Board of Directors

Sheldon Applewhite, Ph.D. is a tenured Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) with the City University of New York for seven years. He received his Ph.D. from Howard University in Sociology in 2006 with specializations in medical and urban sociology.  His research interests include HIV prevention, urban studies, education, men’s health, and race, class, and gender inequality.  He was named one of ten LGBTQ New Yorkers making a difference in their community by City & State Magazine.  Dr. Applewhite has published research in public health journals about health issues for college students including stress, and HIV prevention for Black college students.  His current research focuses on HIV prevention among Black gay male romantic couples.

Elvis Bakaitis is an Adjunct Reference Librarian at The Graduate Center, and Coordinator at the Lesbian Herstory Archives (LHA). As a member of the LHA Graphics Committee, Bakaitis curated exhibits at The New-York Historical Society, Elizabeth Foundation for The Arts, and Ace Hotel. They are deeply interested in the theoretical and practical intersections of aging and queer identity, and co-taught the course Lesbian Lives at SAGE (Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders) in 2019. Bakaitis holds a Certificate in Geriatric Care Management from the Brookdale Center for Aging at Hunter College, and is a former family caregiver.

Rodrigo Brandao studied Film and Art History at Ithaca College and has over 15 years of experience in the art house, film distribution business. He handled the marketing and PR campaign for the Academy Award-nominated documentary 5 BROKEN CAMERAS and several other award-winning documentaries. He taught workshops on film marketing and distribution for the Tribeca Film Institute in São Paulo, the Brazilian Film Festival in Miami, and the Finger Lakes Film Festival, among others. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brandão now lives in Queens, NY.

Alexis Clements is an award-winning writer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently working on a documentary film focused on the physical spaces where LGBTQ women gather titledAll We’ve Got. She co-edited the two-volume anthology of plays, Out of Time & Place, which includes her performance work, Conversation. She guest edited a volume of Sinister Wisdom titled “Variations.” Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Los Angeles Review of Books,The Guardian, Bitch Magazine, American Theatre, and Nature, among others. She is a regular contributor to Hyperallergic. Alexis has a M.Sc. in Philosophy & History of Science from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in Theater Studies from Emerson College. Learn more about her work at 

Jaime Shearn Coan is a writer and PhD Candidate in English at The CUNY Graduate Center, whose research explores practices of collectivity in queer performance during the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. He currently serves as a Mellon Digital Publics Fellow at The Center for the Humanities, and previously served as the 2016-2017 Curatorial Fellow at Danspace Project. Jaime’s writing has appeared in publications including TDR: The Drama Review, Critical Correspondence, Drain Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Jacket2, and Women & Performance. Jaime is a co-editor of the 2016 Danspace Project catalogue: Lost and Found: Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now.

Debanuj Dasgupta, Board Co-Chair is Assistant Professor of Geography and Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut. Debanuj’s research and teaching focuses on racialized regulation of space, and the global governance of migration, sexuality, and HIV. Prior to his doctoral degree, Debanuj worked for over sixteen years within several international development agencies, HIV/AIDS, LGBT rights and immigrant rights organizations in India and the US. In 1994, Debanuj founded the first HIV prevention program for men who have sex with men and gay men in Kolkata, and since relocating to the United States has organized LGBT immigrants & asylum seekers in the New York tri state area. Debanuj serves on the political geography editorial board of the Geography Compass.  He is the recipient of the Ford Foundation funded New Voices Fellowship, American Association of Geographers and National Science Foundation funded T. J. Reynolds National Award in Disability Studies, and the Emerging Activist Award from the International AIDS Society. His scholarly work has been published in journals such as Disability Studies Quarterly, Contemporary South Asia, SEXUALITIES, Gender, Place & Culture, and the Scholar and the Feminist (S&F online). He is the co-editor of Friendship As Social Justice Activism: Critical Solidarities in Global Perspective (forthcoming from Seagull Press/University of Chicago Press), and Queering Digital India: Activisms, Identities and Subjectivities (forthcoming from the University of Edinburgh Press/Oxford University Press).

Joseph Donica (PhD American Literature and cultural studies) is an assistant professor of English at Bronx Community College, CUNY. He teaches American literature, literary theory, and writing courses. His research covers post-1945 American literature (especially Arab-American literature), urbanism, the histories of technology, and queer studies. He serves on the executive board of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, is a monthly columnist for Screenshot Magazine, and is the chair of the committee awarding the John Leo and Dana Heller book award in LGBTQ studies.

Allisonjoy Faelnar has almost 20 years of experience in grassroots organizing, anti-oppression facilitation, social justice theater & performance, creating spaces for holistic healing accessibility, educational human-animal interactions, and expanding the dialogue of intersectionality while challenging us all to manifest our conversations & study into sustainable daily practice. Allisonjoy has been the National Recruiter & Campaign Coordinator for ACORN, Co-Founder of national media justice coalition R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop, National Organizer & touring member of We Got Issues! (a women’s empowerment & leadership organization that combined community organizing skills with multi-disciplinary cultural work & performance), East Coast Coordinator / Road Manager and performer for Mango Tribe, the country’s first & only APIA women & genderqueer interdisciplinary social justice performance ensemble. Her work has been published and performed nationally and internationally. Allisonjoy has led anti-bullying workshops in schools for youth and teachers in NY and NJ. She has organized, created events, facilitated leadership & empowerment trainings and anti-oppression workshops with youth, women, the LGBT community, and people of color. She also administers treatments to animals, some of whom she considers her greatest teachers. Allisonjoy has offered her care all across the United States, and as far away as the Philippines.

