"Vision & Justice" is a two-day creative convening (April 25–26, 2019) that will consider the role of the arts in understanding the nexus of art, race, and justice.
Biographical information has been provided by program participants and edited only for house style.
David Adjaye is the principal and founder of Adjaye Associates. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, he employs broadly ranging influences, an ingenious use of materials, and a sculptural ability that have established him as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision. His largest project to date, the $540 million Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture, opened on the National Mall in Washington, DC, in the fall of 2016, and its opening was named the Cultural Event of the Year by the New York Times. In 2017, Adjaye was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by Time magazine.
Elizabeth Alexander—poet, educator, memoirist, scholar, and cultural advocate—is the president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in arts and culture and in humanities in higher education. She has held distinguished professorships at Smith College, Columbia University, and Yale University. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, serves on the Pulitzer Prize board, and codesigned the Art for Justice Fund. Alexander is the author or coauthor of 14 books, including American Sublime (Pulitzer finalist, poetry, 2006), and The Light of the World (Pulitzer finalist, biography, 2015).
Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. She is the author of many books, including Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2014), Education and Equality (2016), and Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017).
Lawrence S. Bacow
The president of Harvard University and one of higher education’s most widely experienced leaders, Lawrence Bacow is committed to supporting scholarship and research, encouraging civic engagement, and expanding opportunity for all. From 2001 to 2011, he was president of Tufts University, where he fostered collaboration and advanced the university’s commitment to excellence in teaching, research, and public service. Prior to Tufts, he spent 24 years on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he held the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professorship of Environmental Studies and served as chair of the faculty (1995–1997) and as chancellor (1998–2001). An expert on non-adjudicatory approaches to the resolution of environmental disputes, Bacow received an SB in economics from MIT, a JD from Harvard Law School, an MPP from Harvard Kennedy School, and a PhD in public policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to his election to the Harvard presidency in February 2018, he served as a member of the Harvard Corporation (2011–2018), the Hauser Leader-in-Residence at Harvard Kennedy School (2014–2018), and a president-in-residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2011–2014). Bacow was raised in Pontiac, Michigan, by parents who were both immigrants. He and his wife, Adele Fleet Bacow, were married in 1975 and have two adult sons.
Melody C. Barnes
Melody Barnes is a codirector of the University of Virginia’s Democracy Initiative, as well as a professor of practice at its Miller Center of Public Affairs and a distinguished fellow at the School of Law.
From 2009 until January 2012, Barnes was assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She also served as chief counsel to Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Barnes earned her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she graduated with honors in history, and her JD from the University of Michigan.
Alexandra Bell (b. 1983, Chicago, Illinois) is a multidisciplinary artist who investigates the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Utilizing various media, she deconstructs language and imagery to explore the tension between marginal experiences and dominant histories. Through investigative research, she considers the ways in which media frameworks construct memory and inform discursive practices around race, politics, and culture. Her work has been exhibited at Atlanta Contemporary, Koenig & Clinton Gallery, MoMA PS1, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Pomona College Museum of Art, Spencer Museum of Art, Usdan Gallery at Bennington College, and We Buy Gold. She received the 2018 International Center of Photography Infinity Award in the applied category and is a 2018 Soros Equality Fellow. Bell holds a BA in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities from the University of Chicago and an MS in journalism from Columbia University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Maurice Berger is a research professor and chief curator at the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Race Stories, his monthly column for the Lens section of the New York Times, explores the relationship of photography to concepts and social issues about race not usually covered in the mainstream media. His writings have appeared in Aperture, Artforum, the Brooklyn Rail, National Geographic, Pen America, the Village Voice, and Wired. He was awarded the 2018 Infinity Award in Critical Writing and Research from the International Center of Photography.
Robin Bernstein is currently a Joy Foundation Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is also the Dillon Professor of American History and a professor of African and African American studies and of studies of women, gender, and sexuality at Harvard University. She has written about visuality, performance, and race for African American Review, American Literature, Common-Place, J19, the New York Times, PMLA, Social Text, Theatre Journal, and other periodicals. Her book, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, won five awards.
