Featured Speakers

Featured Speakers opened each day of the event with a talk and Q&A with the audience.

Loretta Parham wearing a blue top, light color glassses, earrings, and a necklace, looking directly into the camera.

Loretta Parham

CEO & Library Director, Atlanta University Center -Robert W. Woodruff Library

Thursday, April 6, 2023, 50-minute session
8:00am PT / 9:00am MT / 10:00am CT / 11:00 am ET

Loretta Parham – CEO & Library Director of the incorporated Atlanta University Center Woodruff Library, an entity shared by four HBCU institutions—Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College and Spelman College. Under her leadership the AUC Woodruff Library was just elected as the 127th member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and in 2016 awarded the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award. Parham’s experience includes: Director of the Hampton University Library, Deputy Director of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pa., District Chief of the Chicago Public Library (CPL) and other professional positions with Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago.

Parham is currently on the EDUCOPIA Board, member of the University of Michigan Information School Alumni Advisory Board, the WABE–NPR Advisory Council, and a member of the Roundtable for Aligning Incentives for Open Science of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

An active leader, scholar and engaging speaker, Parham was named the ACRL 2017 Academic Research Librarian of the Year, the 2016 Distinguished Alumna of the University of Michigan School of Information Sciences, a “Mover & Shaker” by the industry publication Library Journal, has authored articles on HBCU libraries and archives, is co-editor of the book, Achieving Diversity: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians, and served as faculty for the EDUCAUSE Management Institute. She has been a featured speaker for programs of the IMLS, Digital Library Federation, OCLC, Georgia Society of Archivists, and more.

Parham is co-founder and past chair of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Library Alliance, past chair of the Georgia Humanities Council, former board member of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), former trustee of OCLC, Inc., past chair of the ALA Committee on Accreditation and an officer in many other organizations.

Parham is an alum of the University of Michigan Graduate College and Southern Illinois University; and an alum of the Frye Institute, the ACRL/Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians, and the HBCU Library Alliance Leadership Institute.

Lopez Matthews Jr. Headshot

Lopez Matthews Jr.

State Archivist and Public Records Administrator, Government of the District of Columbia

Friday, April 7, 2023, 50-minute session
8:00am PT / 9:00am MT / 10:00am CT / 11:00 am ET

Lopez D. Matthews Jr., Ph.D., is the State Archivist and Public Records Administrator for the District of Columbia. In this capacity he serves as Historian of the District of Columbia, Chair of the D.C. Historical Records Advisory Board, and Director of the DC Office of Public Records and Archives. A native of Baltimore Maryland, he earned a BS in History from Coppin State University in 2004. He then earned a master’s degree in Public History and Archival Administration from Howard University in 2006 and a PhD in United States History from Howard University in 2009.

Currently, he is a member of the Council of State Archivists, and an Executive Council Member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He has published several articles and is the author of Howard University in the World Wars: Men and Women Serving the Nation. He is host of In Retrospect and Prospect where he interviews practitioners about African American history projects for ASALH TV. In 2020, he became a Senior Advisor to the US Truth, Healing and Transformation Leadership Group.

Meet the Session Panelists, Moderators, and Contributors

Note: Titles and bios were collected at the time of the event (March – April 2023) and will not be updated.

TaKeia N. Anthony, Ph.D.

Interim Dean, Whitney Young Honors and Graduate Studies, Kentucky State University

Panelist: Digital Publishing – Lessons from Brown University’s Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing Institute

Dr. TaKeia N. Anthony is the Interim Dean of the Whitney Young Honors Collegium and Graduate Studies and the Academic Support Liaison for the Center of Excellence for the Study of Kentucky African-Americans (CESKAA) at Kentucky State University. As an Associate Professor of History, Dr. Anthony’s areas of expertise are the African Diaspora and Archiving. She has lectured and spoken on panels throughout the United States, South Korea, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Columbia, London, and Ghana. She also curated the archival records of the James Weldon Johnson Branch (Jacksonville, Florida) of The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) where she is the branch Historian. Dr. Anthony has published several articles, book chapters, and a historical spoken word album titled Dr. TaKeia Speaks: The Inception. Her most recent publication is a book titled, The Universal Ethiopian Students’ Association, 1927-1948: Mobilizing Diaspora (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019). This research expands the study of the African Diaspora by illuminating the mobilized diaspora and the UESA. Dr. Anthony is also the recipient of several fellowships. She was a member of the 2022 Cohort of the Council of Postsecondary Education’s (CPE) Academic Leadership Development Institute (ALDI); A member of Brown University’s 2022 inaugural Born Digital Publishing Summer Fellows; the 2020-2022 Delta Research and Educational Foundation Vivian A. Ware Fellow and a 2021-2022 member of the Howard University Social Justice Consortium. She previously served as a 2019-2021 Duke-NCCU John Hope Franklin Digital Humanities Fellow.


