Humanities Without Walls 2018 Summer Workshop Presenter Bios

Raheela Anwar

Raheela brings more than 25 years of experience in executive outplacement and financial services to BPI group, with expertise in M&A, executive compensation, and building and leading diverse teams. In her current role, Raheela develops market strategy and leads the client solutions team for BPI group, North America. Raheela holds a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts in molecular biology and French literature from Northwestern University.

Heather Brown

Heather Brown works as a Learning Designer at Wiley Higher Education Services, where she's been since 2017. From 2013–2016, she worked as a freelance Instructional Design Consultant for a range of non-profit and corporate clients. In 2010, she earned a PhD in English with a focus in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Maryland, College Park. From 2010–2013, she became an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Monmouth University, in West Long Branch, NJ, where she taught courses in academic writing, rhetoric, literature, linguistics, and gender studies.

Rose Cabrera

Rosa M. Cabrera, Ph.D, is the director of the Latino Cultural Center at UIC. She is adjunct faculty in the Department of Anthropology, Latin American and Latino Studies Program, and Museum and Exhibition Studies Program. She is also a Keller Science Action Center Associate at the Field Museum. Her research interests include: the role of museums in civic participation; Latinx identity and citizenship; the intersections of environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, and social justice; and the role of the arts to increase public dialogue on pressing social and environmental issues.

John Paul Christy

John Paul Christy is the Director of Public Programs at the American Council of Learned Societies, where he works with the fellowship team to maintain and enhance the Council's peer-review processes and to develop and implement new programs, including the Public Fellows program. Previously, Christy was a Presidential Management Fellow in Washington, DC, where his portfolio included projects related to US public diplomacy, Internet freedom and anti-censorship programs, and public humanities. He received his PhD in classical studies from the University of Pennslyvania, and a BA in Greek and history from Swarthmore College.

Megan Collier

Megan Collier works as a Project Manager in the Survey Lab at Grenzebach Glier and Associates (GG+A), a philanthropy consulting firm. Their experience is in both qualitative and quantitative interview methods and data analysis. Prior to GG+A, Megan analyzed data on civic participation and police contact as part of a Chicago Area Study research project at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Their earlier research experience includes conducting interviews with transgender and gender variant populations, as well as on neighborhood and school choice in the Chicago area. Megan also served as a teaching assistant in the Department of Sociology at UIC. They have presented their research at multiple conferences, including the American Sociological Association’s Annual Meeting. Their professional memberships include the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and Sociologists for Trans Justice. Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Guilford College and a Master of Arts in sociology from UIC.

Paul Durica

Paul Durica is the Director of Programs for Illinois Humanities. From 2008–2015 he produced a series of interactive talks, walks, and reenactments called Pocket Guide to Hell with museums, galleries, and cultural organizations across Chicago. He has a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago.

Kristen Fallica

Kristen Fallica is a digital strategist and content developer with a strong background in arts and humanities outreach, education, and events in diverse academic and non-profit contexts. She’s a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow at Chicago Humanities Festival. Kristen earned her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in Film and Media Studies.

Meghan Forbes

Meghan Forbes (HWW '15) is the C-MAP fellow for Central and Eastern Europe at the Museum of Modern Art and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU. Meghan has a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is the founder and editor of the not-for-profit arts & literary imprint, harlequin creature.

Ryan Freeburn

Ryan Freeburn received his Ph.D. in Medieval History from the University of St Andrews in 2005. After a couple of teaching posts, he moved from the academic to the corporate world. Where he once spent much of his time researching twelfth-century monasticism, he now focuses on instructional design, curriculum design, and training effectiveness. He is currently a Quality Systems Training Specialist at Merz North America, a medical device company. He lives with his wife and three children in southeastern Wisconsin.

Anna Felicity Friedman

Interdisciplinary scholar Anna Felicity Friedman has researched the history of tattooing for nearly 30 years, receiving her PhD on the topic from the University of Chicago in History of Culture. She has been collecting tattoos on her own body since 1990. She writes and lectures widely, including authoring The World Atlas of Tattoo (Thames & Hudson/Yale University Press, 2015), and recently launched a new foundation, the Center for Tattoo History and Culture. She runs the popular website and writes occasional articles for a wide variety of magazines and online publications.

