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Symposium 2024 Full Speaker Biographies

Alan Garber

Alan M. Garber

Alan M. Garber began serving as interim president of Harvard University on January 2, 2024, after having served as the provost and chief academic officer since 2011. He is also the Mallinckrodt Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, a Professor of Economics in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Public Policy in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. An economist and physician, he studies methods for improving health care productivity and health care financing. 

As Provost, Dr. Garber has been responsible for oversight of academic activities throughout the university, with direct responsibility for inter-school initiatives, faculty development, research policy, international affairs, and advances in learning.  The Harvard Art Museums, the Harvard Library, Harvard University Health Services, HarvardX, the American Repertory Theater, and the Arnold Arboretum are among the organizations reporting to the Provost. 

Before becoming Harvard’s Provost, Dr. Garber was the Henry J. Kaiser Jr. Professor and a Professor of Medicine, as well as a Professor of Economics, Health Research and Policy, and Economics in the Graduate School of Business (by courtesy) at Stanford University. At Stanford, he founded and directed the Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, and served as a Staff Physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. 

Dr. Garber is an Elected Member of the Association of American Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He is also an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Dr. Garber received a PhD in Economics from Harvard and an MD with research honors from Stanford.

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Alexis Wilkinson

Alexis Wilkinson is a Wisconsin-born creative who specializes in humor. She’s written award-winning television for shows like HBO’s “VEEP” and FOX’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” pieces in national magazines, and content for multiple global brands. She graduated from Harvard College in 2015 with a degree in economics and a secondary in psychology. During her time there, she was the first Black female President of the Harvard Lampoon, the world’s oldest continuously-published humor magazine.

A headshot of Bertha French

Bertha French

Bertha French is descended from enslaved communities in Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida. Her strong connection to her family history stems from an ironclad oral tradition linking her to communities across generations and geographies. She is proud to be one of the co-founders and current board Vice-President of the Descendants of Enslaved Communities (DEC) at the University of Virginia founded in 2020, an independent nonprofit organization that seeks to research, reclaim and honor the more than 4000 enslaved people who seeded, built and sustained the University of Virginia. In addition to her work at DEC, she works as a senior international health research consultant specializing in gender based violence and trauma-informed health systems response; she has served on several non-profit boards; and led global grantmaking programs for social impact funds investing in indigenous women’s funds. While her formative years were spent in Côte d’Ivoire and lived in several countries including Niger, the Netherlands, and Brazil; she is most at peace at her ancestral home in Barboursville, Virginia. She holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and a Bachelors from the University of Virginia. 

A headshot of Brenda Tindal

Brenda Tindal

Brenda Tindal is the Faculty of Arts & Sciences (FAS) inaugural Chief Campus Curator, where she leads and has primary programmatic and creative oversight of visual culture, historical signage, public art, digital content-creation, and responsibility for stewarding a more dynamic and inclusive memorial ecology across the FAS campus. Her portfolio includes nearly 300 academic co-curricular buildings with 11 million square feet of usable landscape and structural spaces.  In addition to her work as chief campus curator, she was recently appointed as the Senior Advisor on Academic Community Engagement in February 2024—advising the FAS Dean and academic leadership on strategic and impact-driven community wide initiatives. 

 Tindal initially joined the FAS in 2021 as the Executive Director of the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, leading the public-facing entity of seven FAS research museums, including the Harvard Museum of Natural History; the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology; the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments; the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East; the Museum of Comparative Zoology; the Mineralogical & Geological Museum; and the Harvard University Herbaria.  

 Prior to joining the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Harvard, Tindal was the founding Director of Education & Engagement and associate curator at the International African American Museum (IAAM), where she launched its inaugural education, programming, and global outreach and community engagement initiatives. At the IAAM, she also played a key curatorial role—advancing the interpretive plans for the overarching visitor experience, content and media development, and scholarly review for the museum’s eight permanent exhibitions.  

 In 2003, Tindal launched her career at Levine Museum of the New South, where she was part of the curatorial team that organized the groundbreaking exhibit, Courage: The Carolina Story that Changed America, which was awarded the 2006 National Medal for Museum & Library Service—the nation’s highest honor for institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their community. Tindal returned to the Levine Museum as Staff Historian and Senior Vice President of Research & Collections in 2015, where she led the curation of the pioneering exhibition and community engagement initiative, K(NO)W Justice, K(NO)W Peace (2017) and “Splendid Service”: Camp Greene & The Making of a New South City (2017).  