Chauvet Bishop


Contributor, Community Break: Wellness Session

Chauvet (she/they) is a licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Practitioner, Poet and Host of Open Room at Nuyorican Poets Cafe. She received her massage therapy training from the highly acclaimed Swedish Institute. She began practicing in 2011. Since graduating from the Swedish Institute, Chauvet gained experience in spas, wellness centers, and gyms. She has also brought her massage skills to businesses, parties and backstage for various performances around NYC. Chauvet focuses on in-home massage (pre-quarantine), virtual guided self-massage, reiki (in person as well as distance) and organizing wellness spaces for community events with the
Audre Lorde Project.

Kimberley Bugg, Ph.D.​

Associate Library Director Atlanta University Center - Woodruff Library​

Panelist: Leadership and Upward Mobility at HBCUs

Kimberley Bugg, Ph.D., is the Associate Library Director for the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, a Historical Black College and University (HBCU) Library, serving Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. In this capacity, she provides strategic leadership for library operations. Additionally, she serves on the board of the HBCU Library Alliance. Bugg earned her Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from Simmons University and previously served as the Library of Congress Chief of Researcher and Reference Services.

Dana Chandler, Ph.D.​

University Archivist, Tuskegee University​

Panelist: Leadership and Upward Mobility at HBCUs

Rico Chapman, Ph.D.​

Assistant Dean/Director, Clark Atlanta University​Atlanta University Center - Woodruff Library

Panelist: Grant Funders and Awardees: A Conversation

Rico Chapman serves as Assistant Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences and Director of the Humanities Ph.D. Program at Clark Atlanta University. He is a Professor of History in the Department of African American Studies, Africana Women’s Studies and History. His research interests include student movements, public history, and digital humanities. He has directed multiple projects totaling over two million dollars from agencies, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the National Park Service, Microsoft and the Mellon Foundation. He is founding director of the Center for Africana Digital Humanities.

Martina Dodd​​​

Program Director of Curation and Object Based Learning, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library​​​

Moderator: Care, Curation, and Collaboration: Art, Archives, and Exhibitions at HBCUs and Beyond

Martina Dodd is an Atlanta based art historian and curator. Her concept driven shows have touched on topics relating to race, gender and power dynamics. Including her most recent exhibition at Clark Atlanta University Art Museum entitled, Black Interiors, an exploration of the Black aesthetic and psyche through artistic renderings of the home and stylized representations of the human form.

Dodd holds a MA in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas from the University of East Anglia and a BA in Anthropology and International Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She is currently the Program Director of Curation and Object Based Learning at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, and a founding editor of DIRT, an online independent platform and resource for accessible critical arts discourse within the DC, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area.

She has presented research, spoken on panels and curated exhibitions for the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, American Studies Association, Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural center, James A. Porter Colloquium, DC Arts Center, Transformer, Flux Factory and Common Field Convening. She has published articles, exhibition reviews, and catalogue essays with DIRT, BmoreArts, Common Field’s Field Perspectives and Morton Fine Art. She was a 2019 mentee in the Association of Art Museum Curators Mentorship Program and is a 2022 Authenticity Fellow for the HBCU Library Alliance and the Digital Library Federation.

Flavia Eldemire, Ph.D.​​

Associate V.P. for Counseling & Placement, Allen University​​

Panelist: Leadership and Upward Mobility at HBCUs

Dr. Eldemire holds the academic rank of Associate Professor; she currently serves as Associate V.P. for Counseling & Placement at Allen University, located in Columbia, South Carolina.

