Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa V. Harris-Perry
Founding Director

Melissa V. Harris-Perry is Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, where she directs the Anna Julia Cooper Center on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South and is Executive Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute. Melissa is Editor-at-Large at Elle.com. She hosted the television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC.

Harris-Perry is author of the well received book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (Yale 2011) which argues that persistent harmful stereotypes-invisible to many but painfully familiar to black women-profoundly shape black women’s politics, contribute to policies that treat them unfairly, and make it difficult for black women to assert their rights in the political arena.

Her first book, Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, won the 2005 W. E. B. Du Bois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

Her academic research is inspired by a desire to investigate the challenges facing contemporary black Americans and to better understand the multiple, creative ways that African Americans respond to these challenges. Her work is published in scholarly journals and edited volumes and her interests include the study of African American political thought, black religious ideas and practice, and social and clinical psychology.

Professor Harris-Perry’s creative and dynamic teaching is also motivated by the practical political and racial issues of our time. Professor Harris-Perry has taught students from grade school to graduate school and has been recognized for her commitment to the classroom as a site of democratic deliberation on race.

She travels extensively speaking to colleges, organizations and businesses in the United States and abroad. In 2009 Professor Harris-Perry became the youngest scholar to deliver the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard University. Also in 2009 she delivered the prestigious Ware Lecture, becoming the youngest woman to ever do so.

Professor Harris-Perry received her B.A. in English from Wake Forest University, her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University and an honorary doctorate from Meadville Lombard Theological School. And she studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She lives is the wife of an extraordinary community activist, James Perry, and is the mother of two terrific daughters, Parker and Anna James.

Professor Harris-Perry is a trustee of The Century Foundation. Founded in 1919, The Century Foundation provides creative, progressive solutions to our important domestic and international challenges. Fellows at The Century Foundation – among the most accomplished experts in the country – advance distinctive, workable ideas built on compelling evidence


Sara Kugler
Director of External Partnerships & Initiatives

Sara Kugler is Director of External Partnerships & Initiatives at the Anna Julia Cooper Center, an interdisciplinary center at Wake Forest University with a mission of advancing justice through intersectional scholarship. She has been with the Center since it first launched in Fall of 2011 and is passionate about research as a tool for change and how partnerships and collective work can advance justice and equity. She currently serves as Coordinator of the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research, a national coalition of institutions committed to supporting and advancing research addressing the lives of women and girls of color.

She has additionally worked as an Associate Producer at MSNBC on the show “Melissa Harris-Perry” and at the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. Sara received her B.A. in Latin American Studies at Tulane University and is an alumna of City at Peace, a youth-based organization based in Washington, DC. Her writing can be found at MSNBC.com.

Danielle Parker-Moore
Associate Director of Research and Curricular Support
Danielle is Assistant Director of Research and Curricular Support for the Anna Julia Cooper Center and Pro Humanitate Institute. She received her B.A. from North Carolina Central University, a Masters in Social Science from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests include black mothers and their experiences with youth mentoring programs, and first generation and underrepresented students’ access to college and graduate school. Dr. Parker-Moore teaches in the Education department at Wake Forest University.

Rolisa Tutwyler
Business Manager, Anna Julia Cooper Center & Pro Humanitate Institute
Rolisa Tutwyler serves as Business Manager for the Anna Julia Cooper Center and Pro Humanitate Institute and the Liaison to the Executive Director of the Pro Humanitate Institute. Prior to coming to Wake Forest she was the client relations manager for Nextions, a consulting firm in Chicago. She also served as the project coordinator for the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. In her role as liason to the executive director of the Pro Humanitate Institute she offers program support to the Anna Julia Cooper Center.

Kimberlyn Leary
Affiliated Senior Researcher

Kimberlyn Leary, PhD, MPA is an associate professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School and also a faculty affiliate at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. She recently served as an Advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Leary began her career as a clinical practitioner focused on improving access to diverse communities. Her early work on “negotiated transactions” in psychotherapy expanded to broader research on negotiation and conflict management. Leary’s global work on conflict negotiations includes studying “critical moments” in mediations to end armed conflict in Southeast Asia and researching social enterprise ventures in the Middle East. She teaches courses on leadership and conflict transformation to undergraduates at Harvard College, on advanced negotiation and mediation to senior executives at Harvard Law School, and on physician– community engagement and the doctor-patient relationship at Harvard Medical School.

