Jeffrey Brodsky (2008)

For his thesis, Jeffrey Brodsky conducted more than 60 hours of oral history interviews, in which politicians recount their first political races. Read transcripts and watch video clips in the Washington Post. You can also listen to NPR interview Mr. Brodsky about the project.

Continuing his thesis research on the international front, Mr. Brodsky has interviewed a dozen world leaders about their formative political experiences and campaign memories. Among those Brodsky has interviewed include Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar, President Alejandro Toledo of Peru, Prime Minister Wim Kok of the Netherlands, President Mary Robinson of Ireland, President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal, Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Bondevik, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jenny Shipley, President of Panama Martin Torrijos, President of Colombia Andres Pastrana, and Gerry Adams of Northern Ireland.

In 2012, Chief Executive magazine commissioned Brodsky to interview chief executive officers on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). These CEOs included James Turley of Ernst & Young, Alan Mulally of Ford Motor Company, David Novak of Yum Brands, and former Chrysler and Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli.

As an oral historian, Brodsky has conducted a series of extensive interviews with Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Kann, the former publisher of The Wall Street Journal and CEO of Dow Jones. He has also recorded oral histories with television news veterans Sam Donaldson of ABC and Bob Schieffer of CBS.

Prior to studying at Columbia, Mr. Brodsky received a BA in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Jonathon Fairhead (2014)

Jonathon Fairhead is a South African oral historian, living and working in Brooklyn. His research focuses on the fields of education, human rights, activism, and the arts. 

A recent graduate of the Oral History MA Program at Columbia, Jonathon's thesis maps the individual narratives of the Equal Education social movement in South Africa. Equal Education is a movement of learners, activists and policy makers that seek to undo the inequalities in state provided education created by apartheid.

Jonathon has served as an interviewer for the Atlantic Philanthropy Oral History Project, prior to which he served as Secretary to the General Education Advisory Board at the Open Society Foundations.

He holds an Ed.M in Peace Education from Teachers College Columbia University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

Meghan Valdes (2015)

Meghan Valdes is a New Jersey native, recently graduating summa cum laude from Rutgers University where she obtained her B.A. in history - and discovered her passion for oral history. Working at the Rutgers Oral History Archives, she has conducted interviews with World War II veterans and transcribed interviews for the ACLU Oral History Project, which seeks to document the changes in the American Civil Liberties Union in the post-9/11 landscape. She comes to OHMA straight off of an internship at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, where she served as the memorial exhibition intern for the museum’s In Memoriam exhibition, which honors victims through photographs, biographies, and audio remembrances. Her interests include jazz, travel, diners, and listening to jazz at diners she’s traveled to.


Leonard Cox (2014)

Leonard Cox is a corporate communications professional with 36 years of experience in the field. He is currently the Assistant Vice President of Communications for the Facilities and Campus Operations division of Columbia University in New York City. Prior to joining Columbia, Cox worked as a partner at the Michael Cohen Group, LLC, where he managed the firm’s corporate communications and media entertainment practice areas.

During his 14 years working with Michael Cohen, Cox developed and managed large-scale communication campaigns as well as managed audience development initiatives for the firm’s television clients.  Prior to the Michael Cohen Group, Cox was Director of Corporate Communications at the National Broadcast Company (NBC). In this capacity, Cox managed the network’s internal communication initiatives and directed several public and governmental affairs campaigns. In addition, he served as a producer at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Before moving to New York City in 1987, Cox served as the Assistant Press Secretary to Indiana’s Lieutenant Governor. Cox is passionate about documentary filmmaking. His film, THE KILLER WITHIN, was nominated for an EMMY for best documentary. His documentary, QUESTIONING FAITH, was broadcast on HBO/CINEMAX and was ranked among the top 10 influential films of 2002. His short film, FRIENDS IN DEED, won a TELLY Award. Cox has been nominated for two additional EMMY Awards.

Cox received Purdue's 2004 College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumni Award and the Gold Medal for creativity from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Cox is celebrating his 28th year as a volunteer at the Dwelling Place, a shelter for homeless women located in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. Cox is a past member of the Advisory Board for the Brian Lamb School of Communications at Purdue University. He has served on the Board for Columbia University’s Community Service initiative, is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Dwelling Place, and is a past member of the Auburn Media Project’s Board of Advisors.