Dr. Eldemire has held numerous faculty and consulting roles throughout New England and the Southern Regions of the United States. Her specialty is leadership development, specifically self-leadership, organizational change, crisis, and turnaround management. She has assisted numerous organizations, teams, and individuals in effectively bringing about and managing change. She has been a staff consultant for The Levinson Institute, Boston, MA providing consulting services to executives, a senior consultant for The Galilee Agency, Inc., a Charlotte, N.C. based organizational development consulting firm, a senior advisor and consultant to the HBCU Library Alliance and she has provided transitional career services for the Department of Defense as a consultant with Resource Consultants Incorporated (R.C.I.) in Vienna, Virginia.

Dr. Eldemire is a certified consultant and test administrator for Emotional Intelligence, People Skills, Workplace Big Five-The Five Factor Model of Personality, and Franklin Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, The Academy of Management, The American Psychological Association, The National Black M.B.A. Association, and The Society for Training and Development. Dr. Eldemire is committed to making a difference in the lives of those who want to learn, grow, and make positive impacts. She holds the following degrees: from several prestigious institutions of higher education; BSBA, Roosevelt University, MA, John Carroll University, an M.B.A., and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She has also attended the Duke Executive Leadership program in Durham, N.C.

Vanesa Evers​​

Digital Publishing Librarian, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library​​

Moderator: Digital Publishing – Lessons from Brown University’s Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing Institute

Vanesa Evers (they/she) is the Digital Publishing Librarian at Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library in Atlanta, GA. Vanesa received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA) from Sarah Lawrence College in 2013 and a Master of Science in Library & Information Science (MSLIS) from Drexel University in 2019. Having worked in a variety of creative and professional organizations, Vanesa is passionate and dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion work. With a background in creative writing, Vanesa writes poetry with the importance of intersectionality in mind, exploring topics like the experience of being a Black woman, sexual orientation and gender identity, and religion. Aside from creative writing and librarian roles, Vanesa enjoys making jewelry and miniature greeting cards.

Sharon Freeman, Ph.D.​​

Assistant Vice President for Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Mississippi Valley State University​​

Panelist: Creating Access to HBCU Collections

Sharon Ferguson Freeman holds a doctorate in professional studies in higher education leadership from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. After earning her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from Tougaloo College, Freeman began her career in higher education as a systems analyst in the James Herbert White Library at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU), where she currently serves as the assistant vice president for institutional research and effectiveness. She has taught research methods at Delta State University while also serving as a competitive grant program evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education.

With a focus on informed decision-making, Freeman has extensive experience in the fields of strategic planning, data analysis, institutional effectiveness, outcomes assessment, and higher education quality assurance. She is currently an active evaluator and university liaison for MVSU with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Siobahn Day Grady, Ph.D.​​​

Assistant Professor and Program Director of Information Science, North Carolina Central University​​​​

Panelist: Instruction, Digital Pedagogy, Bridging the Gap Between Classroom and Library

Siobahn is the first woman computer science Ph.D. graduate from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (2018). She is an Assistant Professor and Program Director of Information Science/Systems in the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University, Lab Director for the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence and Equity Research (LAIER), Co-Director for the Center fOr Data Equity (CODE), an AAAS IF/THEN ambassador, and an Office e-Learning faculty fellow at North Carolina Central University. Her research focuses on utilizing machine learning to identify sources of misinformation on social media and on improving fault detection in autonomous vehicles.


Dr. Grady advocates increasing the number of women and minorities in computer science. She believes that “the STEM workforce has both gender disparities and that of historically disenfranchised groups. As an AAAS IF/THEN ambassador, she affects change by examining girls’ perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors, helping them gain confidence in curating and developing a STEM identity.”

Additionally, Dr. Grady has been featured in museums throughout the nation, has spoken at national and international conferences, serves on multiple boards, and was featured as a statue in the world’s largest exhibit of women’s statues. Technology is the way of the future, and Dr. Grady has a vision for minority girls’ and women’s futures. She realizes that vision by providing educational opportunities through community organizations, philanthropic efforts, college courses, and research grants and publications.


She currently holds the following Quality Matters Certifications: Master Reviewer, Peer Reviewer, Accelerated Designing Your Online Course F2F Facilitator, Accelerated Improving Your Online Course F2F Facilitator, Reviewer Course for Program Reviews, and Applying the QM Rubric Face to Face Facilitator.