 A seasoned museum leader, curator, educator, and public historian, Tindal’s career trajectory has been defined by a deep commitment to expanding the social impact of cultural and academic institutions through innovative programming, exhibit development, curriculum and instructional design, research, and place-making and community engagement consultation. In this vein, Tindal has prioritized purpose-driven initiatives that center on historical interventions, restorative justice, and memorialization, which have entailed contributions to the Princeton & Slavery project at Princeton University; Museums as Sites for Social Action (MASS Action) Toolkit; The Atlantic magazine’s 2017 Race + Justice Summit; the City of Boston’s Faneuil Hall exhibition on slavery; the National Center for Civil and Human Rights’ Without Sanctuary lynching exhibition; and the Harvard & Legacy of Slavery Memorial Project, to name a few. 

 Tindal holds degrees in History & Africana Studies from the University of North Carolina Charlotte and American Studies from Emory University. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the 2011-2012 IMLS Fellowship at Princeton University; the 2020 Southeastern Museum Conference Leadership Award; and in 2022 she was inducted as a Phi Beta Kappa Foundation Member. She currently resides in Cambridge, MA. 

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Carrie Mays

Carrie Mays is a social justice warrior advocating on the frontlines for social change.  For the past 7 years, Carrie Mays has been a youth activist in the city of Boston. In 2020 Carrie organized the biggest Black Lives Matter protest in Boston for George Floyd. Soon after, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu appointed Carrie to be the first youth representative to serve on the police accountability board making national headlines. In addition to such a turbulent time, Carrie and her peers created a youth civic engagement movement called “Gang Gang Votes” where they registered massive amounts of people to vote before the presidential election during covid! While she continues to make an impact on the world within and beyond her community, Carrie has also spoken at national conferences and academic institutions throughout the country as an expert panelist in places such as Washington DC, New York City, Aspen Colorado, and more – – speaking upon topics addressing racism, youth civic engagement, and system inequalities. As of recently, Carrie now serves as an appointed member on Boston’s first ever Reparations Task Force ordained by Michelle Wu and the city council. Due to her work she has been recognized by Al Sharpton, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for being an “Outstanding Advocate”, awarded the “Youth Leadership Award” by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley & featured on WGBH, the Boston Globe, WBZ and NBC News for her activism.  

Headshot of Egypt Lloyd

Egypt Lloyd

Egypt Lloyd, in 2021, co-founded the Slave Legacy History Coalition. Furthermore, she has served as a Project Advisor for History Cambridge on the Tory Row’s Hidden Black History project. In 2022, she was honored to be invited as a panelist by Harvard University at the University of Virginia’s Legacies of Slavery Conference.

In addition to her work in history, Egypt is a certified commercial pilot accredited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Currently, she is pursuing a degree in Aeronautics and Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Prior to her foray into history and aviation, Egypt leveraged her extensive experience in the real estate industry as an accomplished Senior Government Underwriter for over twenty years. Furthermore, she has made a significant impact on early childhood education as the creator and founder of the Neat and Orderly Tots enrichment program. This widely implemented program has successfully been integrated into schools throughout Georgia and Colorado.

George R. Greenidge Jr. headshot

George R. Greenidge Jr.

George R. Greenidge, Jr. is  the Founding Executive Director of Greatest MINDS, a Boston-based BIPOC-run nonprofit focused on mentoring young people as they explore college, career, citizenry, and volunteerism as a way to bring about positive change in civil society. He is also a  Visiting Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. George received his BA in Political  Science from Morehouse College and his master’s in Human Development  & Psychology from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. (He has worked as an Economic Fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and an Urban Fellow with the GSU College of Law’s Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth and the GSU’s Urban Studies Institute.)  In 2023, he was appointed by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu as a member of the  City of Boston Reparations Task Force  to research the impact of 400 years of slavery and economic exclusion on the city and to issue recommendations to address the legacy of harm to its Black residents.

Headshot of Karen Medina-Perez

Karen Medina-Perez

Senior at the Harvard Extension School majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Psychology. Co-vice president of Natives at Harvard College and Health and STEM Co-Chair for Quechua Initiative on Global Indigeneity. Currently working for Boston University’s Brain and Early Experiences (BEE) laboratory, Native American Lifelines, and Johns Hopkins Center of Indigenous Health as a research assistant.

