Friends of The DateKeepers
At The DateKeepers, we believe in the power of collaboration. We all have our own peculiar syntheses of knowledge, experience, passions, and skills—and we all have limitations, too. This is why we invest in each other. Each DateKeepers collaborator brings to the table a unique blend of talents, perspectives, and expertise, strengthening The DateKeepers and drawing strength from us as well. We're proud to showcase them below. We're proud to call them friends.
To contact one of our friends, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will forward your message to them. To propose a collaborative partnership with The DateKeepers, complete our application form here.
Science & Tech Friends
Dr. Aditi Lele holds a PhD in ecology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, USA and an MS in Biodiversity from Sabitrivai Phule Pune University in Pune, India. As a doctoral candidate, she conducted extensive field research on the relationship between gray hornbills and ecologically important tree species in the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats in Kerala, India while also pursuing many volunteer opportunities, which opened her eyes to the possibility of a career beyond academia.
Since completing her PhD, Dr. Lele has taken a position as an EducationUSA adviser based in India, where she derives deep and enduring satisfaction from helping students realize their American dreams. Originally from the remote central Indian village of Pahur, she now resides in the vibrant metropolis of Mumbai, where she shares her life with an incredibly kind partner and their four mischievous feline companions.
Paresh Kumar Samantaray
Dr. Paresh Samantaray is a materials scientist by training with expertise in the synthesis, characterization, and applications of polymers, nanostructured materials, and polymer nanocomposites. He is especially passionate about charting new structure-property-function relationships in synthetic materials chemistry and polymer nanocomposites for diverse application such as Aerospace Shielding Materials, Plastics Packaging, Domestic and Wastewater treatment, Desalination, and Heavy Metal Remediation.
Dr. Samantaray obtained his B. Tech in Plastics Engineering from CIPET, Bhubaneswar and his MSc. Engg. and Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He completed his postdoctoral research at the International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM), WMG, University of Warwick, and in mid-2021, he joined the California Institute of Technology as a Postdoctoral Scholar Fellowship Trainee with the Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Caltech Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship. He also serves on the Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars Advisory Board of the American Chemical Society.
Lígia Fonseca Coelho
Lígia Fonseca Coelho holds a PhD in Bioengineering and Astrobiology and is interested in biosignatures with a focus on biological pigments, extreme environments, and planetary field analogs. In 2022, she earned a Fulbright Schuman scholarship, becoming the first Portuguese national ever to do so, to pursue research at Cornell University and develop database of colorful biosignatures to facilitate searches for extra-terrestrial life.
In addition to these projects, Lígia has also co-authored a series of studies aiming to improve the lives of astronauts in space. These have involved everything from conducting fundamental inquiries into the impact of microgravity on photosynthesis to developing the first fully functional zero-G menstrual cup. On Lígia's watch, payloads supporting these experiments have been deployed on various rockets, including Blue Origin's New Shepard.
Dr. Valeriia Poliukhova is a material science researcher with experience in Ukraine, Luxembourg, Korea, and the USA. She earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Micro- and Nanoelectronics from the National Technical University of Ukraine, and her PhD in Nanomaterial Science and Engineering from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Seoul. Following her PhD, she conducted postdoctoral research at the Purdue School of Engineering in Indianapolis and now works on a team at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, exploring bionanocomposites and other nanomaterials.
Dr. Poliukhova's research efforts have contributed to the development of high-performance photocatalyst synthesis targeting water purification and hydrogen production, and to optimizing Mxene synthesis for large-scale manufacturing. When she's not immersed in academic projects, Valeriia savors reading, yoga, hot coffee, and meditation. Her zeal for science is matched only by her love for nature, art, and mesmerizing sunsets.
Dr. Alpha Ousmane Toure
With over 10 years of experience in the lab and field, Dr. Alpha Ousmane Toure has established himself as one of the world's leading experts on industrial waste valorization (i.e. recycling waste back into usable products). His research interests include low-carbon cement, green processes, sustainability, and circular economies. He earned his master's and doctorate from Ecole Superieure Polytechnique at Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar in Senegal and has published over 28 papers in international journals.
