Brad Bailey (2017)

Brad Bailey.jpg

Brad Bailey, originally from Moultrie, Georgia, is a recent graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He received his B.A. from Yale University in Political Science and his Masters of Public Affairs from Princeton. Brad is an avid fan of telling stories, especially those from underexposed communities. At Columbia, he wants to delve even deeper into the methodological and analytical aspects of interviewing, while exploring the nexus of oral histories and journalism.







Carlin Zia (2017)

Carlin comes to OHMA from a literature background, having graduated with distinction in English from Yale College. She brings with her a love of language and narrative and writing, and is excited to get up to speed on social science theory and audio/visual mediums. For the last year she has been working on a project with her Chinese-born grandfather to record his life story, and in so doing to engage more deliberately with her own Asian\American identity. After a couple months she learned that what she was doing was a real thing and it was called Oral History. The rest is ongoing.








Lynn Lewis (2017)

Lynn Lewis is the founding Executive Director and former civil rights organizer of Picture the Homeless. She was instrumental in developing Picture the Homelessness’s organizing methodology and through that process, helping to build one of the only grassroots organizations led by homeless folks in the U.S.  for 17 years.  None of their many organizing wins would have been possible without also shifting the dialogue within social movements to end police brutality and for housing rights in recognition that homelessness is a racial and economic justice issue and a product of social inequality.    

She is a founding board member of the E Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust as well as a board member of the Cooper Square Community Land Trust.  Her work has been foundationalin catalyzing the growing Community Land Trust movement in New York City as well as moving City government to invest in this model - because it is not only important to dismantle unjust systems, it is equally essential to construct alternative models.  Lynn is a published author and has worked in the social justice movement for 35 years in a range of capacities in organizations and initiatives led by poor people in New York, Florida, revolutionary Nicaragua and Venezuela and is looking forward to learning how to collaboratively document the histories that poor people’s movements are creating in ways big and small through Oral History. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and is currently a consultant forsocial justice community organizing groups in NYC, and is a former Revson Fellow at Columbia University.




Dian Zi (2017)

Originally from Shanghai, China, Dian Zi joins the 2017 OHMA cohort as a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where she concentrated in History and Public Policy. Her interest in oral history stems from her curiosity of her family's experience of the Cultural Revolution. With the desire to learn a different and genuine perspective on history, she attended Sarah Lawrence College with the intention to study East Asian History. As a first-year student, Dian took a seminar, "Multimedia Use of Oral History" with Professor Gerry Albarelli. She was intrigued by the value of oral history- encouraging the narrators to recollect the personal details of public history, clarifying the memories which are muddled, and most importantly, broaching answers that people were afraid to recall. Oral history presents her an opportunity to ask the questions she always wanted to know of her family her country.

Since her first foregather with oral history, Dian has decided to record more stories of the unheard people during her undergraduate study. In her sophomore year, she completed a documentary called "Borders" about a North Korean refugee named Jinhye Jo. In her junior year, she recorded an oral history project "Individualizing Africa" on women in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. In her senior year, she conducted a senior oral history project called "The Many Faces of Us: An Oral History of Modern Feminism in China" to reveal and preserve the unheard stories of the the seemingly futile battle against misogynist patriarchy in China. Oral history has become her approach to make peace with the chaotic world and to remake connections with people she adores.

Her post-graduate intentions are not only to pursue her dream as an oral historian, but also to introduce the concept of oral history to her people in China. In addition, she calls herself a "hardcore feminist", Dian writes on the cause of gender equality, and looks forward to apply the oral history skills to gather and present collective stories of feminists of her generation. She currently resides in Bronxville, NY with her husband, also an advocate of oral history.

Desmond Austin-Miller (2017)

Desmond Austin-Miller joins the 2017 OHMA cohort as a recent graduate of Lafayette College where he majored in Anthropology & Sociology with a minor in Africana Studies. A native of Washington D.C., Desmond spent his summers in the District working in various spheres of the non-profit scene in education administration and homeless advocacy. Desmond hopes to further explore his research interests at Columbia in human rights activism, homelessness, power, race, and a multitude of other topics through the methodological lens of oral history.