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Kelli Mosteller

Kelli Mosteller is an enrolled citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Prior to joining the HUNAP staff, Kelli served as Executive Director of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center for eleven years. In that position she oversaw the tribal museum and cultural programming. She was also the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, NAGPRA Coordinator, and Gaming Commissioner. Her most cherished role within her community has been as mentor for Citizen Potawatomi youth and auntie for the eagles at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Eagle Aviary. 

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Kiersten Hash

Kiersten Hash is a junior from Charlotte, North Carolina studying Honors Government and Environmental Science & Public Policy. She is passionate about championing equity and justice. In high school, Kiersten founded a community organization to empower young Black girls and women in Charlotte, NC. She also led a successful campaign to implement a policy to protect natural hair in her local school district. Since being at Harvard, Kiersten has championed racial justice, voting rights, environmental justice, and other pressing issues through advocacy, scholarship, and organizing.

Kiersten is addressing Harvard’s legacy of slavery as a co-lead of the Dename Winthrop Campaign. In 2023, the campaign submitted an official, 40-paged request to Harvard administration to dename Winthrop House, and they are currently undergoing a formal administrative review process. In this role, the campaign has raised awareness on campus about Harvard and the Winthrop family’s ties to slavery and Indigenous genocide, garnering widespread support and national attention. On campus, Kiersten is also one of the 2024 Directors of Diversity and Engagement at the Institute of Politics, a co-chair of the Harvard Undergraduate Black Community Leaders, and a member of the Harvard Crimson Dance Team. Kiersten is motivated to continue getting into “Good Trouble” by her faith, community, and the changemakers that came before her.

A headshot of Michael Curry

Michael Curry

Michael Curry, Esq. serves as President & CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, which represents 52 health centers, serving over one million patients out of over 300 practice sites. He was named a Bostonian of the Year in 2021 (along with his member health centers) by The Boston Globe and Boston Magazine, one of the Boston Business Journal’s Power 50 Movement Makers for 2022, one of Boston’s Most Influential Men of Color by Get Konnected! for 2023, and one of this year’s Boston Magazine 150 Most Influential Bostonians.

During the early battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael was appointed by the Massachusetts Senate to the legislatively created Health Equity Task Force, which he co-chaired, aimed at addressing the health disparities that have been realized and magnified by COVID-19. He was also appointed by then Governor Charlie Baker to the COVID-19 Vaccine Working Group, and served on the Department of Public Health’s Health Equity Advisory Group, the City of Boston’s Health Inequity Task Force, and the City of Brockton’s Social Justice Task Force. He gained a reputation for always being the equity voice in the room.

He brings over 30 years of experience and results in civil rights advocacy, health reform and health equity. He is also the Immediate Past President of the Boston Branch of the NAACP (2011-2016), and has over 25 years of dedicated service to the NAACP on the city, state-area conference and national levels. He was elected to the NAACP Board of Directors in 2014, 2017, 2020, and was recently reelected in 2023 by members from across the country. He serves on the National NAACP’s Executive Committee, and as the appointed Chair of the National Board’s Advocacy & Policy Committee since 2019, Chair of the Constitution and Bylaws Sub-Committee, and Vice-Chair the Political Action and Legislation Committee. On May 15, 2021, the National Board appointed him as Administrator for the New England Area Conference of the NAACP, overseeing the state-area conference and all branches in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont. He is leading the reorganization and strengthening of the NAACP throughout the region. 

 Attorney Curry is also an Adjunct Professor at both New England Law Boston teaching “Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession” and Suffolk University’s Moakley Center and Sawyer School of Management teaching a health care management and policy course. 

 Michael has received numerous local and national awards for leadership and advocacy, and is frequently requested as a keynote speaker and panelist on a wide range of civil rights and health policy issues. In 2022, he received the Trailblazer Award from the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association (MBLA), a Community Leadership Award from the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Non-profit Network (MNN). In May, he will receive the 2023 SCI Idealist Award and Roxbury Community College’s Community Service Award during commencement. 