Monique Guishard is a participatory action researcher, a de-colonial ethicist with expertise in using Brown feminist (Black, Latina, & indigenous feminist epistemologies) to theorize back to conventional research ethics frameworks. Monique is a community college professor committed to student-centered, culturally relevant, blended learning andragogy. Guishard is a member of the Bronx Community Research Review Board (BxCRRB) and a founding member of the Public Science Project.

James K. Harris received a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (2010) and an M.A. (2012) and Ph.D. (2017) in English from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He teaches courses in composition, African American literature and contemporary fiction. Before coming to Bronx Community College, he taught at The Ohio State University and Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. His research has primarily focused on 20th Century US Ethnic Literature, and specifically representations of youth, adolescence, and coming of age. His recent work appears in the edited collection Future Humans in Fiction and Film (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2018) and is forthcoming in the Journal of Popular Culture. He is currently developing a project at the intersection of game studies and cultural theory, tentatively titled Play Street.

Shereen Inayatulla is an Associate Professor of English at York College, CUNY in Jamaica, Queens. Her areas of research include Literacy Studies, Autoethnography, and Gender and Queer Theory. She is an active member of the York College Alliance for Gender and Sexual Equality as well as the LGBTQ Task Force and serves as the Writing Program Director. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Journal of Basic Writing, Changing English, and the Journal of Lesbian Studies.

George Lam  is an assistant professor of music at York College, where he teaches courses in music theory and composition. George studied music at Boston University, the Peabody Conservatory, and Duke University, where he received his PhD. George is interested in works that intersect music, theater, and the documentary process, and is currently working on The Emigrants, a documentary work for the cello-percussion duo New Morse Code. George Lam is the 2018 composer-in-residence at the Chautauqua Opera Company, and also serves as a co-artistic director of Rhymes With Opera, an NYC-based ensemble that commissions and produces new operas.

Velina Manolova is a doctoral candidate in English at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, focusing on queer interventions in racial liberalism in the works of Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Carson McCullers, and Lillian Smith. Her essay, “The Tragic ‘Complexity of Manhood’: Masculinity Formations and Performances in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room” appears in Contemporary Masculinities in the UK and US: Between Bodies and Systems, part of Palgrave’s Global Masculinities series, edited by Michael Kimmel. Manolova teaches critical theory and writing at the Pratt Institute and has previously taught at Baruch College, the City College of New York, and the University of Florida. She is also a founding member of the New-York-based Balkan Queer Initiative.

Rigoberto Marquez  is Associate Director of Academic Programs and Community Engaged Learning at Stanford’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.  “Before joining Stanford I was a Provost Postdoctoral Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University and Gerardo Marin Fellow in the School of Education at the University of San Francisco. My research interests include critical theories of race and sexuality in education, queer youth of color, Latina/o(x) youth, community engagement and advocacy, law and policy, critical pedagogy, social justice education, community health and public pedagogy. I earned a PhD in Education (Division of Urban Schooling) from the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and a M.A. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. Proud community college student, earning my A.A. in Liberal Arts from Santa Monica College and transferring to the University of California, San Diego where I earned  a B.A. in Critical Gender Studies and Sociology.”

Arianna Martinez is an Associate Professor of Urban Studies at LaGuardia Community College. She received her PhD from Rutgers University in urban planning and geography. She has analyzed the criminalization of Latino immigrant communities in municipalities where both space and citizenship are hotly contested. Martinez’s current scholarship focuses on national immigration policy, the urban transformation and empowerment of Latino communities, and LGBTQ immigrant enclaves. She is happy to call Queens her home.

Lisa Merrill (Ph.D., New York University) is Professor of Rhetoric & Performance Studies, at Hofstra University. Prof. Merrill’s research and publications are in the fields of performance studies, American studies, critical race and cultural studies, theatre history, and women’s and gay and lesbian history in the United States and Britain. Professor Merrill’s critical study of 19th-century breeches performer Charlotte Cushman, When Romeo was a Woman: Charlotte Cushman and Her Circle of Female Spectators (University of Michigan Press), was awarded the 2000 Joe A. Callaway Prize for Best Book in Theatre or Drama by an American author and was the subject of a Folger Library podcast on cross dressing, titled “I will Assume Thy Part in Some Disguise” in 2014. In Britain, Professor Merrill has published in the Slavery and Abolition Journal and delivered invited lectures sponsored by the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, Liverpool, and the Institute for Black Atlantic Research, UCLAN. Professor Merrill was awarded the Eccles Centre Visiting Professorship in North American Studies at the British Library for her current book project: “Performing Race and Reading Antebellum American Bodies.”

