2021 Mellon Mentors

Pawan Dhingra headshot


Pawan Dhingra is Professor of American Studies and incoming Associate Provost and Associate Dean of the Faculty at Amherst College. He is a former curator at the Smithsonian Institution. His most recent book is Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough (New York University Press 2020). His other books include the multiple award-winning Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream (Stanford University Press 2012) and the award-winning Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities (Stanford University Press 2007). He co-authored with Professor Robyn Rodriguez, Asian America: Sociological and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Polity Press, second edition Spring 2021). His bylines include The New York Times, CNN, and more. He and his work have been profiled in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, The Guardian, and many other venues. An award-winning teacher, he also appears in the documentary, Spelling the Dream. He is President-elect of the Association for Asian American Studies and has been Chair of the Board of the South Asian American Digital Archive. He has been department chair and held tenured positions at Tufts University and Oberlin College.

Soo Hong headshot


Soo Hong is Associate Professor and Chair of Education at Wellesley College. She is an interdisciplinary scholar who studies the relationships between schools and families. She explores liberatory models of education that emphasize the participatory leadership of parents and democratic forms of participation in schools. She is the author of Natural Allies: Hope and Possibility in Teacher-Family Partnerships (Harvard Education Press 2019) as well as A Cord of Three Strands: A New Approach to Parent Engagement in Schools (Harvard Education Press 2011). She is the co-director of the Project for Public Leadership and Action at Wellesley College.

Hilda Lloréns headshot


Dr. Hilda Lloréns research and writing are concerned with understanding how race, gender, socioeconomic class, the social practices of power and structural inequalities intersect in several areas of cultural and social life including cultural production and national representations, migration, the body, the environment and ecology in the Americas. Dr. Lloréns is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island where she teaches cultural, linguistic, and environmental anthropology courses. Her books include Imaging the Great Puerto Rican Family: Framing Nation, Race and Gender during the American Century (2014) and Making Livable Worlds: Afro-Puerto Rican Women Building Environmental Justice (2021). She has published widely in academic journals as well as in popular readership on-line and print journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Noe Montez headshot


Noe Montez (he/him/his) is Associate Professor and Chair of Tufts University’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. He also chairs the American Society for Theatre Research’s New Paradigms in Graduate Education subcommittee and serves as the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Vice President for Professional Development. Noe is the author of Memory, Transitional Justice, and Theatre in Postdictatorship Argentina and he is currently working on a translation of Argentine playwright Santiago Loza’s work, titled Nothing to Do with Love and Other Plays; the Routledge Companion to Latinx Theatre and Performance; and a monograph about Black Activism in Contemporary U.S. Sports. He edits the journal Theatre Topics.

Kendall Moore Photo


Kendall Moore, PhD, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and a Professor in the departments of Journalism and Film Media at the University of Rhode Island. Before joining the faculty at URI in 2003, she worked as a television journalist focusing on medical, health, race, and environmental issues.

Moore has produced numerous independent documentaries that have aired on PBS and in various film festivals including Charm City (1996), Song in the Crisis (2004), Sovereign Nation/Sovereign Neighbor (2006), The Good Radical (2009), Sick Building (2014) and Jalen and Joanna: A Lead Paint Story (2017). She is also the director of the “Can We Talk? Difficult Conversations with Underrepresented People of Color” series.

Moore has also written and directed fiction and experimental films, including Philosophy of the Encounter (PoE) (67min), about a college student’s journey to understand her racial identity. PoE premiered at the Arusha International Film Festival (Best Feature) in the Caribbean, and the Black International Film Festival in Nashville in October 2016.

She has received several grants and awards for her work, including two Fulbright Scholar Awards: Tanzania (2001) and Jamaica (Specialist, 2004); The Rhode Island Film Fellowship for Outstanding Filmmaking (2007); and, the recipient of two Metcalf Awards for excellence in journalism in 2015 and 2017. In 2018, she received an NAACP award for excellence in documentary filmmaking for Jalen and Joanna: A Lead Paint Story. In 2020, she received NSF funding for her film project focusing on various efforts to decolonize science, which she is focusing on as a Fellow at MIT’s Open Documentary Lab (2020-2021). In 2020, she was honored to receive the Faculty Excellence Award for Diversity at the University of Rhode Island.

