NEH 2017 Summer Institute Participant Page

Guletta Britt

Fredrick Douglass-Dixon

Khirsten L. Echols attends the University of Louisville. She holds  degrees in English Language and Literature from Tougaloo College (BA) and Composition, Rhetoric, and English Studies from the University of Alabama (MA). Since 2013, she has taught a range of introductory and advanced courses in Composition, Business and Technical Writing, Literature, and University Orientation. She also has one year of experience as an editor of Cardinal Compositions, U of L’s digital and print student writing publication, and as a Writing Across the Curriculum consultant at Kentucky State University. Khirsten’s research lies at the intersections of cultural rhetorics, namely Afric4an American rhetoric, historiography, and digital humanities. Specifically, her work is centered on HBCU communities and the rhetorical affordances of institutional narratives for revisionist presentations of HBCU histories.

Brandon M. Erby  is interested in African American literacy and language practices, rhetorical education, and the rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power era. In 2016, Brandon was awarded a Scholars for the Dream Award, an award given by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NTCE) for his research on African American community schools in Mississippi and California during the 1960s and 1970s. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Tougaloo College and a master’s degree in English from Seton Hall University. He has taught courses on rhetoric, literature, diversity, and African American life at both Seton Hall University and Penn State University. 


Hello, my name is Kris Fields, I know my posts say “Ruth”, but I go by my middle name. I hail from Jacksonville in the sunny state of Florida. I am a single mom to two really cool daughters; 22-year-old Lindsay who is a graduate student in math at USF, who by the way will be spending the summer in Japan doing research for her doctorate degree and 19 year old Natalie a budding film maker who is a freshman in college.

My area of focus is Educational Psychology because I truly love the study of Psychology and have employed a great many techniques in usage with my students. I have taken courses online and frequently teach them as well as treating most of my face to face courses as if they are hybrid working through blackboard.

I currently teach at what is known as an “alternative school” in Jacksonville, Florida. A good portion of my student body is minority, about, as such, very few people feel these students are capable of the type of work necessary to succeed in high school and go on to college. A lot of what I do is attempting to get them up to the level they should be for adult basic skills. I do like to provide some additional sources of information however and seminars such as those provided by the NEH provide an opportunity to introduce them to things that might open up an avenue of learning that they might not otherwise know.

Monica Flippin Wynn is the program director for the undergraduate communication program at Lindenwood University’s School of Accelerated Degree Programs in St. Charles, Missouri.  She completed her PhD in Communications from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. Her primary research interests include racialized portrayals of women and other underrepresented groups in the media, the cultivation and diffusion of social media systems and societal acceptance, and instructional technology in the classroom and student engagement.   Dr. Flippin Wynn’s current research projects include examining how new modes of communication are incorporated into academia and investigating the mainstream educational paradigms to promote erasing the disparities of race by promoting a more effective dialogue that illustrates the interrelatedness of communication concepts, human interaction and accurate and positive media portrayals and media multitasking and health communication. Her recent work includes a book chapter on reality television and and collection of essays and articles, on the relevancy and the teaching experiences of faculty and administrations at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which is under review.  Previously, Dr. Flippin Wynn served as an associate professor in Mass Communications at Jackson State University.   

LaGuana Gray is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she is also affiliated with the African American and American Studies Programs and the Women’s Studies Institute. Dr. Gray specializes in African American, labor, southern, and women’s history. Her first book, We Just Keep Running the Line: Black Southern Women and the Poultry Processing Industry was published by LSU Press in November 2014 and was the recipient of the J. G. Ragsdale Book Award, recognizing the best non-fiction historical study of the history of race relations in Arkansas history. She is currently researching the role of black women in unionizing and conducting a strike of Delta Pride Catfish, a company that began in the Mississippi Delta.


Kevin J. Hales is a communication scholar and Africologist. Hales has a Ph.D. and M.A. in Communication Studies from the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University with a specialized content area in African history and culture. His research lies at the intersection between intercultural communication, visual rhetoric, African history, and African studies. This includes dissertation work involving the grammatological and rhetorical exploration of written systems of communication in West Africa. Dr. Hales particularly focuses on Nsibidi in the Lower Niger River Basin of southeastern Nigeria and in southwestern Cameroon.

As a public scholar, Hales is a firm believer in fostering research projects that include collaborations with traditional intellectuals in marginalized communities. Some of these partnerships are with local scholars working among the Gullah/Geechee (South Carolina, Georgia and Florida); the Garifuna (Honduras and Belize); and the Efik, Efut, Qua and Igbo (Nigeria and Cameroon). During his career Dr. Hales has earned two Fulbright awards (for research in Ghana, Botswana, Swaziland, and South Africa) and has conducted studies on the culture of African-descended communities in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Further, he is the recipient of numerous other research grants. Some of these awards were conferred by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, Ohio University, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Michigan State University. Dr. Hales’ seminal research on the origins of Black commercial photography have been indexed and included in the archives of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian. Kevin J. Hales attended Ohio University (Ph.D. and M.A. in Communication Studies), North Carolina Central University (M.A. in History), and Fisk University (B.A. in History, Religion and Philosophy).       

