SHEAR Elected Leadership Spotlights: Meet Your SHEAR Advisory Council

The SHEAR Advisory Council consists of twelve elected voting members, all serving overlapping three-year terms. One-third of the SHEAR Advisory Council are elected by ballot each year with nominations for the Advisory Council determined by the Nominating Committee. No member of the Advisory Council may serve concurrently on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee or the Nominating Committee.

The duties of the Advisory Council include:

  • Working with the President to develop and implement all phases of the Society’s efforts to fulfill its mission as alearned society.
  • Attending all annual Council meetings, as will all ex-officio members.

Newly Elected Members

Emily Conroy-Krutz, Michigan State University

I am an Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University and the author of Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic (Cornell University Press, 2015). I began attending SHEAR as a graduate student and it immediately stood out as a welcoming and energizing community that I would soon call one of my primary intellectual homes. In the years since, I’ve continued to research and write about religion and US foreign relations with a particular focus on missionaries and empire. I’m co-editor (along with Michael Blaakman and Noelani Arista) of The Early Imperial Republic, which will be out soon with Penn Press and am writing my second book, Missionary Diplomacy: Religion and Foreign Relations in Nineteenth-Century America. At SHEAR, I have served on the program committee (co-chairing it in 2021) and the nominating committee. Along with Jessica Lepler, I co-founded the Second-Book Writers’ Workshop in 2016.

Headshot of Vanessa HoldenVanessa M. Holden, University of Kentucky

Vanessa M. Holden is an associate professor of History and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. She is also the director of the Central Kentucky Slavery Initiative. Dr. Holden’s is the author of Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner’s Community (University of Illinois Press), in which she explores the contributions that African American women and children, free and enslaved, to the Southampton Rebellion, also called Nat Turner’s Rebellion. Dr. Holden’s work and writing has been published in Slavery and Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies,Perspectives on History, Process: A Blog for American History, and The Rumpus. She also blogged for Black Perspectives and The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History. Dr. Holden serves as a faculty adviser on a number of public history and digital humanities projects including Freedom on the Move (a digital archive of runaway slave adds); Black Horsemen of the Kentucky Turf (an exhibit chronicling the intersecting histories of African Americans and the horse industry in Kentucky), and a grant project aimed at bringing a virtual driving tour and a museum to Southampton County, Virginia, that interpret the Southampton Rebellion. Find her on Twitter @drvholden.

Headshot of Dale NorwoodDael A. Norwood, University of Delaware

I’m an assistant professor of history at the University of Delaware, with broad interests in the global dimensions of U.S. politics and economics. Earlier this year I published my first book, Trading Freedom: How Trade with China Defined Early America, which examines how the flourishing commerce between the United States and China intertwined with the struggles over sovereignty, citizenship, and race that defined the first century of the American state. I have also published articles and essays about the relation of early U.S. politics to global capitalism, the role of commerce in shaping the Constitution, the historiography of political economy in the early republic, and the history of indentured servitude. My current book project explores how “the businessman” became such a potent political and cultural identity in America. In addition to these individual research efforts, at UD, I co-chair the Legacies of Enslavement and Dispossession committee, which oversees collaborative investigations into how the history of racial inequality has shaped higher education in Delaware.

I’m grateful to serve on the Advisory Council, as I feel a great debt to SHEAR. Since I joined as a graduate student in 2007, the organization has been my intellectual home – where I’ve found a stimulating venue for exchanging of ideas, as well as a wonderful circle of friendly colleagues and supportive mentors. I’m excited to pay these gifts forward, and aid in the work of making the organization an ever-more open, welcoming, and equitable space for all scholars studying the history of the early American republic.