Faith Smith headshot


Faith Smith’s research interests in the cultural production and intellectual history of the Caribbean range across the aesthetic strategies of writers and artists contending with the legacies of slavery and indentureship, feminist engagements with the state in the context of globalization, and the resonance of histories of kinship and intimacy and loss in the present. Strolling in the Ruins: The Caribbean’s Non-Sovereign Modern in the Early Twentieth Century, contracted to Duke University Press, focuses on the period just before the beginning of the First World War when their complex responses to the era’s faith in photography, and their novels’ silences and fantastical resolutions, suggest how Caribbean people measured the growing imperial interests of the USA against the fortunes of their particular European empire, in the wake of the “Spanish American” and “Boer” Wars. She is currently working on a book-length project, Dread Intimacies, that maps issues of sovereignty in recent Caribbean writing and art. She is Associate Professor in the Departments of African and African-American Studies, and English at Brandeis University, with affiliations in Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, Creativity and Social Transformation, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Javier Trevino headshot


A. Javier Treviño is Professor of Sociology at Wheaton College. He has served as President of the Justice Studies Association (2000–2002) and as President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (2010–2011). He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, UK (2006), a Fulbright Scholar to the Republic of Moldova (2009), and since 2014 has been a Visiting Professor in Social and Political Theory at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. He is the author and editor of several books including Investigating Social Problems, 3rd edition (SAGE 2021); C. Wright Mills and the Cuban Revolution: An Exercise in the Art of Sociological Imagination (University of North Carolina Press 2017); and The Emerald Guide to C. Wright Mills (Emerald 2021).

Kiara M. Vigil headshot


Kiara M. Vigil (Dakota/Apache heritage) is currently an associate professor of American Studies at Amherst College. She is currently faculty co-convener of the advisory circle for “Gathering at the Crossroads: Building Native American and Indigenous Studies at the Five College Consortium,” a 2.5 million dollar grant funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

She is also serving in her first year as an elected member of Council for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) for a three-year term. In 2020, Kiara was named the Jan Cohn Fellow and Lecturer in American Studies by Trinity College. Kiara’s PhD is in American Culture from the University of Michigan, and she holds master’s degrees from Columbia University’s Teachers’ College and Dartmouth College, as well as a B.A. in History from Tufts University. Her research and teaching interests are grounded in Native American and Indigenous Studies. She is the author of Indigenous Intellectuals: Sovereignty, Citizenship, and the American Imagination, 1890-1930, published by Cambridge University Press (2015). Her articles and essays have appeared in peer-reviewed journals and books, one of which, “Who was Henry Standing Bear? Remembering Lakota Activism from the Early Twentieth Century,” won the Frederick C. Luebke Award for Outstanding Regional Scholarship from the Great Plains Quarterly. Her new book, Natives in Transit: Indian Entertainment, Urban Life, and Activism is a cultural history of Native performance and activist networks from the mid-twentieth century. In addition to her book, Kiara is currently collaborating on a project about the new PBS show “Molly of Denali,” in a study about how Native Americans have been represented in children’s television programs. Most recently, Kiara received a Mellon Foundation “New Directions” Grant to support her foray into learning Dakota and working alongside Dakota language teachers to offer translations of rare Dakota-only texts from the 19th century from Amherst College’s Native American Literature (KWE) Collection, which will be made publicly accessible for scholars, language learners, and anyone interested in learning more about the history of Dakota language, people, and events.

Renée T. White headshot


Renée T. White has served as Provost of Wheaton College in Massachusetts since July 2016. As of August 1, 2021 she will be assuming the position of Provost and Executive Vice President at The New School in NYC. Prior to joining Wheaton, Dr. White was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Simmons University. A scholar on race, gender and social inequality, she served as a professor of sociology and black studies and as academic coordinator for diversity and global citizenship at Fairfield University. She started her academic career at Purdue University, where she held a joint appointment in the department of sociology and the African American Studies Research Center. Renée is the editor of three books, author of a monograph, co-editor of a forthcoming book on the film Black Panther, and has written for a number of academic journals. Renée’s leadership development includes HERS and the Harvard MLE program. She completed a Wye Faculty Fellowship at the Aspen Institute and a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Fellowship in Black film studies. She holds an AB with honors from Brown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University, where she was awarded a Mellon Foundation doctoral fellowship. She is a member of the Editorial Review Board for the Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education. She also serves on the Vision 2020 National Leadership Circle (an organization dedicated to gender equity), the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Chief Academic Officers Task Force, and on the Advisory Committee for the MPH program at Simmons University.

Adriana Zavala Headshot


Adriana Zavala holds a PhD in art history from Brown University. She is Associate Professor at Tufts University and is jointly appointed in the departments of History of Art and Architecture and Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora Studies. She is a scholar of modern Mexican and U.S. Latinx visual art. Zavala’s first book Becoming Modern, Becoming Tradition: Women, Gender, and Representation in Mexican Art (PSU Press 2010) won the Arvey Prize from the Association of Latin American Art in 2011. She has curated several exhibitions including Frida Kahlo. Art Garden Life at The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx (2015) with the accompanying catalog Frida Kahlo’s Garden (Prestel 2015). She is completing a book manuscript on the image of the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan in the modern creative imagination, co-authored with Delia Cosentino; she also writes about artists of the Latinx diaspora in the U.S. whose artworks critique neo-colonial structures. She is founding co-director of the U.S. Latinx Art Forum (uslaf.org), a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the art and art history of the US Latinx community.