Dr. Toure is also a passionate advocate of international education and exchange and has contributed to a joint research project with Howard University at Washington, DC and the National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse in France; participated in COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) with Lehman College at the City University of New York; and been a Fulbright scholar.
Sebastian Giacomino is a biologist and PhD student at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina and a member of the Centro para el Estudio de Sistema Marinos (CESIMAR) - CONICET (National Research Council), Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina. His primary research interest is developing stable carbon and nitrogen isotope landscapes from the pelagic baselines of two commercial and touristic gulfs in the Córdoba region.
Since childhood, Sebastian has nourished an interest in marine life, and now, in addition to his academic pursuits, he is also a passionate advocate for conservation of ocean environments in Argentina and around the world.
Luis Quijano is a Fulbright scholar and PhD candidate in Fashion & Biotechnology at Queensland University of Technology. His doctoral research is situated at the intersection of fashion design and biotechnology with a focus on bacterial cellulose as a biomaterial for the textile industry.
Luis also researches other potential materials and emerging technologies for a sustainable future. His professional affiliations include the International Textile and Apparel Association, ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology, Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion, and Sustainable Fashion Consumption Network.
Sinan Morcel is a software architect, entrepreneur, and Fulbright alumnus. He holds a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Science and a Master's of Science in Robotics Engineering. Instead of pursuing a Ph.D., he disembarked from the traditional academic conveyor belt to work for a few years in the corporate sector as a Software Engineer in Cyber Security. He then went on to bootstrap a software-making business with his brother. They are currently building something massive, which will remain a surprise for the time being.
Sinan's services include mentoring teams, advising clients on recruitment and hiring decisions, providing consultations on which software development methods, standards, and tools to use in greenfield and brownfield development, and offering Chief Technology Officer (Fractional CTO) services to clients interested in launching software-powered businesses. When taking clients, Sinan avoids conflicts of interest and offers flexible, subscription-like contracts.
Languages & Humanities Friends
Sarwa Azeez is a Kurdish poet, translator, and Fulbright scholar with an MA in English Literature at Leicester University and an MFA from Nebraska-Lincoln University. Her debut poetry collection, Remote, was published in the UK by 4Word in 2019, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Parentheses Journal, The New Verse News, Writing for A Woman's Voice, Notre Dame Literary, Wingless Dreamer, and elsewhere.
Sarwa's writing draws on her childhood memories of wartime Iraq, where she grew up reading by the flickering light of kerosene lanterns, and searches for the beauty in a war-torn world while seeking to define identity and confront issues of equal gender representation and violence in male-dominant communities. In what little free time she has, Sarwa applies her knowledge of English, Arabic, Kurdish, and Farsi by practicing the subtle art of translating poetry.
Peppur Chambers is an international writer, producer, and educator. An alum of Moving Arts MADLab and Circle X Emerging Playwrights Group and a current Antaeus Playwrights Lab member, she uses her voice to amplify women’s issues, social justice, and love. Her commissioned radio plays The Fire In-Between (LA’s 1933 Griffith Park fire | Antaeus Theatre Company), End of the Line (human trafficking | Antaeus Theatre company), and The Boll Weevil & Chester Higgensworth (reparations | Lower Depth Theatre) can be found wherever you listen to podcasts. Her plays For the Love of You, House Rules, The Build UP, Dick & Jayne Get a Life, and her one-woman show Harlem’s Awakening: Storytelling Live have been produced in LA and Prague.
Peppur is also a published author of two novellas, Harlem’s Last Dance and Harlem’s Awakening, and has directed film and theater. Her most recent film, Do Something, which she co-wrote and produced, can be found on Tubi. Her stories and articles have appeared in Boned, The Cost of Paper, Circle+Bloom, and Writing in Community Vol 1&2. The creator of Brown Betties™, her women’s empowerment brand, Peppur strives to help women learn how to be.
