ACH 2020 Elections: Candidate Statements

Below are the statements from our candidates for the ACH 2020 election. This year, we will elect three Executive Council representatives and a Vice President/President Elect.

Elections will begin at midday GMT on March 9, 2020 and end at midnight GMT on March 23, 2020.

Executive Council Representatives

The four-year terms for the Executive Council positions will begin at the close of the 2020 annual summer Executive Council meeting. SIX candidates have been nominated to fill three positions of EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEMBER. You will be entitled to vote for up to THREE candidates for the position of Executive Council Member. Candidates were asked to provide short answers to two prompts:

Biographical statement: Tell us about who you are (100 words maximum). E.g. What interests or experiences would you bring to the ACH? If you’re new to DH, what excites you about doing more for our community? Are there experiences from outside DH you’d like to apply here?

Candidacy statement: Why are you interested in serving ACH? (150 words maximum) E.g. What kinds of things might you want to work on? What do you like that ACH is already doing, or wish ACH did differently?

Name: Cara Marta Messina

Biography: I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department and the Digital Integration Teaching Initiative Assistant Director at Northeastern University. Lead by my dedication to social justice, my research interests include critical digital pedagogy, fan studies, and digital rhetorics. My digital dissertation provides resources on critical fan practices that challenge systems of oppression. Alanna Prince, Izetta Autumn Mobley, and I are co-editing a DHQ special issue on Black Studies in/for the rising DH generation. I work with several advocacy groups, including the WPA-L Reimagining Group and my departments’ graduate advocacy group; we demand equitable practices through statements, workshops, and newsletters.

Statement: I’m interested in serving on ACH because its commitment to social justice is clear; I will continue my advocacy work through ACH. The ACH 2019 conference demonstrated how organizers can decenter whiteness, celebrate graduate students’ research, and thoughtfully re-design spaces for diverse bodies and abilities. On the Executive Council, I hope to continue prioritizing inclusivity at the 2021 conference. I also plan to dedicate time to the thriving mentorship program and grant process, focusing particularly on graduate students from marginalized groups, especially LGBTQ+ students, students of color, and students with diverse abilities. I also hope to expand current resources for graduate students and early career scholars available through ACH. For example, I want to create guidelines for mentoring and advocating for early career scholars, similar to the assessment guidelines for tenure or promotion. How can scholars in positions of power at their home institutions advocate for DH graduate students and early-career scholars?

Name: Caitlin Pollock

Biography: I am the Digital Scholarship Specialist for University of Michigan Library, where I work with students and faculty on digital scholarship workshops, projects, and initiatives. In my work, I value and apply anti-colonial and critical race feminist frameworks to my DH research and pedagogy. My research focuses on Black DH and critical digital pedagogy. In my teaching, I bring my experience with textile arts, specifically cross stitch, to use crafting and art to create data visualizations, and ask students what it means “to make” in the digital humanities, and what is the human capital and labor in DH research and projects.

Statement: I am interested in becoming involved with ACH because I am impressed with the organizations work around social justice, mentoring, and advocacy. Building upon  the ACH’s advocacy in promotion and tenure guidelines, I would like to help ACH create more guidelines in several areas including: consentful and critical data curation practices; crediting labor of librarians, archivists, curators, and students in projects; and the creation of DH pedagogy, curriculum, and workshops. Furthermore, as a woman of color, I would like to work  with ACH’s mentoring program to create mentoring opportunities to encourage a more diverse and inclusive group of digital humanities practitioners from a wide-range of disciplines and fields. Overall, I am looking forward to working with my DH peers and colleagues to develop a community that supports, encourages, and listens to its members’ needs, wants, and concerns.

Name: Brandon Walsh

Biography: I am Head of Student Programs in the Scholars’ Lab in the University of Virginia Library, and my primary interests pertain to pedagogy and student professional development. In addition to being a regular instructor at HILT, I also serve on the editorial boards of the The Programming Historian and The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. Besides my direct interests and background advocating for the teaching of DH, I would bring this experience with digital publishing and web development. I would happily use these skills in the service of adding resources to serve student needs to the ACH web presence.    

