Keynote Speakers

Portrait of Jennifer Scott standing in a hallway with her hand on a bannister.Jennifer Scott will discuss two nationally significant historic sites dedicated to public engagement: Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, New York and Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago are two urban-centered historic house museums that address a range of social inequities in the past and present, including poverty, violence, mass incarceration, labor, education, and gender disparity. Representing socially marginalized communities, these unconventional museums use their histories of activism, social reform, and movement-building to address present-day social justice issues through publicly-engaged research, programming, exhibitions and oral histories, exploring the ways in which their histories transform and are transformed by communities.


Jennifer has worked with museums, arts and history organizations for the past 20 years with a focus on historic house museums, re-envisioning them as sites of arts and activism. Formerly, she served as the public historian at Weeksville Heritage Center for 10 years, and is currently the director of Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. She researches, writes and teaches on arts and civic engagement, museology, and anthropology at the New School for Public Engagement in New York and in the graduate program of Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago.


Adam Bush 1Adam Bush is the Provost and founding Director of Curriculum of College Unbound (approved as the 13th postsecondary institution in the state of Rhode Island in May 2015) and has co-designed College Unbound’s partnership with the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans. College Unbound is a degree completion college working with both inside and outside carceral spaces of Rhode Island to ensure all adult learners have access to a Bachelor’s degree pathway that values them as scholar-practitioners and is embedded within their commitments to community, workplace, and personal growth and development.

Bush will talk about the founding of College Unbound in conversation with his graduate work in American Studies and the evolution of Imagining America’s PAGE program. Bush will look to contextualize the Arc of Publicly Engaged Career within the realities of the present moment in Higher Education and possibilities of (re)envisioning new models of mentorship, pedagogy, and collective action within (and without) institutions.

Adam was a 2007 Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellow with Imagining America, directed PAGE program from 2010-2012, and now sits on Imagining America’s National Advisory Board. Adam received his PhD from USC’s Department of American Studies and Ethnicity for his dissertation Passing Notes in Class which examined the origins of early jazz programs and the student and teacher-activist musicians that led to that institutionalization. Adam is a recipient of the 2011 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award for commitment to academic and civic responsibility from the AAC&U and the 2015 recipient of the John Saltmarsh award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement from the AASCU’s American Democracy Project.



Robert E. Gutsche Jr., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Florida International University. A journalist since 1996, having written for The Washington PostChicago TribuneNewsdayMilwaukee Journal SentinelWisconsin State Journal, and other regional and local publications, his scholarship surrounds the cultural and social meanings of news. He is particularly interested in the ways in which news media demarcate space and characterize place as ideological tools for imposing social control – especially as related to race.

Dr. Lenore D. Maybaum is an Assistant Professor of English at Kirkwood Community College, where she teaches composition as a means of civic participation and public engagement. Her most recent publication, “Production and Reproduction: Negotiating Narratives of Labour as an Academic Mother,” will be published in April of 2016 in ‘New Maternalisms’: Tales of Motherwork (Dislodging the Unthinkable).

Kate E. Kedley is a PhD candidate in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program at the University of Iowa. Kate was a secondary Language Arts teacher for eight years, in Arizona and in Honduras, before returning to Iowa to attend graduate school. Education and teaching Honduras, and gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ issues in young adult literature and English Language Arts classrooms are Kate’s areas of academic interest. Kate lives in Cedar Rapids with three children, Boris, Kaiser, and Malachy.

Héctor Efrén Flores, or “Chaco de la Pitoreta,” is an activist, poet, writer, and lawyer from Honduras. Chaco works at Fe y Alegría, a Jesuit organization that works in the area of popular education and social promotion. Chaco is regionally known as a poet and member of a group of “artists in resistance” who use art to challenge corruption and violence in Honduras. Chaco is the author of a number of published books in Spanish, including Versos Para Leer Desde la Trinchera and Entre las y los Tolupanes. His poetry centers on growing up in the Bajo Aguán area of northern Honduras, where there are human rights abuses perpetrated by military and paramilitary forces.

