Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows

Now in its tenth year, the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program places recent humanities PhDs in staff positions at partnering agencies in government and the non-profit sector for two-year appointments. These appointments provide career development opportunities in administration, management, and public service and vary from year to year depending on participating agencies. The Public Fellows program demonstrates that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy. The generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation makes this program possible.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Position descriptions:

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. 

Aixa M. Aleman-Diaz
Aixa M. Aleman-Diaz
PhD, Anthropology, American University DC
Appointed as Engagement Project Manager, Washington Center for Equitable Growth
see position description (abstract)
The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is a nonprofit research and grantmaking organization dedicated to advancing evidence-backed ideas and policies that promote strong, stable, and broad-based economic growth. Important aspects of Equitable Growth’s mission include: programming that brings the academic and policy communities together for the benefit of both; providing grants and professional supports to academic economists and other social scientists; making funded research accessible to the policy community. The Engagement Project Manager is responsible for developing and executing projects and content that support a cohesive engagement strategy with our academic network and elevate research findings across and beyond academia. Equitable Growth is mission driven to advance evidence-backed ideas and policies that promote strong, stable, and broad-based economic growth. One way we do this is by funding social science research and elevating the findings to policymakers to ensure that policies are informed by and grounded in evidence. The Engagement Project Manager will play a key role in developing tools and content for Equitable Growth’s interdisciplinary academic outreach, particularly in exploring a new area of focus for the organization: new, cross-disciplinary approaches to political economy. This position will be part of the Academic Programs Team, which is responsible for supporting and spurring credible, cutting-edge research that informs policymakers and influences future academic research and thinking.
Stephanie Catanese Iasiello
Stephanie Catanese Iasiello
PhD, English, Emory University
Appointed as Director of Education and Information, Alliance for Higher Education in Prison
see position description (abstract)
The ‘Education and Information Director’ will lead the Alliance’s efforts to increase its educational and professional development support to higher education in prison practitioners, teachers and students. This position will spearhead efforts to create, facilitate and disseminate educational materials and support to the higher education in prison stakeholder community, including: webinars, toolkits and reports to support professional development and enhanced program quality, in collaboration with the Alliance’s core partners, staff and consultants. In particular, the Information and Education Director will extend the Alliance's quality framework that was begun in the report: Equity and Excellence in Higher Education in Prison: A Guide for Higher Education in Prison into a series of workshops, webinars and toolkits that can be disseminated and delivered to higher education in prison program (in print, multimedia and virtual formats) across the country to ensure the growth of quality programming. Additionally, this position will collaborate with Alliance colleagues (Community Engagement Director and Information Director) in a leadership role to launch the first-ever journal solely devoted to the topic of higher education in prison. Finally, this position will work with the Alliance’s statewide and regional participants being supported in various technical assistance and cohort programs, through trainings, workshops and meeting facilitation, to build the infrastructure to ensure quality educational and professional development experiences in higher education in prison programs.
Richard Anderson
Richard Anderson
PhD, History, Princeton University
Appointed as Public Programming and Exhibitions Manager, Humanities Action Lab
see position description (abstract)
The Humanities Action Lab (HAL) is a national center for testing and evaluating how to activate public humanities—especially participatory history, memory, and story-sharing—to address urgent social issues. HAL is a coalition of universities, issue organizations, and public spaces in over 20 cities, based at Rutgers University-Newark, that collaborate to produce community-curated national public humanities projects. HAL’s first project, States of Incarceration, is a traveling exhibit, web platform, and series of public dialogues on the past, present, and future of mass incarceration. Launched in 2016, it continues to welcome new local partners who both create their own local “chapter” and host the national exhibit, and is currently booked through the end of 2020, with more partners joining all the time. HAL’s newest project is Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice, created by students and frontline communities in 21 different cities, telling histories of environmental justice and their legacies for climate change through an installation that includes VR and other media. Climates of Inequality is traveling to all the communities that created it, with new partners joining along the way. The Public Programming and Exhibitions Manager supports the local staging of both States of Incarceration and Climates of Inequality as they travel. This will afford opportunities for collaboration with all three institutions comprising HAL’s local teams: university, community organization(s), and exhibiting venue. In the months leading up to each showing, the Manager will work closely with local hosts to design public programs, build collaborations with local organizations, develop and execute a communications and press strategy, and plan for documentation and evaluation. Using HAL project funds, the Manager will travel to select host communities (approximately three per year) for three to four days to support and document the public programs and conduct visitor and participant evaluations. By traveling to program sites to represent the national collective and observe, document, and evaluate the local programs, the Manager will connect programs together into a shared national conversation.
