MEET OUR TEAM
LIFT Project Director
DR. DANIELLE K. BROWN
Danielle K. Brown, PhD is the LIFT Project founder and director. She recently joined Michigan State University as the 1855 Community and Urban Journalism Associate Professor, but originally began this project at the University of Minnesota where she served as the Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity and Equality. Keep an eye out for her upcoming book "After a Reckoning." 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: www.daniellekbrown.com
Jarrad Henderson is the LIFTxVoices Program leader and founder of PopUp Docs, a mobile editing studio aimed at training the next generation of visual media makers. Jarrad 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 currently at Michigan State University as an Artist In Residence.
DR. MIYA WILLIAMS FAYNE
DR. DENETRA WALKER
DR. MARISA A. SMITH
Miya Williams Fayne, Ph.D. (she/her) is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Wisconsin-Madison. 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.
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.
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.
DR. CHRISTINA MYERS
REV. TERRANCE M. MCKINLEY
DR. KATHLEEN SEARLES
Christina L. Myers, PhD (she/her) is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism at Michigan State University. Employing qualitative methods, Dr. Myers' research bridges Critical Race Theory concepts and Mass Communication theory to offer fresh perspectives on the intersection of race and media – specifically examining depictions of Black experiences and the presence of implicit racial bias and racist ideologies in narrative creation in the areas of music, sports and news. Her previous journalism postings include Equity Reporter, covering the intersection of race, culture and policy, for The State Newspaper (SC), political reporter for The Associated Press (SC) and national desk writer for NBC News Channel (NC).
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.
Kathleen Searles, Ph.D., is the Sheldon Beychok Distinguished Associate Professor of Political Communication, and holds a joint appointment in the Manship School of Mass Communication and the Department of Political Science at Louisiana State University. She is affiliated faculty with the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, the Multidisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience Discovery, and the Media Effects Lab, all at Louisiana State University. Her interests include news media, campaign advertising, and political psychology. She co-authored a book published by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, respectively: the first investigates the effects of mobile devices on information processing, and the second examines the construction of expertise in the news. She has been awarded more than 7 million dollars in grant monies, including three National Science Foundation grants. Her work has appeared in journals such as Public Opinion Quarterly, The Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Political Research Quarterly, Political Communication, Journal of Experimental Political Science, Information Communication & Society, PLOS ONE, Journalism, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, International Journal of Communication, and Political Psychology. She is a founding member and executive emerita of Women Also Know Stuff, an organization designed to amplify the voice of women political scientists in public discourse and decrease the gender imbalance in media representation of experts. In 2020 she co-convened the Election Coverage and Democracy Network, which worked with journalists to cover the lead up to the presidential election and the post-election aftermath.