Dr. Karen P. Peirce
Dr. Karen P. Peirce is a writing studies scholar with an ABH from Rollins College, an MA from Carnegie Mellon University, and a PhD from the University of Arizona. Her publications on rhetorical ethos and mutual understanding across difference have appeared in the College English Association Forum, the Fulbright Chronicles, and the edited collection Crossing Borders/Drawing Boundaries: The Rhetoric of Lines across America. She has also presented on this topic at international forums, including the annual conferences of the Rhetoric Society of Europe, the Rhetoric Society of America, the International Society for the Study of Narrative, the College English Association, and the Languages and Cultures Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota.
A Fulbright alum, Dr. Peirce has served as a Fulbright Association state chapter board member and webmaster, a Fulbright disciplinary review committee member for the Institute of International Education (IIE) to select potential Fulbright Scholars for advancement to country selection committees, and in various capacities to develop and select student applicants for nationally competitive scholarships. She welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with others interested in researching, writing about or actively promoting ways of achieving mutual understanding across difference.
Tri Murniati teaches English Language and Literature at Jenderal Soedirman University in Banyumas, Indonesia, where she also serves as an administrator. Much of her academic work, including her PhD dissertation, has examined the lived experiences and written narratives of Indonesian domestic workers separated from their families and supporting them by working abroad in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Tri holds a BA and MA in English Literature from Diponegero University in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia and earned her PhD in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, which she attended as a Fulbright Scholar. Tri deserves eternal credit as the matchmaker who brought Itto and Mekiya Outini together.
Dr. Nompumelelo “Mpume” Zondi is Professor and Head of the African Languages Department at the University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa. Her doctoral thesis (2008) examined women’s agency in rural KwaZulu-Natal, and her subsequent work has continued to uplift women and girls in rural areas, elevate the status of indigenous languages and uncelebrated African authors, redress historical, racial, and gender-based inequalities, and advocate for gender equality and an end to gender-based violence using children’s literature as a tool.
Dr. Zondi has published in several high-impact journals such as the London Folklore Society, Education as Change, Literator, South African Journal of African Languages (SAJAL), Agenda Feminist Media, and others. Her accolades include the Mellon Foundation Professoriate Award (2018-2020), participating in the University of Pretoria Vice Chancellor Programme for Academic Leadership (2019), and serving as the Fulbright South African Visiting Research Scholar at the State University of Ohio (2022-2023). In her personal as well as her professional life, Dr. Zondi is committed to uplifting women, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, and supporting young people, in particular those from underprivileged circumstances, by helping them shape their academic careers.
Lily C. Buday
Lily C. Buday holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where she was awarded the Harrison/Whitehead Founders' Fellowship and the James E. & Ellen Wadley Roper Fellowship in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in Chautauqua Literary Journal, GASHER, Joyland Magazine, and Salt Hill Journal and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
In 2022, Lily received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council and an Artists 360 Fellowship from the Mid-American Arts Alliance.
Originally from northern Michigan, where she learned to write semi-obsessively about water and lakes, Lily now calls Fayetteville, Arkansas her home.
Oum Acha has lived and worked in four countries, Morocco, Malaysia, Turkey, and Romania, teaching English as a second language to children and adults of all ages and grade levels.
She speaks fluent English, French, Standard Arabic, and all regional Arabic dialects and offers translation and interpretation services on a freelance basis. She also provided invaluable support to The DateKeepers as our social media manager from January to November of 2023.
Ariana Lippi is a Fulbright alum, a master's candidate in Global Environmental Policy and Law at American University, and a continuing master's student of Spanish Language & Literature at Middlebury College. Ariana is a fierce believer in the arts and art's ability to create pause, meditation, meaning, joy, justice, etc., as well as its power to connect people.
Ariana is currently an emerging environmental professional and scholar, passionate about environmental justice and sustainability. They have a combined seven years of experience at non-profit human rights and international sustainability organizations and draws upon international and multidisciplinary experiences to inform their views.
Abdelghafour ben Lahbib
Abdelghafour ben Lahbib is a doctoral candidate in the Applied Languages and Culture Studies program at Chouaib Doukkali University in El-Jadida, Morocco, where he is conducting research on Moroccan political identity, Moroccan Anglophone narratives, and Moroccan history and society.