Makeda Best is the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums. Last fall, she curated Time is Now: Photography and Social Change in James Baldwin’s America. Her upcoming exhibitions include Crossing Lines, Constructing Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art. Among her recently published writing is “Cut Aesthetics: William H. Johnson’s Scrapbook Paintings” (Archives of American Art Journal, Spring 2019). Best is also the author of Elevate the Masses: Alexander Gardner, Photography, and Democracy in Nineteenth Century America (Penn State Press, forthcoming).
Lawrence D. Bobo
Lawrence D. Bobo is dean of social science and the W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. He has served as chair of the Department of African and African American Studies. He holds appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Department of African and African American Studies. His research focuses on the intersection of social psychology, social inequality, politics, and race. Bobo is an elected member of the National Academy of Science and of the American Philosophical Society. He is also an elected fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the board of directors and board vice-chair of the American Institutes for Research. He is an Alphonse M. Fletcher Sr. Fellow, a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar. He was elected the 2017 W. E. B. Du Bois Fellow of the American Academy for Political and Social Science. Bobo has received research grants from the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. He has held tenured appointments in the sociology departments at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the University of California, Los Angeles; and at Stanford University, where he was the Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor, chair of the Program in African American Studies, and director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. In 2012, he received the Cooley-Mead Award from the American Sociological Association for a career of distinguished contributions to social psychology. His research has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, the American Political Science Review, the American Sociological Review, the British Journal of Sociology, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Public Opinion Quarterly, Social Forces, Social Psychology Quarterly, and numerous other social science journals. He is a founding editor of the Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, published by Cambridge University Press and now in its 14th year. He is coauthor, with H. Schuman, C. Steeh, and M. Krysan, of the award-winning book Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretations (Harvard University Press, 1997) and senior editor, with M. L. Oliver, J. H. Johnson, and A. Valenzuela, of Prismatic Metropolis: Inequality in Los Angeles (Russell Sage Foundation, 2000). His most recent book, with M. Tuan, Prejudice in Politics: Group Position, Public Opinion, and the Wisconsin Treaty Rights Dispute (Harvard University Press, 2006), was a finalist for the 2007 C. Wright Mills Award. He is currently working on the “Race, Crime, and Public Opinion” project as well as a book, “The Post-Racial Nation.”
Vincent Brown is the Charles Warren Professor of American History and director of the History Design Studio at Harvard University. Brown is the principal investigator and curator for Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760–1761: A Cartographic Narrative (2013), and he was a producer and director of research for the television documentary Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness (2009). He is the author of two books: The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery (2008) and Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (forthcoming).
Tomiko Brown-Nagin is an award-winning legal historian, an expert in constitutional law and education law and policy, a member of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She has published articles and book chapters on a wide range of topics, including the Supreme Court’s equal protection jurisprudence, civil rights law and history, the Affordable Care Act, and education reform. Her 2011 book, Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford), won six awards, including the Bancroft Prize in American history. In her forthcoming book, Brown-Nagin explores the life and times of Constance Baker Motley, the pathbreaking lawyer, politician, and judge.
Brown-Nagin has served as faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute and as codirector of Harvard Law School’s law and history program, among other leadership roles.
She earned a law degree from Yale University, where she served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal; a doctorate in history from Duke University; and a BA in history, summa cum laude, from Furman University.
Brown-Nagin held the 2016–2017 Joy Foundation Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and became dean of the Institute on July 1, 2018.
Joy Buolamwini—founder of the Algorithmic Justice League—is a poet of code who uses art and research to illuminate the social implications of artificial intelligence. Her TED featured talk on algorithmic bias has been viewed more than 1 million times. Her MIT thesis methodology uncovered large racial and gender bias in AI services from such companies as Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft. She has written op-eds on the impact of facial analysis technology for Time magazine and the New York Times. Her spoken word visual audit "AI, Ain't I A Woman?" has been part of exhibitions from the Cooper Gallery to the Barbican UK. Buolamwini is a Rhodes Scholar, Fulbright Fellow, Forbes 30 under 30 member, and a Bloomberg50 honoree. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Oxford and MIT and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her fourth degree will be a PhD from MIT.
As vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, Chelsea Clinton works to drive its vision and programmatic objectives with the goal of creating greater opportunities for people to build better futures for themselves, their families, and their communities. She is a tireless advocate for expanding access to early childhood education, improving the health and well-being of Americans across the country, providing the next generation of young leaders with the resources they need to turn their ideas into action, and ensuring the empowerment of girls and women is a cross-cutting priority across all of the Foundation’s programs and initiatives. Clinton also serves on the board of the Clinton Foundation’s affiliated Clinton Health Access Initiative and Alliance for a Healthier Generation. In addition, she is coauthor, with Devi Sridhar, of Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? and author of It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going, Start Now! You Can Make a Difference, Don’t Let Them Disappear, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, and the companion She Persisted Around the World. Chelsea holds a bachelor of arts from Stanford, a master of public health from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and both a master of philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from the University of Oxford. She lives with her husband, Marc, their daughter, Charlotte, and their son, Aidan, in New York City.
Jelani Cobb joined the Columbia Journalism School faculty in 2016. He has contributed to the New Yorker since 2012 and became a staff writer in 2015. Cobb is the recipient of the 2015 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism and writes frequently about race, politics, history, and culture.
Teju Cole is the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard University. A novelist, essayist, photographer, and curator, his books include Open City, Blind Spot, and, most recently, Human Archipelago. He has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the Windham Campbell Prize, among many other prizes. His photography has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, and he wrote the National Magazine Award–shortlisted column On Photography for the New York Times Magazine from 2015 until 2019.
Kasseem Dean (Swizz Beatz)
Kasseem Dean (Swizz Beatz) is an internationally acclaimed Grammy Award–winning music producer, global entrepreneur, and recent graduate of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program. In the business world since he was 16, Dean has conceived a myriad of ventures, always starting at the bottom and building them to remarkable success. While still in high school, he began deejaying and working at his uncle’s company, Ruff Ryder Records. Within a short time, Dean produced the company’s first hit, by DMX. More success followed as a producer and artist. At 23, Dean founded his own record label, Full Surface Records, with Clive Davis and earned a Grammy Award at the age of 33. As a producer, he has worked with a diverse range of artists and some of the biggest names in the world, including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Madonna, Metallica, and Kanye West, contributing to the sale of more than 350 million records worldwide. Dean’s talents and success extend well beyond the music world. A natural observer and strategic thinker, he is an innovative fashion designer, collaborating with Aston Martin, Audemars Piguet, Bally, Lotus, Christian Louboutin, and Reebok. In 2015, Dean joined global spirit giant Bacardi as their global chief creative for culture, overseeing more than 300 brands within the company's portfolio. Believing that art embodies culture and is an expression of life, Dean as a child saw graffiti on the walls in the Bronx and wondered about its meaning. He began collecting art in his 20s, and in 2014 launched the Dean Collection, which is not only a collection of his own artwork but also a discovery zone for art enthusiasts who appreciate art from not just the greats but from aspiring and new artists alike. Dean is actively involved in many charities, with a particular focus on children: he works closely with his wife’s organization, Keep A Child Alive, to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa; adopted the Bronx Charter School for the Arts; is the global ambassador for HHC; serves on the board of Children’s Rights, which provides legal services to foster children to protect their rights; and currently sits on the board of trustees of the Brooklyn Museum. While highly accomplished, Dean remains grounded, authentic, and humble. A role model to many, he is devoted to his family and to the welfare of others—both locally and around the world. According to Dean, “The sky is not the limit; it’s just the view.” With a true passion for business, no matter the industry, he hopes that his success will continue to inspire others.
Kimberly Drew, aka @museummammy, is a writer and activist. Drew received her BA from Smith College in art history and Africana studies. She first experienced the art world as an intern in the director’s office of the Studio Museum. Her time at the Studio Museum inspired her to start the Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art. Since starting her widely followed blog, Drew has directed social media strategy for Lehmann Maupin, the Met, and the Studio Museum. Her writing has appeared in Elle UK, Glamour, and Vogue.
The Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer, and distributor. Her directorial work includes the historical drama Selma, the documentary 13th, and the Disney children’s adventure A Wrinkle in Time. She is currently in production on When They See Us, a limited drama series for Netflix, as well as on the fourth season of her hit series Queen Sugar for OWN. The winner of the 2012 Sundance Best Director Prize for Middle of Nowhere, DuVernay amplifies the work of people of color and women of all kinds through her film distribution collective ARRAY.
Drew Gilpin Faust
Drew Gilpin Faust is president emerita of Harvard University and the Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor. As president of Harvard from 2007 to 2018, Faust expanded financial aid to improve access to Harvard College for students of all economic backgrounds and advocated for increased federal funding for scientific research. She broadened the University’s international reach; led a highly successful capital campaign; updated University governance; raised the profile of the arts on campus; promoted diversity and inclusion, embraced sustainability; launched edX, the online learning partnership with MIT; and promoted collaboration across academic disciplines and administrative units as she guided the University through a period of significant financial challenges. Faust previously served as the founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2001–2007). Before coming to Radcliffe, she was the Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of six books, including most recently This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (2008), which chronicles the impact of the Civil War’s enormous death toll on the lives of 19th-century Americans. It was awarded the 2009 Bancroft Prize and the New-York Historical Society’s 2009 American History Book Prize, and it was recognized by the New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2008.” This Republic of Suffering is the basis for a 2012 Emmy-nominated episode of the PBS American Experience documentaries titled “Death and the Civil War,” directed by Ric Burns. Faust’s honors include awards in 1982 and 1996 for distinguished teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994, the Society of American Historians in 1993, and the American Philosophical Society in 2004. In September 2018, she was awarded the John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity by the Library of Congress. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr in 1968, magna cum laude with honors in history, and master’s (1971) and doctoral (1975) degrees in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.
Cheryl Finley is an associate professor of art history at Cornell University and a curator, contemporary art critic, and frequent essayist. She is the author of Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon (Princeton University Press, 2018) and My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South (Yale University Press, 2018). A specialist in the art market and African diaspora art history, Finley’s current research examines the global art economy, focusing on the relationship among artists, museums, biennials, and migration in the book project, “Black Market: Inside the Art World.”
Nicole R. Fleetwood
Nicole R. Fleetwood is a writer, curator, and professor of American studies at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Her books are Marking Time: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration (forthcoming), On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (2015), and Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (2011). She is coeditor of Aperture magazine’s “Prison Nation,” focusing on photography’s role in documenting mass incarceration. Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the ACLS, the Mellon Foundation, the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Schomburg Center for Scholars-in-Residence, and the Whiting Foundation.
LaToya Ruby Frazier
A recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2015, LaToya Ruby Frazier (b. 1982, Braddock, PA) has an artistic practice that spans a range of media: it incorporates photography, video, and performance and centers on the nexus of social justice, cultural change, and commentary on the American experience. Citing Gordon Parks as an influence, Frazier uses the camera as a weapon and turns injustice and displacement into a meditation on life, work, and history through the powerful act of artistic creation.
Alan M. Garber
Alan M. Garber the provost of Harvard University, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, a professor of economics in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a professor of public policy in the Harvard Kennedy School, and a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. An economist and physician, he studies methods for improving health care productivity and health care financing. As provost, Garber serves as Harvard’s chief academic officer, overseeing academic activities throughout the University with a direct responsibility for interschool initiatives, faculty development, research policy, international affairs, and advances in learning. The Harvard Art Museums, the Harvard Library, HarvardX, the American Repertory Theater, and the Arnold Arboretum are among the organizations reporting to him. Before becoming provost in 2011, Garber was the Henry J. Kaiser Jr. Professor and a professor of medicine, as well as a professor of economics, health research and policy, and economics in the Graduate School of Business (by courtesy) at Stanford University. At Stanford, he founded and directed the Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research and served as a staff physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. Garber is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American College of Physicians, and the Royal College of Physicians. A summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, Garber received a PhD in economics from Harvard and an MD with research honors from Stanford.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. An Emmy Award–winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, he has authored or coauthored 24 books and created 20 documentary films, including African American Lives, Africa’s Great Civilizations, Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise, Black in Latin America, Faces of America, Wonders of the African World, and Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series now in its fifth season on PBS. The six-part PBS documentary series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013)—which he wrote, executive produced, and hosted—earned the Emmy Award for outstanding long-form historical program along with an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, an NAACP Image Award, and a Peabody Award. Gates’s latest projects are the history series Reconstruction: America after the Civil War (PBS, 2019) and the related books Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow (Scholastic, 2019), with Tonya Bolden, and Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow (Penguin Random House, 2019).
