Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows

Now in its tenth year, the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program places recent humanities PhDs in staff positions at partnering agencies in government and the non-profit sector for two-year appointments. These appointments provide career development opportunities in administration, management, and public service and vary from year to year depending on participating agencies. The Public Fellows program demonstrates that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy. The generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation makes this program possible.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Position descriptions:

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows’names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Michael James Alijewicz
Michael James Alijewicz
PhD, English Literature, Vanderbilt University
Appointed as Student Success Officer, International Student Exchange Programs
see position description (abstract)
The International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) is a membership organization of 300 colleges and universities in the United States and 52 other countries. ISEP promotes academic and cross-cultural learning through its worldwide community of higher education institutions; facilitates academic mobility through innovative and affordable programs to achieve authentic global learning; and enhances institutional infrastructures for providing a wide range of study opportunities for students. The Student Success Officer will strengthen outreach to underrepresented students in the United States and to coordinate support to ensure their success. A key focus of the position will be to collaborate with our US member relations team and targeted US member institutions for special outreach activities to reach particular student demographics. The Student Success Officer will work with campus study abroad offices, faculty, and other entities, such as those focused on diversity, area studies, financial aid, career services, and others, to develop outreach activities and a plan for student support. The Student Success Officer will collaborate with institutions and ISEP staff to create support groups and provide online dialogue and information sharing for specific needs.
Patrick Ryan Potyondy
Patrick Ryan Potyondy
PhD, History, Ohio State University, Columbus
Appointed as Legislative Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1975, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is the nation’s bipartisan organization providing state legislators and legislative staff with support, ideas, connections, and a strong voice on Capitol Hill. All 7,383 legislators in the nation are NCSL constituents, as well as the estimated 25,000 legislative staff. NCSL promotes policy innovation in many subject areas, such as health, criminal justice, education, and elections, and communication among state legislators, and also provides institutional support. NCSL operates on a bipartisan basis and does not advocate for policy positions. The Legislative Policy Specialist will work in NCSL’s State Services Division, whose mission is to assist legislators and legislative staff with resources and support on a wide array of institutional issues such as staff management, fiscal management, legislator demographics, legislative operations, parliamentary procedure, legislative structures and management, and legislative history. With all projects, the goal for the Legislative Policy Specialist’s work will be to extend NCSL’s body of knowledge so it can be shared with, and used by, our constituents. At the core of the work for all NCSL staff is to be responsive to the needs of legislators, which can require discernment, research, synthesis, and a deft touch with the requestors.
James J. A. Blair
James J. A. Blair
PhD, Anthropology, City University of New York, Graduate Center
Appointed as International Campaign Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council
see position description (abstract)
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of more than 2 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of nearly 500 lawyers, scientists, and other professionals to fight for the planet and its people in the halls of Congress, communities across the country, and nations around the globe. Since NRDC was founded in 1970, our staff have helped write some of America's bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and many of the implementation regulations. The International Campaign Advocate will work with NRDC’s Canada and Latin America teams on their priority campaigns to protect special areas and wildlife in the Western hemisphere: The Canada team’s campaign to protect the boreal forest, and the Latin America team’s campaign to save the rivers and waters of Chilean Patagonia. This role will work directly with our Canada and Latin America teams, as well as with the variety of programs and departments our teams collaborate with closely (e.g. Lands and Wildlife, Climate Center, Voces Verdes, Communications, Campaigns, etc.).
Michelle M. Rivera
Michelle M. Rivera
PhD, Communications, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Appointed as Public Engagement Manager for Diversity and Inclusion, The Field Museum
see position description (abstract)
For nearly 125 years, The Field Museum has been dedicated to fostering a world rich in biological and cultural diversity through scientific discovery. It inspires curiosity about life on Earth while exploring how the world came to be and how humans can protect its future. Through interdisciplinary research, collections, exhibitions, and programs, The Field Museum advances knowledge, encourages learning, and leads environmental conservation. The Public Engagement Manager will join a Field Museum team dedicated to ensuring Museum communications and engagement efforts reflect the diversity of Chicago's people by establishing strategies for enriching the relationship between the Museum and local communities and partner organizations. The appointment at The Field will have two phases. The first phase will consist of research, assessment, and reporting. The manager will be charged with reviewing existing Field Museum community partnerships and engagement initiatives, researching best practices in diversity and inclusion, and creating an integrated and strategic report of results. During the second phase, the manager will work with multiple departments within the Museum toward implementing the recommendations based on institutional priorities. The manager will assess and advance ongoing work that includes internship programs for Chicago youth, exhibition co-curation and creative placemaking projects with local artists, asset-mapping and quality-of-life research with community partners, and ticketing and membership programs for low-income residents.