Yiyi Zhang (2017)

Yiyi Zhang graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Philosophy and from Columbia University with a M.A. in Philosophy. Her interests shift from Philosophy to Oral History in 2016 as she was involved in a Oral History project. She is specifically interested in giving the oppressed group voice, the ignored people attention and building understanding and nurturing compassion through oral history. Yiyi is a world traveler. Besides countries in North America and Europe, she has also been to countries in South Asia, Central Asia and Africa for volunteer works and independent studies. Yiyi is always ready to encounter and be inspired by new people and new stories.

Yameng Xia (2017)

When I was an undergraduate student at Fudan University, I participated in an oral history project aimed to explore the living conditions of 50 Shanghai intellectual disabled people and their families. I conducted a survey of two of the families and performed the interview, the observation, and wrote a 20000-word report.


After that, I have realized that oral history is not only a method to provide new historical data, but also a method to record the life experiences of vulnerable groups and to raise the public awareness to help such group, such as disabled people, women, and educated youths who are in bad living conditions, which would add more excitement to me in OHMA.

Valerie Fendt (2017)

While working in the technically and physically demanding professions of bicycle messenger, theatrical stagehand, and bookbinder/conservation technician, Valerie Fendt fed her intellectual hunger through literature, film, the study of liberation struggles, and the camaraderie of fellow artists/activists. Since coming to Columbia University, she has been delighted to discover that she could not only build on this non-traditional educational background but also thrive in the academy as a passionate student of history, culture and politics.  She graduated summa cum laude in 2017 with departmental honors for her History thesis, “Paradigm Shift: The Standing Rock Sioux and the Struggle of Our Time.”

With the strong belief that creating space for and seeking out marginalized voices helps to facilitate freedom for everyone and enriches the whole of society, Valerie is thrilled to join the Oral History graduate program. She looks forward to developing the skills necessary to gather and present those voices in a way that broadens our collective sense of history and invites new meaning into the public conversation.

Samantha Lombard (2017)

Samantha Lombard is from Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College with Bachelor’s degrees in History and Art History in 2016. The research for her senior thesis, Social Media, the Western World, and UNESCO: ISIS and the Destruction of Ancient Art, centered on the relationship between ISIS and Western media, as well the affect of ISIS on ancient Syrian and Iraqi art and architecture. The thesis also discusses the role of oral history in the Yazidi genocide. Samantha plans to focus her Oral History Master of Arts program of study on the potential for oral history in documenting and preventing genocide.

Rozanne Gooding Silverwood (2017)

Rozanne Gooding Silverwood, ethnographer, photographer and life-long learner comes to the OHMA 2017 cohort from the Columbia University School of General Studies. Graduating summa cum laude with an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology, her research of her family’s archive of 19th century documents and genealogy records, literature and photographs culminated in an auto-ethnographic thesis on indigenous identity and belonging entitled “The Indigenous Uncanny: An Ethnography of Erasure and the Resurgence of Chickasaw Identity.” She has presented her work to both native and non-native audiences, at gatherings of her fellow citizens in Chickasaw Nation and at academic conferences concerned with public history.

Ms. Gooding Silverwood seeks to apply the skills and ethical perspectives from the OHMA program to a prospective project “What Makes Us Chickasaw?” By posing questions about indigenous identity to Chickasaw citizens and persons of African ancestry who are the descendents of Chickasaw Freedpeople she hopes to further dialogues about non-juridical forms of belonging and reparative pathways that might address the historic harms of her Chickasaw Nation’s slaveholding history.

Along with her continued research of indigenous issues, Ms. Gooding Silverwood academic focus also extends to more personal projects. At the 2017 Summer Intensive on Oral History and Aging[1] sponsored by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR)[2] Ms. Gooding Silverwood had the opportunity to present and receive feedback on a proposed project that draws from her experiences as caregiver during the final year of her mother’s life. She is excited to join the OHMA program and looks forward to learning more about how to incorporate photography and other visual material with end-of-life narratives and intergenerational storytelling for the co-construction of family life histories.




