Spring 2022 Unity in Diversity Speaker Bios

Meet some of the speakers from our spring 2021 two-day Unity in Diversity event.

Lucy Adlington is a British historian and writer with more than twenty years’ specialization in social history. Her previous non-fiction titles include Stitches in Time: The Story of the Clothes We Wear and Women’s Lives and Clothes in WW2: Ready for Action. Her fiction titles include the award-winning young adult novel The Red Ribbon. She runs the ‘History Wardrobe’ series of costume presentations, and has an extensive collection of vintage and antique clothing.

Rémy Boyd is the Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Merrimack College. She has almost two decades of experience in human resources, specifically talent acquisition, staffing, and recruitment. She is a member of Merrimack College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Council, and Create Your Impact (CYI) Women’s Leadership Group. As the former AVP of Employer Relations & Engagement at Merrimack, Rémy worked with employer partners to address employment inequities and strengthen relationships for more experiential learning opportunities through internship and co-op programs. A native of Connecticut, Rémy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology & English from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, a Master of Science in Human Capital Management, and an MBA from the University of Maryland Global Campus. She is also a Certified Personnel Consultant and holds a Certification in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Cornell University’s Industrial Labor Relations (ILR) School. Rémy is excited to introduce this session’s speaker MaryRose Mazzola.

Lindsey Carbone is the Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Student Life at Merrimack College. She has a B.S. in Exercise Science from UMass Boston and an M.S. in Management from Merrimack College. She started her career at Merrimack 10 years ago in Health Sciences and assisted the founding Dean in opening the 5th School in the College’s history. She now has been tasked with opening the very first Graduate Center on campus which is dedicated to the success and engagement of graduate students.

Raisa Carrasco-Velez currently serves as Director of Multicultural Affairs & Community Development at Saint John’s Prep in Danvers. As part of the school’s Principal Leadership Team, and in collaboration with a team of faculty and staff, she leads inclusion efforts, professional learning, and student support programs. Adjunct Lecturer, Merrimack College, Community Engagement, Winston School of Education and Social Policy. She holds a Bachelor in Sociology (minor in Political Science) from Merrimack College and a Master’s in public administration from Harvard Kennedy School. A lifelong learner who is committed to engaging others in the co-creation of equitable and fair communities, Raisa remains actively involved by volunteering as board member for two organizations: ACT Lawrence and Mary Immaculate Health/Care Services.

Edward Carson is the Dean of Multicultural Education at the Governor’s Academy. A 20th century American historian of race and religion, Carson earned a B.A. and a M.A. in History and Religion from Harding University. He teaches seminars on African American Studies, Race, Class, and Gender, and Black Christianity. His current research looks at race and ideology, particularly that of W.E.B. Du Bois. His working manuscript is entitled, W.E.B. Du Bois’s Editorial Influence on Western Negro Migration. He has published and presented papers that focus on Black identity, religion, Du Bois, and the nature of history teaching. He recently wrote a book chapter with Aldon Morris, entitled: W.E.B. Du Bois: A Socialist and a Communist. Carson edits for The Christian Century Magazine Then and Now, and sits on the Christian Scholars’ Conference committee on race and religion at Lipscomb University. Joined by historians Phillip Sinitiere and Gerald Horne, they published “Socialism and Democracy in W.E.B. Du Bois’s Life, Thought, and Legacy. Carson also published a text for students and teachers through Norton Publisher entitled, Historical Thinking Skills in History.

Stacey Ciprich is a graduate from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Stacey majored in history and secondary education, as well as serving as senior class president of the graduating class of 2007 and the National History Scholar of New Jersey. After teaching in New Jersey, she joined Teach For America and worked in St. Louis Public Schools teaching history and civics, serving as the Social Studies Department Head, then College Placement Coordinator, and then Assistant Principal while also obtaining a Masters of Education and Secondary Administration from the University of Missouri. Also while in New Jersey and St. Louis, Ms. Ciprich was actively involved in extra-curricular activities such as serving as the head Varsity cheerleading coach, Student Government advisor, and leadership team in which her school, Northwest Academy of Law, received its accreditation. In 2012, Ms. Ciprich accepted a position with the Lawrence Public Schools where she became the Assistant Principal at the Health and Human Services High School, which became a Level One high school, at the Lawrence High School Campus until December of 2014, when she transitioned to becoming the founding Principal of Abbott Lawrence Academy. Ms. Ciprich, has been the Principal at ALA since January 2015, from the school’s initial creation. Ms. Ciprich also attended Boston College as the first member of the Lawrence Public Schools to be accepted into the Lynch Leadership Academy.

