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Team Members

Humanities Action Lab
The New School

The Humanities Action Lab (HAL) is a collaboration of 20 universities, led by The New School, working with issue based organizations and public spaces to:

  • Foster new public dialogue on contested, deadlocked social issues, through public humanities projects that explore the diverse local histories and current realities of shared global concerns.
  • Open space for experimentation and innovation in how design and the humanities can help confront urgent social problems.
  • Combine and connect the diverse local perspectives of communities around the world, to create widely applicable and flexible models.
  • Create new public humanities prototypes that take on difficult issues and experiment with untested formats.

Director
Director

Liz Ševčenko was inspired to develop HAL after launching the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, an international collaboration of universities and organizations, which she coordinated from Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, to build a global conversation about the past, present, and future of the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Ševčenko was Founding Director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a network of historic sites that foster public dialogue on pressing contemporary issues. Starting in 1999 as a meeting of nine sites under the auspices of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, she grew the Coalition into an independent organization with over 250 members in more than 40 countries. As Coalition Director, Ševčenko worked with diverse communities to design replicable programs and practices that reflect on past struggles and inspire citizens to become involved in addressing their contemporary legacies. Prior to starting the Coalition, Ševčenko served as Vice President for Programs at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, developing exhibits and educational activities that connect the stories of the neighborhood’s immigrants past and present. She also created national and community initiatives to inspire civic dialogue on cultural identity, labor relations, housing, welfare, immigration, and other issues raised by these stories. She has published extensively on Sites of Conscience in journals and edited volumes in a variety of fields, from human rights to cultural heritage to transitional justice. She received her BA in history from Yale University and her MA in history from New York University.

Assistant Director
Assistant Director

Julia Thomas was Project Manager of the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, where she coordinated research, collections, events, communications, and other areas. She previously worked with human rights organizations including the Global Justice Center and the Brooklyn Family Defense Project. Thomas received her MA from New York University’s Draper Interdisciplinary Program in Humanities and Social Thought, focusing on post-colonial global history, collective violence, and public memory. She received her BA in International Studies and French from Emory University.

Associate Director
Evaluation Research Assistant
Evaluation Research Assistant

Currently pursuing her graduate degree in Urban Policy Analysis and Management at the New School for Public Engagement, Marija Drobnjak specializes in social policy related to education and public health in urban communities. Her commitment to social justice and racial equality takes shape through the neighborhood based projects with a focus on food insecurity, nutrition education and community engagement. She previously conducted evaluation research and data analysis for National Urban League, New York City Coalition Against Hunger and Public Health Solutions.

Project Assistant
Project Assistant

Sara Hassani joined the Humanities Action Lab team in May of 2015 as the Project Assistant. A University in Exile Fellow, Sara is currently completing her PhD in Politics at The New School for Social Research. Her research investigates the intersections of political self-sacrifice, feminist political theory, resistance politics and detention particularly in the context of middle eastern refugee camps (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey). She received her MA and BA from the University of Ottawa and has a research background in discourse analysis, political violence, and gender equality. Sara is passionate about advocacy and is a grassroots activist working on a number of social movements world-wide.

Communications Assistant
Communications Assistant

Julia Bowling is pursuing an M.S. in Urban Policy Analysis and Management at The New School. Her primary focus is criminal justice policy analysis and reform. Julia provides research and communications assistance for the Humanities Action Lab. Prior to The New School, Julia worked as a Research Associate in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, where she examined the costs of mass incarceration and the impact of incarceration on crime, and assisted with policy research, analysis, and proposals. Julia earned her B.A. in Economics and Environmental Studies at Oberlin College. She plans to use her policy education to improve the criminal justice system through evaluation and strategic reform.

Community Collaboration Manager
Community Collaboration Manager

Katie holds an MA from the School of Media Studies at the New School and a BA in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Katie supports project management and design, along with development and use of the collaboration platform for the Humanities Action Lab. Her background is in social advocacy in the areas of education, disability and criminal justice, and new media production including nonfiction narratives and games. She’s a trained qualitative researcher and a visual ethnographer. Her areas of interest within the field of design are research, strategy and service design. Katie is pursuing her MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons, where her thesis work investigates how transportation systems might become less adversarial and more cooperative.

Director of Engagement Strategies
Director of Engagement Strategies

Piper Anderson, is the founder and chief creative strategist at Create Forward. She founded Create Forward as the most purposeful next step in her life long journey to understand the mechanics of social transformation. A journey that has taken her into Zapatista communities in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico, the mural colored cathedral streets of Bushwick, to the hilly byways of Rwanda, across the south after Katrina to 'find our folk', and to prisons and youth jails in over 26 U.S cities. It's work that keeps her entering Rikers Island, Sing Sing, Grateford, Wallkill, and so many other imprisoned spaces where many fail to see beauty and humanity. After all the places she has been called to do her work and those traveled places still to come, she believes more deeply than ever that we create change when we ask the right questions, change the optics: adding light and new perspective. We create change when we imagine the impossible and use the principals of strong human centered design to make it real.

Communications & Programming Intern
Communications & Programming Intern

Louisa Strothman joined the Humanities Action Lab team in December as an intern. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in theater from Eugene Lang College. Her studies are specifically focused in the juxtaposition of theater and incarceration abolition. An important part of this effort is education of citizens in the U.S. who are not directly affected about the prison industrial complex which is what led her to get involved with States of Incarceration. Along with Louisa’s work at HAL and as a student, she is also an actor, spoken word performer, and aspiring playwright. She taught and worked in theater for many years in Vermont at New England Youth Theater most recently in the Theater Adventure Program for students with disabilities. She also made a film on Vermont’s Act 148 to reduce landfill and waste and worked on the film set of the TV pilot for The Parker Tribe as the props manager. She is looking forward to co-organizing a conference in September 2016 at The New School in art and activism related to the campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York.