Asif Majid
Asif Majid
PhD, Anthropology, Media, and Performance, The University of Manchester
Appointed as Community Impact Analyst, San Francisco Arts Commission
see position description (abstract)
Established by charter in 1932, the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is the city agency that champions the arts as essential to daily life by investing in a vibrant arts community, enlivening the urban environment and shaping innovative cultural policy. The Arts Commission envisions a San Francisco where the transformative power of art is critical to strengthening neighborhoods, building infrastructure and fostering positive social change. The Commission believes the arts create inspiring personal experiences, illuminate the human condition and offer meaningful ways to engage with each other and the world around us. It imagines a vibrant San Francisco where creativity, prosperity and progress go hand in hand. Its goal is to advance artists’ ideas in order to improve the quality of life for everyone through a united cultural sector whose contributions are vital and valued. At SFAC, the Community Impact Analyst will support the design and implementation of an ongoing program evaluation process. Working in partnership with a consultant, the Analyst will determine how to assess the impact of the agency’s existing and new grant funds, which include endowments for the cultural centers, cultural equity, and emerging needs. This position will report to the Senior Racial Equity and Policy Analyst and work closely with the Community Investments team. The Community Impact Analyst will work across the agency to support staff with data informed decision making and increase the agency’s capacity to develop and use analytical tools to understand the impact of our work. The position will also partner with staff at other city agencies, local private funders, and community stakeholders to ensure that the agency’s funding strategy is equitable and responsive to local community needs.
Loy L. Azalia
Loy L. Azalia
PhD, African Studies, Howard University
Appointed as Senior Research Associate, Children’s Defense Fund
see position description (abstract)
The Children’s Defense Fund provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. It pays particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown. It is a national organization with the capacity to work for children at federal, state and community levels across the country. CDF’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C. The Senior Research Associate, reporting to the Policy Director, will join a team of policy experts working on a range of priorities, including child poverty, child health, early childhood care and development, education, child welfare and mental health, juvenile justice, immigration and gun violence prevention. The Senior Research Associate is responsible for a portfolio of research activities, statistical analyses and presentation of data on children and families. The portfolio will include leading the production of flagship publications and developing new research products related to the organization’s policy priorities. The Senior Research Associate will lead these publications and products from preparation through completion, ensuring consistency and the use of timely, high quality and accurate data and research methodologies while ensuring the final product is accessible and engaging to wide audiences.
Yagna Nag Chowdhuri
Yagna Nag Chowdhuri
PhD, Asian Studies, Cornell University
Appointed as Manager of Strategic Research, Asian Cultural Council
see position description (abstract)
Through cultural exchange activities in the United States and 25 countries in Asia, the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) advances international dialogue, understanding, and respect to create a more harmonious and peaceful world. This mission is accomplished through fellowships, grants, and other programs that support individual artists, humanities scholars, and arts professionals, and build global arts communities. The ACC is currently undergoing a multiyear process of program evaluation and needs assessment to create a strategic plan for program development, aimed at building on the legacy of past programs and activating ACC’s global network to respond to evolving needs in the fields of arts and cultural exchange. The position of Manager of Strategic Research is a new role to carry out research projects related to this assessment and planning work. The program strategies that emerge from this work will inform organization-wide strategic planning and fundraising. The Manager of Strategic Research will also contribute to fostering a culture of learning across the organization and devising methodologies for ongoing program analysis to bring even greater impact to ACC’s work.
