lives"
see position description (abstract)
HUNGER FREE AMERICA is a nonpartisan, national nonprofit group working to enact the policies and programs needed to end domestic hunger and ensure that all Americans have sufficient access to nutritious food. With an estimated 54 million people, including 18 million children, struggling with food insecurity, a historic surge in federal funding for SNAP (formerly called Food Stamp) benefits dwarfed the sharp hike in food distributed by charitable food pantries and soup kitchens nationwide: from March 2020 to July 2020, the total SNAP caseload in 33 states increased from 30.8 million to 35.2 million. The Leading Edge Fellows will gather evidence of the positive impact SNAP has on recipients and how it helps them get ahead in life by researching the long-term impacts of SNAP on past and current recipients, both famous and non-famous. The fellows will collaboratively produce a report outlining the benefits of the SNAP program for individuals, families, and communities, using a variety of sources, to be used by Hunger Free America and affiliates to advocate for maintaining and expanding policy to end hunger in America.
Revati Prasad
Revati Prasad
PhD, Communication, University of Pennsylvania
Appointed to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for the project "Bridging the Digital Divide in Native Nations"
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1974, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a national research and technical assistance organization that constructs the foundation and frame upon which communities can take charge of their local resources, their economies, and their environmental future. Internet infrastructure in Native Nations has been underfunded and overlooked compared to elsewhere in the country, and the consequences have been significantly exacerbated by the current pandemic. Many of these communities have built their own broadband networks to provide essential service to their residents and assist in meeting the challenges in running small businesses, accessing telehealth, and working and learning remotely. ILSR has compiled the only known database of existing tribal broadband networks in the United States as a step toward understanding the unique challenges those communities face. With the support of ILSR’s broadband team, the Leading Edge Fellow will conduct original research and writing in service of developing policy narratives that can be used to support new and existing tribal broadband efforts.
Ai Binh Thi Ho
Ai Binh Thi Ho
PhD, English Language and Literature, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Appointed to the Better Life Lab (New America) for the project "Innovations in Child Care Access and Affordability in the United States"
see position description (abstract)
New America is a non-partisan think tank focused on renewing the promise of America. The Better Life Lab at New America works in solidarity with the movement for work-family justice by producing data and storytelling that can advance the public conversations on gender equality, the value of care, and the quality of work, and lead to policy and cultural changes that allow individuals and families to pursue good health and wellbeing. In 2021, the Better Life Lab will begin a multi-year project aimed at remaking the U.S.’s patchwork child-care and early education systems into federally supported, resourced, and widely accessible care options that allow families across income and race to work and thrive. The Leading Edge Fellow will play a critical role in this project’s success by helping to identify the most promising innovations in childcare, then managing relationships with these multiple, diverse community stakeholders, researching potential child care solutions, and writing up findings about those potential solutions for a lay audience on the New America website and beyond. They will also help organize workshops that bring together childcare innovators with advocates, end users, and policymakers.
Marketus D. Presswood
Marketus D. Presswood
PhD, Modern Chinese/African Amer. History, University of California, Irvine
Appointed to International Student Exchange Programs for the project "Curriculum Mapping Database for Equity"
see position description (abstract)
The International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) seeks to create a more just and equitable world by enabling underserved communities around the globe to access international education. ISEP works with over 300 member colleges and universities in 50+ countries to create cross-cultural learning experiences through member exchange and direct enrollment programs. Each year, it enables over 3,000 students to participate in international education programs. ISEP is launching the Curriculum Mapping Database for Equity (CMDE) project to streamline the course offerings of more than 300 member institutions into a searchable database, which will create an equitable advising tool for students of all backgrounds. The Leading Edge Fellow will lead systematic coordination and engagement with diverse ISEP stakeholders, primarily with Member Relations and IT, but also ISEP student advisors and faculty of member universities that support large numbers of minority students. The fellows’ contributions to the CMDE project will make a direct impact on the equity of access to international education for students.
Tara Hottman
Tara Hottman
PhD, German, University of California, Berkeley
Appointed to Petey Greene Program for the project “Supporting the Academic Achievement of Incarcerated Learners.”
see position description (abstract)
The Petey Greene Program supports the academic goals of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people through high-quality volunteer tutoring programs, while educating volunteers on the injustice manifest in our carceral system. Founded in 2008, PGP operates the largest multi-state tutoring program in jails, prisons, and detention centers, recruiting nearly 1,000 volunteers annually from 31 colleges in seven states, tutoring approximately 2,000 incarcerated people in 47 facilities. The Leading Edge Fellow will work to evaluate and scale two of PGP’s newest initiatives, a model program for Black volunteer tutors at Howard University, and a writing-focused college bridge writing program inside the DC Department of Corrections Jail. The Leading Edge Fellow will coordinate program evaluation, design evaluation forms, and conduct interviews and focus groups with volunteer tutors. The fellow will conduct research on radical writing pedagogy as well as on existing college bridge programs in prison to inform the refinement of PGP’s college bridge writing program and support the production of scholarship on the program.