Statement: If elected, I would work to expand ACH’s efforts to provide inclusive and generous spaces for students and, more generally, its members in precarious positions. In particular, I would like to build on efforts like the ACH Job Slam and the Academic Job Market Support Network to consider how ACH can offer specific, tangible resources for professional development that might not otherwise be available. More generally, given the successes of the Pittsburgh conference, I think ACH is poised to offer an example for how scholarly organizations can work for more ethical and just working conditions in higher education. I’d like to consider how ACH can interface with other scholarly organizations to advocate for a kinder, more generous, and less toxic academy. We can start with our community. 

Name: Jewon Woo

Biography: Jewon Woo is an associate professor of English at Lorain County Community College, Ohio. I have had attended two NEH’s Digital Humanities Institutes and Digital Pedagogy Lab. My interest in DH started with my engagement in the Colored Convention Project in 2015. I am a Mellon/ACLS 2019-2020 fellow for my project, “From Archival Absence to Digital Presence: (Dis)Covering the Nineteenth-Century Black Press in Ohio.” My research focuses on the black press, digitized archives, 19th-century African American and American Literature, and pedagogy for underrepresented students.

Statement: In accordance with ACH’s effort to diversify DH community and to achieve social justice through DH scholarship, I want to work on teaching DH at a two-year college, which has been excluded from the mainstream of DH scholarship. In particular, considering that a community college’s motto for community service and engagement, I want to pave the way for creating a site where ACH members think of how to manage service-learning and community-based DH projects for lower-level undergraduate students. I decided on this agenda when I met several community-college instructors at the last conference who wanted to teach DH in their institutions but had a challenge in securing resources mainly because DH study had focused on “scholarship” rather than pedagogy and on “academia” rather than off-campus community.

Name: Matthew Hannah

Biography: I am an Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at Purdue University in Libraries and School of Information Studies. I have been involved with building DH at three public universities, including designing and launching minors and certificates, managing grant funds and projects, and organizing lab space. Such a range of administrative experiences will help me advocate and organize around infrastructural questions related to DH. I am also involved with the Big Ten Academic Alliance task force on DH, where I chair the graduate education group. I am especially invested in infrastructural questions around student training and credentialing and would certainly emphasize those issues.

Statement: One thing that struck me at the 2019 ACH conference was how balanced the program seemed, with disciplines and librarians well represented. I would like to be an advocate for librarian involvement in DH. Increasingly, DH is becoming a libraries activity, and I want to continue ACH’s commitment to including that work. I also am an advocate for graduate students on the job market. If we are serious about training students in DH, we must help them leverage those skills into meaningful careers. As a member of the executive board, I would like to organize a space at future conferences for job-market discussion, sharing, and training, and I would like to foreground questions of labor and precarity as part of the conference, including soliciting panels on such topics. I believe we need to be attending more carefully to the infrastructural questions about developing and implementing DH.

Name: Nathan Kelber

Biography: My experience in DH extends across university libraries, archives, and museums. My work has a social justice bent, and I am keen to help ACH reach out and grow membership. I have organized DH communities in the Midwest (Network Detroit) and the South (Triangle Digital Humanities Network), and I want to serve ACH by increasing career counseling and opportunities for recent humanities graduates who are struggling to find positions both inside and outside academia.    

Statement: I am most interested in ACH’s mentoring and job support programs (http://ach.org/activities/mentoring/). The mentoring work I have done as a professor and a librarian has been the most rewarding experience of my career. The most significant question for me is: How can we grow the digital humanities community and help people find jobs they love?

Vice President/President-Elect

The Vice President/President-Elect will serve two two-year terms. The first term, as Vice President, will begin at the close of the 2020 annual summer Executive Council meeting. The second term, as President, will begin at the close of the 2022 annual summer Executive Council meeting. TWO candidates have been nominated to fill this position. You will be entitled to vote for ONE candidate for the position of Vice President/President-Elect.