Abdelghafour holds an MA in Cultural Studies and has served as a reviewer for the Journal of North African Studies and a contributing writer at The DateKeepers. His research interests span a range of topics related to cultural identity, literature, and history, with a special focus on representations of Moroccan culture and society in literature and media, identity, power, and representation.
Arts & Design Friends
Geghie A. Davis-Tillie
Geghie Davis-Tillie holds a BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Entrepreneurship from the University of Tennessee and an MA in Design with a specialization in UX/UI from Northumbria University, where she studied as a Fulbright scholar. Her expertise includes UX and UI, digital art, web-building, multimedia design, research, branding, and motion design.
Geghie serves as President of Fulbrighters with Disabilities, to which she brings a strong commitment to accessibility and inclusivity. Her advocacy, like her artistic practice, is informed by her lived experience as a woman with multiple invisible disabilities, which has taught her empathy and awareness of the unseen challenges that lie beneath the surface of so many lives, and by her Appalachian heritage, which has invested her with a deep appreciation for storytelling, community, tradition, and human connection.
Leila is a Fulbright scholar and graduate student in architecture at the University of Oregon, Eugene. During her studies at the National School of Architecture in Rabat, Morocco.
Since graduation, Leila dabbled in several lines of work including graphic design, exhibition scenography, and audiovisual production before making her way back to architecture through a Master's program with a focus on sustainable building technology and buildings' life cycles. She speaks English, Arabic, and French and hails originally from Rabat, Morocco.
Nina Lawrin is an artist, urban forager, certified permaculture designer, and ethnobotanist with an MSc from the University of Kent. She is also the owner of Loveren Collections and founder of Everyday Forage (501c3), both of which strive to reconnect people with the land and each other while preserving culturally salient people-plant relationships.
As a Fulbright ambassador to Namibia (2015-2016), Nina has worked alongside numerous permaculture sites, including Eloolo Permaculture Initiative and Damaraland Farming Cooperative, cultivating their waste streams to share and create nontoxic, research-driven, site-specific artwork. She embarked on her foraging journey by learning from the San community in Namibia and Botswana in 2016.
Pauline Eveillard is the founder and president of Soukra, an e-commerce platform dedicated to showcasing Tunisian designers, artisans, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs. This business was inspired by the year Pauline spent in Tunisia as a Fulbright scholar, studying ancient Roman mosaics and cultivating lifelong friendships.
Pauline holds a BA in art history from Tufts University and an MA from the University of Chicago and and has worked for the World Monuments Fund. A mother of two, Pauline splits her time between Manhattan and San Francisco and makes regular trips to Tunisia.
Jamila Morcel is an artist, illustrator, graphic designer, and creator of the DateKeepers logo. In addition to book illustrations and covers, she's worked with a wide range of media, designing everything from woodcarvings and furniture to dresses and curtains.
Her passion for book illustration, grounded in her 13 years as a kindergarten teacher, has since grown to encompass graphic design, logo design, UX, design, and digital illustration. She now works as a freelancer providing all these services and more to clients around the world.
Laurence Warner is a prolific singer, songwriter, coder, web-builder, filmmaker, stage performer, and more, originally from Eastleigh, south England. His music blends elements of pop, hip-hop, and alternative rap and revolves around the intersection of technology, media, culture, and human wellbeing.
Having studied computer science as a Fulbright scholar, Laurence uses his music as a vehicle for social activism and strives to "warn young people about how technology will change their lives next." In addition to several singles and concept albums, he's directed two short films, "Smalltown Beast" and "Closure Cafe," and he and his collaborator A. Pandit are now working on a next-gen musical, Snowflakes in SoCal. Laurence describes himself as "a human entertainer in this artificial age."
Amy Pedid is the founder and sole proprietor of The Sage Mages, a small business that supports individuals and organizations of all shapes and sizes. Her services include branding, visual art, template design, and web design.