Janet Connors is a longtime community and social justice activist who brings over 50 years of experience working with youth and families in community-based organizations in Boston neighborhoods. As a restorative/transformative justice practitioner she has done Survivor Support work with Survivors of Homicide Victims at the Louis Brown Peace Institute; and currently still does this work through the Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery at BIDMC and through the community grown Survivor Support organization known as Legacy Lives On. Through her own deep love of Community; all of the above-mentioned opportunities and as a Community Fellow at the Center for Restorative Justice and UNITY Circles, she has brought restorative justice to schools as both a direct practitioner and trainer. She has past experience as a Circle Keeper in Juvenile Justice, and currently through the RISE Federal Court Program, several MCI Prisons, as well as as in many beloved grassroots community settings.


A Survivor herself, Janet lost her son Joel to homicide in 2001. Her own personal journey in meeting in restorative dialogue with two of the young men responsible for her son’s murder brought about a change in policy to the State of Massachusetts which now offers victims the option of calling for and participating in Victim-Offender Dialogue.


Janet is a frequent public speaker; panel participant locally and nationally; is on the faculty for MOVA Advocate Academy, was interviewed by HUMANKIND NPR and ALL THINGS CONSIDERED Radio Shows; is the subject of the documentary CIRCLE UP. She is the receiver of a National Award for Leadership in Community and Restorative Justice; Chomsky Peace and Justice Award, Mothers of Courage Award, and UNITY Circles Community Impact Award.

Melissa Driver is a Senior at Merrimack studying Psychology and Sociology. She is involved in Student Government, serving as their Commuter Senator. In addition, she is a Commuter Advisor on campus, advising and mentoring first-year Commuter and Transfer students in their transition to college. Melissa is currently Vice President of Merrimack’s Active Minds Chapter, where she works with peers on advocating for mental health awareness. Additionally, she is the Vice President of Merrimack’s DREAM Chapter, where she works collaboratively with the Accessibility Services Office in promoting inclusivity for students with disabilities and fellow allies. Her interests and passion center around working with children, specifically the younger population.

Dennis D. Everett, Jr. is an advocate, a multi-talented artist and passionate agent of change. He has traversed much from being a gang leader to a national thought leader and activist in prison reform, youth work and organizational development. Dennis spent his younger years in various locations across Massachusetts due to being in and out of the DSS/DYS/D.O.C systems. As a bi-racial black male navigating a home life of trauma and addictions in a time of great racial divide, his upbringing was complicated and unstable. Fueled by abandonment and neglect he soon found himself involved in gangs, selling drugs and committing crimes well into his 20’s. Having come full circle, his passion for youth and dedication to giving back elevated him from a relief staff to an Assistant Program Director in the very agency he found himself placed in as a troubled youth, and in 2019 he was awarded the NAFI Distinguished Alumni Award. Dennis is the Co-Founder of Power of Self-Education (POSE) Inc., a social justice community engagement and advocacy organization. He has 10 years of attuned experience working in community-based initiatives as a community activist having led several cross-sector community mobilization efforts. Currently, Dennis works as the Director of Reentry for UTEC through which he gets to engage his passion for restorative justice, which has become the heart of his focus. Through his work at UTEC, Dennis has used restorative justice to build community through creating circles within Essex County, Middlesex County, and the D.O.C. He has used his knowledge of restorative justice in partnership with VIP and the Haverhill Police Department to facilitate the Youth/ Police dialogues. Dennis is training through the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University, and is currently enrolled in their Professional Certificate in Restorative Justice Practices Program. Dennis is committed to continuing to learn all that he can regarding restorative justice and bringing the practice to as many communities as possible. He serves on various city, regional and state committees to address multi systemic community issues including recently being appointed to the Massachusetts Restorative Justice Advisory Committee.