Linda Garcia-Merchant

Linda Garcia-Merchant (HWW '16) is a founding member of the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective (University of Michigan), a Digital Media Partner of the Somos Latinas Oral History Project and the Chicana Chicago Collection Project. Garcia-Merchant is a doctoral student of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) specializing in Chicana/Latina Literary and Cultural Studies, and Digital Humanities. Garcia-Merchant’s Scalar/Omeka research site, Chicana Diasporic: A Nomadic Journey of the Activist Exiled will be featured in the Fall 2018 American Quarterly special edition on Digital Humanities.

Chris Guzaitis

Chris Guzaitis is currently the Director of Education at Illinois Humanities, the non-profit, state-affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Prior to this role, Chris directed the Odyssey Project, a Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities for 3 1/2 years. Chris earned her B.A. in Feminist Studies, her M.A. in Gender and Women's Studies, and a C.Phil. in Literature with an emphasis on Cultural Studies. She has taught at UC San Diego, Pomona College, and Scripps College, where she was an Assistant Professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. As a first-generation college student, Chris is passionate about and committed to issues of educational access, critical and radical forms of pedagogy, and community-based, college-level learning.

William Hansen

Will Hansen is Director of Reader Services and Curator of Americana at the Newberry Library.

Ryan Jackson

Ryan Jackson is Managing Director at Open Books and graduate of the University of Chicago. When he’s not meandering through the store or opening random boxes in the warehouse, you can find him in his basement in Portage Park building furniture, searching for odd records, hanging out with his wife and two dogs, or playing 16” softball.

Britt Julious

Britt Julious is a writer, moderator, panelist, and guest speaker whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, Esquire, ELLE, and others. She currently pens a weekly column for the Chicago Tribune and contributes monthly to Chicago magazine. She’s working on a collection of essays about overcoming trauma.

Kristen Kaza

Kristen Kaza is the Principal and Creative Director of No Small Plans Productions, partying with a purpose since 2012 with programs and parties for the Museum of Contemporary Art, EXPO Chicago, United States Artists, EMPIRE Fox, Chicago Community Trust, & most recently the Ace Hotel, where Kristen curates the 365 night a year DJ program at the Chicago Property. Kristen is also the Founder and Co-Director of Reunion Chicago, a coworking & events incubator for women, LGBTQ, and POC creatives & laborers, and the co-founder of long-running, much beloved R&B dance party Slo 'Mo: Slow Jams for Queer Fam, winner of numerous Best of Chicago awards for its inclusiveness and joy generating vibes. Kristen is also an instructor at Columbia College, her alma mater, teaching marketing and events-related classes. When she's not working caught up in one of her many hustles, catch her lounging in a caftan or playing with her husky Demi.

John Kenny

John Kenny is Chief Strategy Officer at FCB Chicago. Since joining FCB Chicago in 2006, John has worked on brands such as Nokia, MillerCoors, Qwest, Jack Daniels, Nestlé, GSK, Cox Communications, Discover Financial Services and KFC. Passionate about the intersection of technology, psychology, and business, John co-founded the Institute of Decision Making in 2011, building bridges between FCB Chicago and leaders in the world of behavioral economics. Prior to joining FCB, John worked market research with clients such as Kraft, Visa and McDonald's and then in Diageo Europe on the Guinness and Smirnoff brands. A native of Ireland, John received a PhD in the social sciences from the University of Chicago.

Mike Levine

Mike Levine (PhD, English, Rice University) is an independent editor. Prior to this, he was an acquisitions editor at Northwestern University Press for nine years and a senior editor at the Great Books Foundation in Chicago. Mike will share his perspective on paths to careers in publishing in and beyond academic presses.

Haki Madhubuti

Haki Madhubuti is an African-American poet, educator and founder of Third World Press, the country's oldest black-owned independent publishing house. As a poet and author, he has published more than 31 books including Don’t Cry, Scream! [written as Don L. Lee], YellowBlack: The First Twenty-One Years of a Poet's Life, A Memoir, and Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous?: The African American Family in Transition.