Aleia M. Brown
Aleia M. Brown
PhD, Public History, Middle Tennessee State University
Appointed as Program Manager, Humanities Action Lab
see position description (abstract)
The Humanities Action Lab (HAL) is a national center for testing and evaluating how to activate public humanities—especially participatory history, memory, and story-sharing—to address urgent social issues. HAL is a coalition of universities, issue organizations, and public spaces in 20 cities that collaborate to produce community-curated national public humanities projects. Students and community stakeholders in each community collaborate to research and develop shared national exhibits, web projects, public programs, and other innovative strategies for humanities-based public engagement. The Program Manager will work with HAL’s network of partners around the country to create humanities-based public dialogues on pressing social issues. During the period of the fellowship, the fellow will support programs around the current States of Incarceration project and contribute to the development of the theme and intellectual framework for HAL’s next project.
Amanda Marie Rossie
Amanda Marie Rossie
PhD, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, The Ohio State University
Appointed as Policy Analyst, National Women's Law Center
see position description (abstract)
For more than 40 years, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has worked to remove barriers based on gender, open opportunities for women and girls, and help women and their families lead economically secure, healthy, and fulfilled lives. NWLC uses a wide range of tools to maximize its impact—including public policy research and analysis, litigation, advocacy, coalition-building, and public education—to achieve gains for low-income women and their families in its primary areas of focus: education, employment, family economic security, and health and reproductive rights. The Policy Analyst will work with NWLC’s Workplace Justice and Income Security & Education teams on cross-cutting projects that examine the structure of work in the US and how it impacts the economic security of women and families. Specifically, the Policy Analyst will contribute to, and sometimes lead, timely research projects regarding the low-wage workforce, which could include issues such as: the contingent workforce, job scheduling, child care, income support programs, pay equity, pregnancy accommodations, the minimum wage, and other relevant issues, paying special attention to marginalized populations, including low-income women and women of color. The Policy Analyst will gain a deep understanding of the issues facing workers and their families in the economy today, the policy process, strategic advocacy, and the intersection of legal and policy analysis.
Alison Denise Brzenchek
Alison Denise Brzenchek
PhD, Communication, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Appointed as Campaign Organizer, Free Press
see position description (abstract)
Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization that fights for everyone’s rights to connect and communicate. Free Press was founded in 2003 on the premise that an accessible, diverse, and equitable media system is essential for an informed citizenry and a thriving democracy. We fight to save the free and open Internet, curb runaway media consolidation, end mass surveillance, protect press freedom, and ensure diverse voices are represented in our media. Our outreach and organizing activities prioritize working with people of color, women, and youth. The Campaign Organizer will execute both online and field organizing across campaigns, supporting our active campaigns. The organizer will lead on campaign planning, execution, and follow up as well as identifying, carrying out, and following up on a variety of member engagement activities across the organization. In collaboration with our communications, advocacy, and policy staff, this position will identify and support our most engaged activists, connect community members, plan and execute campaign events, and conduct campaign research. The organizer also will support our online organizing and engagement efforts by creating content for email outreach and blog posts and developing creative digital tactics.
Jacinta R. Saffold
Jacinta R. Saffold
PhD, African American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Appointed as Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, Association of American Colleges and Universities
see position description (abstract)
The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,350 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size. AAC&U’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success (DESS) accelerates broad-scale systemic innovation to advance educational practices that engage diversity and challenge inequities in order to make excellence inclusive for all college students. In July 2016, AAC&U joined with more than 120 diverse organizations and individuals as partners in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s (WKKF) Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) enterprise. The enterprise seeks to help communities embrace racial healing and uproot conscious and unconscious beliefs in a hierarchy of human value. Under the supervision of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, the associate director will be responsible for managing the programmatic and logistical efforts to develop AAC&U’s TRHT institutes that will provide the training and professional development necessary to launch the first 10 Centers for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation at designated colleges and universities. The Associate Director for DESS will manage communications with the centers, and will review and provide feedback on progress reports and evaluation plans that will be developed to measure progress.