Andrea Jackson Gavin​​​​

Director of Engagement & Scholarship, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library​​​​

Moderator: Grant Funders and Awardees: A Conversation

Andrea Jackson Gavin was a professional archivist for over 15 years during which she specialized in preserving African American and Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) history. She is the Director of Engagement and Scholarship at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, where she previously served as Grant Writer, and Head of the Archives Research Center. Jackson Gavin is a former Executive Director of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium – a network of Chicago-area archives with African American special collections. She is an alumna of Spelman College, and New York University with a Master of Arts in US History and certification in Archival Management. Jackson Gavin was also a participant of the Archives Leadership Institute and the Harvard Graduate School of Education Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians. A Fellow of the Society of Georgia Archivists, she co-authored “Funding the Future of African American Religion Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library” in the Theological Librarianship Journal, as well as the chapter, “‘Loving Blackness’ as a First-Year Composition Student Learning Outcome in the Archives” in the book, Teaching through the Archives: Text, Collaboration, and Activism. Among her service and leadership roles, Jackson Gavin participates in many consortia and collaborative initiatives, including as an Advisory Board member of Project STAND (Student Activism Now Documented) – a grassroots consortium of academic archival repositories committed to documenting student activism and social justice among marginalized communities. She is Vice President of the Dogwood City (GA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and previously served on the International Archives Committee of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Melanee C. Harvey​

Associate Professor of Art History and James A. Porter Colloquium Chair, Chadwick A . Boseman College of Fine Arts, Howard University​

Panelist: Care, Curation, and Collaboration: Art, Archives, and Exhibitions at HBCUs and Beyond

Melanee C. Harvey is associate professor of art history in the Department of Art in the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University. She earned a BA from Spelman College and pursued graduate study at Boston University where she received her MA and PhD in American Art and Architectural History. In addition to serving as coordinator for the art history area of study, she has served as programming chair for the James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora at Howard University since 2016. She has published on architectural iconography in African American art, Black Arts Movement artists, religious art of Black liberation theology and ecowomanist art practices. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Melanee was in residence as the Paul Mellon Guest Scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. She is currently writing her first book entitled, Patterns of Permanence: African Methodist Episcopal Architecture and Visual Culture.

Renee Johnson-Thornton, Ph.D.​​

Senior Program Associate, Higher Learning/Associate Director, MMUF​​

Panelist: Grant Funders and Awardees: A Conversation

Prior to joining the Foundation in December 2020 as senior program associate and associate director of MMUF, Renee Johnson-Thornton was an administrator at Wesleyan University for over two decades. At Wesleyan, she served as dean for diversity and engagement, dean for equity and inclusion, deans for the classes of 2018 and 2022, assistant to the dean of the college, assistant dean for student academic resources, associate director of the McNair Program, and associate coordinator of Wesleyan’s MMUF program. Renee’s tenure also included service on the inaugural African American studies program advisory board and an appointment as research affiliate in the African American studies department.

The first member of her family to earn a college degree, Renee holds a BA from Binghamton University, where she was a double major in English and African & African American studies; an MA in liberal studies from Wesleyan University; and a PhD in education from the University of Rhode Island/Rhode Island College. Her dissertation, Studying Science: Students Gaining Access to the Community of Practice of Environmental Studies, demonstrated the beneficial outcomes of mentoring strategies, inclusive pedagogy, and the cultivation of communities of practice on the education, development, and retention of people of marginalized identities in science courses, research laboratories, and the STEM disciplines broadly. Renee believes in mentoring as a vehicle for teaching content, building confidence, and creating new knowledge, and has sought throughout her career to incorporate elements of mentoring in support for both students and colleagues.

Ida Jones​

Associate Director of Special Collections and University Archivist, Morgan State University​

Moderator: Leadership and Upward Mobility at HBCUs 

Dr. Ida E. Jones is a noted professional archivist and historian, award-winning author, educator, and recognized leader in the field of African American women’s history. Since 2016, she has served as the inaugural University Archivist at Morgan State University, in Baltimore. Currently, she is the National Vice President for Membership in the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Finally, Dr. Jones believes deeply in the words of Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune: Who stated “power must walk hand in hand with humility and the intellect must have a soul.”