Katrina “Kat” Hobbs Everett obtained her M.Ed. in Community Engagement from Merrimack College in 2019 Kat is currently an Adjunct Professor for the Social Justice program at Merrimack College. She is an anti-racist, educator, entrepreneur, curator, activist, writer, and spoken word artist. Ms. Everett is a senior-level executive with over 22 years of refined experience in the human/social services field working in a variety of professional settings and levels including grassroots organizations, city, state, and federal entities, public k-12 schools, public and private higher education institutions. She also has more than a decade of experience in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) education, and extensive community engagement cultivating relationship development and working with cross-sector teams locally, nationally and globally. Ms. Everett is the Co-Founder of Power of Self-Education (POSE) Inc. a community engagement and advocacy nonprofit whose mission is “to inspire people and mobilize resources to strengthen communities”. She is also the founder and curator of COCO Brown, a cultural community center and co-working space that uses the mediums of art, music, storytelling, and movement to strengthen community relationships and improve social and economic equity. During the pandemic, she founded and launched a state-certified Black-owned/woman-owned business enterprise, through which she provides large- and small-scale consulting, coaching and facilitation services to individuals, groups and businesses to assist with transformative culture shifting in an effort to foster places of belonging. Her personal mission is to “Constantly Cultivate Community”.

Kara Hayes, a fourth-generation Bostonian, is and survivor of severe violence and a policy analyst. Her community programming includes collaboration with MCI Norfolk’s Restorative Justice Program in a pilot program that brought members of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and incarcerated facilitators participating in Restorative Justice programming into community circle work to discuss common themes of community and accountability. Among her achievements during her tenure as Director of Victim Witness Assistance, she established the first community liaison to the LGBTQIA+ community (a position she currently holds), wrote the seminal manual for survivors of Homicide victims navigating the Criminal Justice System, and was certified to handle Indy the first Courthouse Facility Dog placed in a prosecutorial agency in New England. Her areas of expertise include complex victimization, Restorative Justice, mental health, alternative criminal justice response models, juvenile diversion, intimate partner violence, drug, and other specialty courts, reentry, issues affecting women and children, and issues relevant to the LGBTQIA+ community. When not at work, she promotes awareness of social justice issues and raises funds for LGBTQIA+ programs. She works as a volunteer in both the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk and the South Bay House of Correction.

Kara has been a circle keeper for twenty-two years, she was trained in the Peacemaking Circle process by many teachers, including Harold Gatensby and Mark Wedge, Elders of the Tanglis Tlingit Nation, Judge Barry Stuart, retired First Chief Judge of the Yukon Territory, the Insight Prison Project, Hidden Water, Carolyn Boyes-Watson the extended ROCA Community, Gwen Jones and Kay Pranis, International Restorative Justice Planner and author of “Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community.”

Dr. Winston Kennedy is a physical therapist (DPT) by training and also has a master’s degree in public health (MPH). He is currently a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in Kinesiology at Oregon State University (OSU) as well as a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Merrimack Colleges’ THRIVE Lab. Dr. Kennedy is completing his doctoral dissertation on the physical activity promotion behaviors of physical therapists who treat patients with neurological disorders. Dr. Kennedy recently completed a fellowship in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program at the E.K. Shriver Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). Dr. Kennedy is committed to conducting research that supports the health and well-being of people with disabilities at their intersecting identities. He has become increasingly interested in understanding, and ultimately influencing, healthcare professional curricula in order to train health professionals to work with and better support people with disabilities. Included in Dr. Kennedy’s accomplishments are his six peer-reviewed published papers, 11 peer-reviewed published abstracts, and his production of over 50 presentations. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards and most recently was recognized by the Association of University Centers on Disability in 2021 as an emerging leader. Dr. Kennedy has expertise in multiple areas of focus in Physical Therapy, including orthopedics, pediatrics, neurological disorders, and geriatrics, and has worked in a variety of healthcare settings.

Chet Jackson is the current Principal of North Andover High School. Before accepting this position in 2017, Jackson served as the Assistant Principal of the high school since 2007. Prior to coming to North Andover, Jackson was a math teacher at the Greater Lawrence Technical High School. Chet Jackson received his master’s degree in Educational Administration from UMass Lowell. He also holds a Master’s of Education from Fitchburg State University, and a Bachelor’s in Finance from Boston College

Tiana Lawrence serves as the Program Associate at the Mel King Institute for Community Building. With the Resident Leadership Academy, she manages data and communications, serves as a trainer, and supports a statewide network of public housing residents through learning and networking opportunities. Tiana also co-manages with the MKI Director, the Alliance Steering Committee, the MACDC statewide Racial Equity Pledge, and activities implemented by members. Tiana has a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies and English and a Master of Education in Community Engagement from Merrimack College. Tiana also teaches a Diversity, Social Justice and Ethics course as an Adjunct Professor at Merrimack College. Tiana continues to grow in her passion for DEI, racial equity, leadership development, and social justice work. In her free time, she enjoys painting, singing, listening to music, writing, traveling, and quality time with family and friends.