Reem Aboukhater (2012)


Reem Aboukhater just moved to New York City from Boston - her favorite city in the world! She attended Boston College where she pursued her love for literature. When Reem is not conducting OHMA interviews she’s working at Stick Figure Productions helping to make documentary films. Reem originally comes from the Middle East; she grew up in England and France, and now she describes herself as a citizen of the world.

Maggie Argiro (2013)

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Maggie Argiro, originally from Columbus, Ohio, joins OHMA from Ohio Wesleyan University where she received a BA in Sociology/Anthropology. She has in interest in writing and wishes to find ways to bridge the humanities and the social sciences with oral history. In 2012 Maggie received a “Theory-to-Practice” grant through Ohio Wesleyan University to travel to Cuba and learn about the history and people of Santería. While there she conducted interviews and returned with a photographic exhibition that incorporated the collected oral histories.  She has also interned with the Somali Documentary Project, a non-profit organization formerly located in Columbus, Ohio. She assisted with grantwriting and research, and became involved with the Somali community. She intends on returning to collect life histories from Somalis who live in Columbus. Her research interests include the movements of people, transnationalism, and ideas about home and place, all of this with an eye toward revealing social inequalities and giving voice to those who are regularly overlooked. She is particularly interested in literary uses of oral histories, and in debates about what is considered to be nonfiction or fiction. She is currently the oral history intern at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

Laura Barnett (2013)

Laura Barnett comes to OHMA with a background in theater and performance art, photography, and education. She has directed at NYC theaters including 59E59 Street and Judson Church.  For Chashama Experimental Theater, she curated WINDOWS ON 42nd STREET, a series of installations and performances designed for storefront windows in Times Square; she performed her own performance pieces in windows in NYC and Berlin. In the 90s, she toured with Love Theater, the company performed at festivals throughout Europe and venues including London’s ICA, Budapest’s Katona József Színház and The Wooster Group’s Performing Garage. Laura has had dual careers as a producer and casting director of commercial photography and as an educator. She currently teaches theater at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights, where she created a high school elective that focuses on autobiographic, site-specific theater. She has taught at Columbia University’s Summer Program for High School Students and is on the Advisory Board of Equality Now’s Adolescent Girls’ Legal Defense Fund. A graduate of Brown University, with a degree in English-Creative Writing, Laura is a native of Brooklyn, where she currently lives with her husband and son.

Carrie Brave Heart (2013)

Carrie Brave Heart joins the OHMA program from South Dakota. She
received her BS in History/Art History from Northern Arizona University
in 2010. She has a great love of Native American History and is excited in the possibilities resulting from the use of Oral History to add to the telling or use in the revision of traditional western historical narrative. In 2010, she began a project pertaining to artwork contained in the David Humphreys Miller Collection. This ongoing project’s purpose has been to locate living descendants of a group of Northern Plains Native American women, who Miller drew individual untitled portraits of, in the 1930’s. Her ultimate goal is to create biographies for each of these women to accompany their portraits, through the use of oral history interviews. Her current thesis work in the OHMA program is the Indian Village at the New York State Fair.

Kate Brenner (2014)

Kate Brenner attended the University of Wisconsin, where she received a BA in Chinese and a certificate in Gender and Women's Studies. There she also developed an interest in folklore, and had her first exposure to oral history, editing interview transcriptions at the Wisconsin Veteran's Museum. During two years of AmeriCorps in Minneapolis, she ran after school classes and became interested in trying to find ways to get students to tell their own stories. When she moved to New York, she began an internship with City Lore, an organization dedicated to promoting New York's living cultural heritage. Kate is especially interested in the intersection of folklore and oral history.

K.O. Campbell (2011)

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K.O. Campbell grew up on Lookout Mountain, TN. She graduated from Pomona College in 2008 with a degree in English Literature. Among other things, she is interested in an intersection in Harlem. 

William Chapman (2013)

William Chapman is a California native and recent graduate of California State University, Fresno, with a B.A. in History. His previous oral history experience has centered around interviewing World War II veterans, and the development of the Central California War Veterans Oral History Project, based at CSU Fresno. Through the course of the OHMA program at Columbia University, William hopes to apply his historical training and love for the interview process to further his goal of one day working for The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

China Ching (2008)


Bessie Dvora China Leipakumakaniokalani Ching (China Ching) was named according to Hawaiian and Jewish traditions and is honored to carry names from the matrilineal lines of both her parents. She has provided capacity-building assistance to Indigenous communities around the world with a particular focus on using media technologies and storytelling to promote Indigenous rights, support social and community change and to complement cultural documentation. China is currently an Associate Program Officer for the Christensen Fund, a private foundation based in San Francisco. She works on supporting and increasing Indigenous participation and representation in global processes affecting Indigenous rights and biocultural diversity.