Sarah Marcus

Sarah Marcus is the Director of Grants Management at Crown Family Philanthropies. Prior to Crown Family Philanthropies, Sarah was Vice President at History IT and Consultant at History Works, Inc. She holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Rosie May

Rosie May is the Associate Director of Interpretation and Visitor Research in the Learning and Public Programs Department at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Her Interpretation team brings knowledge about informal learning environments and visitor research into the decision-making process around exhibitions working to ensure visitors to the MCA feel comfortable, engaged, and empowered. She has worked in the field of Museum Learning for more than a decade at museums around the country such as the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indiana, and the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has taught Art History at schools such as I.U.P.U.I, the University of Indianapolis, Temple University, Drexel University, Arcadia University and St. Joseph’s University and spent several years working as a guide giving tours of museums in Rome, Philadelphia, and New York. Rosie has a Ph.D. in Art History from Temple University, an MA in Art History from the University of Illinois, and a BA in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma.

Mandy Medley

Mandy spent seven years in the vibrant Chicago book community organizing author events throughout the city, before becoming Publicist at Coffee House Press. She created and coordinated full event programming for two different bookstores and she worked closely with the Chicago Humanities Festival to secure their fall and spring literary lineups. She orchestrated countless unconventional literary experiences ranging from bookstore bicycle crawls to Chicago Independent Bookstore Day. Originally from Georgia, she is proud to call the Midwest her home.

Jessica Neptune

Jessica Neptune is Assistant Director of National Programs for the Bard Prison Initiative and Director of the Bard Prison Initiative’s Chicago office. She received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Chicago where she completed a doctoral thesis on the origins of the carceral state. She recently worked on the Obama Administration’s Federal Interagency Reentry Council as an American Council of Learned Societies Public Fellow.

Bridget Piekarz

Bridget Piekarz is Territory Manager at Penguin Random House.

Mearah Quinn-Brauner

Mearah Quinn-Brauner is the Associate Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development in The Graduate School at Northwestern University. In this role, she serves as the central leader for all graduate- and postdoctoral-focused professional development offerings, providing strategic direction, overseeing program implementation and evaluation, and developing partnerships both within and outside of the University. In her previous role at Northwestern’s Career Advancement office, Quinn-Brauner was a career adviser for PhD students from across the disciplines. Before transitioning into the field of career and professional development, she taught English, writing, and film at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Quinn-Brauner is active in the national conversation about the future of humanities doctoral education, and is currently collaborating with colleagues across the country on a project that explores the value of humanities theories and approaches for life-long career management. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania.

Stacy Ratner

Stacy Ratner is the founder of Open Books, a nonprofit social venture that now serves 5,000 students each year through a spectrum of exciting programs funded by the sale of used books in its two Chicago stores and cofounder of the Chicago Literacy Alliance. Stacy has received a Chicagoan of the Year award from Chicago Magazine, an Emerging Leader Fellowship from the Chicago Community Trust, places on NewCity’s Lit 50 and the national 40 Women To Watch Over 40 list, the Social Enterprise Alliance’s Innovation award, and recognition on the White House’s official blog for “spreading the infinite and awesome power of books.”

John Russick

As Vice President of Interpretation and Education, John Russick directs the development of interpreted experiences for the Chicago History Museum. Before coming to Chicago History Museum, John worked at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey, the National Museum of American History, and the Field Museum of Natural History. He is co-director of the Chicago 00 Project and has won awards for both his preservation work and his exhibition label writing.

Jason Saldahna

Jason Saldanha is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Chicago Humanities Festival. Jason spent 10 years as the Senior Producer of Sound Opinions, a nationally syndicated public radio show from WBEZ Chicago. He also has worked for Anheuser Busch's Virtue Cider as their Director of Marketing and produced for Amazon Studios on a storytelling project for their streaming show, The Man in the High Castle. Jason studied biology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University Chicago.

Kurt Sampsel

I work with the Center for Technology and Civic Life, a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on supporting civic engagement through partnerships with government offices, tech companies, and civic organizations. At CTCL, my work involves research, communications, training, and curriculum design. I'm proud to manage the Election Toolkit, our collection of free and low-cost resources to help election officials better serve their communities. Prior to working at CTCL, I held an internship at Pittsburgh's NPR station, WESA FM. I graduated in 2015 with a Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University, where my research covered the history of the Federal Communications Commission and media reform movements.