Tomoko Kubota-Hiramoto (2017)

Tomoko Kubota-Hiramoto is a newscaster and a reporter of Tokyo Broadcasting Systems Television in Japan. She also contributes to Japanese newspapers and Magazines on a variety of topics. Her passion as a journalist has its roots deep in her hometown, Hiroshima. Tomoko was surrounded by the stories of the Hibakusha, the atomic bomb survivors as she grew up. Through them, she learned to value and respect peace, and became determined that she would like to dedicate her career to the alleviation of conflicts in the world.

Her interest in OHMA results from her uneasiness as atomic bomb survivors age. She would like to devote herself to ensure that the A-bomb survivors' experiences and desires for peace are faithfully inherited and shared with as many people as possible. Therefore, she would like to conduct continuous interviews of the atomic bomb survivors. There are still many who are unable to talk about their experiences, those who have gone through the worst of the tragedy. Furthermore, she would like to cultivate the oral history archives of the atomic bomb survivors, as well as of the Americans involved with the atomic bombings, and start research on how the memory of a witness and trauma could be transmitted to future generations effectively.

Tomoko holds a BA in Foreign Studies from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

Kyna Patel (2017)

Kyna Patel is originally from Lakeland, Florida. She graduated from New College of Florida in 2015 with a B.A. in Anthropology. Her first experience with oral history was in 2013 when she interviewed a third gender community in Bahucharaji, India about religion and gender identity.

Kyna's research interests include race, identity, local history, foreign language, gender, immigration, borders, movement, visual culture, and civil rights. Recently she was an English Teaching Assistant in Germany through the Fulbright Program and was one of several members of the Diversity Group. She is an avid photographer and enjoys reading fiction

Holly Werner-Thomas (2017)

Holly Werner-Thomas is a writer and historian. A native Oregonian, Holly has lived all over the United States and abroad three times, in France, Brazil, and Turkey. Before receiving her M.A. in American history, she worked as a reporter and editor for several years in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Brasìlia. She has also worked as an oral historian for the Hurricane Katrina Oral History Project in conjunction with the University of Southern Mississippi, as Research Director for a historical consulting firm, The History Factory, and as an activist for the pressure group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, where she created an oral history project for gun violence victims and their family members. Holly has written two book-length works: on the largest lynching in American history, and on the two years she lived in Turkey. She currently lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, two children, and new puppy.

Filip Mazurczak (2017)

Filip Mazurczak holds a BA in Spanish and Hispanic Studies and History from Creighton University as well as an MA in International Affairs from the George Washington University. Since graduating, he has worked as a journalist, Polish-to-English translator (of academic publications and of fiction), and English teacher. Many of his more than 100 published articles have dealt with historical topics.

Filip’s interest in oral history results from his interest in European and Latin American history in the twentieth century. The past century saw numerous totalitarian and authoritarian political experiments in these regions, and he wants to document the testimonies of the witnesses to these events while they are still living. At Columbia, he would like to deal with oral interviews of the last surviving generation of first-hand witnesses to the atrocities of the Second World War and the Holocaust.

Elly Kalfus (2017)

I am a penal abolitionist, an improviser, and a fan of jellyfish. I grew up in the Bronx, went to the Bronx High School of Science and then Brandeis University, graduating with a bachelor of arts in English in 2013. Since then I have considered Massachusetts my home, where I have found amazing community and radical organizing.

I have worked to challenge the prison industrial complex for many years, investigating cases of wrongful conviction with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and the Committee for Public Counsel Services' Innocence Program, and evaluating states' indigent defense systems with the Sixth Amendment Center.

I seek to end reliance on the carceral state by calling attention to the widespread harm it causes all of us and the specific harm it causes imprisoned people and the communities they are stolen from. I want to create storytelling projects in collaboration with people directly affected by the carceral state, and wish to situate my work within the context of oral history and narrative storytelling for social change.  Most recently I have been exploring Massachusetts' history of taking voting rights away from incarcerated people, and the creative resistance incarcerated people have mounted in opposition. I am inspired by the risk-taking, intelligence and organizing of incarcerated people across the world.

