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.

Fanny Garcia (2016)


Fanny Julissa García is an oral historian contributing work to Central American Studies. In her most recent work, Reminiscences on Migration: A Central American Lyric, she intertwines her own migration story using lyric poetry and vignettes with oral history interviews conducted with Central American refugee women who had been released from detention centers at the U.S./Mexico border. She has worked for more than 15 years as a social justice advocate to combat the public health and socioeconomic impact of HIV/AIDS on low income communities, worked closely with organizations fighting for the end of family detention, and supported survivors of sexual violence. She serves as the Communications Coordinator for 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. She also works at the New-York Historical Society, and is co-founder of Social Exchange Institute, a media and education company that uses multi-media tools to produce work that promotes social justice and equity. She’s also on the editorial board for the Oral History Association’s Oral History Review. In 2017, she graduated from the Oral History Master of Arts program from Columbia University where she received the Judge Jack B. Weinstein Scholarship Award for Oral History and the OHMA Oral History Teaching and Social Justice Award.

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 came to OHMA with a background in theatre and performance art, film, photography, and education.  She received her AB in English-Creative Writing from Brown University. Since graduating from OHMA in 2014, Laura’s work in oral history includes editing the commemorative book Saint Ann’s School; An Unofficial History – 1965-2015 and conducting training in oral history for choreographer Meredith Monk’s House Foundation and The Actor’s Fund/Performing Arts Legacy Project, to be archived at The New York Public Library.

Laura has directed theatre at 59E59 Street and Judson Church and, for chashama Experimental Theatre, she produced Windows on 42nd Street, a six-month series of installations and performances created for storefront windows in Times Square. Her own durational performance pieces Inside/Out, Secret Confession Box and Spinning were presented in windows in NYC and Berlin. In the 90s, Laura toured with Love Theatre; the company performed at venues including London’s ICA, Budapest’s Katona József Színház and The Wooster Group’s Performing Garage.

As a casting director and producer of commercial photography, Laura’s clients included Swissair, Adidas, Ray Ban, and IBM.  She has worked extensively with independent filmmaker, Amir Naderi, casting films presented in competition in festivals including Cannes and Venice.

Since 1996, Laura has directed and taught Acting and Performance Art at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights; she created a high school elective that focuses on autobiographic, site-specific performance. Additional teaching: Columbia University’s Summer Program for High School Students; PS 234 & PS 89, and guest lectures and Parson’s School of Design and Queens College. Laura is on the Advisory Board of Equality Now’s Adolescent Girls’ Legal Defence Fund, for whom she has directed documentary theatre pieces that advance the organization’s mission. Laura is a native of Brooklyn, where she currently lives with her husband and son.

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

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. 


Nicole JeanBaptiste (2014)

Nicole JeanBaptiste is a resident and native of the Bronx, New York with Caribbean and Southern American parentage.  She earned her B.A. degree in African and African-American Studies from Lehman College of the City University of New York.  Nicole credits her professional experience at Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Families, a community based organization in NYC, for much of her training in youth leadership and development work, as she started out as an intern with the Girls Empowerment and Leadership Initiative (GELI) program while still working to complete her undergraduate degree.  After working as the Program Coordinator for the GELI program for over a year, Nicole left her position to accept a United States Student Fulbright Award to study and conduct research in Jamaica, West Indies.  While there, she completed a project, which sought to explore the link between Rastafarian art and craftwork and traditional African art and craftwork.  Upon her return to the United States, Nicole began her training in teaching English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) to a culturally diverse group of immigrant women living in the South Bronx.   Nicole brings with her to OHMA an undeniable commitment to girls’ and women’s empowerment and a steadfast love and appreciation for all things cultural.  She is a doula in training and a proud mama of a 6 year old son.

Kristen La Follette (2011)


Kristen La Follette employs playwriting to reimagine interviews on stage. Her verbatim play, Pushing Against the Water: A Bay Area Muslim Women’s Oral History Project was featured in the 2019 Greenhouse Theatre Festival in San Francisco. A Glimpse Through the Curtain: Monologues of American Catholic Sisters was read in New York City and Pennsylvania. Kristen researches and writes about oral history theatre. She taught workshops for organizations, including the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and Veteran’s Oral History Project. Kristen graduated in 2012 with an M.A. in Oral History. She worked at Columbia Center for Oral History, serves on the Columbia Oral History Alumni Association Board and is a founding member of the Oral History Association’s Emerging Professionals Committee. In 2019, she earned her M.F.A. in Playwriting from San Francisco State University. She teaches creative writing and oral history at California State University Monterey Bay.

Maye Saephanh (2012)


Maye Saephanh comes to OHMA with a background in humanitarian assistance.  She received her B.A in Political Science with a Minor in Global Peace & Security Studies from the University of CA at Santa Barbara.  She has spent most of her career supporting international NGOs and most recently with the U.S. government in Afghanistan where she worked alongside the U.S. and NATO military forces to manage stabilization programs in rural communities.  

McKenna Stayner (2013)

McKenna Stayner is a writer, interviewer, editor, and grant writer. Currently, she is an interviewer for the Brooklyn Historical Society's oral history project with the Brooklyn School of Inquiry. Before moving to New York, she managed outreach and publicity for Voice of Witness, a social justice oral history book series published by McSweeney's. McKenna went to St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico for her undergraduate degree in philosophy and literature, and her blood runs Santa Fe-turquoise. She's interested in food justice, refugee rights, Borges, and the rejuvenation of journalism through oral history. Her thesis explores sensory memory in refugee narratives, focusing on scent and non-textual visuality.

Liz Strong (2014)

Liz Strong: I grew up in New England, lived for years in the North West, and moved to New York City in 2014. In 2015 I received my MA in Oral History from Columbia University. I conducted my Masters thesis work with the NYPD Guardians Association, a fraternal organization for black police. The oral history of the Guardians Association can be accessed via the Columbia Rare Books & Manuscripts Library, as well as a collection of the organization's newsletters.

My BA from Oberlin College in 2009 was in Narrative Arts. There, I completed an individually designed major, which examined narrative theory, folklore, and explored in-depth tools for communicating narrative in visual arts and storytelling performance.

Prior to my time with the Columbia Oral History MA program, I was a professional storyteller, and a freelance personal historian in the North West. I led workshops and trainings, and managed projects for a variety of organizations and families.

These days, I am based in Brooklyn and I continue to manage several oral history projects. My recent clients have included the Brooklyn Historical Society, the New York Preservation Archive Project, and the Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Leyla Vural (2014)


I have been working as an independent oral historian, based in New York City, since I completed the OHMA program in May 2015. My work has included projects about neighborhood change and efforts to preserve sites of cultural importance in working-class communities and communities of color; a project about New York City’s potter’s field; interviews with LGBTQ New Yorkers for the Stonewall National Monument; and interviews with folklorists, musicians, craftspeople, and historians for a series of cultural audio tours of Sligo and Donegal, Ireland. For an ongoing project I developed for The Rockefeller University, I am interviewing pre-eminent scientists and editing each interview into a short film about the experience of discovery. I am an international affiliate of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University in Montréal. In 2016, the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College selected my piece on ethical listening as a “favorite essay” and I was the storyteller at a conference at the U.N. on sustainable energy for all. I have a Ph.D. in geography from Rutgers University and worked in the labor movement for 20 years before joining the OHMA program. Samples of my work are available at