Candidates were asked to provide short answers to two prompts:

Biographical Statement: Tell us about who you are and what experiences prepare you for this role? (200 words maximum) E.g. What interests or experiences would you bring to the ACH? What excites you about doing more for our community?

Candidacy statement: What kinds of work would be your highest priority if elected? (150 words maximum) E.g. What kinds of things might you want to work on? What do you like that ACH is already doing, or want to change about ACH?

Name: Roopika Risam

Biography: I am an Associate Professor of Secondary and Higher Education and English at Salem State University. My research, teaching, and service  address the need for greater equity and justice in the digital cultural record. I take up this issue in my first book New Digital Worlds, where I address, among other things, how organizational structures and mainstream practices of digital humanities contribute to inequalities. Through my service to digital humanities communities, which include serving on the founding executive board of Global Outlook::Digital Humanities, executive council of ACH, and on the program committee for the DH 2016 conference, I have pushed for inclusion of voices of community members who, based on rank, job role, institutional affiliation, language, and geographical location, have been historically excluded. Most recently, I put these commitments into practice as program committee co-chair and conference co-chair for the ACH 2019 conference in Pittsburgh. Based on these experiences, I would welcome the opportunity to serve as vice president/president-elect, to help ACH build on the significant momentum and work undertaken during the last decade to ensure that ACH continues its work towards equity and justice in digital humanities professional organizations and, in turn, digital humanities practices writ large.

Statement: Over the last five years, I have watched and participated as ACH has defined itself as the premier digital humanities professional organization in the United States. It is a testament to the hard work, thoughtfulness, and care of ACH leadership and executive council members that the organization has successfully brought together a community as diverse—in disciplines, identities, job functions, methodologies, and more—as the ACH membership. My priority as vice president/president elect is to continue building on this work, focusing on several areas: 1) ensuring the long-term sustainability and financial viability of the ACH conference; 2) creating opportunities for ACH-sponsored working groups that would allow members to work more closely with each other on matters of specific professional concern (e.g. job roles, research methods, pedagogies); 3) facilitating a membership drive to continue increasing the multi-faceted diversity of the ACH community. Thank you for considering me for the role.

Name: Quinn Dombrowski

Biography: Over the last 15 years, I’ve collaborated on DH projects spanning a wide range of disciplines, media, methodologies, and languages. Working on the Project Bamboo DH infrastructure initiative (2008-2012) gave me a sense of the challenges humanists at diverse institutions face in doing DH work — most of which are still pressing issues today. Currently, at Stanford University, I work with non-English DH projects. In this role and previous ones at UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago, I have worked towards building community in order to support people on the margins of their local environment, be it a lone DH-er at a small liberal arts college, a grad student with an unsupportive advisor, a librarian constrained by policy or infrastructure, or DH alt-acs in research computing centers.  From 2014-2018, I served on the ACH exec, and I am currently finishing a term on the Global Outlook::DH exec. I founded DH-WoGeM (Women and Gender Minorities in DH) and Multilingual DH, both now applying to be ADHO Special Interest Groups. I am comfortable wrangling infrastructure and bureaucracy to reduce frustration and create opportunities for collaboration and engagement, and it would be an honor to bring my experience and enthusiasm to leading ACH.

Statement: Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s vision for growing the membership of ACH through greater outreach to people in a wide range of roles, organizations, and institutions strikes me as the right direction for ACH at this time. I would be excited to support this work as the Vice-President, and sustain and expand it as President of ACH. In considering the value that ACH can offer its members, I am particularly interested in exploring options for centering ACH as the hub of a US-based DH community that transcends regional boundaries. Building on the success of ACH 2019, I’d like to organize additional virtual events that can bring people together across the country without concern for travel costs or environmental impact. I’d also like to reinvigorate ACH’s long-running mentorship program, looking at successful recent models from other professional organizations, and adapting them to suit our particular community, which features many distinct roles and career paths.

Queries should be addressed to the Chair of the Nominations Committee, Amanda Visconti, at elections@ach.org.

By Amanda Visconti

ACH 2021 Program Committee Co-Chair

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