Heather Wacha is a PhD candidate in Medieval History. Before returning to graduate school, Heather taught high school French in England and the US, as well as high school English in France. Her most recent projects include updating the descriptions of the medieval manuscripts held in The University of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections and designing short educational videos featuring select manuscripts. She is a member of UI History Corps, a graduate student-led organization dedicated to public history and the digital humanities.

Tala Al-Rousan is a Lown fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research focuses on studying the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on the health of refugees themselves, as well as on the host population. Tala has her MPH from the University of Iowa’s Epidemiology program. Previously, she studied medicine at Cairo University and traveled with Doctors Without Borders as a medical student.

Kate Kauper is an Assistant Professor of Education at Cornell College. She taught middle and high school social studies for nine years, as well as courses in mythology, health education, and anthropology. Her research interests include the history of American education, curriculum theory, educational criticism and connoisseurship, social and emotional learning, civic engagement, and equity and social justice in educational opportunity.

Craig Eley is currently an ACLS Public Fellow working with To the Best of Our Knowledge, a weekly radio program produced at Wisconsin Public Radio. He has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa. Previously he has had fellowships with the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State University and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution.

Jeannette Gabriel is a PhD candidate in Teaching and Learning in the College of Education. She is the coordinator for the Jewish Women in Iowa Project in the Iowa Women’s Archives, and is also currently the president of the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students (COGS).

Jessica Anthony is a visiting assistant professor in the University of Iowa’s Dance Department and the co-director of Dancers in Company, which recently adapted a public engagement approach to teaching and choreography. Anthony previously led workshops at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.

An artist and researcher in the Interdisciplinary PhD program studying Environmental Humanities, Erica Damman‘s work explores artists and creative practices that intersect with environmental questions. Of particular interest is how an interdisciplinary approach to creative environmental action, which blends sciences, aesthetics, communication, and the public, can affect our human and non-human relations, especially in a world made different by climate change. Last summer, Erica participated in the Humanities Without Walls Alternative Academic Workshop in Chicago, exploring alternative academic paths for students in the humanities.

Jennifer Shook is a PhD candidate in English and Graduate Certificate student in the Center for the Book, as well as Co-Director of Imagining America’s PAGE (Publicly Active Graduate Engagement) Fellow Program. Her current work combines early American and Native American drama, book arts and history, and memorial studies. She has taught at DePaul University, Columbia College, and the Newberry Library, among other places. She also founded Caffeine Theatre—a company that mined the poetic tradition to explore social questions (2002-2012).

Janice Byrd is a doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education & Supervision program at the University of Iowa. Janice has a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in Counselor Education. She has previous experience as a ninth grade English teacher and school counselor. Janice research interests has two foci: 1)advocating for the use and development of culturally responsive pedagogy by school counselors and career counselors; 2) raising the awareness of systemic issues experienced by historically marginalized youth populations. Currently, Janice is completing her dissertation which explores the perceived experiences of high ability, Black females from low-income backgrounds who are currently freshman in college that may or may not have contributed to their college readiness. Janice was a 2014 Obermann Institute Fellow.

Khirin Carter received her Master’s Degree in Sociology with an emphasis in educational inequality and criminology from the University of Iowa in 2009. Most recently, Khirin was appointed as the Women’s Resource and Action Center’s Violence Prevention Specialist where she will be developing, implementing and evaluating sexual and interpersonal violence primary prevention training for the UI campus, and providing coordination and leadership for WRAC’s Men’s Anti-Violence Council. For the past year and half she has worked as a graduate assistant at WRAC, coordinating the Youth Mentoring Program, co-leading the Men’s Anti-Violence Council, and serving as a co-trainer for bystander intervention workshops across the campus. Additionally, as an alumnae member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Khirin serves on the Central Region’s Leadership team as the Iowa State Coordinator and Chair of the Emergency Response Team.