Theaster Gates is an artist who lives and works in Chicago. His work focuses on space theory and land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, Gates redeems spaces that have been left behind.
Known for his recirculation of art-world capital, Gates creates work that focuses on the possibility of the “life within things.” Gates smartly upturns art values, land values, and human values. In all aspects of his work, he contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise—one defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist.
Gates has exhibited and performed at Palais de Tokyo, in Paris, France; the Sprengel Museum, in Hannover, Germany (2018); Kunstmuseum Basel, in Switzerland (2018); the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC (2017); the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Canada (2016); Fondazione Prada, in Milan, Italy (2016); the Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2013); Punta della Dogana, in Venice, Italy (2013); and dOCUMENTA (13), in Kassel, Germany (2012). He was the winner of the Artes Mundi 6 prize and was a recipient of the Légion d’Honneur in 2017. He was awarded the Nasher Prize for Sculpture 2018, as well as the Urban Land Institute’s J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.
Gates is a professor at the University of Chicago in the Department of Visual Arts and the College. He also serves as the senior advisor for cultural innovation and advisor to the dean. Gates is director of artist initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College Museum of Art and the 2018–2019 artist-in-residence at the Getty Research Institute.
Claudine Gay leads the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) with a longstanding dedication to academic service and the value of scholarship and a deep devotion to mentorship for both students and faculty. She assumed the role of Edgerley Family Dean of FAS in August 2018, having served previously as dean of social science from 2015 to 2018. A professor of government and of African and African American studies at Harvard University since 2006, Gay has studied political behavior, considering such issues as how the election of minority officeholders affects citizens’ perceptions of their government and their interest in politics and public affairs; how neighborhood environments shape racial and political attitudes among black Americans; the roots of competition and cooperation between minority groups, with a particular focus on relations between black Americans and Latinos; and the consequences of housing mobility programs for political participation among the poor. She is founding chair of the Inequality in America Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort launched in 2017. The inaugural cohort of postdoctoral fellows joined Harvard in fall 2018. She served as a member of both the FAS Academic Planning Group and its Committee on Appointments and Promotions. A Radcliffe fellow in 2013–2014, she is the former director of graduate studies in the Department of Government and a past member of the Committee on General Education. Gay was an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University from 2000 to 2005, and an associate professor (tenured) from 2005 to 2006. She earned a BS in economics from Stanford University, where she received the Anna Laura Myers Prize for best senior thesis in the department. She earned her PhD at Harvard in 1998, receiving the Toppan Prize for best dissertation in political science.
In 2017, Amanda Gorman made history by being named the first-ever US National Youth Poet Laureate. Her poetry has won her invitations to the Obama White House and commissions to perform for Secretary Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Malala Yousafzai, and more. She's spoken across the country, from the Library of Congress to the UN Social Good Summit to TED-Ed. A junior at Harvard in the top of her class, she currently writes for the New York Times in The Edit newsletter. A native Angeleno, Gorman is running for president in 2036.
Agnes Gund is president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and the chair of MoMA PS1. She founded Studio in a School in 1977 to provide arts education in New York City public schools. A philanthropist and collector of modern/contemporary art, she is the cofounder/chair of the Center for Curatorial Leadership and a board member of the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Morgan Library & Museum. In June 2017, she launched the Art for Justice Fund in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to support criminal justice reform in the United States.
Catherine Gund, the founder-director of Aubin Pictures, is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, producer, writer, and activist. She recently incubated Just Media, the criminal justice reform film and culture database. Gund’s production work focuses on strategic and sustainable social transformation, arts and culture, HIV/AIDS, and reproductive health. Her films have screened around the world in festivals, theaters, museums, universities, and on television. Gund currently serves on the boards of Art For Justice, Art Matters, Baldwin for the Arts, and the George Gund Foundation. An alumna of Brown University and the Whitney Independent Study Program, she lives in New York City with her four children.
