As the gatherers of people's distinct life stories and community histories, the Community Researchers form the backbone of the Voicing and Action Project. Drawn from the community of East Cleveland, all of the Community Researchers have been trained in collecting oral and video life narratives with the greatest sensitivity and precision. Below, you can find the details on our diverse group of researchers. Their names are:
Lori Urogdy Eiler, Michelle Hill, Leslye Huff, Nancy Nolan Jones, Jeannie Joy, Brandon L. King, Celestine McGlothin, Chaza Musonda, Pamela Owens, LaVora Perry, Jarod Perry-Richardson, Nia Perry-Richardson, Hank Smith, Shelley White, and Earl Williams.
Voicing and Action Project Director:
Rhonda Y. Williams, Ph.D.
Rhonda Y. Williams, Ph.D., the Social Justice Institute's Director and Founder, also serves as Project Director for the Voicing and Action Project. To learn more about "Dr. Rhonda," click here.
Institute Administrator/Community Researcher:
As former Project Manager for the Snicker Fritz Community Time Capsule in East Cleveland, Shelley White has seen firsthand the richness of this community’s history, and the many stories they possess. “The residents, people, are the heart of this city, and their personal stories are the lifelines that connect them to each other, to the East Cleveland community, and to the world at large.” Shelley White has been an employee of Case Western Reserve University since 2001, and is the current Administrator for the Social Justice Institute.
Research Associate/Project Coordinator:
Misty Luminais, Ph.D.
Misty Luminais, Ph.D., is a Research Associate and the Project Coordinator for the Voicing and Action Project. As a cultural anthropologist, her areas of expertise include urban studies, gender, sexuality, public health, and ethnography. Her prior work is in New Orleans, Belize, Washington State, and Texas. Dr. Luminais believes the gathering of residents' personal testimonies empowers people by revealing links of shared experience and commitment while opening doors to increased collaboration on multiple levels in the future.
CREC Education Coordinator:
Mary Ellen Lawless
Mary Ellen Lawless, MA, RN, Research Nurse, works at the Case Center for Reducing Health Disparities. Lawless has a key role in providing CREC education training for community researchers. She has assisted with developing materials specifically tailored to community researcher’s project study roles. To date, she has been involved in leading trainings for the 37 community researchers in Cleveland. According to Lawless, “Each project I have worked on has truly enriched my life. The community researchers each have unique life experiences, that when combined with CREC training, makes them a true and powerful group to conduct interviews for the Voicing and Action project. It has been a privilege to work with this project focused on the residents of East Cleveland”.
Undergraduate Student Assistant:
Allison George assists the Social Justice Institute with its programs, events, and projects. She has worked with the Institute's student/youth leadership conference, PowerUp!, and the Voicing Action Project. She is a double-major at CWRU in Sociology and viola performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Brandon L. King
Brandon L. King is the Vice-President of American Merchandising Services (AMS) and the Managing Partner of King Management Group (KMG). He has participated in a variety of community activities including Habitat for Humanity and Closing the Achievement Gap program. He received his Bachelors in Entrepreneurship and MBA from Ohio University and his Master’s Degree in Urban Real Estate Development and Finance from Cleveland State University.
Jeannie Joy has worked both locally and nationally as a marketing consultant, counseling business owners on marketing strategies and ways to improve company profits. She received her degree in Marketing from DeKalb Technical College in Clarkston, Georgia, and has marketed her own book titled Experience Joy Cliché. Currently, she is working on several projects for local businesses, as well as her role as a Community Researcher for the Voicing and Action Project. Jeannie Joy’s interest in the rich history of East Cleveland centers around her passion to learn about the lives of the city’s residents.
Leslye M. Huff, J.D., is a lawyer and managing member of Huff Law, LLC. She graduated with her J.D. from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, of Cleveland State University. Before that, she also received her B.S. in Education and a B.A. in Psychology from Cleveland State University. Huff is a published author of multiple articles and law review papers. She spends her free time golfing, writing, and performing on African drums, specifically Djembé, Batá, and Conga. Huff is a current resident of the East Cleveland community.
East Cleveland resident and lifelong activist Hank Smith is part of the core team of the Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope (NOAH), the Board of Trustees for the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center, and the Executive Board of American Legion Post 305. As a husband, father, grandfather, and recently as a great-grandfather, Smith's strongest desire is to be a positive influence and to do what he can to improve the quality of life in the world he lives in.
M. LaVora Perry was born and raised in Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. In 1992, she moved from New York City to East Cleveland. For several years, Perry wrote and edited greeting cards for American Greetings where she earned Creative Excellence awards twice. She earned her undergraduate degree in Education from Cleveland State University.
Sixteen year old Nia Perry-Richardson was born and raised in East Cleveland. She is in eleventh grade at MC2 STEM High School and has taken college courses at Cleveland State University through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program (PSEOP). In addition to being trained as a Community Researcher with the Social Justice Institute's Voicing and Action Project, she attended the SJI Power Up! youth leaders training conference in April 2012. As a result, she was motivated to fight even harder to create social change. Unsure of her career plans, she is considering careers in psychology and law.
Fourteen year-old Jarod Perry-Richardson was also born and raised in East Cleveland. He is an Honor Roll student at the Cleveland School of the Arts where he majors in visual art. For the second year in a row Jarod is joining other students in participating in Cleveland's Mural My Neighborhood program. In the program, middle and high school students train under an accomplished artist mentor beginning in the spring. The students spend summer drawing and painting a large and beautiful mural on the side of building, and are paid a stipend for their efforts. At this time Jarod is considering a career as an electrical engineer. But, he says, considering his age, this plan can always change.
Nancy Nolan Jones
Nancy Nolan-Jones began recording her family’s stories more than twenty years ago, long before she knew becoming an Oral Historian was her life’s purpose. While serving as the Executive Director of the African American Museum in Cleveland, she started recording the oral narratives of others. She has been instrumental in developing several narrative collections, including “Reflections of Black Life in Greater Cleveland, 1920 to Present.” Currently, Nolan-Jones is honored to serve as a Community Researcher for the Voicing and Action Project because she believes in the power of how our stories connect us and help build the community.
Pamela Owens is a Reading Tutor for AmeriCorps/Ohio Reading Corps pilot program, created and dedicated to helping elementary students reach the Third Grade Guarantee reading requirements in the State of Ohio. She is also a member of the Neighborhood Connections Grant Committee, an organization underwritten by the Cleveland Foundation. As a resident of East Cleveland, Owens sees the Voicing and Action Project as an opportunity to do interviews and research about the people who live in the city of East Cleveland from an insider’s perspective.
To learn more about social justice initiatives at Case Western Reserve University and how you can be involved, contact the Social Justice Institute at 216.368.2515