Mariam Banahi
Mariam Banahi
PhD, Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University
Appointed as Program Manager, Refugees International
see position description (abstract)
There are more than 70 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world, as well as many millions of stateless people living without citizenship rights and victims of displacement resulting from natural disasters. Based on impartial and independent field reporting, Refugees International (RI) advocates for assistance and protection for refugees and displaced persons, and for solutions to refugee and humanitarian crises. Refugees International is committed to ensuring that governments of the world take strong and consistent action to seek durable solutions for these vulnerable populations. The Program Manager, Global Assessment of Country Practices on Refugee and Humanitarian Protection, is a new position focused on the development of a Refugees International global report on refugee and humanitarian protection. In recent years, Refugees International has published an annual assessment of the US administration’s record on refugee and humanitarian protection. The report has been read very widely and has received extensive coverage in the media, helping to promote public accountability and serving as a guide for advocates and policy makers with interests in enhancing the US response to the global challenge of forced migration. Refugees International now intends to publish a global report focusing not only on the United States, but also on other countries that are hosting large refugee or other displaced populations or are otherwise playing a key role in refugee and humanitarian response. We will publish this product over the next two calendar years, with a view toward establishing the permanent capacity to continue this work beyond the end of the fellowship.
Nichole A. Nelson
Nichole A. Nelson
PhD, History, Yale University
Appointed as Policy Analyst, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
see position description (abstract)
The Institute’s mission is to empower urban residents to realize and achieve their full potential. Established in 1999 by Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein, the Institute is known for its dynamic and independent advocacy aimed at toppling load-bearing walls of structural inequality to create just, vibrant, and healthy urban communities. Reporting to the Director of the Economic Justice Program, the Policy Analyst combines rigorous research and policy analysis to carry out community-driven advocacy campaigns to help advance racial and social justice on behalf of New Jersey’s urban communities. The Institute’s Economic Justice Program works to ensure equality of economic opportunity for residents in urban communities through building and strengthening systems that provide access to wealth, including (1) meaningful employment that pays a living wage; (2) affordable, fair, and quality housing in safe and healthy neighborhoods; (3) fair lending and student loan practices; and (4) other reparative policies and practices to help close New Jersey’s stark racial wealth gap.
Kathryn Cai
Kathryn Cai
PhD, English, University of California, Los Angeles
Appointed as Public Goods Policy Strategist, Partnership for Working Families
see position description (abstract)
The Partnership for Working Families, with 20 affiliate organizations, is driving an agenda to harness the power of cities and influence billions of public and private dollars to advance the public good. The Partnership for Working Families brings together the power of our affiliates through National campaigns like “We Make the City,” “State Interference,” and “Athena”. These campaigns include various strategies like organizing, research and policy change to reach their goals. The Public Goods Policy Strategist is responsible for developing innovative policies regarding public goods as well as proposing local experiments to test those policies within the Partnership for Working Families national network. The focus of the position is three-fold: to identify and/or develop, via research and engagement with experts, legal thinkers, and the field, policies that will make public goods more accessible to city residents in ways that support community health and wealth and that will expand democratic governance of public goods; to collaborate with communications staff to develop methods to communicate these ideas to various audiences; and to develop experiments or pilots of one policy idea (or more) in collaboration with Partnership colleagues, Partnership affiliates, and other organizational partners.
Cyrus J. O'Brien
Cyrus J. O'Brien
PhD, Anthropology and History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Appointed as Research Fellow, American Civil Liberties Union
see position description (abstract)
For 100 years, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has served as the guardian of American liberty. Through its national headquarters and affiliates in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC, the ACLU works daily in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. It is evolving from an organization of lawyers and advocates into a larger coalition of people fighting together for what’s right and seeks to be the place where people, no matter their political affiliation, can come to take action. As part of the Policy Research Team, the Research Fellow will collaborate with colleagues across the organization in the development, execution, and dissemination of policy research. The fellow will work on several projects in various stages of development and execution, including a long-term study on public defense reforms with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, the Justice Division of National Political Advocacy Department, the Racial Justice Legal Project, the Analytics Department, and several state affiliates. The Research Fellow will collaborate with Communications staff on audience identification, key messages, and dissemination strategies.