Allison Levy​

Director, Brown University Digital Publications, Brown University Library​​​

Panelist: Grant Funders and Awardees: A Conversation

Allison Levy is Director of Brown University Digital Publications, which, launched with support from the Mellon Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is committed to integrating diversity, equity, and social justice into the practice and production of digital publications for scholarly audiences and the wider public. In this role, she brings together key organizational, academic, and technological resources across the University to support new forms of faculty-driven scholarship. She spearheads efforts at the industry level to advance the conversation around the development, evaluation, and publication of born-digital scholarship in the humanities.

Raeshawn McGuffie​

Assistant Director of Technical Services, Hampton University​

Panelist: Creating Access to HBCU Collections

Ms. Raeshawn McGuffie is from Los Angeles, CA. She earned her BA in Psychology from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee and her MLS degree at North Carolina Central University. An advocate for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges or Universities), she has worked for North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC and Elizabeth City State University, which is located in Elizabeth City, NC, before relocating to Virginia. Raeshawn is currently the Assistant Director of Technical Services at Hampton University’s William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library. It is in this position that she rediscovered an interest in digitization to preserve the many historical resources housed in the library’s special collections. Throughout the course of her career she has recognized the lack of diversity amongst digital librarians, which is what prompted her to become involved with the Digital Library Federation and also sparked her interest in grant writing regarding Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in libraries.

DeLisa Minor Harris​​

Director of Library Services, Fisk University John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library​​​

Panelist: Instruction, Digital Pedagogy, Bridging the Gap Between Classroom and Library

DeLisa Minor Harris is a Fisk alumna who returned in 2016 to serve her alma mater after completing her master’s degree at the University of North Texas and after spending four years with the Nashville Public Library. Since her start at Fisk University, Ms. Minor Harris has curated five exhibits, including “Lord, I’m Out Here on Your Word”-Fisk Jubilee Singers: Singing from Spirit to Spirit” and written two articles published in the enlarged two-volume set of the Encyclopedia of African American Business, ABC/CLIO. She recently partnered with Dr. Paul T. Kwami and Tunisia Scott in writing Heritage and Honor: 150-Year Story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers (2022). Furthering her professional acumen, she served as an HBCU Library Alliance and Digital Library Federation (DLF) Authenticity Project Fellow and is now a Mellon-RBS Cultural Heritage Fellow (2020-2023) focused on conducting bibliographic research on the rare book collection of Fisk University’s Special Collections and Archives known early on as the “Negro Collection.” Ms. Minor Harris currently serves as Director of Library Services and Instructor for the W.E.B. Du Bois Honors Program at Fisk University. She is also the Principal Investigator for the Mellon-funded Portal to Julius Rosenwald Fund Collections grant, a four-year project to increase access to the Julius Rosenwald Fund Collection at Fisk University, and the Principal Investigator for the Fisk Forever Digital Project, a two-year project to preserve and create access to the Fiskiana collection at Fisk.

Ana Ndumu​​​

Assistant Professor, University of Maryland College Park​​​

Panelist: Instruction, Digital Pedagogy, Bridging the Gap Between Classroom and Library

Dr. Ana Ndumu is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland College Park’s College of Information Studies specializing in the cross between Black identity, libraries, demography, and social inclusion. Her current work explores the information worlds of Black diasporic immigrants living in the U.S. She also examines the contributions of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to library and information science (LIS) education. Her research is informed by her lived experience as an Afro-Latina immigrant and work experience as an HBCU librarian. Her premise is that LIS approaches toward immigrants and HBCUs reflect a problematic history of race-making and belonging in the U.S.

Tiwanna Nevels, Ph.D.​​​

HBCU Library Alliance Board Chair & Director of Library Services, Saint Augustine's University​​​

Moderator: Featured Speaker session: Loretta Parham; Featured Speaker session: Lopez D. Matthews Jr., PhD

Dr. Tiwanna S. Nevels has served in libraries for over the past 15 years. She has served as the library director and historian for special collections at Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) for the past seven years. She has a profound knowledge of libraries, with a deep passion for scholarly research. She has a keen understanding of the centrality of HBCU libraries in today’s colleges and universities and seeks every opportunity to advocate the importance of knowledge sharing as a gatekeeper of their history and legacy. Furthermore, she believes that one of her most importance missions is to help lead the charge in telling these stories of transformation and sustainability. Dr. Nevels provides library directors with essential business strategies that address the transformation of library spaces to maintain their relevancy and value to include all users. Her knowledge prepares all stakeholders in setting the stage for change and identifies best practice that library directors will apply, resulting in successful transformational change.