Kariann Akemi Yokota, University of Colorado Denver

I am an associate professor of History at the University of Colorado Denver. I gave my first paper as a graduate student at the 2000 SHEAR meeting in Buffalo. Over the years, I have been involved with SHEAR in various capacities including serving on the Advisory Council, Program Committee, the Editorial Board of The Journal of the Early Republic, and a member of the Dissertation Prize Committee. Before earning my PhD in early American history (UCLA, 2002), I received an MA in Asian American Studies and wrote my thesis on interethnic relations between communities of color in the 20th century. My interest in the history of race, material culture, and postcolonial studies inspired me to write my book Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation (Oxford, 2011). Drawing upon my interest in the history of the Early Republic as well as Asian American history, I am now working on Pacific Overtures: Early American Encounters in the Transpacific Borderlands. I recently spent a year at Oxford University as the Senior Research Fellow, Rothermere American Institute (RAI), and the Fowler Hamilton Fellow, Christ Church College. In addition to pursuing my research interests, I have dedicated my career to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in academia. I am involved in student mentoring and professional service in support of first generation students, adjunct faculty, and K-12 educators.

Second Year Members

Liz Covart, Digital Projects Editor, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture

I’m the creator, host, and executive producer of Ben Franklin’s World, an award-winning and field-leading podcast about early American History. As the Digital Projects Editor at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (OI), I practice a blend of scholarly history, public history, and digital humanities. While the OI’s primary focus is supporting scholars and scholarship related to early America broadly understood, I experiment with social and new media to communicate scholarly history to wide public audiences. I believe that if granted convenient access to the work of historians, the public will take an interest in history and our work.

I joined SHEAR in 2004 when I presented a paper as a newly graduated undergrad (thank you, Bill Pencak!). Since then, SHEAR has been an important part of my scholarly life. I am using my time on the Advisory Council to give back to the organization and to serve you, our members. In terms of research, my research field is in the cultural and political histories of the American Revolution. My research-in-progress is a native multimedia project about the origins of the American union and the creation and ratification of the Articles of Confederation.

Kerri K. Greenidge, Tufts University

Greenidge is the Mellon Assistant Professor in the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diasporaat Tufts University. She is the author of Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (2019). Listed by the New York Times as one of its top picks of 2019, the book is the first biography of Boston editor, William Monroe Trotter, written in nearly fifty years. The book received the Mark Lynton Prize in History, the Massachusetts Book Award, the J. Anthony Lukas Award, the Sperber Award from Fordham University, and the Peter J. Gomes Book Prize from the Massachusetts Historical Society. In addition to Black Radical, she is author of The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in An American Family. Her writings have appeared in the Massachusetts Historical Review, the Radical History Review, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the Guardian. At Tufts University, she also co-directs the African American Trail Project. (

Headshot of Gautham RaoGautham Rao, American University

I am a legal historian who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C. I am also editor of Law and History Review. I’m currently working on a history of the public law of slavery and the legal problems of runaway and fugitive slaves in American history, as well as a ‘fun’ project on the role of history on the television show The West Wing.  I am honored to be a member of SHEAR’s advisory council because, while I’ve moved around a bit over the years–Chicago, DC, Philly, Newark, and DC again–I have long felt that SHEAR was like a home for me.  Intellectually, I have learned so much from my fellow SHEAR members, and my work has immensely benefited from the incredible generosity of commentators, co-panelists, and audience members on panels over the years.  I know I owe SHEAR so much, and I want to do what I can to help ensure that SHEAR can be this sort of resource for others.

Headshot of Craig Steven WilderCraig Steven Wilder, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I am the Barton L. Weller Professor and Interim Head of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My areas of interest include slavery, race, urbanization, and educational institutions. For about fifteen years, I have served as a senior fellow with the Bard Prison Initiative. I am also a councilor of the American Antiquarian Society, an original board member of the Lapidus Center, Schomburg, NYPL, and a regular contributor and advisor to public history projects. I am currently working on two student projects that are rewriting the history of my university: “MIT & Slavery” and “The Indigenous History of MIT.” I came to SHEAR later in my career as graduate students and other colleagues chose its annual conference as a site for collaboration and exchange.