For almost 12 years, she has been chief psychologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance, directing the division of psychology and its training programs to deliver culturally sensitive care supporting the hospital’s primary care centers, specialty mental health, and acute emergency services. This work included facilitating partnerships with community agencies, law enforcement, and school systems and assisting with the health system’s transformation to becoming an accountable care organization. Leary received her BA from Amherst College, her MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, and her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. She received additional postgraduate training as a psychoanalyst. For four years, she was the scientific program chair of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Kaylan Baxter
Affiliated Researcher

Kaylan Baxter is Director of Planning and Assessment in the Pro Humanitate Institute (PHI). In her role, she consults PHI staff and students in the creation and implementation of tools to evaluate the impact of programming related to community and civic engagement. Kaylan oversees the internal strategic planning and continuous improvement processes of PHI as well as external capacity-building engagement between PHI and local community-based organizations; she also leads institutional efforts to assess campus climate and organizational equity.

Kaylan holds a B.A. in economics from Wake Forest and an M.A. in education policy from Teachers College at Columbia University. She is an affiliated researcher in the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest.

Camry Wilborn
Wake Forest University Presidential Fellow
Camry Wilborn is a Wake Forest University Presidential Fellow with the Anna Julia Cooper Center and Pro Humanitate Institute. In her position, Camry contributes to the administration of the national research coalition Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research; contributes to the student civic engagement initiative Wake the Vote; and helps coordinate the AJC Center’s Intersectional Research Agenda initiative. A recent Wake Forest University alumna, Camry majored in Politics and International Affairs and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Communication. During her time as a student, Camry’s passion for equity, social change and innovation, led her to implement numerous programs for African American, low-income and first-year students. As someone whose values closely align with those of AJC, Camry understands the important role that research has in policy and program changes. As a result, for her senior project Camry chose to research how the angry black woman trope in television media influences the social and academic behaviors of black female college students. An avid media and political consumer, Camry enjoys commenting on current events in both fields. Her words can be found on Elle.com and USA Today College.

Mankaprr Conteh
Communication Intern
Mankaprr Conteh is a Senior at Wake Forest University, where she is a Politics and International Affairs major. She is a first-generation American, born to Sierra Leonean parents. At a young age, she developed a keen interest in the intersections of politics, social justice and media that continues to shape her undergraduate career. Mankaprr has been a Staff Writer for the Old Gold & Black Student Newspaper, a New Anchor and Writer for WakeTV and a City Year AmeriCorps member in Washington, DC. With a fervent belief in the AJC Center’s mission of advancing justice through scholarship, she has conducted research in Sierra Leone on educational development, and in the US on socioemotional learning in underserved, predominately black and/or latino schools. She currently serves as Vice President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. at Wake Forest.

Postdoctoral Fellows

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Jaira Harrington
Anna Julia Cooper Center Postdoctoral Fellow in Politics & International Affairs
Jaira J. Harrington earned a doctorate of Political Science from the University of Chicago. Jaira is a first-generation college graduate, West Side Chicago native and Spelman College alumna. Jaira’s research has been funded by the Ford Foundation, NSEP Boren Fellowship, and the Tinker Grant Foundation. Some of her proudest accomplishments at UChicago include the 2011 Jane Morton and Henry C. Murphy Award, in recognition of her campus service in her department, at OMSA, and the broader Chicago community, and the 2015 Wayne C. Booth Prize for Teaching Excellence, the highest teaching honor given to a graduate student lecturer at the University. This fall she joins Wake Forest University in the Department of Politics and International Affairs and the Anna Julia Cooper Center on Gender, Race and Politics in the South as a postdoctoral fellow.Teaching – Fall 2015:
POL 242B: Race & Politics in Brazil
First Year Seminar: Challenges to the Global CommunityJust Published
“A Place of Their Own: Black Feminist Leadership and Economic and Educational Justice in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil”

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Sherri Williams
Anna Julia Cooper Center Postdoctoral Fellow in Communication
Sherri Williams studies social media, social television and how people of color use and are represented on social media and how people of color and marginalized people are represented in the media. She appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live show to discuss social media images of Rachel Jeantel after Jeantel testified in the George Zimmerman trial. She was also interviewed by USA Today for her social media expertise. Williams’ dissertation focuses on images of women of color on reality television and Twitter. Williams presented her knowledge on black social television twice at SXSW Interactive. She taught journalism writing, media diversity and women/gender studies classes at Syracuse University and she incorporated social media into her courses. Before entering academia Williams was a print journalist for a decade including at The Associated Press. She covered several beats including education, courts, social services and immigrant/minority/marginalized communities and traveled to South Africa and Cuba on journalism fellowships. Her work has appeared in Essence, Ebony, Upscale, Heart & Soul, The Source and The Quill magazines.Teaching – Fall 2015:
COM 370/670: Race, Gender and Media

Steering Committee


Sara Dahill-Brown
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Sara Dahill-Brown is an assistant professor of political science at Wake Forest University. Her research and teaching interests in American politics focus on public policy, education, state and local government, and democratic accountability. She also teaches courses in quantitative research methods. She earned a Masters and PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she was also an advanced fellow at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Her dissertation, The State of American School Governance: Who’s in Charge and Does it Matter? investigates changing power relationships between state and local authorities, and the consequences of centralizing political authority. She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and earned a BA in Political Science and Sociology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Prior to entering graduate school, she taught in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas with Teach for America. Her work recently appeared in Politics and Policy.