China is a proud (and fierce) aunty and godmother and blessed to be the daughter and granddaughter of artists.

Sang Yi (Cindy) Choung (2009)

Sang Yi (Cindy) Choung is a NY-based independent oral historian and media maker. She has served as an interviewer/oral history consultant for numerous projects and organizations, including the National Law Enforcement Museum's NYC Police Commissioners Project and the Washington Peace Center. Her past experience includes work as Chief Editor for the West Point Center for Oral History, Film Festival Coordinator for Columbia’s Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion, and Project Coordinator with Voice of Witness's Burma project. While at OHMA, her research culminated in a master’s thesis film entitled Eight Million Stories. She is currently working on a feminist archival project entitled Self. Expression., focusing on oral histories of women artists who make work that explores their identities. 


Sewon Chung Barrera (2012)

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Sewon Christina Chung Barrera is a Media Artist, Communications Innovator, and Oral Historian.

She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Literary & Cultural Studies from the College of William and Mary. During her studies, she produced a documentary film about the U.S.‐Mexico border to facilitate discussion concerning race, identity, and community in Williamsburg, Virginia. After graduation, Sewon completed a multimedia blog series for MIT's CoLab Radio in Kunming, China. Her work focused on the daily experience of urban development in one of China's quickly changing border regions. She received her M.A. in Oral History at Columbia University in May 2013. At OHMA, she explored the intersection of community-based oral histories and digital communications tools to produce her interactive thesis on Central Park North.

Currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sewon specializes in digital consultancy as a Content Marketing Strategist at Brafton. Passionate about place-based stories and interdisciplinary collaborations, Chung is producing an audiosensory "tour" of San Francisco's Presidio with senseofplace LAB and collecting oral histories along the historic San Pablo Corridor for East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation.

More at

Sara Cohen-Fournier (2011)

Sara Cohen-Fournier has been working for the last 3 years as an active interviewer, and group coordinator of the community-based project Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by Wars, Genocide and Human Rights Violations. She is really exited to pursue more training and explore the issue of trauma and fear. She hopes in doing so to understand deeper the essence of listening in mental health issues.

Sophie Cooper (2011)


Sophie Cooper holds an MA in Oral History from Columbia University, where she focused on narratives of community histories. Her work has included several documentary features on her home state of Alabama. In addition to her MA from Columbia, she holds a BA in History from Yale University. 

Ellen Coon

Ellen Coon comes to the program after seven years collecting narratives of feminine divinity in the Kathmandu Valley.  A former Fulbright scholar, her interests include ritual, ecology, and food.

Allison Corbett (2013)


Allison Corbett is a Spanish interpreter, oral historian, and documentarian based in New York City. In her work she seeks to be a bridge - across language, culture, and difference. Her goal is to gather and share stories through film, radio, and interactive media, that nourish the development of strong, multilingual communities engaged in the work of self-determination and societal transformation. As an interpreter, she facilitates oral communication between Spanish-speakers and non-Spanish-speaking English-speakers with the goal of creating more inclusive and equality-minded communities.

Prior to coming to OHMA, she spent eight years in working in Latinx communities in the U.S. and Latin America as an interpreter, educator, and in various non-profit roles. During her time at OHMA, she partnered with a project documenting gentrification and displacement in Crown Heights, and conducted her fieldwork in Argentina, building on previous experiences studying the politics of memory in La Plata, Buenos Aires. Her master's thesis and subsequent film short (premiering at the 2015 Oral History Association Annual Meeting) explores the way that spaces of ruin and trauma associated with Argentina's last dictatorship reflect and interact with political memory work on the outskirts of La Plata.

Following her graduation from OHMA, Allison began working as an interpreter at Mt. Sinai, St. Luke's, and Roosevelt Hospitals and has embarked on a number of projects supporting collectives, organizers, and artists in documenting community stories in upper Manhattan. She is an enthusiastic member of the collective-run bookstore Word Up in Washington Heights, and is a founding member of the Oral History Collective, a group of OHMA-trained oral historians interested in nurturing collaborative creative processes as well as sustainable self-employment within the field. She also coordinates the Oral History Exchange, a bi-monthly book/media discussion club, as a Board member of the Columbia Oral History Alumni Association.