Jaime Shearn Coan
Jaime Shearn Coan
PhD, English, City University of New York, The Graduate Center
Appointed as Communications Manager, One Archives Foundation
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1952, the ONE Archives Foundation is the oldest active LGBTQ organization in the United States, and supports access to over three million archival items at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries documenting LGBTQ history and culture in Southern California and across the globe, including artworks, periodicals, books, film, video and audio recordings, photographs, organizational records, and personal papers. Reporting to the Director of Content Strategy, the Communications Manager will help ONE Archives Foundation (OAF) improve the visibility and public outreach of OAF’s programming, and implement digital communications and content strategy. The Communications Manager will coordinate public humanities products related to LGBTQ history, including online collections, interactive timelines, videos, podcasts, reports, website, and infographics. The Communications Manager will create, plan the release of, and publish multimedia humanities content through the OAF’s website, social media, and email lists to reach key constituents and audiences of OAF. The Communications Manager will also plan and implement public events including panel discussions, public programs, and workshops to engage with various constituents on key issues and themes related to LGBTQ culture and community.
Alane Lee Presswood
Alane Lee Presswood
PhD, Communication Studies, Ohio University
Appointed as Higher Education Program Specialist, Solutions Journalism Network
see position description (abstract)
Every day, the news informs the public about the world’s most serious problems. This is vitally important—but it’s not enough. Around the globe, people are also making progress against seemingly intractable issues. Too often, these stories are missing from the news. This one-sided approach doesn’t capture reality and has resulted in disengagement and despair. Imagine a world where, every day, people are informed not only about problems, but also about the ways in which people and communities are effectively responding to them. This is what solutions journalism is all about. Telling the whole story. Solutions journalism restores trust in news, strengthens participatory democracy, reveals credible avenues for hope, and holds public officials accountable by showing where and how people are doing better. The Higher Education Program Specialist, will build a community of practice among educators, catalyze the development of a new curriculum that uses solutions stories to inspire and advance the thinking of students across a wide range of disciplines, develop educational opportunities with partners beyond academia, and foster new relationships to support the integration of solutions journalism as a tool for higher education.
Valeria Dani
Valeria Dani
PhD, Romance Studies, Cornell University
Appointed as Community Engagement Director, Alliance for Higher Education in Prison
see position description (abstract)
The Alliance for Higher Education in Prison (the Alliance) is dedicated to expanding quality higher education in prison, empowering students in prison and after release, and shaping public discussion about education and incarceration. The Community Engagement Director will lead the organization’s efforts to collect, manage, create, and disseminate information and resources, such as reports, webinars, toolkits, and project updates to be shared with our stakeholder community. This effort will work in conjunction with the launch of the Alliance’s new website and will also support ongoing projects, including its annual survey of higher education in prison programs, internal evaluation, bi-annual stakeholder reports, published journal, and speaker’s bureau. These efforts will be part of the Alliance’s efforts to build community and ensure quality practice in the field and will contribute to keeping stakeholders informed and engaged with the Alliance.
Meredith Soeder
Meredith Soeder
PhD, History, Carnegie Mellon University
Appointed as Program Analyst, Allegheny Regional Asset District
see position description (abstract)
The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program places recent humanities PhDs in staff positions at partnering agencies in civic, cultural, media, and policy sectors. The fellowships allow humanities PhDs to demonstrate that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy.