Beatriz Ramirez
Beatriz Ramirez
PhD, Comparative Literature, University of California, San Diego.
Appointed to National Low Income Housing Coalition for the project “Preserving Housing Stability of Federally Assisted Tenants.”
see position description (abstract)
NLIHC is a national advocacy, policy, and research organization whose mission is to achieve socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. The federally assisted housing stock is a significant source of stable, affordable, and decent housing for low-income renters. Tenants of certain properties, however, are at risk of losing their affordable rental homes and experiencing housing instability when their properties’ affordability restrictions expire, enabling landlords to raise rents to market price. The Leading Edge Fellow will develop a qualitative research initiative, using interviews and other data sources, to identify LIHTC properties recently lost or at risk of being lost from the affordable housing stock and learn tenants’ and property managers’ perceptions and experiences. The fellow’s findings will help clarify the impact of housing markets and affordable housing policies on tenants’ experiences and help formulate policy to preserve the housing stability of low-income tenants.
Joy W. Huntington
Joy W. Huntington
PhD, Human Ecology and Design Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Appointed to Historic Germantown for the project "Decolonizing Historic Germantown: Re-Framing Sites, Collections, Landscapes, and Museums"
see position description (abstract)
Historic Germantown (HG) is a partnership organization of 18 independent historic, green, and cultural sites in Northwest Philadelphia that works collaboratively to preserve these assets, increase public access and equity, and raise their visibility. Historic Germantown supports its member sites by facilitating tours, lectures, exhibits, festivals and other public programming. The Leading Edge Fellow will help to develop a conceptual framework that will expand existing initiatives to decolonize Historic Germantown. The development of a decolonial framework must confront the living legacy and slow violence of Colonial Revivalism--predicated on an “elite,” white version of the past--at the foundation of the local heritage movement in Northwest Philadelphia (and in the US), including the predecessor of the Germantown Historical Society, the Site and Relic Society of Germantown. The fellow will work with HG staff to conduct research that proposes a decolonial framework for HG and takes on the legacy of Colonial Revivalism, both in general and in its particular influence on the development and operations of many HG sites. This research will draw deeply on the archives of the Germantown Historical Society and on several special collections of member sites and peer organizations.
Elvan Sahin
Elvan Sahin
PhD, History & French Studies, New York University
Appointed to United Neighborhood Houses for the project “Advancing a Strong and Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care System as New York Recovers from COVID-19.”
see position description (abstract)
United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) is a policy and social change organization representing 44 settlement houses that reach 765,000 New Yorkers. UNH mobilizes our members and their communities to advocate for good public policies and promote strong organizations and practices that keep neighborhoods resilient and thriving for all New Yorkers. The Leading Edge Fellow will advance UNH’s long-standing advocacy for funding, policies, and programs that increase access to child care in New York, in the increasingly dire circumstances caused by disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Childcare is essential for children’s healthy development and educational success and is a key economic driver. Yet, in New York City, 93% of families cannot afford the current market rate for center-based care. The fellow will generate written reports and products that include quantitative and qualitative data with two goals: to support effective advocacy at the New York City and State level and to provide information that settlement houses and other community-based organizations can use to enhance programming for children and families.
Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson
PhD, Anthropology, City University of New York, The Graduate Center
Appointed to PEN America for the project “Right to Read in American Prisons.”
see position description (abstract)
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. PEN America promotes social justice through its programs to defend free expression rights and its initiatives to amplify the voices and ideas of communities too often ignored or misrepresented. It produces original research, conducts advocacy campaigns, stages consequential public programming, and celebrates the literature of eminent and emerging writers. The Leading Edge Fellow will join PEN America as a Research and Advocacy Manager to lead its work on the Right to Read in American Prisons project. This project will include a formal articulation of the right to read in American prisons; a comparative analysis of book bans and appeals processes by state; development of proposed ‘best practices’ around access to literature in prisons; and the launch of an advocacy campaign that engages partner organizations, responds to prison book banning cases, and advances PEN America’s goal of securing the right to read in prisons.