Lavelle Porter (on leave) is an Assistant Professor of English at New York City College of Technology, CUNY. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center, and a B.A. in history from Morehouse College. He has previously worked for CLAGS as Membership and Fellowships Coordinator. His writing has appeared in venues such as The New Inquiry, Poetry Foundation, Warscapes, Callaloo, and Black Perspectives. His research interests include African-American literature,  gender and sexuality, New York City, higher education, and science fiction.

Dr. David P. Rivera is an associate professor of counselor education at Queens College-City University of New York.  He holds degrees from Teachers College-Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Wyoming. A counseling psychologist by training, his research and practical work focuses on cultural competency development and issues impacting the marginalization and wellbeing of low-income/first-generation college students, people of color, and oppressed sexual orientation and gender identity groups, with a focus on microaggressions.  Dr. Rivera is adviser to The Steve Fund, director of the City University of New York’s LGBTQI Student Leadership Program, faculty with the Council for Opportunity in Education, on the executive board of the Society for the Psychological study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues, lead coordinator of the 2019 National Multicultural Conference and Summit, and on the American Psychological Association’s Committee for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.  He has received multiple recognitions for his work from the American Psychological Association, the American College Counseling Association, and the American College Personnel Association.

Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz (board co-chair) is an Assistant Professor and Head of Reference at the Graduate Center Library of the City University of New York. She is a Coordinator at the Lesbian Herstory Archives, Chair of the Archives committee on the CLAGS Board, and Advisory Board member to a GALE LGBTQ archival database. Shawn’s focus is telling the stories of Black lesbian through oral histories, archiving, and the blurred lines of fiction. She presented her work on archiving Black lesbians as Keynote to the International LGBTQ ALMS (Archivists, Librarians, Museum Curators, & Special Libraries) Conference: Shawn has a BS in Queer Women’s Studies from CUNY, an MFA in Creative Writing/Fiction, and an MLS with a focus on Archiving and Records Management, both from Queens College. Her current project is curating the narrative of the Salsa Soul Sisters, the first Black lesbian organization in the country, through a zine and traveling exhibit with the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, Lesbian Herstory Archives, and members of Salsa Soul Sisters. Learn more about Shawn here:

Red Washburn is Associate Professor of English and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Kingsborough Community College (CUNY). Red (them/ them/ theirs) is also Adjunct Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Brooklyn College (CUNY). They are a Research Fellow at the CUNY Grad Center fall/spring 2018-2020. They were a Visiting Professor at Vassar College summers 2018-2019. They teach first-year composition, women’s and trans literature, queer literature, creative nonfiction, introduction to women’s and gender studies, feminist and trans theory, queer theory, postcolonial theory, prison studies, women’s and trans history, civil rights and post-colonial history, and social movements in the United States and Ireland, post- World War II, among other courses.

Margot Weiss is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in the relationships between queer sexual cultures and US neoliberal capitalism. Her publications include the award-winning Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke UP, 2011) and her articles have appeared in GLQ, Cultural Anthropology, American Quarterly, Anthropological Quarterly, New Labor Forum, Journal of Homosexuality, and Radical History Review, among other venues. She is currently writing her second book, Queer Otherwise: Making Knowledge in the Interstices of Academia and Activism, and editing a new volume on Queer Anthropology. Former president of the Association for Queer Anthropology, Margot is associate professor of American studies and anthropology, coordinator of queer studies, and affiliated faculty in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies at Wesleyan University. CLAGS’s financial support and role as a beacon for cutting-edge queer and trans scholarship has been crucial to Margot’s work, and she is honored to serve on the CLAGS Board to contribute to the future of CLAGS.

Janet Werther (MFA Sarah Lawrence College; PhD Candidate, The Graduate Center, CUNY) is a scholar, artist, and educator. Janet has performed with the Ballez Company in NYC and creates solo work. Their dissertation theorizes ambivalent queer longings for home in LGBTQ+ performance. Janet has published in Studies in Musical Theatre and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. She teaches theatre at Baruch and Marymount Manhattan colleges, focusing on theatre/performance as a lens through which to address representation and social (in)justice. Janet is a fellow at the CUNY Center for Humanities and maintains a youth dance teaching practice developed through a long term relationship with the Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX).

Laura Westengard is an Associate Professor of English at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) where she also serves as point person of the interdisciplinary Gender & Sexuality Studies concentration. Her research and teaching interests include United States literature and culture after 1900, queer studies, critical trauma studies, intersectional feminism, and gothicism. Her book, Gothic Queer Culture: Marginalized Communities and the Ghosts of Insidious Trauma (University of Nebraska Press), resurrects “insidious trauma” as a productive term to address the accumulated effects of microaggression and unacknowledged institutional violence. It examines how queer culture challenges heteronormative and racialized systems and practices that create traumatic experiences for queer people and demonstrates how queer culture adopts gothicism to acknowledge the effects of microaggression and insidious trauma.

Board of Directors 2014-15