 Mr. Curry is a regular commentator on the local Public Radio Broadcast/WBUR Boston, WGBH Radio, as well as on television with WHDH, WGBH, WBZ and New England Cable News/NBC Boston, on a wide range of political, cultural and social issues. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from New England School of Law, and later graduated from the inaugural class of the Executive Leadership Council’s Pipeline to Leadership Program. In the spring of 2022 Michael delivered three college commencement speeches and received two honorary degrees: a Doctorate in Business Administration from Curry College and Healthcare Administration from Labouré College. In June, he will receive his third honorary degree from William James College. 

A headshot of Michele Scott

Michele Scott

Michele Scott is a Tribal Councilor for the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University and a Master of Science degree from Quinnipiac University. She also received a Certification in Genealogical Research from Boston University. Michele chairs the Tribe’s Economic Development and Health & Human Services Committees. Her commitment to health and economic development has been at the forefront of her professional career; she was Chairwoman of the Mashantucket Pequot Health Care Advisory Board and a founding Director for Command Holdings, LLC. that focuses on federal contracting. Prior to Tribal Council, Michele served as the Executive Director of the Health Education Center, Inc. (HEC) of Connecticut. 

 Councilor Scott is committed to the broader community outside of her Tribal Council responsibilities. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Public Health Association, United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, and Co-Chair of Women United. Councilor Scott is an Eastern Region Alternate Delegate for the Indian Gaming Association, the National Institutes of Health’s Tribal Advisory Committee Nashville Region Alternate Delegate, and appointed to the Office of Minority Health’s Advisory Committee on Minority Health. Councilor Scott is a member of the Connecticut Chapter of the International Women’s Forum. 

For her years of work training healthcare professionals and community advocates, Michele was selected as a Leaders In Action Fellow by the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. She was recognized as a National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s Native American 40 Under 40 Award recipient. 

Councilor Scott is an enrolled citizen of the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation and is equally proud of her Eastern Pequot, Narragansett, Shinnecock, and Black ancestry. She resides on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation with her family. 

A headshot of Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones is the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the 1619 Project and a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine. The book version of The 1619 Project and as well as the 1619 Project children’s book, Born on the Water, were instant #1 New York Times bestsellers. Her 1619 Project is now a six-part docuseries on Hulu.

Hannah-Jones has spent her career investigating racial inequality and injustice, and her reporting has earned her the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the Genius grant, a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards and the National Magazine Award three times.

She also serves as the Knight Chair of Race and Journalism at Howard University, where she founded the Center for Journalism & Democracy. Hannah-Jones is also the co-founder of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which seeks to increase the number of investigative reporters and editors of color, and in 2022 she opened the1619 Freedom School, a free, afterschool literacy program in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa. Hannah-Jones holds a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her BA in History and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame.

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Porsha Olayiwola

Porsha Olayiwola is a native of Chicago who writes, lives and loves in Boston. Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in the Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the founder of the Roxbury Poetry Festival. Olayiwola is Brown University’s 2019 Heimark Artist -In -Residence as well as the 2021 Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. She is a 2020 poet laureate fellow with the Academy of American poets. Olayiwola earned her MFA in poetry from Emerson College and is the author of i shimmer sometimes, too. Olayiwola is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston. Her work can be found in or forthcoming from with TriQuarterly Magazine, Black Warrior Review, The Boston Globe, Essence Magazine, Redivider, The Academy of American Poets, Netflix, Wildness Press, The Museum of Fine Arts and elsewhere. 

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Roeshana Moore-Evans

Roeshana Moore-Evans is the Executive Director of the Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery (H&LS) initiative and is responsible for implementing reparative efforts that address Harvard’s ties to slavery. She oversees operational activities such as budgeting, human resources, and communications. She works closely with the Vice Provost for Special Projects to develop and advance H&LS’s strategic initiatives. Moore-Evans is also the president-elect of the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA). Before joining Harvard, she served as the Senior Advisor to Dr. Nikhil Wagle at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She has extensive experience in finance, human resources, strategic planning, and leading diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She is a Boston native, committed to leading conversations that deepen the understanding of structural racism and facilitating activities that dismantle it. 

Moore-Evans holds a B.S. and an M.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts Boston. 