Dr. Susan Marine is Vice Provost for Graduate Education and a Professor in the Higher Education Graduate Program. She is a critical educator committed to change work who ardently believes that everyone can and should be part of creating liberatory colleges. A lesbian, a midwesterner, and a feminist, Susan is committed to building communities of change and affirmation, to opposing racism, and to affirming LGBTQ people and our futures. Her research and teaching focuses on identifying effective strategies for resistance and engaging in principled and collaborative truth-telling. She is excited to be part of building a Merrimack where #BlackLivesMatter and where missing histories are unearthed, centered and celebrated.

Jeffrey Marsh’s spiritual and inclusive messages have received over 400 million views on social media. Jeffrey is a viral TikTok and Instagram star. Jeffrey is the first openly nonbinary public figure to be interviewed on national television, for Unfiltered. Jeffrey was also the first nonbinary author to be offered a book deal with any “Big 5” publisher, at Penguin Random House. Jeffrey’s bestselling Buddhist self-esteem guide How To Be You, is an innovative, category-non-conforming work that combines memoir, workbook, and spiritual advice. How To Be You topped Oprah’s Gratitude Meter and was named Excellent Book of the Year by TED-Ed. In 2019, How To Be You was reissued as a Barnes & Noble Proprietary Edition. Jeffrey has been a student and teacher of Zen for over twenty years.

Jeffrey is one of the world’s foremost commentators on nonbinary identity and activism in America, with a message of positivity and inclusion and a deep knowledge of queer issues and history. Jeffrey has reported on LGBTQ topics for TIME, Variety, Dutch National News channel RTL-TV, NewsmaxTV and the BBC. Jeffrey was also a Cultural Consultant on Nonbinary Identity for the Elizabeth Warren campaign, New York University, the office of Chirlaine McCray (New York City’s First Lady), GLAAD, MTV, Condé Nast’s ‘Them’ and ‘Teen Vogue.’ As an author, Jeffrey was the first prominent public figure to use, and advocate the use of, they/them pronouns for trans and gender non-conforming people. Jeffrey has also offered comment in The New York Times, Buzzfeed News, Reuters, Huffington Post, and Bustle and has delivered keynote talks and participated on panels at university campuses worldwide, including NYU Florence, University of Texas Arlington, and Penn State. Currently, Jeffrey is developing several TV shows centered around issues of LGBTQ identity and stories. Jeffrey maintains a robust social media following, with several hundred thousand followers and millions of views across several platforms. Jeffrey was named Viner of the Year by CBS in 2016. Jeffrey is also a precepted facilitator in the Soto Zen tradition of Buddhism.

Palestinian artist Malak Mattar, age 22, paints powerfully expressionist faces, figures, and semi-abstract designs. She first started painting at age 13, during the 51-day Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2014. Forced to stay inside for her own safety, she channeled her fear anxiety, and sheer terror into her paintings. Unable to leave Gaza due to the Israeli blockade, Malak shared her paintings to the world through social media. At the age of fourteen, she began selling her original paintings through social media to buyers around the world. Two years later she became financially independent while her artwork was being featured in individual and group exhibitions in Palestine as well as in France, Spain, Turkey, Costa Roca, India, England and the United States. Recent highlights of Malak’s career include a tour of the United States in Winter 2020, which included a featured presentation at a mini art exhibit of her paintings at Merrimack College. During that visit, Malak also spoke at Yale University, Smith College, Manhattan College, UMass Boston and Southern Connecticut State University. Her recent exhibits have included a solo exhibition in Frieburg, Germany and a group exhibition at the Museum of Palestinian People in Washington DC

In 2021, Malak published her first book, Grandma’s Bird, an autobiographical children’s story that describes how a young girl in Gaza learns to control her fears through creativity, finding freedom even under occupation—and, ultimately, a way out to the wider world.

MaryRose Mazzola is an attorney with over a decade of political, policy, and research experience. She currently serves as Senior Program Manager at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, where she works to increase women’s political representation through managing organization-wide programs, strategic grantmaking, candidate training, and research projects. She also teaches in the Merrimack College Women’s and Gender Studies Department and for the College’s Degree Completion Program. MaryRose previously served as Senior Advisor to Mayor Michelle Wu’s campaign, Chief of Staff to State Senator Barry Finegold, and as Senator Finegold’s Chief Strategist and Campaign Manager. From 2016-2018, she was the Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, the City of Boston’s public-private initiative dedicated to closing gender and racial wage gaps. MaryRose earned her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law, a Master in Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the Merrimack College Honors Program.