John Hayes is Assistant Professor of History at Augusta University, where he teaches courses in American and Southern history. His research focuses on the interconnectedness of religion to class and race dynamics in the American South. He is the author of Hard, Hard Religion: Interracial Faith in the Poor South (UNC Press, 2017), and of chapters in Coffey and Skipper, eds., Navigating Souths (UGA Press, 2017) and Pasquier, ed., Gods of the Mississippi (Indiana University Press, 2013). He is currently experimenting with public history, and has worked with students to craft podcasts on local phenomena like the rise and fall of the textile industry in Augusta, and the 1970 Augusta race riot.

Phillip Helms

Jay Howell is an Assistant Professor of Secondary Education in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education at The University of Southern Mississippi where he teaches undergraduate and graduate secondary education courses. Jay earned his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teaching from Auburn University in 2014.  Prior to receiving his doctorate, Jay taught high school social studies for five years near Atlanta, Georgia before working as a staff member for the Persistent Issues in History Network while a graduate student at Auburn.  Jay’s teaching interests center on helping pre-service secondary teachers develop professional teaching knowledge for problem-based inquiry. Jay’s research examines the use of lesson study professional development to bring about teacher change, specifically the adoption of problem-based inquiry.  Jay is currently involved in a 3-year, National Council for Geographic Education-funded project working with middle school geography teachers in two states. In his spare time, Jay enjoys Cub Scout campouts with his son, reading a distracting book, a glass of bourbon, and an occasional run with his wife. More information about Jay can be found at

Frederick Hunter joined Tougaloo College as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology in 2015. At Tougaloo College, he teaches many of the core courses for the department’s majors: Sociological Theory, Senior Capstone, Social Problems and a select few Social Work courses.  Prior to coming to Tougaloo College, he was an Instructor at Mississippi State University in the Department of Sociology and Social Work Program. He received his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a M.S.W. with a concentration in Mental Health from Loyola University Chicago, a M.A. in Sociology from Western Illinois University and is working toward a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University.

Frederick’s research specialty areas are race, class, gender, and religion at the juxtaposition of these ideological terrains to the South. Since relocating to the Jackson, MS metro area, he has found considerable interest in conducting research on the implications of food deserts on health outcomes for Jackson residents. Partnering with the Mississippi Food Insecurity Project which is housed at Mississippi State University, he intends for his research to be impactful on policy and community initiatives which will help to reduce health inequalities.

Frederick is active within the Jackson, MS community. When he is not engaged in teaching and research, Frederick looks for ways to give back to the Jackson community.  Frederick works with the Engagement, Empowerment, and Entrepreneurship (E3) Academy in Jackson, MS, which supports local students with developing business conceptualizations. This program provides its participants with business and entrepreneurial skills which are transferrable to various career environments. As you can see, Frederick is a go-getter and lives his life by the mantra “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Ervin James III is originally from Cincinnati, OH.  As a full-time faculty member, professor James teaches both humanities and social science courses at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Tuskegee University and his master’s and doctorate degrees in history from Texas Southern University and Texas A&M University, respectively. Currently, he is interested in studying the usage of open source course material at HBCUs. He is also committed to developing  both the history and African American studies programs at Paul Quinn College. Erv is married to veteran Dallas Independent School District educator Dr. Andraya Anderson-James. His son, Myles Anderson James, is his pride and joy.


Andrea Johnson is an assistant professor of History at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Her research focus is on the interaction between religions and social movements.  She studies the imagery and tactics of the civil rights movement and the California farm labor movement.  She also examines the social history of Pentecostalism.  She has been involved with NEH community programing grants such as Created Equal, which she uniquely offered through a church setting. Her current position is on the campus that is most closely connected to the Watts and Compton communities, and she is working to help build the university archive’s holdings on the Watts Rebellion and on Watts community organizations.

Stacey Johnson has taught college students in academic composition, business writing, and literature at Front Range Community College, Colorado State University, and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Master of Arts in English Rhetoric and Composition from Colorado State University and has been an active participant in research and writing on pedagogy and popular culture. Stacey is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Zambia and works to integrate global perspectives into all of her courses and her own writing practices. For fun, she reads novels of all genres, takes road trips across the country to crash on friends' couches, and bakes pies.