Picture Projects
Creative Direction, Website & Mobile Platform Design and Production

Picture Projects is a Brooklyn based studio that tackles major contemporary and historical social concerns at the intersection of the arts, humanities, history, documentary and journalism. Both independently and in collaboration with non-profits, educational institutions, filmmakers, radio producers, artists and corporations ‘doing-good’, Picture Projects develops engagement strategies and campaigns to investigate and transform pressing social issues of our day. Websites, mobile phones, and interactive installations have become keynote narrative and dialoguing platforms with the potential to engage and enable visitors with opportunities to respond to what they know. Picture Projects specializes in bringing to life all the facets of an issue online and in exhibition and public spaces.
http://picture-projects.com/

Producer, Creative Director
Producer, Creative Director

Alison Cornyn is an interdisciplinary artist whose work often focuses on the criminal justice system. Merging photography, media, and technology, she creates engaging environments, both online and as physical installations. She is a founding partner and the Creative Director of Picture Projects, a Brooklyn-based studio that produces in-depth new media projects about some of the most pressing social issues of our day, which it does through the investigation of complex stories from multiple perspectives. She has worked extensively on large scale collaborative projects and is Creative Director of the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, the Prison Public Memory Project (co-founder), and Incorrigibles—a study of the young women incarcerated in New York over the last 100 years.

Her work has received numerous awards including a Peabody Award, the Gracie Allen Award for Women in Media, the Online News Association’s Award for Best Use of Multimedia, the Pew Batten Award for Innovation, the National Press Club Award, and the Webby Award for net.art. Cornyn teaches at SVA’s Design for Social Innovation MA program and has previously taught at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Her works have been shown at public art and new media festivals including the Sundance Film Festival, Hot Docs, IDFA in Amsterdam, and the Montreal Film Festival.

Art Direction, Design
Art Direction, Design

Nupur is a transmedia artist and designer. She has ten years of experience working in graphic design, exhibition design, photography, filmmaking, branding and documentary work. Prior to living in the United States she founded and ran a visual communication studio in New Delhi, India with three other partners. Mathur is an alumnus of the Rhode Island School of Design where she focused on the study of images and representation, specifically the event of photography and how images affect how we share the world with one another. In her practice she uses technology and media to tell stories about the urgent social issues of our times. Mathur is a member of the artist collective Radha May.

Programmer
Programmer

Joe Kirchhof is a freelance web developer as well as a technology advisor to graduate students at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He previously worked at Columbia University. Joe’s work with Picture Projects has included development for the Guantánamo Public Memory Project and Picture Projects’ own site. Joe holds a Masters in American Studies from Columbia University and Bachelors in Cultural Studies and Political Science from the University of Minnesota.

Designer
Designer

Anne Mieth’s fascination with design was cultivated more than 15 years ago when she started working in a Typography Studio in Dresden, Germany. There she was first introduced to letterpress and the secrets of printing. Passing through New York City, she became the Art Director for a New York Moves Magazine, and Williamsburg Greenpoint News + Arts, where she cut her teeth as graphic designer.

Her attention to detail, ability to develop simple and elegant designs from complex raw materials, combined with the ability to solve complex design problems opened her next opportunity to work as an Art Director with Tronvig Group. Collaborating actively as part of a multi-disciplinary team, Anne helped Tronvig Group establish and develop a range of offline and online brands. Her hand is visible in such projects as the National Museum of Women in the Arts and New-York Historical Society.

Constantly eager to expand her horizons, Anne moved to South America for two years and worked as Creative Director for EMG, the most established entertainment & media corporation in Paraguay. She has since chosen to settle down in Berlin, where she works full time as Senior Art Director for several agencies in the USA and Germany.

Media Developer
Media Developer

Peiqi Su is a researcher, an interaction designer and a maker. She believes that good interaction design depends in the harmony between people, product and environment, and her mission is to find the perfect balance between these 3 primary elements. She is the Senior Design Advisor at HiFu Services, Inc, the first tech company in the US that empowers cross-border mobile commerce for both consumers and merchants, and a co-founder of Think Create, an interactive design studio based in NYC. She received her Master’s degree at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) in New York University, where she was also a research resident after graduation. She also has worked at Microsoft, UC Berkeley, Innovation Works, White Night Tech and Nevel Soft Tech. Her art work, The Penis Wall, has been featured in multiple international publications.

Production Assistant
Production Assistant

Laura Saladin holds a B.A. in Art History from The Florida State University. Her senior thesis investigated the archetype of the New Woman in United States visual culture at the turn-of-the-century, particularly in relation to new visual technologies. While earning her B.A., she was an associate of FSU’s Museum of Fine Arts. Under the guidance of the Curator of Education, she developed educational essays/packets for various exhibitions, created and lead community outreach activities, and assisted with many of the museums educational initiatives.

Dedicated to pursuing a career in the arts and socially driven non-profits, she plans to attain a masters degree in either Art Education or Liberal Studies with a focus in non-profit institutions and organizations. She is production assistant at Picture Projects.

Public History Consultant
Public History Consultant

Kathleen Hulser is an independent historian who manages cultural projects and teaches at Pace University in New York City. She is currently working on a film/exhibition project about an early 20th century caricaturist, "Rediscovering Kate Carew," and co-curating and exhibition about World War I Volunteers.