Christa D. Cesario
Christa D. Cesario
PhD, Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Appointed as Community Organizer, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
see position description (abstract)
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) is one of the nation’s most innovative contemporary art centers. Founded in 1993 as the cultural anchor of the Yerba Buena Gardens development, we serve the diverse and ever-evolving community of the San Francisco Bay Area. YBCA believes that culture is an essential catalyst for change, and that it is the responsibility of arts organizations to spur and support societal movement. From our leading edge exhibitions, performances, and films, to our groundbreaking civic initiatives and community partnerships, YBCA is a new kind of art center that expands and extends its impact beyond its walls and that is in constant, conscious evolution, on the front lines of social change. The Community Organizing Manager will work closely with the Director of Visual Arts, in collaboration with YBCA’s Chief of Civic Engagement, to lead community organizing projects and engage the Bay Area’s diverse organizations and communities to involve them in co-creating artistic and community-based projects conceived by YBCA’s curators and guest artists. The manager will work to identify core community issues and community leaders to grow YBCA’s connections beyond our campus, and expand the creative ecosystem that informs the core of our institutional practice. A key element of this position will be to understand the communities that compose our region—both historically and in the present moment—to empower local residents to impact the work of artists and creative producers who work in their communities. The Community Organizing Manager will do this by convening groups at both public events and private gatherings, investigating shared histories, and inviting marginalized communities to engage with our programming in meaningful ways.
Katie Sue Sisneros
Katie Sue Sisneros
PhD, English Literature, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Appointed as Content Analyst, Minneapolis Institute of Art
see position description (abstract)
The Minneapolis Institute of Art enriches the community by collecting, preserving, and making accessible outstanding works of art from the world’s diverse cultures. Mia is the upper Midwest’s premier encyclopedic art museum, with more than 90,000 works of art in our permanent collection, reflective of 20,000 years of human creativity. Central to the museum’s values is a fundamental belief in accessibility, that opportunities to connect and engage with art should be available to all. The Content Analyst will support the development of new approaches to collections-focused content creation and delivery. Under the direction of the Content Strategist within the Curatorial Division, the Content Analyst will analyze emerging trends in digital-age content development and delivery both within and beyond the museum field and work closely with curatorial departments and Mia’s divisions of Learning Innovation, Media and Technology, and Audience Engagement to propose and create new forms of content. These forms will include, but are not limited to: audio, video, digital storytelling, and digital publishing.
Rebecca L. Fall
Rebecca L. Fall
PhD, English, Northwestern University
Appointed as Strategic Communications Manager, The Public Theater
see position description (abstract)
The Public Theater is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, and contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. Founded in 1954, The Public continues to act as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day. The Public’s wide range of programming also includes a range of artist and audience development initiatives such as the Public Forum series, which brings together theater artists and professionals from a variety of disciplines for discussions that shed light on social issues explored in Public productions. The Strategic Communications Manager will serve as the project leader of The Public’s launch of Culture Segments, a widely used audience segmentation tool for arts and culture organizations. Culture Segments will provide The Public with crucial analyses on the primary motivations behind audience attendance. The Strategic Communications Manager’s role will be to manage the preparation and onboarding of this tool, and then to use the information it yields to shape the organization’s approach to communication. S/he will begin by designing data capture tools that work with the software prior to its implementation, and then will be responsible for overseeing the implementation and data analysis of Culture Segments, assessing the learnings it reveals on valued audience segments (primarily members and donors), and shaping a high impact communications strategy based on these learnings designed to engage all audience segments in deeper, ongoing relationships with The Public.
Haley Swenson
Haley Swenson
PhD, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Ohio State University, Columbus
Appointed as Editor, New America
see position description (abstract)
New America is committed to renewing American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the digital age. We generate big ideas, bridge the gap between technology and policy, and curate broad public conversation. We combine the best of a policy research institute, technology laboratory, public forum, media platform, and a venture capital fund for ideas. We are a distinctive community of thinkers, writers, researchers, technologists, and community activists who believe deeply in the possibility of American renewal. The Editor will join the Better Life Lab team at New America and be responsible for a new Better Life Lab media partnership, resulting in a Better Life Lab “channel.” The Better Life Lab channel will be a hub of fresh and compelling ideas about the future of work, gender equity, and social policy for 21st century families—how they are interconnected and how they engage (and are engaged by) popular culture and the lived reality of readers’ everyday lives. The editor will manage the Better Life Lab content stream by soliciting, editing, and publishing a daily blog and longer pieces and features produced by the Better Life Lab editorial team and outside contributors. The editor will work with New America’s communications and editorial team along with a media partner to set a responsive social media strategy for both content and events.