Melinda Sebastian
Melinda Sebastian
PhD, Culture, Communication, & Media, Drexel University
Appointed to Data & Society for the project "Antiracist Science and Tech Policy Research"
see position description (abstract)
Data & Society (D&S) is an independent, nonprofit research institute that explores the growing field of data-centric technologies and automation. It produces original, empirical evidence to help our stakeholders understand the promise, power, and pitfalls of these technologies. D&S’s work challenges existing narratives about the purpose and power of technology in society using rigorous interdisciplinary research. Additionally, it designs programming and engagement strategies to ensure that civil society, media, policymakers, and industry can use its research insights, and those of its broader network, to inform and reframe decision-making around data-centric technologies. The Leading Edge Fellow will explore the concept of antiracism within the context of AI, science, and technology, elevating and expanding ongoing work to use history and decolonial theory to challenge power asymmetries in these fields. The fellow will both contribute to and nurture the research and engagement pipeline for this new work on antiracism in science and technology. This will include working with the Policy Director to map the current research landscape and explore new lines of inquiry; producing and publishing writing on the topic; working with leadership in Communications and Research teams to build out engagement strategies with specific policy audiences in mind; and positioning D&S’s research to achieve greater impact in multiple sectors: government, industry, civil society, and media.
Amana Kaskazi
Amana Kaskazi
PhD, Communication and Information Science, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Appointed to Social Science Research Council for the project “Communicating Research on Technology, Power, and Social Justice.”
see position description (abstract)
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, international, nonprofit organization devoted to advancing interdisciplinary research in the social sciences and related disciplines through a wide variety of workshops and conferences, fellowships and grants, summer training institutes, scholarly exchanges, research, and publications. The SSRC’s Just Tech program empowers a diverse and cross-sector network of social researchers—including scholars, civil society researchers, artists, and journalists—to imagine and create more equitable and representative technological futures. The Leading Edge Fellow will join the SSRC as Managing Editor for the Just Tech Platform, which includes essays, public-facing field reviews, and interviews. The fellow will identify and convene scholars, journalists, artists, and activists to develop new editorial content that advances understanding of the roles technology plays in shaping relationships of power, inequity, and social justice.
Keyvan Shafiei
Keyvan Shafiei
PhD, Philosophy, Georgetown University
Appointed to AFSC for the project "Inside and Out: Responding to the Needs of LGBTQ Incarcerated People"
see position description (abstract)
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. It advocates for alternatives to incarceration, better reintegration after prison, an end to prison privatization, more humane conditions of confinement, and ultimately, the abolition of prisons. The Leading Edge Fellow will work with AFSC’s Healing Justice Network to develop a toolkit for AFSC programs and ally organizations to support the needs of LGBTQ people who are incarcerated. The fellow will lead the research, create reports, and develop resources and training materials for the toolkit. The fellow will produce a research report, and review existing work and analysis by AFSC programs, using a survey, individual and group interviews. Ultimately, the fellow’s work will demonstrate how AFSC programs can best incorporate the unique needs and priorities of incarcerated LGBTQ people into our program work.
Roneva Keel
Roneva Keel
PhD, History, University of Washington
Appointed to National Park Service, Capital Area for the project “Landscapes of Protest: Public Parkland and the First Amendment.”
see position description (abstract)
The National Park Service’s National Capital Area Office of Resource Stewardship and Science, Division of Cultural Resources (CR Division) has primary responsibility for the preservation of cultural resources within the National Capital Area’s 35 congressionally designated park units, as well as for providing technical and professional expertise and other consultation to parks, outside partners and programs related to preservation of the region’s historic resources. The Leading Edge Fellow will research the history and places related to protest and First Amendment activities on federal lands throughout the region and examine the role that NPS’s design and management of public spaces have played. By critically examining where, how, and why certain spaces have been used to demand and expand equitable treatment under the law and how NPS has contributed to or limited that expansion, the fellow will help NPS improve management decisions and other barriers that affect equitable access to public lands today and in the future.
Eric Sippert
Eric Sippert
PhD, Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Appointed to the Environmental Law Policy Center for the project "Equitable and Inclusive Climate Change Solutions"
see position description (abstract)
The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading environmental legal advocacy organization. ELPC produces strong results for the environment in the courtrooms, boardrooms, and legislative hearing rooms across the pivotal Midwest states and in Washington D.C. The Leading Edge Fellow will join the ELPC team as a Policy Analyst, and will partner with ELPC attorneys and policy staff to advance climate justice through research, community outreach, and public engagement. They will support ELPC’s efforts to drive millions of dollars into solar investments and job training in low-income and frontline communities in Illinois and increase renewable energy opportunities in low-income communities throughout the Midwest, with a focus on Minnesota, Michigan, and Iowa. The fellow will work with community-based organizations and co-operatives interested in developing microgrids and in local control and ownership and deployment of distributed energy resources (solar, batteries, energy efficiency, etc.) in their neighborhoods and communities.
