Visiting Fellows Program

The Center for Racial Justice welcomes our inaugural cohort of 2022-2023 Visiting Fellows. Our non-residential Visiting Fellows Program offers social justice leaders, activists, artists, advocates, and scholars a prestigious and highly competitive opportunity to advance their transformative work. Each Visiting Fellow will meaningfully engage with University of Michigan faculty and students as they complete a catalyst project that has the potential to inform public debate, policy development, and scholarly analysis pertinent to (anti)racism and racial justice. Along with other topics, we are especially interested in supporting catalyst projects that focus on Black women’s experiences and outcomes in the areas of healthcare, education, housing, work/wages, financial health, access to capital, and digital connectivity. This program is proudly supported in part by the Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women Initiative.

Meet our Fellows

CRJ Fellows

Atinuke (Tinu) O. Adediran is an associate professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law who researches and writes about inequality in nonprofits, corporations, and law firms. Her work centers on how the law influences these institutions, how they influence the law, and how to use the law to affect change toward racial, gender, and other forms of equity within and outside of these institutions. Her catalyst project is her monograph, Affirmative Action Inc.: Race Consciousness in America’s Largest Companies, which identifies and examines a type of affirmative action spurred by 2020’s racial reckoning that differs from federal affirmative action and is inherent to companies. Affirmative Action Inc. holds as its premise that corporate affirmative action puts the financial goals of a company at the center of these disclosures and choices while also being a form of racial oppression that burdens communities of color. Using Chevron and Amazon as case studies, the book argues that corporate affirmative action benefits companies much more than communities of color and can even harm racial equity goals by deprioritizing corporate action that adversely affects communities of color or disregarding claims of racial discrimination that arise from corporate behavior. 

Makeda Easter is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, KCET, Dance Magazine, Austin Chronicle, Chemical & Engineering News, and more. The Center for Racial Justice will support Easter’s catalyst project, the art rebellion, an independent digital publication focused on artists-activists in underreported regions and communities. Inspired by disparities in current art coverage, she envisions the platform will “emphasize the importance of artists in creating social change and empower artists through service journalism to make a living and impact through their work.” Easter also hopes the project will “transform arts reporting, [by] decentralizing New York and L.A. and the wealthiest art institutions, and instead spotlight radical and resistance art in small and mid-sized cities.” Her fellowship is co-sponsored by the Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows Program.

Julian Brave NoiseCat is an Indigenous (Secwepemc/St’it’limix) writer, filmmaker, and activist who works at the intersection of climate journalism and advocacy for indigenous rights. NoiseCat's work has been recognized with numerous awards including the 2022 American Mosaic Journalism Prize, which honors "excellence in long-form, narrative or deep reporting on stories about underrepresented and/or misrepresented groups in the present American landscape." In 2021, he was named to the TIME100 Next list of emerging leaders for his work at the center of the climate crisis. As a Visiting Fellow, NoiseCat will complete his first book, We Survived the Night, as well as work on his documentary film that he is co-directing with Emily Kassie. With this support, he hopes that the projects will, “shift the conversation and help policymakers and the public better understand the history, struggle and ongoing vitality of Indigenous peoples in both the United States and Canada.”

 

Meet the Center for Racial Justice Changemakers

 

L-R, Brass, Brar, Wyatt

L-R: Bass, Brar, Wyatt

The Center for Racial Justice welcomes the inaugural cohort of Center for Racial Justice Changemakers—Holly Bass, performance artist; Niketa Brar, founder of Chicago United for Equity; and Gabrielle Wyatt, founder of The Highland Project—to the Ford School and the University of Michigan. 

Holly Bass is a multidisciplinary performance and visual artist, writer and director. Her work has been presented at spaces such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Museums, the Seattle Art Museum, Art Basel Miami Beach (Project Miami Fair) and the South African State Theatre. Her visual art work includes photography, installation, video and performance and can be found in the collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the DC Art Bank, as well as private collections. A Cave Canem fellow, she has published poems in numerous journals and anthologies. She studied modern dance (under Viola Farber) and creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College before earning her Master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. As an arts journalist early in her career, she was the first to put the term “hip hop theater” into print in American Theatre magazine. She has received numerous grants from the DC Arts Commission and was a 2019 Red Bull Detroit artist-in-residence and a 2019 Dance/USA Artist Fellow. She is a 2020-2022 Live Feed resident artist at New York Live Arts and a 2021-22 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow. A gifted and dedicated teaching artist, she directed a year-round creative writing and performance program for adjudicated youth in DC’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services for four years as well as facilitating workshops nationally and internationally. She is currently the national director for Turnaround Arts at the Kennedy Center, a program which uses the arts strategically to transform schools facing severe inequities.

Niketa Brar is a policy strategist, activist, and organizer working to grow the community-led policymaking movement in Chicago. In her role as co-founder and executive director of Chicago United for Equity, she works to transform civic systems to be designed by the communities they serve. She organized Chicago's first public Racial Equity Impact Assessment, a community process that set national precedent for stopping a school closure on the grounds of racial discrimination, designed the Vote Equity Project, an award-winning citywide voter guide built by thousands of residents, and co-created the People's Budget Chicago, a popular education model and community budgeting process. Niketa's approach comes from her experience working in communities harmed by top-down and ineffective public policy, which she observed working in the criminal punishment and public education systems, as well as advising government leaders in school districts, city government, and state agencies. She is a proud alum of the Ford School of Public Policy, where she earned her Masters in Public Policy and also holds a Bachelors of Arts in Public Policy and International Affairs from George Washington University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching Secondary Mathematics from American University. 

Gabrielle Wyatt founded The Highland Project in October 2020, an organization focused on building and sustaining a pipeline of Black women leading communities, institutions, and systems, resulting in the creation of multi-generational wealth and change in their communities. Prior to founding The Highland Project, Gabrielle led major change initiatives in our nation’s largest and most complex school systems and shaped the investment strategy of leading national philanthropic initiatives. Most recently, she was a Partner at The City Fund, founded by leading national philanthropists to support local education leaders to build local movements for systemic change in education. Gabrielle supported local education leaders across the nation to expand opportunities for students in public schools through strategic advising, board service, and philanthropic investments. During her tenure, Wyatt launched the City Leadership Fellowship, an executive leadership development program focused on empowering Black and Latinx leaders pursuing bold education visions. Before joining The City Fund, Gabrielle was the Chief Strategy Officer at Civic Builders. A non-profit focused on solving the facilities challenge for high quality charter schools. Gabrielle led partnerships with the Walton Family Foundation and Laura and John Arnold Foundation to launch three national facilities funds to support growing high performing public schools. Gabrielle is the former Executive Director of Strategy for Newark Public Schools, New Jersey's largest school district. She led the district's efforts to increase access to high-quality public schools, enrollment, and financial strategy. As a result of the district's focus on increasing students' opportunities in public schools, a recent study by CREDO at Stanford found Newark students are posting learning gains that outpace the state’s best-in-the-nation public school system. Previously, Gabrielle was the Associate Director of Portfolio Planning at the NYCDOE. As a Baltimore native, Gabrielle began her career as a Baltimore County Public Schools Board of Education member. Gabrielle is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the Harvard Kennedy School. Gabrielle Wyatt is the proud daughter of two Baltimore educators, Mary Alice Thomas and Quentin Wyatt.

Have any questions?

Adams-Santos, Headshot

Dominique Adams-Santos

Associate Director, Center for Racial Justice; Associate Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer; Special Assistant to the Associate Dean, Ford School; Anti-Racism Collaborative Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Institutional Diversity

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