Mona Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician, professor, and public health advocate who spearheaded efforts to reveal, publicize, and fix the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In 2014, a change in the city’s water source resulted in astronomical amounts of lead leaching into the drinking water, causing irreversible damage to Flint’s residents. As a local pediatrician, Hanna-Attisha was terrified by the poisonous levels of lead in the water, and she was shocked that the government ignored complaints, protests, and reports from citizens, journalists, and experts. She knew that the only way to stop the lead poisoning would be to present undeniable proof on a national platform. She revealed her team’s findings before they were peer-reviewed, prioritizing the health of her community over the risk to her career. Hanna-Attisha faced a brutal backlash, but her persistence paid off: the city switched the water back to its original source and President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency. She has since been called to testify twice before the United States Congress, received the Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN America, and was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Elizabeth Hinton is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Hinton’s research focuses on the persistence of racial inequality in the 20th century United States. She is the author of the award-winning book From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, and her op-eds can be found in the pages of the Boston Review, the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, the New York Times, and Time.
Sadie Rain Hope-Gund
Sadie Rain Hope-Gund is an aspiring artist, writer, archivist, and librarian. Her creative and academic pursuits center around photography, African diasporic history, and familial and government archives. She is honored to be here as both Catherine’s daughter and Agnes’s granddaughter and looks forward to continuing their amazing legacy of art and philanthropy.
The composer and pianist Vijay Iyer is the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music and Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, where he serves as a graduate advisor for the PhD program in creative practice and critical inquiry. He has received the Alpert Award in the Arts, the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a US Artists Fellowship and was voted DownBeat Jazz Artist of the Year four times. His most recent album is The Transitory Poems (2019).
Robin Kelsey is dean of the arts and humanities in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. A specialist in the histories of photography and American art, Kelsey has published on such topics as the role of chance in photography, geographical survey photography, landscape theory, ecology and historical interpretation, picture theory, and the nexus of art and law. He has received numerous awards for his scholarship and teaching, including the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize from the College Art Association, and currently serves as cochair of the Harvard University Committee on the Arts. He holds a PhD from Harvard and a JD from Yale Law School and has practiced law in California.
Peter W. Kunhardt Jr.
Peter W. Kunhardt Jr. has been executive director of the Gordon Parks Foundation since 2009. He is series editor of Steidl/Gordon Parks publications. Under his leadership, the foundation has established such major educational initiatives as a scholarship and fellowship program for students and artists. Recent exhibitions and catalogues in which he has been involved include Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950 (National Gallery of Art) and Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem (Art Institute of Chicago). Kunhardt coedited the multivolume Gordon Parks: Collected Works.
Franklin Leonard is the founder and CEO of the Black List, the company that celebrates and supports great screenwriting and the writers who do it via film production, its annual survey of best unproduced screenplays, an online marketplace, live staged script readings, screenwriter labs, and film culture publications. He’s been one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” and received the 2019 Writers Guild of America, East, Evelyn F. Burkey Award for elevating the honor and dignity of writers. He is a member of the Associates Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His TED talk was viewed more than a million times in its first two months of release.
Sarah Lewis is an assistant professor at Harvard University in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Department of African and African American Studies. Lewis is the guest editor of the “Vision & Justice” issue of Aperture (2016), which received the 2017 Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research from the International Center of Photography. The widely reviewed issue was also made required reading for all incoming freshman at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for the 2016–2017 academic year. Her articles on race, contemporary art, and culture have been published in many academic journals as well as in Art in America, Artforum, the New York Times, and the New Yorker. Lewis is also the author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (2014), which has been reviewed widely and translated into seven languages. Her current book, How Race Changed Sight in America, is under contract with Harvard University Press. Her scholarship has been supported by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Ford Foundation, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition, the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, the Milton Fund, the Lambent Foundation, and the Whiting Foundation. Lewis received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard, an MPhil from the University of Oxford, and her PhD in the history of art from Yale University. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, she held curatorial positions at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, and Tate Modern, in London. She lives in New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Wynton Marsalis, a New Orleans native, is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator, and leading advocate of American culture. He has recorded more than 80 jazz and classical recordings, which have won him nine Grammy awards and sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Marsalis made history in 1997, when he became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for his oratorio Blood on the Fields. His lifetime commitment to inspiring and uplifting people though artistic excellence in jazz has had an unparalleled impact both in the United States and around the world. Marsalis serves as the managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and the director of jazz studies at the Juilliard School in New York City.