Debra Michals is an assistant professor and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Merrimack College. Her research and teaching interests focus on how “out groups” – those existing on the margins of mainstream US society – women, people of color, LGBTQ+ Americans — survive, thrive, and bring about social change. Dr. Michals is also engaged as a public historian, and in January 2019, was named a Wikipedia/National Archives and Records Administration Scholar, joining an effort to expand coverage of women in Wikipedia, particularly women’s suffrage as the centennial for the suffrage amendment (2020) nears. Dr. Michals has also been a consultant to the online National Women’s History Museum for many years, where she wrote or edited 50 biographies of notable women in US history and co-authored an exhibit on the history of women’s entrepreneurship. In 2016, Dr. Michals was part of the scholar group authoring an advisory report to the Congressional Commission about the need for the proposed American Museum of Women’s History in Washington, D.C. She previously served as the content director for the first national women’s museum, the now defunct Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future in Dallas, TX. Before becoming an academic, Dr. Michals was a journalist for national magazines, including Ms., W, Women’s Wear Daily, Harper’s Bazaar, and BusinessWeek.

Alvin Morton (he/him/his) is a Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences and Graduate Fellowship Coordinator. Alvin received his M.S. in Exercise Science with a concentration in Physical Activity Promotion and his B.S. in Cardiopulmonary Science from Northeastern University. Alvin is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Kinesiology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville where his research is focused on reducing health disparities, with particular interest in African American men.

Dr. Kathryn Nielsen is AVP of Teaching Learning and Digital Innovation at Merrimack College and the founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. A first-generation learner, her research centers on adult and transformative learning and women’s empowerment. Continuously inspired by women who lead with authenticity, values and vision, she is committed to transformative learning, philanthropy, and community engagement. Kathryn is a researcher, administrator, speaker, and teacher and also serves on local non-profit boards.

Jessica Oljey is an experienced leader in public administration management, working as the Assistant Superintendent IV of Programs, Reentry, & STAR (Supporting Transitions & Reentry) for the Essex County Sheriff’s Department. Driven by a strong passion and creative vision to improve outcomes for justice-involved individuals, she takes pride in developing community partnerships and programming opportunities to support the success of individuals housed in Essex County and/or returning to the cities/towns in the County. She believes that enhanced opportunities to build reentry success result in better outcomes for the population served, with the goal of creating safer communities with reentry-ready individuals. In addition to her primary job functions, she has been recognized for her extraordinary commitment to statewide crime reform efforts and the introduction of restorative practices in a correctional setting, as there is compelling evidence and a body of research to support restorative approaches to criminal justice systems. She holds genuine support to provide appropriate opportunities for respectful, compassionate, and healing responses to crime and conflict, as a channel for changing behavior in our communities. She understands how much interpersonal conflict manifests “behind the wall” and is a derivative of the years of family and community trauma, violence, and, largely, individuals functioning in survival mode. Jessica is actively leading the opening of STAR (Supporting Transitions & Reentry) this Spring, under the direction of Sheriff Coppinger, Essex County’s brand-new community-based locations in Lawrence & Lynn. The vision is to reduce recidivism by streamlining access to community resources, reducing barriers, and connecting justice-involved individuals in pro-social ways that enhance lives. Jessica spent eleven of her eighteen years working for the Commonwealth in the capacity of a senior leader at the Department of Youth Services (DYS), the state’s juvenile justice agency, where she also co-chaired the first Alternatives to Detention Statewide Steering committee in conjunction with our partners in Massachusetts Probation, as part of the JDAI (Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative) in Massachusetts and developed a highly praised pilot program to divert juveniles to community-based options in conjunction with Juvenile Court stakeholders. Jessica possesses both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Domestic Violence Prevention and a Certificate in Drug & Alcohol Counseling. She is an avid reader, remains current on relevant research, best practices, and promising initiatives in the field. She was a two-time recipient of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Citation for Outstanding Performance.