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RuQuan Brown

Growing up in the midst of challenges, RuQuan Brown found solace and purpose through sports and community activism during his high school years. His passion for both football and social justice ignited a flame that would continue to burn brightly as he transitioned into college at Harvard University. During his undergraduate experience, not only has he found his place as a multidisciplinary artist, but as a revolutionary committed to uplifting students across the country.

Throughout his collegiate career, RuQuan Brown has excelled in the classroom, and also dedicated himself to advocating for marginalized communities, amplifying their voices and championing their causes. His commitment to making a difference didn’t end with graduation; instead, it propelled him into the world of communications where he founded his own Communications Consulting Firm: Student Targeted Solutions (STS).

Today, RuQuan Brown leads STS, where he combines his knack for storytelling with his drive for social change, but his talents don’t stop there. You may have caught glimpses of him on TikTok, where he seamlessly blends inspiration with advocacy, reaching audiences far and wide. Additionally, his work as artist mell hooks can be heard on SoundCloud, where his unique sound brings music and soul to the movement.

RuQuan’s journey, from his humble beginnings as the child of parents who weathered the storm of the crack epidemic, serves as a testament to the power of innovation and resilience. Through his leadership, advocacy, and artistic endeavors, RuQuan Brown continues to inspire others to create positive change in their communities and beyond.

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Sara Bleich

Dr. Sara Bleich is the inaugural Vice Provost for Special Projects at Harvard University, director of the social sciences program and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Professor of Public Health Policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. With more than 180 peer-reviewed publications, she is a policy expert and researcher who specializes in diet-related diseases, food insecurity, and racial inequality. Prior to this, Dr. Bleich served in the Biden Administration as the Director of Nutrition Security and Health Equity at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service and as the Senior Advisor for COVID-19 in the Office of the Secretary at USDA. As a White House Fellow during the Obama Administration, she worked at USDA as a Senior Policy Adviser for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services and on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Dr. Bleich was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2023 and holds a B.A. in psychology from Columbia University and a PhD in health policy from Harvard University. 

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Sarah Elizabeth Lewis

Sarah Elizabeth Lewis is an art and cultural historian and founder of the Vision & Justice initiative.

Her research focuses on the intersection of visual representation, racial justice, and democracy in the United States from the nineteenth century through the present. She is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities and Associate Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University where she serves on the Standing Committee on American Studies and Standing Committee on Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

At Harvard, Lewis pioneered the course Vision and Justice: The Art of Race and American Citizenship, which she continues to teach and is now part of the University’s core curriculum. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, she held curatorial positions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Tate Modern, London. She also served as a Critic at Yale University School of Art.

Her published books and edited volumes include The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, translated into seven languages, Carrie Mae Weems, which won the 2021 Photography Network Book Prize, and the “Vision & Justice” special issue of Aperture magazine, which received the 2017 Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research from the International Center of Photography. Her forthcoming publications include The Unseen Truth (Harvard University Press, 2024), Vision & Justice (One World/Random House), and Groundwork: Race and Aesthetics in the Era of Stand Your Ground Law. The article on which Groundwork is based, published in Art Journal (Winter 2020), won the 2022 Arthur Danto/ASA Prize from the American Philosophical Association for “the best paper in the field of aesthetics, broadly understood.” An in-demand public speaker whose past engagements include TED and SXSWedu, she has had op-eds, commentary, and profiles of her work published in outlets including The New York Times, Aperture, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Boston Globe.

Lewis was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in 2022. In 2019, she received the Freedom Scholar Award, presented by The Association for the Study of African American Life and History for her body of work and its “direct positive impact on the life of African Americans.” Her research has received fellowship and grant support from the Ford Foundation; the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University; the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition; the Whiting Foundation; the Lambent Foundation; and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

Lewis currently serves on the boards of Thames & Hudson Inc., Creative Time, Harvard Design Press, and Civil War History journal, and is a member of the Yale University Honorary Degrees Committee. Her past board service includes the Andy Warhol Foundation of the Visual Arts, The Brearley School, and The CUNY Graduate Center. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an M. Phil from Oxford University, an M.A. from Courtauld Institute of Art, and her Ph.D. from Yale University. She lives in New York City and Cambridge, MA.