Tiwanna is the current presiding Board Chair of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities Library Alliance. In her role she works to provide avenues to activate its members through various programs and services. She is passionate about the future of libraries and discovering innovative techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future.
Dr. Nevels is a two-time HBCU graduate receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management from Saint Augustine’s in 2007 and a Master of Library Science from North Carolina Central University in 2009. She received a Doctor of Business Administration from the University of Maryland in 2020.

Brandon Nightingale​​

Project Manager, Black Press Archives Digitization Project, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center​​

Panelist: Creating Access to HBCU Collections

Brandon Nightingale is the project manager for the Black Press Archives Digitization Project at Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. In this role Brandon leads a team of 14 Howard students in digitizing the university’s historic Black newspaper collection, which will give access to researchers across the world. Nightingale received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in history from the University of Central Florida. He recently obtained his master’s in library science from Florida State University, and this upcoming Fall semester, he will begin the history doctoral program at Howard.

Bria Paige​​​

Doctoral Candidate, Department of English at Rutgers University; Former Pathways Intern at the National Endowment of the Humanities​​​

Panelist: Grant Funders and Awardees: A Conversation

Bria E. Paige is a fourth year doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She studies 20th-21st century African American and African diasporic literature, with particular research interests in black feminist theory and black geographies as well as the public and digital humanities. Currently, Bria is a member of the 2023 cohort for the Introduction to Digital Humanities Program, sponsored by the Black Book Interactive Project at The University of Kansas. Additionally, Bria has held previous graduate internships with the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) based in Washington, D.C. and the Center for Digital Scholarship at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During her time at the NEH, Bria published a research report entitled ‘Tell Them We Are Rising:’ On HBCUs and the Digital (2010-2021).

Kenvi Phillips, Ph.D.​​​

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion- University Library, Brown University​​​

Panelist: Leadership and Upward Mobility at HBCUs

Kenvi C. Phillips, PhD is the inaugural Director of Library Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Brown University. There she directs critical organizational and programmatic initiatives, expand the library’s outreach, and contribute her expert knowledge and skills to advance the Library’s and the University’s core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She serves as the Library liaison for the Brown Tougaloo Partnership Program and the one of the liaisons for HBCU Library Alliance. Prior to arrival at Brown, Kenvi served as the Johanna-Marie Fraenkel Curator for Race and Ethnicity at Harvard Radcliffe’s Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. While there, she has led the library’s efforts to diversify the collections to be more inclusive of racial and ethnic populations across the country. Before joining the Schlesinger Library, Kenvi served as Assistant Curator of Manuscripts at Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.

Sandra Phoenix headshot placed over a graphic background. Ms. Phoenix is wearing a dark suit, pearls, glasses, and short hair, standing in front of an artistic sculpture of a figure.

Sandra Phoenix​

Executive Director, HBCU Library Alliance​

Moderator: Creating Access to HBCU Collections

Ms. Sandra Phoenix is the Executive Director of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Library Alliance and has more than 30 years’ experience at nonprofit organizations and extensive project management experience. The HBCU Library Alliance is the membership organization for White-House designated HBCUs with a mission to develop library leaders, preserve collections and plan for the future. Responsible for the overall operations of the HBCU Library Alliance, her duties include providing leadership in developing strategic and financial planning, managing an organizational budget with the Board of Directors, managing, publicizing and promoting grant-related activities of the organization, and promoting active participation on grant projects by member institutions.

Sandra believes in the power of knowledge, the power of the endless contributions of people of color, and the power of the library in strengthening community. She is committed to the goals and vision of the HBCU Library Alliance and its future directions in supporting HBCU libraries. Through her work at the HBCU Library Alliance, Sandra is proud to honor the sacrifices and contributions of our African descendants.