Andrew Donnelly
Andrew Donnelly
PhD, English, Harvard University
Appointed as Education Programs Manager, National Book Foundation
see position description (abstract)
The mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture. The Foundation’s core beliefs are that books are essential to a thriving cultural landscape; books and literature provide a depth of engagement that helps to protect, stimulate, and promote discourse in American society; and that books and literature are for everyone, no matter where the reader is situated geographically, economically, racially, or otherwise. The National Book Foundation achieves this vision through administering the National Book Awards, as well as presenting a wide array of public and educational programs. The Education Programs Manager will work closely with the Foundation’s Deputy Director and alongside a programs assistant on the Foundation’s slate of Education programs for a wide range of audiences, which run locally in New York City as well as at partnering sites across the United States. The Education Programs Manager will take on key responsibilities including contributing to strategic development of new programs, management and oversight of existing programs, collaboration with external partners, hiring and supervision of contractual teaching staff, event planning, fundraising support, and program assessment.
Haylie Brooke Swenson
Haylie Brooke Swenson
PhD, English, The George Washington University
Appointed as Government Relations Project Manager, American Association for the Advancement of Science
see position description (abstract)
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) seeks to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” One of the fundamental challenges in advancing science policy is the ability to communicate the value of science to policymakers, most of whom do not come from scientific backgrounds. The Office of Government Relations, one of AAAS’s external affairs divisions, helps to address this challenge by providing timely, objective information to policymakers on current science and technology issues and helping the science and engineering community effectively engage in policy. The Government Relations Project Manager is a new position in the Office of Government Relations, which will be responsible for two ongoing projects: the Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) Coalition and the Golden Goose Award.
Sara Duvisac
Sara Duvisac
PhD, Sociology, New York University
Appointed as Research and Policy Advisor, Oxfam America
see position description (abstract)
Oxfam is a confederation of 19 affiliate organizations globally with a core mission to support lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. Oxfam takes a partner-based, rights-based approach to this work through humanitarian assistance, long term development programs, policy advocacy and campaigning. Oxfam seeks a Research and Policy Advisor to assist in understanding the changing landscape of global development in the context of the current geo-political shifts. The advisor will work to support the development of analytical vantage points by which Oxfam can interrogate the changes taking place in international development that result from these shifts. The interrogation should question the changing balance of power among actors in the global system, and the changing influence of multinational stakeholders, incorporating feminist frameworks. The intention in doing so is to support the development of relevant policy and advocacy responses considering Oxfam’s basic mission as it pertains to priority areas for Oxfam America: eradicating poverty, confronting inequality, attaining gender justice, addressing climate change, and upholding human rights.
Madison Van Oort
Madison Van Oort
PhD, Sociology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Appointed as Audience Development Project Manager, Twin Cities Public Television
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1957, Twin Cities PBS (TPT) is one of the most innovative public media organizations in the country. Driven by the mission to enrich lives and strengthen our community through the power of media, TPT is a prolific producer of original local and national content for broadcast and online media. TPT operates five broadcast channels and four online platforms that reach more than 2.3 million people every month, plus millions more through original documentaries and series for national broadcast and online audiences. In recent years, TPT has expanded its multiplatform content production, especially in the areas of arts, history and public affairs, and has significantly grown its efforts to activate that content through in-person community engagement. As a central member of TPT’s Marketing and Communications Department, the Audience Development Project Manager will help TPT develop and deepen relationships with key audiences in our community. The work of this new position will be centered around three key broad objectives: growing our audiences, learning about our audiences, and engaging with our audiences. The focal point of the work is TPT’s content - both local and national - in the areas of arts, culture, history and public affairs. Throughout the fellowship, the Audience Development Project Manager will have a leadership role in a variety of projects, coordinating work across multiple departments and functions.
Raquel Escobar
Raquel Escobar
PhD, History, University of Illinois
Appointed as Public Engagement Manager, Humanities Action Lab
see position description (abstract)
The HAL Public Engagement Manager will support the Director to facilitate collaboration and co-creation of social justice public humanities practices and projects across the HAL network, including between students, faculty and issue organization partners in each locality; and between university-community teams across different cities. The scope will include identifying and shaping on-line collaborative platforms and co-creation of digital media; development of mentoring opportunities; and virtual convenings. The scope will also include overseeing HAL’s new national fellowship program for faculty, students, and community partners at Minority-Serving Institutions. The purpose of the fellowship program is to foster leadership from these institutions to use public humanities for climate justice and other social justice issues. To that end the project will foster new pedagogies and practices that center the assets and experiences of frontline communities. The process will include convening the project’s leadership group, facilitating collective pilot digital and other public humanities projects, creating toolkits, designing criteria and selection process for fellows, designing mentoring strategies across the 3 fellowship categories, and working with evaluators.