Third Year Members

Headshot of Cathy KellyCatherine E. Kelly, Editor of Books, Omohundro Institute and Affiliate Professor of History, William & Mary

I’m currently the Editor of Books at the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture and an Affiliate Professor of History at William & Mary. I’ve been deeply involved in SHEAR for the whole of my career. What started as an accidental conference presentation in the previous century has turned into an astonishingly generative personal and professional path: I received both the Ralph D. Gray Article Prize and the James Broussard First Book Prize. I’ve been honored to serve on the Advisory Council (2012-14) and on the Nominating and Program Committees, chairing the Program Committee for the 2006 meeting, and serving on the committee that drafted a plan for implementing policies for diversity, equity, and inclusion within SHEAR. I’ve also been deeply engaged with SHEAR’s publications, serving on the JER’s Editorial Board and, from 2014-18, as its Editor. Throughout, my goal has been to help an organization I love dearly build a tent that is bigger and more inclusive by every metric. In retrospect, the accident that put me on SHEAR’s program (talking about cattle shows, of all things!) was happy, indeed.

Headshot of Elizabeth PryorElizabeth Pryor, Smith College

I am an Associate Professor of history at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. I got my Ph.D. from UC, Santa Barbara (Patricia Cline Cohen was my graduate advisor). I attended my first SHEAR conference in 2006 in Montreal. My 2016 JER article, “The Etymology of [the n-word]: Resistance, Language and the Politics of Freedom in the Antebellum North” won the Ralph D Gray prize. My book Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War, published by UNC press in 2016, was released in paperback in February 2021. My TED Talk about the n-word in the classroom has over 2 million views. At SHEAR, I served on the program committee for the 2017 conference and from 2016 to 2019 as a member of the JER executive board. At Smith, I have mentored and advocated for junior faculty of color. As a member of the SHEAR advisory council, I hope to continue mentoring junior faculty (particularly those of color).

Headshot of Honor SachsHonor Sachs, University of Colorado Boulder

I presented my first conference paper at SHEAR while I was an M.A. student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The paper I presented contained early musings on western expansion after the American Revolution, ideas that would eventually develop into my first book, Home Rule: Households, Manhood, and National Expansion on the Eighteenth-Century Kentucky Frontier (Yale University Press, 2015). I’ve had a somewhat non-linear career path that landed me in various contingent positions at universities both large and small. Throughout, I’ve had the enormous privilege to work with diverse students from a range of regional backgrounds, many of whom were often the first in their families to attend college. I am now settled in the West as an Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado Boulder, where I teach courses on the revolutionary era, legal history, histories of genealogy and family, and graphic novels. For many years now, I have been working on a second book about an enslaved family that sued for freedom across multiple generations by claiming Indigenous ancestry. I once thought it would be a “little” book, but many years ago somebody at SHEAR explained to me “there’s no such thing as a ‘little’ book.” As a member of the Advisory Council, I am focused on moving SHEAR into more inclusive, dynamic, and sustainable future. You can find me on Twitter and TikTok at @drhonor.

Headshot of Christina SnyderChristina Snyder, Penn State University

I work at Penn State University, where I am the McCabe Greer Professor of History. I’ve written two books: Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America (Harvard University Press, 2010); and Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson (Oxford University Press, 2017). I’m also a co-author of the textbook American Horizons: US History in a Global Context (Oxford). I first attended SHEAR in Philly in 2008. I’ve taken on a few different roles and currently serve on the Advisory Council. What I appreciate most about SHEAR—and what sets it apart from many other conferences—is its support of junior and mid-career scholars. At past conferences, I’ve enjoyed taking part in Graduate Research Seminars and the Second-Book Writers’ Workshop. Moving forward, I’d like to strengthen such programs and develop new initiatives to support graduate students from historically underrepresented groups. I live in beautiful Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, where I’m pretty okay at hiking and terrible at mountain biking.