Andrew E. Peck As a leader deeply committed to improving the lives of justice-involved individuals, Andrew E. Peck serves as the Undersecretary of Public Safety for Criminal Justice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS). In his current role, Peck manages a portfolio of public safety agencies including the Department of Correction, Parole Board, and Sex Offender Registry Board. Peck draws on more than 20 years of experience in probation to fulfill his policy, fiscal, and operational oversight responsibilities. During his time at EOPSS, Undersecretary Peck created positive changes in Massachusetts’ approach to re-entry and gang supervision. In re-entry, he designed and implemented an intensive support model that combined pre-release case planning with “swing” post-release case management with cross agency participation. In gang supervision, he developed an intensive model that combined rigorous cognitive behavioral approaches with enhanced control and monitoring measures. As a result of his work, the Massachusetts Trial Court recognized Peck twice with its annual excellence award. For more than 20 years prior to his current role, Peck held leadership positions within the Massachusetts Probation Service. As the Supervisor for the Superior Court, his responsibilities included field operations of 11 Superior Courts statewide which supervised approximately 7,500 high-risk individuals convicted of felonious crimes. He also served as the Chief Probation Officer assigned to the Hampden County Superior Court located in Springfield and Assistant Chief Probation Officer assigned to the Worcester County Superior Court. As an educator, Peck has taught courses at the state’s Probation Training Academy on substance abuse treatment and programming, tactical communication, evidenced-based supervision practices, sex offender supervision and prisoner reentry-related issues. Undersecretary Peck completed advanced degrees at Springfield College (MA) and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell as well as a certificate of advanced graduate study in criminal justice administration from Anna Maria College. He also completed the chemical dependency treatment program at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. In his personal life, Peck devotes time to his family, especially his children, Riley and Drew. He has served on the board of Dismas House of Massachusetts, Correctional Association of Massachusetts and Community Voices, a group dedicated to victim advocacy.

Dr. Emma Polyakov teaches and conducts research on religious pluralism and intercultural relations. She is the author of three books—The Nun in the Synagogue: Judeocentric Catholicism in Israel (Penn State University Press, 2020); Remembering the Future: The Experience of Time in Jewish and Christian Liturgy (Liturgical Press, 2015); and Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Interreligious Hermeneutics: Ways of Seeing the Religious Other (Brill-Rodopi, 2018)—and is currently completing two more books exploring religious perspectives on Jerusalem. She holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, an M.T.S from Boston University, and a B.A. from Bard College.

Dr. Sandra Raponi, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in Philosophy, the Director of the Social Justice Program, and the Advisor for the Law, Ethics and Society Minor. Her work focuses on legal and political philosophy and applied ethics.

Rowan Salhi (he/him/his) is a junior majoring in communications and media with a minor in digital media production. He is the President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, a member of the Affinity Board, a member of the Onstagers and a host for WMCK. Rowan is an advocate for human rights and strives to one day make the world a more inclusive place through representation in the media.

Dr. Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. His theoretical work draws liberally from the Black radical tradition, contemporary social science, and histories of activism and activist thinkers. His public philosophy, including articles exploring intersections of climate justice and colonialism, has appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New Republic, The Nation, Foreign Affairs, The Philosopher, Aeon, and Boston Review. His book Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else)is forthcoming from Haymarket.

My name is Clarissa Turner and I was blessed with 6 beautiful blessings. My life has been dedicated to supporting and working with families during important transitions in their lives. My journey in my life began as a doula working at Boston Medical Center, a counselor at A Woman’s Concern, a parent educator and counselor at St. Mary Home/Shelter, and a Family Partner at Children Services of Roxbury. The tragic loss of my son to gun violence in 2011 has given me a special perspective on youthful offending and the lasting impact of crime on communities. The murder of my son has birthed an organization called Legacy Lives On, an organization dedicated to supporting communities in these times. I strive to plant seeds for individuals and their affected communities, a sense of acceptance, coping, dealing, Healing, understanding, resilience, compassion, and empowerment to move productively in the aftermath of serious trauma. Over time I was introduced and educated about Restorative Justice which has impacted my life. RJ for me is like going to church to bear witness to transformation is God’s Amazing Grace. We hear the saying: “Hurt People, Hurt People” I’m a witness: “Heal People, Heal People”. God’s alignment has me on a path in my journey in life to impact and be effective for Peace, Love, Unity. and Healing. My Reality is: I lost my one oldest son to witness God at work from one to many.