Amy studied graphic design at the Dale Jackson School in Dallas, Texas and holds a BA in Communications Design with a specialization in Art Direction from the University of North Texas. Born and raised in Dallas, she now lives with her husband and daughter in Northwest Arkansas.
Social Science & Policy Friends
Leila ben Gacem
Leila ben Gacem is an Ashoka Fellow, Fatma Fehri Awardee, social entrepreneur, and city councilwoman in her hometown of Béni Khalled, Tunisia. After earning her degree in biomedical engineering from Boston University and working for ten years at a series of multinational corporations, Leila pivoted to her true passion: social entrepreneurship.
Since 2006, Leila has launched and contributed to numerous initiatives, from her company Blue Fish to the Digital Citizenship project to the Dar el-Harka co-working space in the Medina of Tunis and more, to make Tunisia's cultural heritage more sustainable and economically resilient and restore the faith and confidence of the Tunisian people in their culture and homeland.
Arjun is the CEO of Overwatch Data, an AI company that helps organizations monitor the open and deep webs and preemptively identify events and emerging narratives that threaten to generate real-world violence. Prior to founding Overwatch through Y Combinator, Arjun led a policy and risk team at Stripe and served as a senior product policy advisor for Google Search, where he led policy efforts on information quality, user safety, and countering disinformation. He has published on elections integrity, digital currencies, and the startup ecosystem.
Arjun earned his Master of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School as a Fulbright scholar, where he also designed a tech policy course for the Business, Engineering and Policy schools with Former SecDef Ash Carter. His professional endeavors include training US election officials on cyber security, advising Twitter on content moderation, serving as a Product Manager for the US Census Bureau’s data portal, and serving as an Australian diplomat for eight years, in which capacity he drafted Australia’s cyber strategy with a focus on geopolitics across the Indo-Pacific. Arjun has also negotiated trade agreements and led UN aid programs on elections integrity, disability rights, and landmine clearance, and on a diplomatic posting to Cambodia, reported on human rights, elections, and China’s diplomatic influence in Southeast Asia.
Aicha Adoui studies the intersection of soft power, diplomacy, and international higher education. Her wide-ranging research interests include internationalization, education, AI, technology and intelligent systems, intercultural communication, and international relations. She is also an expert in communication studies with a focus on intercultural communication, business communication, and oral communication, and she trains professionals within the fields of new technologies, electronics, and offshoring.
Aicha has contributed her expertise in project management, problem solving, community engagement, and youth involvement to several American and Moroccan nonprofits, government initiatives, and non-governmental organizations and agencies. Her book "International Higher Education and The Rise of Soft Power as Cultural Diplomacy: A Comparative study of Morocco and South Korea" is now available to read.
Dr. Teferi Abate Adem
Currently a research anthropologist at Yale University, a member of the Yale Council on African Studies, and a Visiting Professor at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia, Dr. Teferi Abate Adem has spent decades conducting field research that examines how farmers and communities pragmatically mobilize grassroots responses to crop failures and food insecurity brought on by climate change.
Dr. Adem has taught, lectured, and conducted research at universities in Ethiopia and the United States, offered his consultation services to institutions including the World Bank, WI-HER, Sussex University and Forum for Social Studies, and FARM-Africa, and published in numerous books, academic anthologies, and high-impact journals. He holds a PhD in anthropology from Boston University, USA, and an MA in social anthropology and a BA in sociology and social administration, both from the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Gaurav Misra is India's first UN-recognized life skills coach, with a professional interest in gamification and a passion for helping young people transform themselves into productive, successful, and employable human beings. Through his affiliation with the UPES, India he has contributed to the School of Life, an innovative initiative aimed at teaching university students practical life skills such as leadership, collaboration, interpersonal communication, and social responsibility.
Gaurav has mentored, coached, and trained corporate leaders, university graduates, and grade school students on every inhabited continent. He is a Fulbright scholar, a Global Leaders for Innovation & Knowledge (GLIK) scholar, a three-time Blackboard Award winner, and a two-time winner of the Fulbright in the Classroom grant, under whose auspices he conducted cultural exchange programs for K-12 students in the US in 2021. In addition to studying Life Skills at the University of Montana and earning a diploma from the Indian Society for Training and Development, Gaurav holds a degree in English literature, which enriches his understanding of humanity and informs his passion for his work.