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Saskia VannJames

Saskia VannJames is a Black queer woman of Honduran Garifuna and American Freedmen descent who works as the cofounder of the first Massachusetts reparatory justice organization, Grow to Consume, solidarity economy advocate, reparationist, cultural worker, human rights advocate, and former racial and health equity lobbyist who successfully advocated for a Cambridge ordinance to repair harm from racial caste system through an American Freedmen commission. Saskia is also cofounder and front line organizer of Ride for Black Lives Boston and up until covid hit was the only Black queer woman working as a bike mechanic at a bicycle cooperative in the entire state of Massachusetts. In their spare time Saskia loves repairing bicycles, artmaking, honoring their ancestors through heritage based gardening practices, and celebrating community. 

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Shahara C. Jackson

Dr. Shahara C. Jackson is the Program Director for HBCU Strategic Initiatives within the Harvard & Legacy of Slavery (H&LS) initiative. She will foster collaborations with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), overseeing partnerships and ensuring the successful implementation of HBCU initiatives.  Her inaugural project involves leading the development and implementation of the DuBois Scholars Program, a transformative summer research initiative designed to strengthen Harvard’s ties with HBCUs. Leveraging her extensive experience, Shahara will serve as a liaison between Harvard and HBCU stakeholders. 

Shahara’s diverse background spans leadership on all grade levels, K-16, showcasing improvements in student performance during her tenure as an Assistant Principal in NYC Public Schools and the founding principal of a groundbreaking 6-12 school in Red Hook, Brooklyn. As the former Director of Educational Services for NYC’s largest children-serving non-profit agency, she spearheaded initiatives that left an indelible mark on countless lives. 

Jackson holds a B.A. in English Arts Education from Hampton University, an M.A. in Educational Leadership and Administration from CUNY-Baruch, and an Ed. L.D. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

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Tara Houska

Tara Houska is a citizen of Couchiching First Nation, a tribal attorney, land defender, environmental and Indigenous rights advocate, and founder of the Giniw Collective, an Indigenous women, two-spirit-led frontline resistance to defend the sacred and live in balance. Ms. Houska was active in resisting the Line 3 oil pipeline, the Dakota Access pipeline, and is heavily involved in the movement to defund fossil fuels. She is a TED speaker, the recipient of the 2024 Rose-Walters Prize, the 2021 American Climate Leadership Award and the 2019 Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award. Ms. Houska served as an advisor on Native American affairs to Senator Bernie Sanders, and co-founded Not Your Mascots, a non-profit committed to promoting positive representation of Native Americans in the public sphere. She has written for the women-led climate anthology “All We Can Save”, the New York Times, CNN, Vogue, and Indian Country Today. Tara earned a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Arts, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota. 

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Tiana Woodard

Tiana Woodard is The Boston Globe’s Black communities reporter. Her reporting on the city has taken her from the ballot boxes of Boston’s historic 2021 mayoral election, to the congestion along Blue Hill Avenue, and even to the Lone Star State. Through her storytelling, she aims to push against the monolithic perception of Black Boston by amplifying its joys and its struggles. Tiana has also kept a close eye on Boston’s reparations efforts, and how the ongoing work might affect residents. Tiana’s reporting on Black Bostonians relocating to the South and ticketing policies around the city’s mosques earned her two awards in Report for America’s 2023 Local News Awards. She grew up in Tennessee and Texas and in 2021 graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, where she co-founded the school’s sole Black-interest publication. She spends her spare time taking genealogy courses and tracing her ancestors’ roots beyond emancipation. 

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Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, memoirist, editor, translator and librettist. She served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017-19, during which time she spearheaded American Conversations: Celebrating Poetry in Rural Communities with the Library of Congress, created the American Public Media podcast The Slowdown, and edited the anthology American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time. 

Smith is the author of five poetry collections: Such Color: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2022 New England Book Award; Wade in the Water, which was awarded the 2018 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; Life on Mars, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; Duende, winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and The Body’s Question, which received the 2003 Cave Canem Prize. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in nonfiction. She is the co-translator (with Changtai Bi) of My Name Will Grow Wide like a Tree: Selected Poems of Yi Lei, which was a finalist for the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize; and co-editor (with John Freeman) of There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis. Her memoir-manifesto, To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul,was a Time magazine and Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. 

Among Smith’s other honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Academy Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets, the Harvard Arts Medal, the Columbia Medal for Excellence, a Smithsonian Ingenuity Award and an Essence Literary Award. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Philosophical Society. 

She is a Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at Harvard Radcliffe Institute.