Program Staff


Monica Varsanyi, Principal Investigator

Monica smiling and wearing a brown glasses.

Monica Varsanyi is interim associate provost for academic affairs and dean for humanities and social sciences at the Graduate Center.  At the CUNY Graduate Center, she is also a professor of geography in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program and on the faculty of the International Migration Studies M.A. Program.  She is also in the Political Science department at John Jay College, CUNY.  She previously served as executive officer of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Ph.D. program.

Varsanyi is a scholar of migration, membership, and the state, with a specific focus on unauthorized immigration and immigration federalism in the United States. Her books include Taking Local Control: Immigration Policy Activism in U.S. Cities and States (Stanford University Press, 2010, edited volume) and Policing Immigrants: Local Law Enforcement on the Front Lines (with Doris Marie Provine, Scott Decker, and Paul Lewis; University of Chicago Press, 2016), winner of the 2018 Outstanding Book in Policing Award from the American Society of Criminology. She has published in academic journals including the Journal of American Ethnic HistoryLaw & Policy, the International Journal of Urban and Regional ResearchCitizenship Studies, and the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, among others.

Her current research explores the nativist roots of voter disenfranchisement in the United States as well as immigration federalism during the Great Depression. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

She is on the editorial boards of the journal Territory, Politics, Governance and the sociolegal journal Law & Policy. She also serves on the research advisory board of the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City.

Luke Waltzer, Program Co-Director

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Luke Waltzer is the Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he supports GC students in their teaching across the CUNY system and beyond, and works on a variety of pedagogy and digital projects. He previously was the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Baruch College. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the CUNY Graduate Center, serves as Director of Community Projects on the CUNY Academic Commons, and is on the faculty of the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program and MA Program in Digital Humanities. He is on the editorial collective of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, and has contributed essays to Matthew K. Gold’s Debates in the Digital Humanities and, with Thomas Harbison, to Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki’s Writing History in the Digital Age. 

Adashima Oyo, Program Co-Director

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Adashima Oyo is the Co-Director of the CUNY Humanities Alliance,  Executive Director of the Futures Initiative,  and Director of Programs and Administration at HASTAC.  She is a native New Yorker and a three-time CUNY alumna. She holds a PhD, MPH, and BA from CUNY schools. Adashima brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about CUNY. She has worked with students and administrators in various capacities across seven different CUNY schools. Her research explores application, enrollment and graduation trends for Black and Latinx students at schools of public health in the United States. #BlackScholarsMatter

Luis J. Henao Uribe, Humanities Director

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Luis J. Henao Uribe is the Humanities Scholar for the CUNY Humanities Alliance and the Teaching and Learning Center at the Graduate Center. In this role, he provides support for the teaching fellows, and helps pivot the lessons of the Humanities Alliance to broader audiences through a variety of programs and projects at the TLC. Henao Uribe is a graduate of the Ph.D. program in Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures at The Graduate Center, CUNY.  His recent research explores the role of novels in the establishment of national imaginaries and the legitimization of the state in Mexico and Colombia. He also writes about how Latin American cultural objects circulate in the United States. ​​He is a Colombian writer based in New York since 2005 and has published the short-stories collection Diarios del limbo in 2006 and he collaborates with literary magazines such as Los bárbaros and Vecindad.


CUNY Humanities Alliance Staff 

Miranda Fedock, Program Coordinator 

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Miranda Fedock (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the Graduate Center. Her dissertation research explores the NYC immigrant arts non-profit organization Center for Traditional Music and Dance as applied ethnomusicological project, focusing on questions of ethics, social justice, bureaucracy, and the purpose of ethnomusicology in today’s world. As a passionate educator with over a decade of experience in music education, Miranda advocates for the value of joy, play, compassion, and care in the classroom. She has taught ethnomusicology at CCNY & BMCC, and served as a 2020-2021 fellow at the GC’s Teaching and Learning Center. She is co-developer of the GC Music Teaching Hub, an open-access pedagogy resource intended to support GC graduate music student instructors in their pedagogical development.

Christina Katopodis, Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate

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Christina Katopodis, PhD, is a Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate at the City University of New York’s Humanities Alliance, currently pursuing research on the indispensable role of a humanities education. She is the former Associate Director of Transformative Learning in the Humanities and founder of Engaged & Ready, a project that empowers faculty with antiracist active learning tools to democratize their classrooms. She is the winner of the 2019 Diana Colbert Innovative Teaching Prize and the 2018 Dewey Digital Teaching Award. She has authored or co-authored articles published in Chronicle of Higher EdEnglish Language NotesESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and CultureHybrid PedagogyInside Higher EdISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, MLA’s ProfessionTimes Higher Ed, and Zeal: A Journal for the Liberal Arts. With Cathy N. Davidson, Katopodis is author of The New College Classroom (Harvard University Press, 2022).