Currently head of communications for the British Consul General – New York and manager of a social impact consultancy, Philanthropic Impact (π), Toby Usnik brings to the table over 30 years of expertise in strategic communications. He's held leadership roles in multinational organizations including the UK government, Christie's, The New York Times, and American Express, and he's a sought-after career coach, public speaker, and instructor on AI and Large Language Models for social impact. He's also the author of The Caring Economy: How to Win With CSR and host of a weekly podcast by the same name.
Toby holds a BA in history and French from Hampden-Sydney College, an MS in university administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M. Phil. in international and comparative education from Columbia University. He's a graduate of the Coro Foundation’s Leadership New York program (class of 1997) and a Fulbright scholar (Belgium, 1990–1991). He served as a board member of the Empire State Pride Agenda civil rights organization for nearly two decades and as director of The New York Foundation for the Arts for five years, and he co-led the Communications Advisory Council for the Humane Society of the United States for a decade. As a charity auctioneer, Toby has raised more than $5 million for nonprofits. He's also a private pilot and resides in Manhattan and the Hudson Valley.
Dr. Mila Rosa Librea-Carden
Born and raised in Irosin, Sorsogon, a small town in the Philippines, Dr. Mila Rosa Librea-Carden first came to the US in 2013 as a fellow of Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching for International Teachers. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in Science Education, from Kent State University, and she also holds an MS in biology from Ateneo De Manila University, Philippines. Before coming to the USA, she taught high school biology at Ateneo de Manila High School and the Immaculate Conception Academy and served as director of graduate studies at the Far Eastern University in the Philippines.
Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at the College of Education at the University of North Texas. Her scholarship focuses on making science accessible to all, particularly students with (dis)abilities and special educational needs. Her work has been published in leading science education journals, including the International Journal of Science Education and Research in Science Education. Her most recent project examines the unique experiences of scientists with disabilities, their scientific views, and their scientific identities in an effort to contribute to the very limited literature on successful scientists with (dis)abilities, inspire students with (dis)abilities, and challenge internalized ableism.
David J. Smith
David J. Smith is an educator, consultant, and career coach specializing in conflict resolution, peace-building, and humanitarian action. As president of the Forage Center for Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Education, Inc., he facilitates the creation of experiential learning opportunities for students and professionals. He also directs the National Community College Peacebuilding Seminar, and he's served as a senior program officer and manager of national outreach at the US Institute of Peace, and has taught at several institutions, most recently the Carter School at George Mason University.
David is a recipient of the William Kreidler Award for Distinguished Service to the field of Conflict Resolution, given by the Association for Conflict Resolution, and he's taught peace studies and alternative dispute resolution at the University of Tartu in Estonia as a Fulbright scholar. His publications include Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (2016) and Peacebuilding in Community Colleges: A Teaching Resource (2013). He holds a BA from the American University, an MS in conflict resolution from George Mason University, a JD from the University of Baltimore, and a graduate certification in positive psychology from the University of Missouri. In addition, he's completed course work with Coach Training Alliance and is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council.
Maria Teresa Lago Lao
Maria Teresa Lago Lao holds three Master's degrees (in Clinical Neuropsychology, Research in Psychology, and Project Management and Planning in Developmental Contexts) and has spent decades working to empower people with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities around the world. Most recently, she's served the United Nations Development Programme as a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist.
When she's not putting her knowledge of psychology, hands-on experience with project development, and multilingualism to use in the field, Maria Teresa spends her time with her husband and young son, whom she's raising to be a citizen of a world more diverse and inclusive than the one into which she was born.
Dr. Richard Vogel
Dr. Richard Vogel currently serves as an Assistant Professor in Communication & Media at Culver Stockton College in Canton, MO. His research interests include the promotion of media literacy and critical thinking and integration of these topics into K-12 curricula. He teaches a range of courses including media law, English composition, media writing, production, media theory, and public speaking.