Mohsen Mostafavi is the dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. An architect and educator, his work focuses on modes and processes of urbanization and on the interface between technology and aesthetics. Mostafavi is the author and editor of many books, including the coedited Ecological Urbanism (2010), which has been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish; In the Life of Cities (2012); Architecture Is Life (2013); Nicholas Hawksmoor: The London Churches (2015); Portman’s America & Other Speculations (2017); and Ethics of the Urban: The City and the Spaces of the Political (2017).
Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Khalil Gibran Muhammad is a professor of history, race, and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. He is the former director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global black history. He is the award-winning author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard) and a contributor to a 2014 National Research Council study, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences.
Muhammad is a frequent reviewer and commentator in such national print and broadcast media outlets as MSNBC, the Nation, National Public Radio, and the New York Times. He has appeared in a number of feature-length documentaries, including Slavery by Another Name (2012) and the Oscar-nominated 13th (2016). He holds two honorary doctorates and is on the boards of the Barnes Foundation, the Museum of Modern Art, the Nation, the New-York Historical Society, and the Vera Institute of Justice, as well as the advisory boards of Cure Violence, the HistoryMakers, and the Lapidus Center for the Study of Transatlantic Slavery.
Diane Paulus is the Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University. Her Broadway credits include Waitress (also London’s West End Theatre), Finding Neverland, and the Tony Award–winning revivals of Pippin (Best Director), The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and HAIR. Among her A.R.T. credits are Jagged Little Pill, ExtraOrdinary, In the Body of the World (also at Manhattan Theatre Club), Claudia Rankine’s The White Card, Crossing (also at Brooklyn Academy of Music), Finding Neverland, Witness Uganda, Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Prometheus Bound, Death and the Powers: The Robots’ Opera, Best of Both Worlds, Johnny Baseball, and The Donkey Show. Other credits include Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna, currently on tour. Paulus is a professor of the practice of theater in Harvard University’s Department of English and Department of Theater, Dance, and Media. She was selected for the 2014 Time 100, Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Leigh Raiford is an associate professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches and researches race, gender, justice, and visuality. Raiford is the author of Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle and the coeditor of, with Heike Raphael-Hernandez, Migrating the Black Body: Visual Culture and the African Diaspora and of, with Renee Romano, The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory.
Tommie Shelby is the Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and a professor of philosophy at Harvard University. He is also chair of Harvard’s Department of African and African American Studies. He is the author of Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform (Harvard University Press, 2016), which won the 2016 Book Award from the North American Society for Social Philosophy, and of We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity (Harvard University Press, 2005). He and Derrick Darby coedited Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason (Open Court, 2005), and most recently, he and Brandon Terry coedited To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Harvard University Press, 2018). Shelby’s writings focus on questions of racial, economic, and criminal justice and on the history of black political thought, and his numerous articles have appeared in such journals as Critical Inquiry, Critical Philosophy of Race, Daedalus, Du Bois Review, Ethics, Philosophy & Public Affairs, and Political Theory. Shelby is an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and former editor of Transition magazine.
Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Stevenson recently won a historic ruling in the US Supreme Court banning mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has been awarded 34 honorary doctorate degrees. He is the author of the award-winning New York Times best seller, Just Mercy.
In April 2018, EJI opened a new museum, the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, built on the site of a former slave warehouse in downtown Montgomery. This is a companion to a national memorial to victims of lynching, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened at the same time.
Latanya Sweeney is a professor at Harvard University and leads Harvard’s Program in Technology Science, which prepares technologists to work in the public interest. She pioneered the data privacy field and is cited in privacy regulations worldwide, and her work on discrimination in online ads ignited the algorithmic fairness field. She has hundreds of academic publications, three patents, and three company spin-offs. She was the chief technology officer at the Federal Trade Commission. Sweeney earned her PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001, the first black woman to do so.