Sherri Lawson Clark
Assistant Professor
of Cultural Anthropology
Dr. Sherri Lawson Clark (Ph.D., American University), is an assistant teaching professor of cultural anthropology at Wake Forest University. She is an applied cultural anthropologist, researches social problems associated with poverty in both urban and rural settings. She is particularly interested in the intersections of housing instability with individual and family experiences, social interactions, community organization, mental and physical health disparities, and other public policies enacted to aid the poor. Currently, she is the faculty director of a community-based participatory research program to connect faculty with community members in engaged research. She teaches courses in cultural anthropology and social stratification in America surrounding her research foci. Her courses are cross-listed with the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and the American Ethnic Studies programs. Dr. Lawson Clark’s ultimate goal is to continue her teaching and scholarship in order to equip students with the necessary knowledge, training, and cultural sensitivities to aid them as future problem-solvers and leaders in our global world.

Wake Forest University School of Law LLM

Luellen Curry
Associate Professor of Legal Writing

Prof. Luellen Curry is the Associate Professor of Legal Writing and has taught at Wake Forest University School of Law since 1989. She currently is an Associate Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing and Research and also teaches a seminar on Race and the Law. She is a two-time recipient of the Black Law Students Association Teacher Appreciation Award and she has been nominated to serve a one-year term as a vice president of the North Carolina Bar Association. Prof. Curry graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio and Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago.In practice, Prof. Curry was a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Northwest North Carolina, and a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Mediation Services of Forsyth County, Disability Advocates of Northwest NC, and Legal Aid of NC-Winston Salem. She is a past President of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys and former Chairperson of the East Winston Community Development Corporation.

Prof. Curry served as a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company from 1984-2011, and was Treasurer from 1994-2011. She has worked with the National Black Theatre Festival® since its inception in 1989, as both a volunteer and a staff person. In 2009 she was presented with the National Black Theatre Festival® 20th Anniversary Appreciation Award. In March, 2011 she was chosen as one of three recipients of the Winston-Salem Chronicle’s Curator of the Arts Award, for her work with the Theatre Company and the Festival.

Prof. Curry grew up in Lexington, NC and is a member of Dellabrook Presbyterian Church, where she has served as a Deacon. She is married to Rev. Dr. Carlton A.G. Eversley, and they have two adult children.


Michele Gillespie
Dean of the College & Presidential Endowed Chair of Southern History

Michele Gillespie is the Presidential Endowed Professor of Southern History at Wake Forest University and Dean of the College at Wake Forest University. She is the author of Katharine and R.J. Reynolds: Partners of Fortune in the Making of the New South (2012), which was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2013, and Free Labor in an Unfree World: White Artisans in Slaveholding Georgia (2000), winner of the Malcolm and Muriel Bell Award for Most Distinguished Book in Georgia History.She has co-edited numerous books, including three volumes on southern economic and social history in global perspective for the New Directions in the History of Southern Economy and Society series (2005-2011); Pious Pursuits: German Moravians in the Atlantic World (2007); Thomas Dixon and the Birth of Modern America (2006); Neither Lady Nor Slave: Working Women of the Old South ( 2002); and The Devil’s Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South (1997). She is currently co-editing a two volume anthology, North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times, (2014 and 2015). She is also the author of a dozen articles on the gendered politics, changing technologies, and racial realities of artisanal and working-class men and women in the slave South

She is currently writing an interpretive biography of Mary Musgrove, an 18th c. Creek woman in colonial Georgia. She is also researching the ways elite southern women used cultural power to shape their own opportunities as well as the broader social and political landscape of their nineteenth and early twentieth-century communities. She is a past President of the Southern Association for Women Historians and past member of the Southern Historical Association’s Executive Council, has served on the editorial board of the North Carolina Historical Review and the Journal of Southern History, and is co-editor of the New Directions in Southern History series at the University Press of Kentucky. She has won several teaching awards, was the 2010 recipient of NC Campus Compact’s Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award, and was named a 2013 NC Woman of Achievement by the NC General Federation of Women’s Clubs. At Wake Forest University, she serves on the advisory board of the Humanities Institute and advises the History Department’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national History Honors Society.


