SHEAR Leadership Spotlights: Meet the SHEAR Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or D/E/I Committee

Introducing SHEAR’s newest (and newly-ratified by membership vote in 2021!) committee: the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or “D/E/I” Committee. The D/E/I members are tasked with the following:

  1. To administer and maintain organizational self-studies and report findings to Advisory Council.
  2. To assist the Advisory Council, Nominating Committee, Program Committee, and the JER Editors with their efforts toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  3. To advise the Executive Committee, the Advisory Council, and the JER Editors on policies to ensure DEI representation and inclusion across the organization.

Voting Members

Term ending July 2021

Seth Rockman, Brown University

I am a social and labor historian with a particular focus on the interactions of slavery and capitalism. I am a Californian who (through some twist of fate) has now lived on the East Coast for most of his adult life. At Brown University, I sit on the faculty advisory board of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, which has given me much opportunity to think about how institutions like universities (and professional societies) should reckon with their pasts and seek more just, equitable, and accountable futures. This work falls to everyone in an organization like SHEAR, a point that comes through in the report that Vanessa Holden, Jen Manion, and I co-wrote last June. I am glad that SHEAR members have taken up some of the challenges we identified. The new Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Committee should help institutionalize these efforts and provide better mechanisms of accountability. I hope SHEAR members will nominate themselves or colleagues to join this important committee.

Julia Lewandoski, Cal State University, San Marcos

I am an assistant professor of History at California State University San Marcos. My research explores how Indigenous nations used property ownership to survive colonization by multiple empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I was honored to receive the 2019 SHEAR Dissertation Prize this summer, and I am excited to serve on SHEAR’s new standing D/E/I committee. I’m passionate about making early American history spaces more welcoming to Indigenous scholars and promoting deeper engagement with NAIS methodologies and research, and I’m excited to further that work at SHEAR.

Term ending July 2022

Kabria Baumgartner, University of New Hampshire

Kabria Baumgartner, Ph.D., is an associate professor of American Studies and core faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies department at the University of New Hampshire. Professor Baumgartner’s research and writing focus on African American history and culture in nineteenth-century New England. She’s the author of the award-winning book, In Pursuit of Knowledge: Black Women and Educational Activism in Antebellum America (New York University Press, 2019), which tells the story of Black girls and women who fought for their educational rights in the nineteenth-century Northeast. Her op-eds and other popular writing have been featured in the Washington Post, WBUR’s blog Cognoscenti, and Historic New England Magazine. Her next project traces the origins of civil rights through the activism of nineteenth-century African American lawyer Robert Morris. At UNH, she also serves as the inaugural Faculty Fellow for Equity and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts where she’s working on a range of initiatives to build a more inclusive and equitable university. She’s excited about extending this kind of work through SHEAR’s DEI committee. To learn more, visit www.kabriabaumgartner.com.

Cassandra Good, Marymount University

I’m an assistant professor at Marymount University in Northern Virginia. It’s a small but very diverse school (we just received designation as the state’s first HSI), and I teach about the history of race in all of my courses. I serve on our DEI committee and I’m currently working on efforts to diversify our curriculum. My current book project on the Custis family involves both research on enslaved people and work with descendant communities and local historic sites to bring this information to a broader public. I have considered SHEAR my professional home since attending my first conference as a graduate student in 2009, and I’m excited to work towards making it a more welcoming, inclusive organization moving forward.

Term ending July 2023

Tamika Nunley, Oberlin College

Tamika Nunley was recently promoted to Associate Professor of American history at Oberlin College and Conservatory.  Her research and teaching interests include slavery, gender, nineteenth-century legal history, digital history, and the American Civil War.  At Oberlin, she created the History Design Lab which allows students to develop scholarly projects that involve methodological approaches such as digital humanities, public history, creative nonfiction, and curatorial practices. Her book, At the Threshold of Liberty: Women, Slavery, and Shifting Identities in Washington, D.C. (UNC, 2021) examines African American women’s strategies of self-definition in the contexts of slavery, fugitivity, courts, schools, streets, and the government during the Civil War era. She has published articles and reviews in the Journal of Southern History, The William and Mary Quarterly, the Journal of American Legal History and the Journal of the Civil War Era. In addition to being a lifetime member of the Association of Black Women Historians, she serves on the editorial board of Civil War History, and on committees for the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the Society of Civil War Historians, and the Southern Historical Association. She is currently completing a second book, The Demands of Justice: Enslaved Women, Capital Crime, and Clemency in Early Virginia, 1705- 1865, with the University of North Carolina Press. Her work has been supported by the Andrew Mellon and Woodrow Wilson foundations as well as the American Association of University Women. After this spring, Tamika will join the faculty in the history department of Cornell University.

Ryan Quintana, Wellesley College

I’m an Associate Professor of History at Wellesley College and my current research examines the everyday governing practices of abolition in the greater Anglo-American world. My first book, Making a Slave State: Political Development in Early South Carolina, sought to understand the central role that enslaved people played in the production of the modern state. Many of the ideas for that project were nurtured in panel discussions and dinner conversations at various SHEAR conferences over the years. I was introduced to SHEAR by my mentor, Jeanne Boydston, and my first presentation at the conference was a memorial panel in her honor. Jeanne didn’t just teach me how to think about the early Republic, but also created an environment of inclusivity and openness at Wisconsin where my colleagues and I could feel at home, even as she challenged us to re-imagine how we studied the past. I have sought to follow Jeanne’s example at Wellesley, working closely with students to create space for curiosity and exploration, particularly amongst First Gen and Latinx students. I look forward to continuing that work on the D/E/I Committee in service to the next generation of historians.

Ex-Officio Members

Term ending July 2022

ShaVonte’ Mills, Penn State University (Graduate Student Representative)

ShaVonte’ Mills is a dual-title PhD candidate in History and African American and Diaspora Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Her research is located at the intersection of the history of Black education and emancipation in the nineteenth century. She is particularly interested in how free Black communities contested and navigated pedagogical constructions of freedom in nineteenth century schools. Her dissertation, “Visionaries: The Black Educational Network as Transnational Diasporic Politics, 1840-1880,” explores the transnational implications of Reconstruction and examines how Afro-descendant people navigated white missionaries’ benevolence and praxis of freedom. Mills is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion as she builds community among graduate students across disciplines and student organizations.

Term ending July 2021

Kirsten Wood, Florida International University (Special Advisor to the D/E/I Committee)

I’m an Associate Professor of History at Florida International University in Miami, and my research has ranged across various subfields, including the history of slavery, women’s history, and politics. I first got involved in SHEAR during graduate school at UPenn; I presented my first SHEAR paper back in 1996, and I have attended many SHEARs since then as an audience member, panelist, commentator, and chair. I held a short-term SHEAR fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia when I began research on my current book–a study of taverns in the early republic–and I served on the nominating committee more recently.  I have always been interested in gender and race in the present as well as the past, and these interests motivate my research and teaching, as well my work with formal diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. At FIU I have been working with a team of faculty to develop and deliver bystander intervention training for faculty.  Our goal is help faculty notice how unconscious and systemic bias shape our choices around hiring, tenure, committee work, and other aspects of faculty life and practice intervening in ways that help rather than making things worse. More recently I chaired the Committee on Women, Gender, and Sexuality for the Southern Historical Association, and was tapped to co-chair a committee tasked with making SHA’s harassment policy enforceable.  I’m looking forward to helping SHEAR explore its own next steps in meeting its ethical and intellectual responsibilities to current and potential members.

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