Kathleen Klien is the founding Director of Dance at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida.  For the past thirty years, she has also served as the Executive Director of Klein Dance, Inc. which operated a thriving school for dance, a small alternative performing space, and the Klein Dance Company.  She has also been active in the training of the school's 300 students and is well known in South Florida for her ability to reach her student's highest potential through discipline, grace, imagination and accomplishment. . She received all of her professional dance training with a multitude of various artists in New England.  She was employed by the School of Hartford Ballet in Connecticut while attending a rigorous teacher training program and dancing a demanding performance schedule.  She has an extensive background in dance technique, pointe and partnering, ballet theory, kinesiology, dance history, music theory and most important for her students, child psychology and pedagogy. Prior to her engagement at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Kathleen ran the dance department for Palm Beach Community College (Lake Worth, FL) for six years and also taught dance technique and dance history courses at Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, FL).  Kathleen completed her PhD in Global Leadership at Lynn University in 2004.  A Phi Kappa Phi member committed to community service, she is a member of Americans for the Arts, the Florida Dance Education Organization and the Palm Beach Cultural Council.

Assistant Professor of Social Work Kellee Thorburn McCrory joined Mount Mercy in 2016. She teaches Social Work Practice 1, Foundation and Advanced fieldwork, Diversity in America, Group Theory and Practice and Introduction to Human Services. Prior to joining Mount Mercy Kellee was adjunct faculty in social work and a full-time research manager at The University of Iowa.  In addition to teaching introduction to social work research methods, Kellee managed several program evaluations and research projects at The University of Iowa. 

Kellee holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services from California State University, Fullerton and a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in community and behavioral health and a Masters of Social Work from The University of Iowa and is a licensed social worker in Iowa and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Council on Social Work Education.

Mary Potorti is Affiliated Faculty with the Institute of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College.  She holds a Ph.D. from the American and New England Studies Program at Boston University.  Her dissertation, Food for Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle and the Politics of Food, examines the role of hunger and food-centered activism in civil rights and black liberation movements of the 1950s and 1960s.  Originally from Baltimore, Mary currently lives in Cambridge, MA.



Debra L. Schultz is Assistant Professor of History at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, where she teaches US, women’s, and civil rights history.  She is the author of Going South: Jewish Women in The Civil Rights Movement (New York University Press). She has been a Teagle Fellow in Civic Engagement, an Aspen Institute Faculty Fellow, and director of an NEH-funded project Citizenship Under Siege, through which she organized a campus forum on Religious Pluralism and Inclusive Citizenship.

A founder of the Soros Foundation’s Network Women’s Program, she served for ten years as its Director of Programs. Her research interests focus on the politics of memory for social change movements, particularly intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and memory.  She is currently conducting research on civil rights memorialization.  She is also writing about intersectionality and the development of European Romani (“gypsy”) women’s activism.

Aleesha Smith is an Assistant Professor of advertising and public relations in the Department of Mass Communication at Tougaloo College. She is a graduate of Tougaloo College, as a part of the first class to graduate with a B.A. in journalism and mass communication in 2007 and she holds a M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Georgia.  Before entering academia, she worked in public health as a marketing director and as an employee relations manager for a major insurance company.  Prior to joining the Tougaloo faculty she was an adjunct professor at Parkland College where she taught courses in advertising and mass communication. Her research interests include race and new media: critical and cultural perspectives and social justice: the impacts of social media on organized acts of resistance. 


Whitney A. Snow is an Assistant Professor of History at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.  After receiving her B.A. and M.A. from The University of Alabama in Huntsville, she earned a PhD from Mississippi State University.  Her main area of interest is the twentieth-century South with an emphasis on environmental and agricultural history as well as popular culture.  She is the author of Cathedral Caverns (Arcadia, 2017) and has two other books under contract: Lake Guntersville (Arcadia, 2018) and Pink Clouds in Dixie: The Gulf South Tung Oil Industry, 1928-1969 (University of Nebraska, Press, 2019).  In addition, she has authored myriad peer-reviewed journal articles which have appeared in The Alabama Review; The Southwestern Historical Quarterly; The Journal of Mississippi History; The Journal of East Texas History; The Journal of East Tennessee History; Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture; and Forests, Trees and Livelihoods.  Her work has been published by magazines like Alabama Heritage; Alabama Living; Good Life Magazine: Marshall County; and The Old Tennessee Valley Magazine & Mercantile Advertiser.  She also writes a newspaper column on celebrity visits to her hometown—Guntersville, Alabama.  On the conference circuit, she is a board member of the Gulf South History & Humanities Conference and frequents the Alabama Association of Historians; the Agricultural History Society Conference; and the Southern Historical Association.  In her spare time, she enjoys classic movies, mystery novels, bowling; and bass fishing.