Martha Tedeschi is the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums, a post she assumed in July 2016. Prior to her arrival at Harvard, she served as deputy director for art and research at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she also enjoyed a long tenure as curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings.
A specialist in 19th-century British and American art, Tedeschi has organized exhibitions and written in particular depth about the art of Winslow Homer, John Marin, and James McNeill Whistler and has frequently collaborated with conservators and conservation scientists. She received her BA from Brown University, her MA from the University of Michigan, and her PhD from Northwestern University. Tedeschi was a 2012 fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership and served on the board of the Association of Art Museum Curators (2015–2016). She is also a past president of the Print Council of America (2009–2013). Tedeschi has a keen and abiding interest in the training and preparation of curators, conservators, and arts leaders and is a strong advocate for object-based learning for all audiences and for building a more inclusive pathway into museum professions.
Hank Willis Thomas
Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work is included in numerous public collections including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. Thomas is a recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2018), Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), and the Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and he is a member of the New York City Public Design Commission.
Naomi Wadler is a 12-year-old activist who gained national recognition for her speech remembering the importance of black and brown women who are victims of gun violence at the National March for Our Lives in Washington, DC, in March 2018.
Wadler’s mission is to elevate the stories of girls of color so that they have a platform to spread the stories of their value. Her belief is that exposing the intersection of race and gun violence leads to a greater conversation about fixing the needs of communities of color to bring true economic and social equality to these underserved communities.
Wadler is currently a 6th grader at Maret School in Washington, DC. She serves on the youth advisory board of the Trauma Informed School Network of the Georgetown Poverty Center and is a board member of Kidbox. When Wadler isn’t giving a speech or leading a charge, she can be found listening to Janelle Monae, playing tennis, or strumming her ukulele.
Darren Walker is the president of the Ford Foundation, an international social justice philanthropy with a $13 billion endowment and $600 million in annual grant making. He chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the City of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and is cofounder and chair of the US Impact Investing Alliance.
Before joining Ford, Walker was the vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation, overseeing global and domestic programs including the Rebuild New Orleans initiative after Hurricane Katrina. In the 1990s, as COO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation—Harlem’s largest community development organization—he oversaw a comprehensive revitalization strategy, including building over 1,000 units of affordable housing and the first major commercial development in Harlem since the 1960s. Earlier, he had a decade-long career in international law and finance at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and UBS.
Walker cochairs New York City’s Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers and serves on the Commission on the Future of Riker’s Island Correctional Institution and the UN International Labor Organization Commission on the Future of Work. He also serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the High Line. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations and the recipient of 13 honorary degrees and university awards, including the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University.
Educated exclusively in public schools, Walker was a member of the first class of Head Start in 1965 and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, which in 2009 recognized him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award—its highest alumni honor. He has been included on numerous annual media lists, including Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative People, Out magazine’s Power 50, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, and Time’s annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Carrie Mae Weems
Through photography, performance, and video, Carrie Mae Weems has created a complex body of art that investigates family relationships, gender roles, racism, classism, and politics. Although she addresses a wide variety of issues, her overarching commitment in all of the work is to help us better understand our present moment by examining our collective past. Weems, a MacArthur grant recipient, is represented in public and private collections around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at major national and international museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum.
Deborah Willis, PhD, is chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at NYU Tisch School of the Arts; has an affiliated appointment at the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural Analysis, Africana Studies where she teaches courses on photography and imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender; and is the director of the NYU Institute of African American Affairs and Center for Black Visual Culture. She is a MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow; the author and curator of numerous books and exhibitions, including Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present and its accompanying exhibition; and co-organizer of the “Black Portraiture[s]” conferences.
Damian Woetzel is the president of the Juilliard School. Since retiring from a 20-year career as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, he has taken on multiple leadership roles, including as artistic director of the Vail Dance Festival and director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program. Woetzel holds an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School and has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School. He received the Harvard Arts Medal in 2015 and served on President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities between 2009 and 2016.