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Project Lead
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Graduate Research Assistant

Danielle K. Brown, PhD (she/her) is the LIFT project lead and the John & Elizabeth Bates Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity and Equality in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is an award-winning, political communication researcher investigating the intersection of media, historically excluded communities, and social justice efforts. She is known for her media critiques of protest coverage and is now interested in producing solutions-based research that intervenes with power systems that oppress. Read more about her work here:

Jasmine Snow (she/they) is a Journalism(HSJMC)/American Studies undergraduate scholar at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She currently interns for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Her interests revolve around the concept of U.S. security and polarization post-9/11, and how journalism can still be effective for marginalized communities in a post-truth era. In her free time, Snow likes reading and writing, working on puzzles, crocheting, and spending time with friends and family.

Tracy Gunapalan is a second-year master's student at the Hubbard School. She is a journalism studies student who is passionate about understanding social media’s role in public engagement and knowledge acquisition. Her research will seek to address how current journalistic practices fail to engage with marginalized communities and how digital environments can interrupt this cycle. She is also interested in examining the declining trust in news, and the role new journalistic formats, including alternative/independent media might play in changing this phenomenon

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Research Associate
Research Associate
Research Associate

Denetra Walker, PhD (she/her) is an incoming assistant professor at the Grady School, University of Georgia. She is an award-winning television news journalist and journalism scholar. Dr. Walker’s research focuses on the experiences of marginalized and underrepresented journalists in the digital age, social justice and activism, police shootings, maternal health, and has a growing interest in racialized mis/disinformation. Her dissertation focuses on the experiences of Black journalists and their connections with the Black community. Previously, Walker worked in several behind-the-scenes roles in television news markets including Augusta, GA; New York, NY; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Columbia, SC—covering some of the nation's biggest stories. Walker’s experience working in and managing a T.V. newsroom inform her teaching and academic research. 

Miya Williams Fayne, Ph.D. (she/her) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communications at California State University, Fullerton. Her research investigates the Black press in the new media age via qualitative methodology and analyses of web metrics. Dr. Williams Fayne is a Tow Center research fellow and an affiliate of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies.

Marisa A. Smith, PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations and the School of Journalism at Michigan State University. Her work highlights that a critical component for understanding the sociopolitical implications of digital information environments involves examining its implications for racial attitudes. Her research considers the intersection of race, politics, and power to understand the effects of mediated messages on stereotype endorsement, public policy support, political polarization, and civic engagement.

Research Associate

David C. Wilson, Ph.D is Dean of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy and Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is drawn to investigate justice-related biases in political preferences, and specializes in the use of survey-based experiments. He most recently published Racial Resentment in the Political Mind (University of Chicago Press) in 2022, and co-edited Public Opinion Quarterly’s special issue on Race, Justice, and Public Opinion. His scholarship can be found in a variety of research outlets, including the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Political Behavior, DuBois Review, Psychological Sciences, and Journal of Applied Psychology. Prior to his appointment at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Wilson was a faculty member and administrator at the University of Delaware, and prior to that he was a senior statistical consultant and researcher at the Gallup Organization, in Washington, DC. He earned a BA (government) from Western Kentucky University, and an MPA (policy analysis) and PhD (political science), from Michigan State University.

Jarrad Henderson is a 4x Emmy Award-winning visual journalist and respected educator who has produced industry-recognized content in large newsrooms for over a decade. A highly sought-after multimedia alchemist, Henderson is a trusted industry leader who seeks to democratize journalism by empowering new voices to share their stories. He is a 2022 Knight-Wallace fellow, a journalism program hosted at the Knight-Wallace Center for Journalists at the University of Michigan. A forward-thinking, solution savvy media expert, Henderson helps others pursue their dreams of becoming visual storytellers through his roles as a multimedia judge at the Hearst Journalism Awards Program, as past Academic Representative for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Board of Directors, as a member of the Filmmaker Development Council for the Video Consortium and as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. His experience includes being a Senior Multimedia Producer at USA Today, where he worked with the Enterprise and Investigative Storytelling team. While at USA Today, Henderson’s work was honored by organizations such as the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Robert F. Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism, Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, Sidney Hillman Foundation, News Leaders Association, and White House News Photographer Association

An itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Terrance M. McKinley is a Senior Staff Member at Sojourners, the nation’s largest Christian messaging, media, and mobilizing organization. Throughout his ministry he has demonstrated his commitment to the work of faith and justice. Rev. Terrance McKinley is the Director of Racial Justice Mobilizing and provides leadership to three of the organizations key efforts focused on voting rights, racialized policing and justice reform, and radical truth-telling and repair for African Americans that properly acknowledges and memorializes our nation’s legacy of racial injustice, and is a catalyst for progress that ultimately eliminates persistent racial inequities. Rev. McKinley is also the Pastor of the historic Campbell AME Church in Washington D.C. Prior to his most recent appointment, he served as the Pastor of Hosanna AME Church in Darlington Maryland, on the Ministerial Staff of Reid Temple A.M.E. Church, and The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in his hometown, Queens New York. He is grateful to have also served in an interim role as Pastor of Mokone Memorial AME Church in Soweto, South Africa. Rev. McKinley has served in ministry the AME Church for over twenty years. He is an Alum of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree and holds Honors. He is also an Alum of Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. Essence Magazine recognized him as a “Do Right Man” because of his community activism. The African American Pulpit Journal honored him as one of “The 20 to Watch Leaders Under 40”. He received the Distinguished Clergy Leadership Award from the Skinner Leadership Institute a storied organization committed to producing high character leaders, social innovators, and community builders. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Black Christian Influencers (BCI), a fast growing, online network of young difference makers who are using digital platforms to amplify and share stories with the world. He serves on the National Advisory Committee (NAC) for the Culture of Health Leadership Institute for Racial Healing. He also serves on the Board of Examiners for the Washington Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Over the course of his career, Rev. Terrance M. McKinley has been committed to scholarship, leadership, justice, and relevant ministry that meets the needs of people and confronts broken systems. He is committed to ministry that impacts the community, the nation, and the world.

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Summer Research Assistant
HSJMC Research Associate

Ryon J. Cobb, Ph.D. is the Chancellor’s Scholar for Inclusive Excellence in Research on Black Americans and Assistant Professor of Social Work at Rutgers University. His award-winning scholarship focuses on ethno-racial influences in the social determinants of health and religion. Several agencies within and outside the National Institutes of Health recognize his accomplishments and promise as a scholar.

Christina Harisiadis (she/her) is a second-year master’s student in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her research interests lay at the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion and organizational communication, and she works to center marginalized communities in her research. Christina received her BA in strategic communication with minors in Spanish and sociology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2021.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, taking dance classes, trying new recipes, and a rousing game of Scrabble.

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon, PhD (she/her), is Associate Professor and Cowles Fellow in Media Management at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is affiliated with the Department of Sociology and a McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota. She is also an Affiliated Fellow at the Yale Law School Information Society Project. Her publicly engaged and empirical research has made contributions to the understanding of digital innovation and engagement in journalism. She studies digital media as structuring conditions of journalistic work, including how old and new actors adapt and respond to change in digital innovation, and the cultural forces of change in news organizations and the news industry. Read more:

Research Associate

Elisia L. Cohen, PhD (she/her) is the Director of the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is an award-winning, health communication researcher investigating community-based news media and communication approaches to improving public health. She is known for developing innovative media and community-based outreach strategies to improve vaccination rates, cancer prevention, and detection behaviors in underserved communities.

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