Sara S. Goek
Sara S. Goek
PhD, History and Digital Arts & Humanities, University College Cork
Appointed as Program Manager, Association of College & Research Libraries
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1940, the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 10,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products, and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate, and lead within the academic community. The Program Manager will advance one of our highest priorities by contributing to ACRL's efforts to improve research around library contributions to student learning and success, which ties directly to our strategic goal that academic libraries demonstrate alignment with and impact on institutional outcomes. Working with an engaged community of academic librarians and library researchers, the Program Manager will advance research focused on student learning and success and promote findings to resonate across the network of higher education stakeholders. Additionally, this position will help academic library professionals to more fully embrace the future of information and libraries in higher education. The Program Manager will create and deliver content, programs, and services that encourage academic library professionals, their learning partners, and scholars to work collaboratively.
Elizabeth O'Ressa Venditto
Elizabeth O'Ressa Venditto
PhD, History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Appointed as Policy Analyst, NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs
see position description (abstract)
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) promotes the well-being of immigrant communities by recommending policies and programs that facilitate successful integration of immigrant New Yorkers into the civic, economic, and cultural life of the City. The Policy Advisor will work in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to advise on policy and legislative issues related to immigration and execute on coalition-building, campaign development, and communications strategy for MOIA’s immigration advocacy work with sister cities across the country and around the world. MOIA has helped to launch national coalitions such as Cities for Action and Cities for Citizenship, which consist of mayors’ offices across the United States that advocate for best practices in immigrant inclusion at the local level and for reforms and policy change at the federal level. In addition, MOIA has increasingly been involved in international discussions with sister cities on the front-lines of including and welcoming new migrants in Europe, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere. The Policy Advisor will work closely with the Chief of Staff, Coalition Coordinator, and Senior Staff at MOIA, as well as across the administration, to create a trans-local strategy for collaboration and advocacy. In addition, the Policy Advisor will develop a robust policy and communications strategy to amplify the work and messaging of our collaboration with sister cities.
Sophia Booth Magnone
Sophia Booth Magnone
PhD, Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz
Appointed as Development Manager, The Feminist Press
see position description (abstract)
The Feminist Press, founded in 1970, is the longest-running feminist publisher in the world. The Feminist Press, or FP, has always been an activist press, closely linked to the women’s movement and women’s studies at its inception and committed to recovering a lost literature—work that had gone out of print not because of its quality but because it was written by women. FP also publishes works by current feminist authors of any gender from around the world, and is itself a voice of contemporary intersectional feminist thought. As a nonprofit publisher, the Press focuses diligently on community outreach; diverse events and programs are a huge part of the work of the Press. The Development Manager will work closely with the Press’s Executive Director, the Treasurer of the Board of Directors, the External Relations Manager, and the Administrative Manager. This position participates in the creative and strategic thinking that will continue to raise the profile of the Press and continue to build a diverse group of readers, allies, and donors, including among new generations of feminists. The Development Manager will help maintain and expand areas of development in fundraising, grant writing digital technologies, building communities of supporters, cultivating and maintaining donors, and executing development campaigns.
Benjamin D. Weber
Benjamin D. Weber
PhD, History, Harvard University
Appointed as Senior Program Associate, Vera Institute of Justice
see position description (abstract)
Vera Institute of Justice is a national organization based in New York City that works to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day—from the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement, to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence. Vera's work in New Orleans began in 2006, when the city council invited us to assess the criminal justice system and propose reforms as part of post-Katrina recovery efforts. In partnership with the local justice system, city leaders, and community organizations, we are working to end unnecessary detention and develop innovative, collaborative projects that improve the delivery of justice in New Orleans. We do this by providing policy and data analysis and project facilitation to advance practices that achieve equality, dignity, and effectiveness in the administration of justice. The Senior Program Associate will assume primary responsibility for a particular project, with the support of other staff members, on one of several initiatives we are currently working on. There are several areas that this office has an interest in exploring further, including issues around race, policing, and mental health in the criminal justice system. If s/he has a particular interest or expertise in one of these areas, s/he would have the opportunity to develop and execute a new project to complete.
Sasha Metcalf
Sasha Metcalf
PhD, Musicology, University of California, Santa Barbara
Appointed as Program Analyst, Education and Community Engagement, Brooklyn Academy of Music
see position description (abstract)
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) presented its first performance in 1861 and began operations in its present Fort Greene location in 1908. Today, BAM has a worldwide reputation as a leader in artistic innovation and has grown into a model urban arts center focused on both international issues in the arts and local community needs. BAM’s mission is to be the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas. Its enduring purpose is to provide a distinctive environment in which its audiences—annually, nearly 750,000 people from New York City and beyond—may experience a broad array of aesthetic and cultural programs. BAM’s education and community engagement departments aim to provide rigorous, inclusive arts education programming and to promote equity in and access to the arts throughout Brooklyn’s diverse communities. Working with the education department’s director of operations, and in close collaboration with the Vice President for Education and Community Engagement, the Director of Education and Family Programs, and the Director of Community Programs, the Program Analyst will: (1) evaluate and articulate the scope and impact of BAM’s education and community programs; (2) identify measurement strategies for each program; and (3) create new institutional mechanisms for analyzing and tracking impact. This research and the accompanying tracking mechanisms will help program and executive leadership set annual and long-term program goals, assess outcomes, modify existing programs, and launch new initiatives, with the goal of providing a roster of programming that is accessible to audiences and responsive to the needs of BAM’s community.
