OHMA Student & Alumni News: Summer 2017

We are excited to offer a round of summer news updates from our OHMA student and alumni community! 

We are delighted to share that Rozanne Gooding Silverwood (BA/MA 2015) has been selected as Salutatorian for the General Studies Class of 2017! She will be delivering the salutatory address at GS Class Day on Monday May 15, at 9 a.m. on the South Lawn of Columbia’s Morningside Campus.

She will also provide a short reading about the Chickasaw migration story and belonging—centered around the leaning pole Itti' Fabassa Holitto'pa—during the Baccalaureate Ceremony at St. James Chapel on Sunday, May 14, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

A big round of congratulations to Rozanne from the OHMA community!

Svetlana Kitto (2009)’s recent oral history project with artist Ken Tisa—the subject of Ken Tisa: Objects / Time / Offerings at Gordon Robichaux—was just featured in the New York Times!:

Future historians tackling Mr. Tisa’s career will have their work cut out for them in researching his art, which is both a material flood and a lovingly pieced-together mosaic. They will also have the immense pleasure of interpreting it, and for that they will be indebted to the show’s genius catalog, in which the writer and oral historian Svetlana Kitto channels Mr. Tisa’s archiving memory and expansive, expressive voice.”

Erica Fugger (2012) will be taking a one-year post at Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. As Oral Historian to the StoryQuest Project, she will help develop training curriculum and community partnerships for a nationwide initiative recording memories of World War II on the American home front.

Erica departs Columbia after studying at and working with OHMA for five years. She is excited to support the growth of this vital oral history project and looks forward to ongoing collaborations in New York during her time away.

Shannon Geis (2012) is working for the Medical Group Management Association, a national organization based in Englewood, Colorado, that provides knowledge and tools for practice administrators and executives in the evolving healthcare environment.

As a staff writer and editor, Shannon researches, writes, and edits content for the Association’s monthly magazine, MGMA Connection, and creates content for the MGMA website. She also conceived and developed the MGMA podcast and continues to host and produce the podcast, as well as other multimedia content.

For more information on Shannon’s work, check out her professional website at: http://shannongeis.net.

OHMA alumna Allison Corbett (2013) recently published, “Tending the Roots: A Response to Daniel Kerr” on the Oral History Review Blog. Referencing Kerr’s recent article, “Allan Nevins is Not My Grandfather,” and Paulo Freire’s foundational text, Pedagogy of the Oppresssed, she explains her own radical roots and why it’s important to acknowledge the diverse experiences that enable us to listen to each other.

Allison’s latest oral history project El Langua de la Justica / The Language of Justice can be found here: http://langjust.wixsite.com/langjust.

Last month, OHMA alums Cameron Vanderscoff (2013) and Erica Fugger (2012) co-chaired Oral History & The City, the 2017 conference of Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The theme drew upon conversations in the Fall 2017 OHMA Workshop Series and was the first time in nearly a decade that OHMAR returned to New York! Through co-sponsorship with OHMA, the main programming took place in Knox Hall and across local venues in Morningside Heights. The conference drew more than 100 individual presentations and 160 attendees from the East Coast and beyond.

The event focused on interview projects being conducted in urban spaces and explored the capacity for our work to address intersectional issues of social difference, achieve lasting impact within communities, and engage with our fraught political moment. Panel topics ranged from gentrification in Brooklyn and the transformative potential of urban art to the legacy of women in Congress. The special programming included a student award benefit with theatre and gospel performances, and events with community partners all over the city.

Oral History & The City opened with a dynamic plenary facilitated by OHMA alums Benji de la Piedra (2014) and Mario Alvarez (2015). The 2017 Pogue Award luncheon then recognized the outstanding contributions of OHMA Co-Founder and Co-Director Mary Marshall Clark. Journalist Jimmie Briggs’ keynote address culminated the event with a powerful reflection on his oral history book project about Ferguson, Missouri. Cameron and Erica are grateful for all of the support from the OHMA community in helping envision and coordinate the event!

Benji de la Piedra (2014) recently took a job with the DC Oral Collaborative, an ambitious citywide effort to preserve Washington, D.C.'s rich past by recording the stories of its residents and communities and bringing together information on existing oral history collections.

In his role as Project Trainer, Benji will train forty volunteer interviewers, as well as ten DC Humanities Council grantees, in oral history best practices. He will provide his students with ongoing methodological support throughout the summer, and serve as a liaison between their efforts and the activities of DCOHC's steering committee.

Benji is also taking advantage of his situation in DC to initiate a new phase of interviews towards the book he plans to write on the life and times of Washington Post journalist Herbert H. Denton, Jr. 

OHMA alumna Margaret Gooding-Silverwood (2015) has recently accepted the position of Development Associate with the Texas Civil Rights Project, where she will be working in the Austin, TX headquarters.

Founded in 1990, “The Texas Civil Rights Project has brought thousands of strategic lawsuits to protect and expand voting rights, challenge the injustices of our broken justice system, and advance racial and economic justice.” The organization operates out of offices throughout Texas: Austin, El Paso, North Texas (Dallas & Fort Worth), and South Texas (Rio Grande Valley).

Margaret has studied extensively the issues of Civil Rights, sense-of-place, and the American South, themes she incorporated into her thesis Turning Bullshit into Fertilizer: Empowerment Narratives, Self-Definition, and Sense of Place in Agriculture in the American South. She hopes to release this combination audio/video/written thesis to the Academic Commons pending the resolution of legal action against one of her narrators, and her farm, by developers.

Margaret hopes to integrate her skills as an oral historian into her role as Development Associate, recording the stories of those for whom the TCRP advocates in an effort to bring the voices of Civil Rights in Texas to a wider, and more generous, audience.  

Dina Asfaha (2016) is excited to join the Stanford Historical Society this summer as an oral historian intern! Following her internship, she will matriculate to the University of Pennsylvania to begin a doctoral program in Anthropology, where she will conduct research on the infrastructure and technology used to create and sustain revolutionary music during the Eritrean Armed Struggle for Independence. 

Fanny García (2016) was recently hired as the Communications Coordinator at Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change, a network of oral historians, activists, cultural workers, community organizers, and documentary artists that use oral history to further movement building and transformative social change. Fanny will be in charge of social media marketing, web presence, and all communications and outreach functions of the network, including newsletters and website content.

In addition to the above part-time work, Fanny will also stay on as Outreach Coordinator for OHMA until August and will be able to provide critical social media marketing support for the 2017 Summer Institute on Oral History, running June 5 to June 16 at Columbia University. The institute is coordinated by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center.