Angela Schlater

Angela Schlater manages grants for education and training and Congressional engagement in the Nuclear Challenges and is a working group member of 100 & Change at the MacArthur Foundation. She was previously employed at the Foundation as a Program Associate for research and writing grants in the International Peace & Security program from 1996–2004. Before returning to the Foundation as a consultant in 2012, Angela worked on archival projects as an independent historian, including preparing a large private collection for donation to the Ohio State Historical Society. She holds a BA in English Literature and History from Miami University, an MA in History from DePaul University and a Ph.D. in History from Loyola University Chicago.

Sally Schmall

As founder of Academy Coaching Sally Schmall provides confidential career coaching and leadership development for doctoral students, post docs, clinical faculty, and research scientists across the US and the UK in navigating the job search process and excelling in conveying the transferability of their skills to various professional opportunities. Prior to founding Academy Coaching in 2008, Sally worked at the University of Michigan for over 15 years in roles ranging from career counselor for junior women faculty to Director of the Faculty Dual Career Recruitment program. For more information about her services please see her website

Robert Smith III

Robert Smith III (HWW '15) is an activist, arts administrator, and curator leveraging the power of art and memory to build a more just society. He currently serves as Associate Director of the National Public Housing Museum. Prior to the NPHM, Robert held positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center, the Minnesota Historical Society, and OutRight Action International. He serves on the Board of Project Fierce Chicago, a grassroots response to LGBTQ youth homelessness, and previously served on the Board of PFund Foundation, an LGBTQ community foundation based in Minneapolis. Born and raised in South Florida, he is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Minnesota.

Megan Stielstra

Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections, most recently The Wrong Way To Save Your Life, named the 2017 Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Chicago Review of Books. Her work appears in the Best American Essays, New York Times, Poets & Writers, Tin House, Guernica, and elsewhere. A longtime company member with 2nd Story, she has told stories for National Public Radio, Radio National Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Goodman and Steppenwolf Theatres, and regularly with The Paper Machete live news magazine at The Green Mill. She is currently an artist in residence at Northwestern University.

Hilary Strang

Hilary Strang is Deputy Director of the MA Program in the Humanities and Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. She has degrees in cultural studies and critical theory from Brown University and Carnegie Mellon, and a PhD in English from Chicago. Her research interests include nineteennth century British literature, the novel, science fiction, and Marxism. She has published on Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and biopolitics. Her current research is on feminist science fiction, biopolitics, and utopia. Hilary also teaches literature and theory in The Odyssey Project, a college-credit liberal arts program for low-income adults.

Sara B.T. Thiel

Sara B.T. Thiel (HWW '16) is the Public Humanities Manager at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and a scholar of Shakespeare in performance. She is currently writing a book on performances of pregnancy by boy actors in early-seventeenth-century London. Her recent essay, “Performing Blackface Pregnancy at the Stuart Court: The Masque of Blackness and Love's Mistress, or the Queen's Masque,” (Renaissance Drama, 2017) recovers the Stuart Queen’s influence on early modern dramaturgy and performances of gestation in Stuart England. She also researches and publishes on contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare. Previously, Sara taught theatre history, early modern race studies, and the drama of Shakespeare’s contemporaries at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a PhD in Theatre Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Liz Trubey

Liz Trubey is Assistant Dean for Academic Advising in Weinberg College at Northwestern University. She earned her Ph.D. in English at Northwestern in 2001, where she taught as a Visiting Assistant Professor for two years before taking a position as an academic adviser. She became Director of Academic Advising in 2013, and Assistant Dean in 2017.

Laurel Voloder

Laurel Voloder is a Communications Analyst at the Government Accountability Office. Prior to this position, she worked at the State Department for nearly six years as a Foreign Affairs Officer and Program Analyst. She has a PhD in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and did her dissertation research in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bruce Wilson

Bruce Wilson is Executive Director and co-CEO of The Conversation. Bruce has spent his entire career working with Academic Leadership. He previously served as the Director Of Higher Education at NBC Learn, a division of NBC News and prior to that spent the bulk of his career at The Chronicles of Higher Education and Philanthropy where he was publisher from 2003–2009.