Zoe Alexander, Documentation Fellow 

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Zoe Alexander is a doctoral student in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Graduate Center. Her dissertation research explores questions around social reproduction and uneven development through a study of the historical rise of the transnational nonprofit industrial complex and its local impacts on urban and regional development. She has taught urban studies at Hunter College and seeks to bring communication, collaboration, and trust into her classrooms. As a Documentation Fellow, Zoe supports research and communication efforts at the Humanities Alliance by archiving fellows’ initiatives, partnerships, and reflections. 

Jayson Castillo, Research Project Fellow 


Jayson Castillo is a doctoral student in the Department of Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center interested in historical perspectives of public education, especially at the community level, with a unique focus on education struggles that Latinx communities engage in. As a fellow, Jayson brings with him a broad range of experiences and scholarly interest, including a humanities background in Music and English, as well as five years teaching experience working as a NYC public-school teacher.

Mehrnaz Moghaddam, Communication Fellow 

Mehrnaz smiling wearing a round glasses Mehrnaz Moghaddam (she/her) is a PhD student in the Cultural Anthropology Program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She holds a master’s degree in Economics with a background in Industrial Management. Her research focuses on the political economy of migration and the temporalities of borders in the Middle East. Currently, she teaches at John Jay College, Baruch College, and Pace University. She is a former Humanities Alliance fellow at Hostos College, and as a Communication Fellow supports relationship-building and collaboration. 

Thayer Hastings, HA Research Fellow

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Thayer Hastings is a doctoral candidate in the Anthropology Department at the Graduate Center with a focus on political anthropology in the Middle East. His research explores tensions between governance and mobility in the formation of the modern Middle East. He taught anthropology courses at Hunter College for three years and was a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. 


CUNY Peer Leaders Staff

Lauren Melendez, CUNY Peer Leaders Director


As Director of the Undergraduate Leadership Program, Melendez directs and oversees a program that brings together 30 undergraduate students from across 12 CUNY campuses as Leadership Fellows. Melendez consults with fellows on how to develop their mentoring and leadership skills in addition to helping them learn how to navigate spaces inside and outside their college campuses. The fellows in turn learn about opportunities within and outside their campuses that will help shape, strengthen and prepare them for not only their academic paths but more importantly their life paths.

In her role as administrative specialist, Melendez provides academic and administrative support to the Futures Initiative. She oversees department operations, manages workshop planning and scheduling, conducts research, and organizes and processes materials for all administrative documentation. Melendez manages the program’s budget and coordinates purchasing, accounting, and payroll for the department.

Kelsey Milian, CUNY Peer Leaders Facilitator

Kelsey Milian was raised in Miami, Florida. With a strong sense of cultural identity she has been able to connect and trace her heritage with her Mexican, Guatemalan, Aztec, Zapotec, K’iche Maya, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese roots. In 2020, she graduated with a degree in Sociology and Educational Studies at the Liberal Arts Institution Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. She now resides in New York City as she pursues a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at CUNY Graduate Center. She recently published her first poetry book called The Sociology of a Miami Girl which explores generational lessons as a daughter of immigrants from Latin America.

Jackie Cahill, CUNY Peer Leaders Program Coordinator

Jackie Cahill is the CUNY Peer Leaders Program Coordinator at the Humanities Alliance. She graduated from Hunter College in 2020 with bachelor’s degrees in English, Classical Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies. She also completed minors in Latin and Art History. She has also been accepted into the Digital Humanities program at the Graduate Center. 

As a CUNY graduate who comes from a family of other CUNY graduates, Jackie seeks to contribute to programs that are actively making the university a better and more equitable place for students. As a CPL staff member, she contributes to the creation of support systems and leadership training for undergraduate students. She also provides proofreading and editing support for the research output of the Humanities Alliance Senior Research Associate, which seeks to identify paths for the improvement of CUNY’s community colleges. 

Former Staff

Elizabeth Alsop, Humanities Scholar 2016-2018

Kitana Ananda, Phase 1 Post-Doctoral Researcher

Cathy N. Davidson, Phase 1 Director

Kaysi Holman, Director of Programs and Administration 2016-2021

Jesse Rice-Evans, Phase 1 Web Development and Documentation Fellow

Katina Rogers, Phase 1 Advisor, Co-Director 2019-2021

Stefanie Sertich, Phase 1 Laguardia Mellon Humanities Scholars Coordinator

Kashema Hutchinson, CUNY Peer Leadership Fellows Program Co-Director

Sujung Kim, Senior Research Associate 

David Olan, Principle Investigator 2016-2023