Ashley Robertson Preston, Ph.D.​​​

Assistant Professor of History, Howard University ​​​

Panelist: Digital Publishing – Lessons from Brown University’s Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing Institute

Dr. Ashley Robertson Preston is an Assistant Professor of History at Howard University. Her research interests focus on the activism of Black women during the early twentieth century particularly the work of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. She is the author of Mary McLeod Bethune in Florida: Bringing Social Justice to the Sunshine State which examines how the educator rose to prominence while fighting for equality at the height or racial unrest in the state. Her forthcoming book Mary McLeod Bethune the Pan-Africanist will be published with the University of Florida Press May 2023. Dr. Preston’s past positions in the field of Public History include serving as director of the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation-National Historic Landmark at Bethune-Cookman University while she also was an archives technician for the National Archives for Black Women’s History at the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House-National Historic Site. Educated at Howard University (PhD), Temple University (MA) and Bowie State University (BS), her research has been published in The Journal of African American History, Journal of Black Studies, and The Journal of Negro Education.

Marco Robinson, Ph.D.​​​

Associate Professor of History and Assistant Director of the Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice, Prairie View A&M University​​​

Panelist: Digital Publishing – Lessons from Brown University’s Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing Institute

Marco Robinson is Associate Professor of History and Assistant Director of the Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice at Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas. He serves as Co-Principal Investigator on the Mellon Foundation-supported initiative, Enhancing the Humanities at PVAMU through an African American Studies Program, and on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission-supported Texas Domestic Slave Trade Project. He is the co-editor of Contemporary Debates in Social Justice: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Exploring the Lives of Black and Brown Americans (Kendall Hunt, 2021), and he has authored essays on the pivotal role played by women during the integration of public schools in North Mississippi as well as the efficacy of oral histories and collaborative work to document the histories of Black communities in the American South. Robinson also studies Afro-Latino and Caribbean history, and agricultural history.

La Tanya L. Reese Rogers, PhD​​​

Associate Professor of Literature & Drama; Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Honors Program, Fisk University​​​

Panelist: Digital Publishing – Lessons from Brown University’s Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing Institute

La Tanya L. Reese Rogers, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Literature and drama and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Honors Program at Fisk University.

She holds a doctorate degree in literature and drama from Howard University and two bachelor’s degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where she won the coveted Mellon Mays Fellowship. Dr. Rogers is a co-founder of the Edward Alexander Bouchét National Graduate Honor Society, which has chapters at Yale, Stanford, and other prominent universities across the nation. She is the faculty advisor to the 2022 Battle of the Brains national championship team from Fisk University where she is a faculty member in the English Discipline.

In previous roles, La Tanya Rogers served as a Communications Coordinator for the financial firm, A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc.; a translator for the United States Embassy in Madrid, Spain; an assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the District of Columbia; and a performance-review board member at the US Department of State and the US Department of Commerce.

She has led nearly 100 undergraduate students on study abroad tours to countries such as France, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, and Egypt. She has lived, researched, and worked in São Paulo, Brazil, and Madrid, Spain. She is a published author on subjects ranging from contemporary playwrights in the United States to economic racism in Brazil.

Kayla Siddell​​​

Associate Director of the University Library, Xavier University of Louisiana​​​

Panelist: Instruction, Digital Pedagogy, Bridging the Gap Between Classroom and Library

Ms. Siddell is the Associate Director of the University Library at Xavier University of Louisiana where she coordinates and supervises the day-to-day operations of the library and works closely with and under the guidance of the Library Director. Previously, Kayla served as the Head of Research and Technology, managing Library Systems and Technology, Learning Spaces, and consulting with faculty, staff and students on their research and use of library resources and services. Kayla also previously served as the Scholarly Communications Librarian, managing the institutional repository, Scholarly Communications, XULA Digital Commons, the Data Visualization Lab, the Innovation Studio at Xavier.

Before joining the faculty at Xavier, Kayla was the Data Curation Librarian at Indiana State University where she served as webmaster and managed the institutional repository, CONTENTdm and Omeka websites as well as running the digitization laboratory. Her research interest include alternative data, best practices for data curation and institutional repositories, scholarly communication, information literacy, open educational resources, affordable learning, organizational leadership, and student retention.

Before working in academic libraries Kayla focused on data curation as a Data Specialist at the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Technical Information and a data curation intern at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and The Center for Atmospheric Research. With a focus on open education and affordable learning, Ms. Siddell serves as the Library lead creating Open Educational textbooks for dual-enrollment courses in Louisiana with the Louisiana Board of Regence.