Kara Wentworth
Kara Wentworth
PhD, Communication, University of California, San Diego
Appointed as Strategic Impact Analyst, Twin Cities PBS
see position description (abstract)
Founded in 1957, Twin Cities PBS (TPT) is one of the most innovative public media organizations in the country. TPT’s mission is to enrich lives and strengthen our community through the power of media. TPT partners with dozens of nonprofit and public sector organizations every year to produce media that raises awareness about issues facing the state; leads the industry in using media to drive gender-equitable STEM teaching and learning; produces acclaimed national documentaries (Hoop Dreams; The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s); and is the national leader in using public media to help Americans navigate aging. The Strategic Impact Analyst will help TPT better tell the story of its work to the public. Specifically, this person will play a critical role in the execution of the new strategic plan by helping TPT better understand how the public engages with and uses our broadcast and online content, and proposing new ways to increase its effectiveness. To do this, s/he will review the literature on impact analysis, develop research methodologies, create appropriate assessment tools, gather data, analyze results, and propose recommendations that will directly affect TPT’s decision-making regarding content across multiple platforms, and the way this content is delivered to the public. S/he will also work at developing specific strategies to grow audiences, engagement, and impact across platforms. The ultimate goals for the impact analyst are that s/he will help build an organizational culture of basing our work on reasoned analysis, and using thoughtful, effective measurement practices.
Mytoan Nguyen-Akbar
Mytoan Nguyen-Akbar
PhD, Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Appointed as Impact and Assessment Manager, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture
see position description (abstract)
The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) was chartered in 1971 to oversee the City’s grant funding and public art programs. With a 2017 budget of $12 million and a staff of 34, ARTS continues to manage seven different funding programs and the installation of dozens of public art projects throughout the city. In recent years, ARTS work has grown significantly in several areas that are more policy-focused. These areas include issues of space affordability, racial equity and social justice, and arts education and creative youth development. In particular, ARTS has launched an arts education partnership with Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Foundation called The Creative Advantage, with a goal of ensuring access to high quality arts learning for all students in Seattle. As the work of ARTS has expanded, new measures and metrics are needed to accurately assess the impact of the office’s work. The Impact and Assessment Manager will report to ARTS’s director, and will be part of the projects team, which includes the growing program areas of arts education, cultural space, racial equity, and creative industries. S/he will work with staff to research and develop strategies that will inform The Creative Advantage’s expansion into Skill Centers and Creative Industries pathways. The candidate will provide evaluation and feedback about The Creative Advantage’s current program and planning, and will identify performance indicators, develop quality assurance strategies, train program employees, maintain contact with program partners, and ensure all program aspects comply with institutional requirements. The candidate will also work with program staff throughout the office to explore new and innovative way to assess and evaluate the impact of ARTS’s work more broadly.
Chikako Yamauchi
Chikako Yamauchi
PhD, Art History, University of Canterbury (New Zealand)
Appointed as Program Evaluator, Community Partners
see position description (abstract)
Community Partners offers expert guidance, essential services, and a strong dose of passion to help foster, launch, and grow creative solutions to community challenges. For close to 25 years, hundreds of individuals, groups, foundations, and other institutions have worked with Community Partners to create new nonprofit projects, establish coalitions, and manage major philanthropic initiatives to benefit the region. Across all program areas, Community Partners works toward our organizational vision: a vibrant society in which individuals and institutions use knowledge, resources, and relationships to build equitable, democratic, and thriving communities. Community Partners today works with upwards of 150 projects and initiatives and manages over $42 million in revenues annually. Our work spans the fields of civic engagement, arts and culture, education, social justice, health, public policy, social services, and youth. The Program Evaluator reports to the Director of Programs and will be responsible for creating an evaluation framework for fiscal sponsorship that will help Community Partners assess the impact of our assistance to our sponsored projects. As a member of our fiscal sponsorship team, the Program Evaluator will also serve as a resource to our fiscally-sponsored projects to help them assess and design their individual data collection and evaluation needs.