Angela Veronica Wong
Angela Veronica Wong
PhD, English, University of Buffalo, State University of New York
Appointed as Advocacy Director, University Settlement Society of New York
see position description (abstract)
University Settlement Society of New York is one of New York City's most dynamic social justice institutions, with an impressive legacy as the first settlement house in the nation. Its mission is to empower residents by building on their strengths and knowledge through comprehensive, quality services that meet the current needs of the community, innovation that anticipates future needs, and advocacy to improve the community as a whole. Every year, University Settlement impacts the lives of over 40,000 New Yorkers across 30 sites through a wide range of programs that set a standard for excellence. Our programs include early childhood education, youth development, adult literacy, family support and mental health, housing services, healthy aging programs, and community-centered arts. Systems change is integral to our founding principles, and to achieving our larger goals of a more equitable and just society for our communities. The Advocacy Director will spearhead and operationalize University Settlement’s preexisting advocacy efforts more fully across its programs and sites, and support University Settlement’s ongoing culture shift towards integrating more advocacy and systems-change. The role will involve: creating a variety of resources to engage and support staff and participants in developing advocacy campaigns; training staff to implement advocacy and education efforts; leading community engagement efforts, including leading the participatory budgeting process, which engages the community in determining how a portion of the public budget will be spent; and, creating campaign-specific resources. The impact of this work will include: increased organizational impact in advocacy campaigns; a stronger integration of considerations of systems-change; increased exposure to broaden our reach to community members and prospective funders; and greater presence in the field of advocacy leaders in NYC.
Barry Goldberg
Barry Goldberg
PhD, History, City University of New York, The Graduate Center
Appointed as Writer and Editor, Communications Team, Partnership for Public Service
see position description (abstract)
The Partnership for Public Service is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that strives to make our government more efficient, innovative and responsive to the needs of the American public. While others may debate whether government should be bigger or smaller, we focus on making it better. Our nonpartisan stance allows us to collaborate with many different stakeholders who share our vision for a better government. We serve as a bridge between administrations, across the political aisle and from government to the private sector, bringing together diverse perspectives to develop forward-thinking solutions and put them into action. The Writer and Editor at the Partnership for Public Service will work across the organization to develop a range of editorial outputs to support the organization’s mission of making the federal government more effective for the American public. Throughout its 18-year history, the Partnership has generated hundreds of research reports on government reform issues such as artificial intelligence, customer experience, presidential transition, technology and data and civil service modernization.
Andrew J. Young
Andrew J. Young
PhD, Sociology, Temple University
Appointed as Assistant Director of Global Learning and Assessment, Institute for Study Abroad
see position description (abstract)
The Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) creates global learning environments designed to foster the development of critical perspectives, knowledge, and skills essential for students to thrive in the future. A US-based educational not-for-profit, IFSA offers more than 100 programs in 19 countries. We draw on theory and evidence-based practice to maximize the long-term outcomes of education abroad through a variety of program models and academic offerings. The Assistant Director of Global Learning and Assessment (ADGLA) will lead efforts to drive forward IFSA’s global student learning objectives (SLOs) to ensure they directly support its mission and commitments, including the implementation of appropriate outcomes assessment. Under the supervision of the Vice President for Academic Programs and in collaboration with IFSA’s staff, instructors, and critical partners, the ADGLA will operationalize SLOs at the organizational, programmatic, and classroom levels. This role will construct relevant rubrics using qualitative and quantitative assessment strategies, along with standard reports and processes to foster continuous improvement.