Kashema Hutchinson 
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Dr. Kashema Hutchinson is a Co-Director of the CUNY Peers Leaders Program and a recent graduate of the Urban Education program at the Graduate Center (CUNY). She has facilitated discussion groups with incarcerated populations in New York. Kashema creates and uses Hip-Hop infographics to facilitate discussions on the role of women and history; philosophy; behavioral economics and; class and crime in traditional and non-traditional educative spaces. She is also a Co-Director of the Universal Hip Hop Museum’s Education Committee. In addition, Kashema is also an adjunct lecturer and teaches critical thinking to undergraduate and early college students. Her research interests include mattering and marginalization, the socialization of Black girls and women, zero-tolerance policies, mindfulness and Hip Hop pedagogy.

Lauren Melendez
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As Director of the Undergraduate Leadership Program, Melendez directs and oversees a program that brings together 30 undergraduate students from across 12 CUNY campuses as Leadership Fellows. Melendez consults with fellows on how to develop their mentoring and leadership skills in addition to helping them learn how to navigate spaces inside and outside their college campuses. The fellows in turn learn about opportunities within and outside their campuses that will help shape, strengthen and prepare them for not only their academic paths but more importantly their life paths.

In her role as administrative specialist, Melendez provides academic and administrative support to the Futures Initiative. She oversees department operations, manages workshop planning and scheduling, conducts research, and organizes and processes materials for all administrative documentation. Melendez manages the program’s budget and coordinates purchasing, accounting, and payroll for the department.

Past Co-Directors

Kaysi L. Holman (2019-2021)

Kaysi L. Holman was the Director of Programs and Administration of the CUNY Humanities Alliance. She brings over 15 years of experience working with nonprofits and educational organizations dedicated to equity and social justice, both within higher education and achieved through access to higher education. Holman served as a political advocate and community organizer for education and welfare reform in California and at the Alameda County Bar Association in Oakland, CA, before moving to Duke University where she directed programming and administration for HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) and the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge in the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. She holds a law degree from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University. Holman brings a wide array of skills, all of which she will be drawing upon as Deputy Director of the Humanities Alliance: higher education administrator, community organizer and advocate, web developer, social networker, financial manager, and mentor of doctoral students.

Stefanie Sertich (2019-2020)
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Stefanie Sertich is an Associate Professor and Program Director of Theatre at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, and the LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholars Coordinator for the Humanities Alliance. She is also the Co-Chair of the Kennedy Center’s American Collegiate Theatre Festival (KCACTF), Region I. She directs new works, musicals and creates devised theatre pieces for social change.

At LaGuardia, Prof. Sertich has directed several plays, including “Passing Strange” and “In The Heights.” She has also developed a series of devised works with students on contemporary social justice issues, entitled, “Unpacking American Identity” with Steven Hitt, Artistic Director of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Her current projects include the show, Intersections (on tour Spring 2017), a collaboration with The Women’s Bridge Initiative on Alyson Mead’s The Flora and Fauna (in cross-country readings), and her film, Raisin/Rosedale, which premiered at the Queens World Film Festival, and will be shown in the CUNY Film Festival in April 2017. Prof. Sertich has a BA in Acting from Western Michigan University, and an MFA in Directing from the University of Portland. She recently won the Innovative Teaching Award from KCACTF and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and is the University of Portland’s 2017 Contemporary Alumni Winner.

Past Facilitator

Chinyere Okafor (2021)

Chinyere Okafor (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in The Graduate Center, CUNY’s Critical Social/Personality and Environmental Psychology program. Her research interests are on race & space, sexuality across the Black diaspora, Black women & femmes’ narratives in higher education, and healing modalities for Black mental health.