Derek Hicks
Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture
Derek Hicks is an assistant professor of religion and culture at Wake Forest University. He teaches and researches broadly in the areas of African American religion, religion in North America, race, the body, religion and foodways, theory and method in the study of religion, Black and Womanist theologies, and cultural studies. Currently he serves as part of the founding steering committee of the Religion and Food Group at the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Hicks is the author of the book Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). He is currently working on a second monograph entitled Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and the Saga of Race in Black America (under review). In addition, he served as assistant editor of the volume entitled African American Religious Cultures (ABC-CLIO Press). He also contributed chapters for the books Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions by sociologists Dr. Michael Emerson and Dr. Jason Shelton (New York University Press, 2012) and to the edited volume Religion, Food, and Eating in North America (Columbia University Press, 2014). In support of his scholarship, Dr. Hicks has been awarded fellowships and grants from the Ford Foundation, the Fund for Theological Education, the Louisville Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Wabash Center.

Valerie A. Johnson
Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies at Bennett College

Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson is the Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of Africana Women’s Studies at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She holds a Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College and M.A. in Sociology from Atlanta University, (now Clark Atlanta University).Scholarly interests in bioethics, health care and gender issues led to fieldwork in various places such as Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, the Seychelles Islands, Tanzania, Eritrea, and the United States.

Dr. Johnson is a member of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network and board member of the following organizations: North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV) ; Our Children’s Place (advocacy and educational program for incarcerated women and their young children); Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee and most recently Planned Parenthood Health Systems. Dr. Johnson serves on the North Carolina Historical Commission and North Carolina Council for Women. She recently published “Bringing Together Feminist Disability Studies and Environmental Justice” in the 2011 Barbara Faye Waxman Fiduccia Papers on Women and Girls with Disabilities.


Anthony Parent
Professor of History and American Ethnic Studies
Anthony Parent is Professor of History and American Ethnic Studies. He teaches American, African and World History. His scholarly focus areas are African America, Colonial America, and the History of Sexuality. His current research includes Virginia Slave society, a history of slave rebellion, and slavery and memory. He serves on the MESDA Advisory Board and is assisting their interpretation of rooms where Harriet Jacobs lived. Parent received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Loyola Marymount University and his MA and Ph.D. from UCLA. Parent was inducted into the LMU Athletic Hall of Fame (Loyola Lions 1969 Football) in 2003. He has taught at UCLA, UC Irvine and UC San Diego before coming to Wake Forest University in 1989. He is married to Eugenia (Gigi) Parent and father of two sons Anthony and Frederick. Parent is author of Foul Means (2003) and co-author of Old Dominion New Commonwealth (2007).

K. Monet Rice
Associate University Chaplain

The Reverend K. Monet Rice has been serving as Associate University Chaplain since July of 2012. Most of her attention is given to Well-Being practices as she specializes in Mind/Body Synchronicity and Interfaith/transcultural community. Rice is a graduate of Louisiana State University (LSU) where she competed on their Women’s Track and Field Team. She earned her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and is ordained in the Baptist tradition. Prior to Wake Forest, K. Monet served as an Associate Pastor at The Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, NY as an FTE recipient in their TiM project. Rice also worked for Cornell University Cooperative Extension in partnership with the College of Human Ecology.K. Monet loves academic chaplaincy because it allows her the privilege of engaging in delightfully deep theological discourse with bright and inquisitive minds while liturgically engaging the academic community and keeping up with growing trends. She enjoys developing lasting relationships with students, faculty and staff and seeks to live a life evident of the presence of the Divine. In an attempt to create work life balance, K. enjoys running, traveling to visit friends, foodie activities and base jumping while wrestling bears. No bears are ever harmed.


Shelley Sizemore
Director, Academic Programs and Community Engaged Research, Pro Humanitate Institute
Shelley Sizemore serves as Director of Academic Programs and Community Engaged Research in the Pro Humanitate Institute. In this role, she oversees campus-wide service events and initiatives, including Project Pumpkin, MLK Day of Service, and September 11 National Day of Service, Volunteer Service Corps, SPARC Pre-Orientation program and the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University. Shelley also works with students and programs within the institute on governance, organizational development, and cultural competence. In addition, Shelley serves as a diversity educator for the university, and leads students, faculty, and staff in dialogue about ways to communicate across difference. Prior to her current role, Shelley served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member for Rebuilding Together in Washington, DC. Shelley received her B.A. and M.A. from Wake Forest University.