Prior to his time at CSC, Dr. Vogel served as a consulting producer to an award-winning news program and produced a skit comedy show. He's also presented talks in China, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and via zoom to a conference in Paris and in 2018, under the auspices of the Fulbright, traveled to Bangkok, Thailand and created a media literacy curriculum for grades K-12, which he also presented to Malaysia's Ministry of Education.
Sara Lynn Thelen
Sara Lynn Thelen is a freelance sign language interpreter from Grand Ledge, Michigan who holds a BEI II certification with medical and mental health endorsements. She interpreted in medical, mental health, and higher-education settings from 2017 to 2022 and worked for the Social Security Administration between 2014 and 2017.
She is currently an operations manager at a global security think tank in Washington, DC, and continues to offer online interpretation services using VRS (Video Relay Services). She is fluent in French and ASL and proficient in Spanish and Persian.
Candace Eros Diaz
Candace Eros Diaz is a queer Xicana writer with a BA in English from California State University, East Bay and an MFA in creative nonfiction and fiction from Saint Mary’s College of California. Her writing has earned support from the San Francisco Writers Grotto, VONA, The Steinbeck Fellows Program, and Lambda Literary; has appeared in CRAFT, Huizache, Arroyo Literary Review, Under the Gum Tree, and elsewhere; and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Candace is also an executive administrator with over two decades of experience across industries, from arts and culture to government to higher education. Her expertise includes content creation, website design, database administration, and more. From 2018-2022, she served as a grant writer at the San Francisco Arts Commission and co-designed the infrastructure to administer over $12 million in annual grants, and from 2012-2018 she managed the MFA program in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of California, developing its programming and reading series in coordination with internationally acclaimed authors. Finally, she's consulted for the African American Art and Culture Complex in San Francisco, the 18th Street Art Center in Los Angeles, and elsewhere.
Legal Services Friends
Taylor Farr is an attorney at Conner & Winters, LLP in Northwest Arkansas, where he specializes in corporate transactions and litigation. He also maintains a pro bono practice consisting mainly of immigration law, assisting clients with asylum and green card applications as well as other matters. Before joining Conner & Winters, he worked for the Honorable Bobby E. Shepherd at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and assisted clients with mergers and acquisitions in Dallas, Texas.
Taylor earned his Bachelor's in agronomy and crop science and his Doctorate of Law with a specialization in food law and policy, both at the University of Arkansas, where he also served on the Arkansas Law Review. He enjoys outdoor activities, roots for the Razorbacks, and attends Chiefs games with his fiancé, Danica.
Ellen Weintraut is an immigration attorney, licensed in Oregon and currently practicing in Northwest Arkansas. She owns Northwest Immigration Law and has over seventeen years of experience working in immigration law. Her primary focus is family immigration, but she also regularly handles citizenship cases as well as asylum and humanitarian immigration cases.
In addition to accompanying clients to their USCIS interviews, she defends clients in removal proceedings and assists with immigration appeals. She is admitted to the Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals. She currently serves as the AILA Liaison with the USCIS Field Office in Fort Smith, AR. She speaks English and Spanish.
Dom Caristi is a Professor Emeritus of Media at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he lives with his wife, Kim. He holds a PhD in journalism and mass communications from the University of Iowa, serves on the Board of Directors of the Indiana Chapter of the Fulbright Association, and is a co-author of the book Communication Law: Practical Applications in the Digital Age (3rd ed. 2022), alongside William Davie and Laurie Thomas Lee. In 2023, he received the Distinguished Education Service Award from the Broadcast Education Association, of which he has been a member for more than 30 years, and on whose Board of Directors he served from 1997 to 2002, including a term as its Vice President.
Additional honors that Dom has accrued include the Outstanding Faculty Service Award from Ball State University (2020), the Outstanding Faculty Member Award from Ball State (2012), Fulbright Professorships in Greece (2009) and Slovenia (1995), the Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa Broadcasters Association (1998), and several fellowships with the Radio Television Digital News Association and the National Association of Television Program Executives.