Christina Barba (2017)

Christina is an attorney who spent the majority of her career as an Assistant District Attorney prosecuting public corruption at the Bronx DA’s Office.  She is currently a Hearing Officer for the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings where she adjudicates administrative law matters as an impartial judge and issues written decisions post-hearing.  

As a granddaughter of an Armenian Genocide survivor, Christina hopes to contribute to the collective memory of the Genocide by taking oral histories of the survivor’s children, the second-generation who grew up in the shadow of the Genocide and have passed the memory and its effects on to their own children. She will explore postmemory and the transmission of trauma: how the second generation’s identities and emotions were affected at different stages of their lives. Did some ignore their history because it was too difficult to face? Do they experience feelings of anger or hatred? Do they wish for revenge or reconciliation? To what degree has it affected their benevolent instincts and involvement with current humanitarian issues? And critically, how has the public denial of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey and other states influenced these personal and individual responses?

As a history major during her undergraduate study at Princeton University, she valued the study of the past with an eye towards the future. As a cohort, she anticipates exploring both the divergence and convergence of the fields of oral history and history.      

Having spent ten years conducting direct and cross-examinations where by necessity she had a goal in mind that determined her line of questioning, Christina hopes to facilitate a less determined outcome in taking oral histories, whereby the subject’s oral history is meaningful in and of itself and also as part of a larger narrative and collective memory.

Christina resides in Manhattan with her son, daughter, and husband. 

Alissa Funderburk (2017)

Alissa Funderburk is a New York native, having been born and raised in the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island, New York. As a lover of the fast paced global power that is the City of New York, Alissa attended Columbia University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in anthropology as a John W. Kluge Scholar. While in the college, Alissa dedicated herself to a number of organizations including the Multicultural Recruitment Committee, Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters, Black Student Organization, and Sexual Violence Response Program.

Her studies focused on race, culture, education and religion, particularly those of the African-American diaspora. After her graduation in 2012, Alissa relocated to her mother’s hometown of Decatur, Alabama where she spent her time pursuing two of her favorite interests: family history and children’s ministry. After a year’s time, Alissa returned to New York and began working with Hope Church NYC as the director of kids programming and as an assistant at York Preparatory School.

In the past three years Alissa has been a dedicated alumna and devoted member of her Astoria church community. Her oral history research will focus on exploring the religions and cultures that make up New York City, recording the stories of those communities. A haven for immigrants and people from multitudinous backgrounds, New York presents an ornate tapestry of religious tolerance. Alissa will ask the question, “What do you believe in?” and uncover the many ways how religion, either belief or disbelief, impacts the lives of others.

Elyse Blennerhassett (2016)

Elyse Blennerhassett: I am an oral historian, artist, and audio producer for radio, documentaries, podcasts, film, and space. Recording sound is one of my obsessions. Or perhaps it is the other way around, my obsessions compel me to record sound.  I use sound as a medium to record the meeting of our inner and outer worlds and to tell stories that explore uncertainty, memory, and trust within contested spaces.

With sound, I seek to address alterity.

Meave Warnock Sheehan (2016)

Meave Warnock Sheehan first learned about oral history when she decided to take a graduate class at Rutgers University-Newark as part of a master’s program.

Meave's previous jobs have been in local journalism, education, and government. Recently, she has been enjoying finding out more about her family history and learning about photography. Her research interests include local history, military history, podcasting, and the performance of storytelling.

Rachel Unkovic (2016)

Rachel Unkovic holds a Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation from SIT Graduate Institute, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Trinity College. She has worked for the International Rescue Committee in the field of humanitarian aid since 2009, based in DR Congo and Iraq, and with extended travel to ten other countries in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Rachel’s research interests include oral history in active conflict areas—oral history as a means to create space for refugees/conflict-affected people to gain more control over their own narrative and the story that is told—and interviewing to capture the effects of humanitarian aid.