Francena F.L. Turner​​

Postdoctoral Associate for Data Curation Data Curation in African American History and Culture, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, University of Maryland, College Park​​​

Moderator: Instruction, Digital Pedagogy, Bridging the Gap Between Classroom and Library

Francena Turner is a CLIR/Melon Fellow and Postdoctoral Associate for Data Curation in African American History and Culture at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH). In her current role, she is the project manager & principal interviewer for the Black Experiences at the University of Maryland Oral history Project (a part of the Reparative Oral Histories Initiative). She is also an adjunct lecturer of African American History at Fayetteville State University. Her research focuses on historical and contemporary issues of equity, agency, and thriving in education through critical study of minoritized student experiences.

Sterling Warren​​

Hycreator Mediaworks​​​

Contributor, Community Break: DJ

Media Artist – Writer – Curator
Morgan State University (Museum Studies and Historical Preservation, MA)
Howard University (Film, BA)
Digital Content Producer – Smithsonian

Delrisha White​

Founder and Principal Consultant, Equity Erudition​

Event Host

Delrisha White is a passionate advocate for social impact and educational equality, actively confronting racial and socioeconomic injustices through her work in education and storytelling. Her own life experiences growing up in poverty and within the criminal justice and child welfare systems have inspired her to dedicate her career to these important causes.

Delrisha utilizes a range of multimedia platforms to promote critical conversations and encourage personal and community growth, emphasizing the importance of healing and understanding. Her exceptional skills and expertise have garnered recognition from leading scholars and social activists such as Dr. Cornel West, who called her “a powerful, intellectual, moral and spiritual force for good.”

With extensive experience consulting and collaborating with national and local organizations, Delrisha is a powerhouse in her keynotes and workshops where she facilitates for a diverse range of audiences, from HBCUs and Ivy League institutions to large public research universities and private sector companies. Her written work has been published both domestically and internationally, appearing in highly respected academic journals at Harvard University and New York University, as well as popular media outlets such as The Huffington Post. Her work has also been featured on various local and national media outlets, including UNCF, Black BET, CSPAN, and NBC.

Delrisha is a graduate of Bennett College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies with a minor in Global Studies. In 2019, she received her master’s degree in Education Policy & Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she was honored with the Intellectual Contribution award.

Erika Witt​​​

Coordinator of Public Services, Leonard S. Washington Memorial Library at Southern University at New Orleans​​​​

Panelist: Care, Curation, and Collaboration: Art, Archives, and Exhibitions at HBCUs and Beyond

Museologist, Erika N. Witt is a notable Southern University at New Orleans faculty member. She holds the title of Coordinator of Public Services for the Leonard S. Washington Memorial Library, is an Adjunct Professor for the Interdisciplinary Studies course Principles of Museology, and is the Curator for the Southern University at New Orleans Museum of Art. Her primary focus is on curatorship, specializing in the arts of Africa and the African diaspora and ancient Egyptian visual expression. She aims to make museums more meaningful, impactful, and inclusive to underserved communities and educate communities on traditional African art history.

Savannah Wood headshot, black and white photograph with visible backdrop in background, Savannah wearing glasses and a blazer.

Savannah Wood​​​​

Executive Director, Afro Charities​​​​​

Panelist: Care, Curation, and Collaboration: Art, Archives, and Exhibitions at HBCUs and Beyond

Savannah Wood is an artist with deep roots in Baltimore and Los Angeles. Wood works primarily in photography, text and installation to explore how spirituality, domesticity, and our relationships to place shape our identities.

As the Executive Director of Afro Charities, Wood is creating infrastructure to increase access to the 130-year-old AFRO American Newspapers’ extensive archives. In this role, she has shepherded the organization through a period of historic growth, initiated new programming, and attracted support from national funders including the Mellon Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and #StartSmall, Jack Dorsey’s philanthropic initiative.

Wood is a graduate cum laude of the University of Southern California. She is a 2022 Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund fellow, 2022 Creative Capital finalist, and a 2019 – 2021 Robert W. Deutsch Foundation fellow. Like four generations of ancestors before her, she lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland, sharing and preserving Black stories.

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