ACLS Names 20 Mellon-ACLS Public Fellows in 2017


The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce the 2017 Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows. This year’s 20 fellows, each a PhD in the humanities, will take up two-year, full-time positions with nonprofit organizations and government agencies working in the fields of policy, civil rights, arts and culture, and the media. The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

“Since ACLS launched the Public Fellows program in 2011, over 100 nonprofits and government offices across the United States have partnered with us to highlight the wealth of career fields where humanities PhDs can not only make an impact, but thrive professionally,” said John Paul Christy, director of public programs at ACLS. “By contributing their skills and expertise to some of society’s most pressing issues, like immigration, equity and diversity, and mass incarceration, Public Fellows demonstrate that the humanities PhD has serious practical and public value.” 

The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program is designed to provide PhDs in the humanities or humanistic social sciences with significant, career-building experience in the government and nonprofit sectors. Each award comes with an annual stipend of $67,500, health insurance for the fellow, and additional funding for professional development. Fellows receive professional mentoring from their host organizations and peer mentoring overseen by the Public Fellows alumni council.

The 2017 fellows were selected from a record number of applicants on the basis of their academic and non-academic accomplishments, as well as their demonstrated commitment to their chosen career field. All applications to the program undergo peer review, and finalists selected through this process are interviewed by senior staff at the program’s partnering host organizations.

The 2017 Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows are:

  • Michael Alijewicz
    PhD, English, Vanderbilt University
    Student Success Officer, International Student Exchange Programs
    Arlington, VA 
  • James Blair
    PhD, Anthropology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
    International Campaign Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council
    Washington, DC
  • Aleia Brown
    PhD, History, Middle Tennessee State University
    Program Manager, Humanities Action Lab
    Newark, NJ
  • Alison Brzenchek
    PhD, Communication, University of Massachussetts, Amherst
    Campaign Organizer, Free Press
    Florence, MA
  • Christa Cesario
    PhD, Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
    Community Organizer, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
    San Francisco, CA
  • Rebecca Fall
    PhD, English, Northwestern University
    Strategic Communications Manager, The Public Theater
    New York, NY
  • Sara Goek
    PhD, History and Digital Arts and Humanities, University College Cork (Ireland)
    Program Manager, Association of College & Research Libraries
    Chicago, IL
  • Sophia Magnone
    PhD, Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz
    Development Manager, The Feminist Press
    New York, NY
  • Sasha Metcalf
    PhD, Musicology, University of California, Santa Barbara
    Program Analyst, Education and Community Engagement, Brooklyn Academy of Music
    New York, NY
  • Mytoan Nguyen-Akbar
    PhD, Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison
    Impact and Assessment Manager, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture
    Seattle, WA
  • Patrick Potyondy
    PhD, History, The Ohio State University
    Legislative Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures
    Denver, CO
  • Michelle Rivera
    PhD, Communications, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Public Engagement Manager for Diversity and Inclusion, The Field Museum
    Chicago, IL
  • Amanda Rossie
    PhD, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, The Ohio State University
    Policy Analyst, National Women’s Law Center
    Washington, DC
  • Jacinta Saffold
    PhD, African American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, Association of American Colleges & Universities
    Washington, DC
  • Katie Sisneros
    PhD, English Literature, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
    Content Analyst, Minneapolis Institute of Art
    Minneapolis, MN
  • Haley Swenson
    PhD, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, The Ohio State University
    Editor, New America
    Washington, DC
  • Elizabeth Venditto
    PhD, History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
    Policy Analyst, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
    New York, NY
  • Benjamin Weber
    PhD, History, Harvard University
    Senior Program Associate, Vera Institute of Justice
    New Orleans, LA
  • Kara Wentworth
    PhD, Communication, University of California, San Diego
    Strategic Impact Analyst, Twin Cities PBS
    Minneapolis, MN
  • Chikako Yamauchi
    PhD, Art History, University of Canterbury (New Zealand)
    Program Evaluator, Community Partners
    Los Angeles, CA

More information about the Public Fellows program and the fellows' positions is available here.