Ina M. Kelleher
Ina M. Kelleher
PhD, Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Appointed to Common Justice for the project "Securing Victim Compensation Funds for All Survivors of Violence"
see position description (abstract)
Common Justice develops and advances solutions to violent crime that transform the lives of those harmed and foster racial equity without relying on incarceration. Locally, it operates the first alternative-to-incarceration and victim service program in the United States that focuses on violent felonies in the adult courts. Nationally, Common Justice leverages the lessons from its direct service to transform the justice system through partnerships, advocacy, and elevating the experience and power of those most impacted. The Leading Edge Fellow will join Common Justice’s United for Healing Equity (UHE) team as a Research Analyst to develop a report that dives deeply into the ways that New York’s victim compensation reporting law harms marginalized communities by preventing individuals from these communities from receiving victim compensation funds when they need it most – in order to heal. The fellow will do this through the use of new data, personal narratives and historical research. The fellow’s work will help Common Justice advance its campaign to reform this law, which disproportionately harms Black people and other people of color.
Beatrice T. Wayne
Beatrice T. Wayne
PhD, History, New York University
Appointed to Students Learn Students Vote for the project “Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on College Student Voter Participation.”
see position description (abstract)
The Students Learn Students Vote (SLSV) Coalition is the national hub and largest nonpartisan network in the United States dedicated to increasing college student voter participation. The Leading Edge Fellow will lead the SLSV Coalition’s efforts to build partnerships with scholars to study the innovations and adaptations made by campuses around the country to help students vote during the pandemic. They will establish a research subcommittee within the SLSV Coalition and recruit a set of members specifically interested in growing a body of research about the work of campus-led voter engagement efforts. The fellow will also support a new research partnership between the SLSV Coalition’s “Ask Every Student” initiative and scholars at Menlo College to look closely at the efforts of 30+ colleges and universities who undertook extraordinary efforts as part of the program to truly “Ask Every Student” to vote by ensuring each student spent 3 to 5 minutes of focused time getting registered and ready to vote as part of their regular academic and co-curricular experience.
Chelsea Kern
Chelsea Kern
PhD, English, University of California, Los Angeles
Appointed to the Community of Literary Magazines & Presses for the project "DEIA Outreach, Programs & Strategic Partnerships"
see position description (abstract)
The mission of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses is to serve print and digital independent literary magazines and presses. Because independent literary publishers are mission- versus market-driven, their success is not only measured by sales, but also by the community they nurture, the social transformation they inspire, and the diverse array of voices they bring forth into the culture at large. The Leading Edge Fellow will be responsible for expanding CLMP’s membership, developing CLMP’s programs, and executing research in the literary publishing field, with a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. They will initiate outreach to new members, with a focus on publishers whose staff and writers are made up of BIPOC individuals; assist in the administration of the Constellation Award for Literary Publishers, which supports the work of Black-led presses and presses whose mission is to champion the work of BIPOC authors; produce digital resources and help coordinate fieldwide trainings on racial justice; and gather demographic information about CLMP members to determine the diversity of their workforce and the writing they publish toward improving representation and inclusion in the literary publishing field.
Kim Williams-Pulfer
Kim Williams-Pulfer
PhD, Philanthropic Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Appointed to The Hurston/Wright Foundation for the project “Measuring Success and Charting Our Future.”
see position description (abstract)
Thirty years ago, the Hurston/Wright Foundation started as a space to nurture Black writers and to foster and encourage their voices and craft. Since then, the foundation has created a thriving pipeline of writers who center Black culture and experiences in the literary art they create. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the foundation conducts writing workshops, master classes, public readings, and writing competitions. The Leading Edge Fellow will join Hurston/Wright’s team as the Research and Evaluation Manager, and use data, research, performance metrics, personal narratives, and qualitative and quantitative data analysis to promote racial justice and equity in the literary arts. The fellow will focus on developing a series of benchmark, evaluation, and performance management tools that help Hurston/Wright to document industry best practices, assess the Foundation’s value and competitive edge, track its progress in meeting core program objectives, and strengthen organizational capacity though the development of a three-year program plan. This research will help deepen public support for Black literary organizations and strengthen the case for funding our work.