Marquis Victor (he/him) is founder and executive director of Elevated Thought. He leads ET’s vision, goals, and mission. He believes “creativity is essential for human flourishing” and grounds his personal and professional pursuits in this perceived truth. In addition to being a poet and artist, Marquis has a master’s degree in Education from Lesley University and compiled over seven years of public school experience before focusing on Elevated Thought full-time. Prioritizing a process of conversation, creativity, and collaboration, Marquis built and facilitated the art and social justice curriculum that serves as the foundation for all of ET’s creative youth development and youth organizing work.

Dan Vlahos is a Boston-based designer, artist, and educator. He is currently Assistant Professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Merrimack College, where he Directs the Undergraduate Graphic Design Program. Vlahos is also presently serving on the Board of Directors for AIGA Boston and is on the Design Museum Foundation Council. Vlahos’ interdisciplinary design work has been recognized by the AIGA, the One Club, Print, and the Interactive Media Council. Vlahos began his career in Arnold Worldwide’s Volkswagen Design Group and went on to serve as Creative Director for the architecture firm Shepley Bulfinch. Vlahos’ clients include Harvard University, Duke University, Educators for Social Responsibility and the Industrial History Center. Vlahos’ design research interests center upon integrated branding and dynamic media.

Nicole Williams (she/they) is the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs & Unity House at Merrimack College. She is a JEDIB (justice, equity, diversity, inclusion & belonging) student, practitioner, educator, public speaker, and advocate. They find stories riveting, and the personal narratives of each individual an important means to move away from constructing assigned boxes and categories on people, and creating space for themselves (both seen and unseen) to be valued. Nicole has worked in education for over 10 years, using her voice and privileged and marginalized identities to champion causes, enact changes, and amplify voices of the marginalized, traditionally underrepresented, under-resourced, and unheard. They use their voice to take up space and secure seats for themself and others, building legacies for sustainable environments of JEDIB. Nicole received her M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Merrimack College, her M.S. in Education Policy from Drexel University, and her B.A. in Classical Culture and Society from Haverford College. Nicole is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change through Antioch University where she continues to engage in deeper learning around systemic change and anti-racism, with an intentional focus on how America has systematically disenfranchised Black Americans through property.

Nancy Wynn is an award winning designer, artist, and educator. With 30+ years of experience in professional design practice, she has worked for advertising agencies and a Fortune 500 corporation, as well as in her own freelance businesses such as Palindrome Partners. Ms. Wynn is an Associate Professor, and Chair, of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. She is also the Director of Film Studies minor. Ms. Wynn teaches various courses in Graphic Design, Photography, Two-Dimensional Design, Digital Art, and Digital Storytelling. As an artist, Ms. Wynn has been an active member of the fine arts community for 30+ years. Her work has been shown in New York City, Los Angeles, Japan, and in galleries throughout New England. Additionally, her artwork is included in the contemporary art collection at the William Benton Museum of Art. Since 2003, Ms. Wynn has managed and served as Chair of the Clare Gallery in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. The Clare Gallery is a nonprofit professional exhibition gallery located in the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry at St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church. The Gallery promotes the arts through its exhibits and educational programs, which focus on world religious, interfaith, and social justice themes. Present and past accomplishments in teaching include developing the graphic design major at Merrimack College; being instrumental in the founding two undergraduate research design centers in the Hartford area—Civic Design, a student-staffed design center at the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, which provided professional design solutions to Hartford-area businesses and non-profits; and the Center for Integrated Design (CID) at the University of Hartford. CID brought together faculty and students in the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering, business and visual communication design to solve municipal design issues for a number of local communities. Ms. Wynn has published several articles on design, art and education. In 2012, her artwork titled, “Disaster Averted,” together with an essay titled, “My Stuff, My Memories, My Story,” appeared in the publication, Keep/Delete: Turning Messages into Keepsakes. The Forum on Public Policy published her paper titled, “Image Making and Meaning: Educational Benefits to Studying Design in the 21st Century.” Ms. Wynn is also often called upon to speak at art, design and education conferences. In 2013, she was invited to be a panelist on WNPR’s “Colin McEnroe Show” to discuss the Dada art movement. In 2017, she chaired a panel on flipping the classroom at the FATE Conference in Kansas City, MO. And, in 2019, she presented the Interdisciplinary Toy Project at Canada’s premier design conference “Design Thinkers” in Toronto, CA. Ms. Wynn received her MFA from the University of Hartford, Hartford Art School, and her BFA from the University of Connecticut.