Advisory Board

  • Jalen Alexander ’14, MA ’15

    Chair, CAAS Advisory Board

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    Jalen Alexander '14/MA'15 completed his BA studies in Psychology and Sociology and also earned a Master’s degree in Psychology while serving as a Visiting Lecturer in Wesleyan’s Psychology department. Jalen has published works in the fields of higher education and public health and has presented research in political science, psychology, and secondary education. Jalen currently serves as Chair for the Center for African-American Studies Board and is active as an alumni member of the Invisible Men organization, coordinating the Invisible Men Experience Grant Program. Born and raised in Hayti, Missouri, Jalen now resides in New York where he utilizes his research skills as a Data Specialist with the College Board.  


  • Lois Brown

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    Lois Brown is the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor at Wesleyan University where she teaches in the English Department and African American Studies Program. Her teaching, research, and scholarship focus on African American and New England literary history and culture, 18th and 19th century African American memory, as well as the politics of identity, faith, and privilege in colonial and antebellum America. Her courses are informed by her belief in the transformational power of purposeful and empowered thinking, writing, and speaking.


  • Hailey Broughton-Jones ’18

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    Hailey Broughton-Jones is a Senior at Wesleyan majoring in African American Studies. As a student leader on campus she is passionate about fostering environments where innovative programing and communications facilitate community building, education and organizing across various social justice issues. Hailey is involved in the The Ankh, Ujamaa, The African American Studies Major Committee and Clinic Escorts.


  • Seirra Fowler

    Director of Health Education, Wesleyan University

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    Seirra Fowler is from Akron, Ohio and received her bachelor’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Master of Public Health degrees from The Ohio State University. Before starting at Wesleyan University in Spring 2017, Seirra previously worked in Wellness and Health Promotion at Louisiana State University and in HIV clinical trials research at the Ohio State University. Seirra is excited to continue to learn the Wesleyan community and to help students thrive at Wesleyan and beyond. When not working Seirra can be found spending time with her dogs Titan and Spud.

  • Grady Faulkner P’11

    Middletown Common Council Member

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    Grady Faulkner has lived in Middletown for over 30 years and has been an active member of the community, serving on several nonprofit Boards working on community issues. Since 2006, he has also served as  a member of the Common Council in Middletown. Grady’s biggest passion is in youth development, including the college students whose families entrusted them to Middletown. He has served as a Youth Advisor for the NAACP, and as an underwriter of the Connecticut Songwriters Association.

  • Amber Jones

    Psychotherapist and Coordinator for Community Programs and Engagement

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    As Coordinator for Community Programs and Engagement, Amber works in collaboration with Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff to provide wellness support and educational outreach that focuses on the intersections of mental health, lived experiences of social exclusion and marginalization, and social justice and activism. Amber also provides individual and group psychotherapy. Amber received her BA from Wesleyan University where she double majored in African American Studies and Anthropology. She received her Master of Arts in Social Work from the University of Chicago and completed Post-Masters training at Yale University School of Medicine. Amber is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the state of Connecticut.



  • Renee Johnson Thornton

    Dean, Class of 2018

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    Renee Johnson Thornton, Ph.D., an immigrant from Jamaica, West Indies who grew up in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York has dedicated her life to identifying and removing the barriers that prevent many students who are low-income and of color from reaching their goals in college. She is the mother of two and the life partner of the smart, loving, and deeply centered Clifford Thornton, whose own personal and career trajectory in the field of college admissions set the standard and pace and continues to inspire Dr. Thornton’s ambitions.

    Dr. Thornton entered the field of student affairs immediately after earning her BA from Binghamton University. The personal and academic struggles of her early pursuit of an electrical engineering major and her later triumphs of self-discovery and finding her professional compass through the double majors of Afro and African American Studies and English (Literature and Rhetoric), prepared her for an audacious and awesome life of family, career, and social justice. Her commitment to college access and retention for poor students led her to her first job in the SUNY NYC Office of Student Recruitment, then on to Trinity College, where she utilized her unique educational experience in the sciences to increase diversity and retention for women and underrepresented minorities in the field of engineering. Currently, she serves as the Dean for the Class of 2018 at Wesleyan University. For almost 2 decades now, she has worked at Wesleyan to support all students, but she is most committed to tackling the vexing issues that prevent otherwise high performing students, especially students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, from attaining high academic performance in predominantly white colleges and universities. She has held positions in the Ronald McNair Program, Mellon Mays Program, and Office of Equity and Inclusion. While working at Wesleyan University, Dr. Thornton earned a Masters degree in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University and completed a doctorate in Education from the University of Rhode Island/Rhode Island College Joint Degree Program. The personal experiences she had as a black, low-income, immigrant, temporarily able bodied, undergraduate female in pursuit of a degree in electrical engineering who found herself, a framework and a vocabulary to understand her plight, squarely informed the topic of her doctoral research study.

  • Taylor McClain ’17

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    Taylor describes her passion and purpose as fighting injustice so all people are afforded their rightful opportunity to thrive. A graduate from Wesleyan University (‘17), she looks forward to applying the knowledge of systems of oppression that she gathered through studying race, ethnicity, and civic engagement.

    Born and raised in NYC and its suburbs, she has begun this work in her own communities. As an intern for The Dream Unfinished, she organized the NYC nonprofit’s first civil rights benefit concert in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Taylor launched a social venture to facilitate racial justice seminars for students and provide diversity and inclusion consultation for the School for Ethics and Global Leadership, her high school alma mater. Taylor generated the same celebration of diversity and respect for a more nuanced idea of normal when directing a leadership training program for 16-year-old girls at Chimney Corners Camp YMCA.

    During her year as a Coro Fellow in NYC, Taylor is most looking forward to gaining insight to ensure the law functions as a tool for long-lasting justice in the lives and communities of marginalized people. Recognizing the complexity of wicked problems that prevent the realization of human rights for all, she is excited to take on the challenge.


  • Elizabeth McAlister

    Director, Center for African American Studies

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    Professor McAlister’s expertise is in Afro-Caribbean religions including Haitian Vodou, Pentecostalism, race theory, transnational migration, and evangelical spiritual warfare. In recent years McAlister has written on the militarization of prayer, zombies in pop culture, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and fundraising telethons. She has been interviewed in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, The New Yorker, Newsweek, public radio’s “Fresh Air,” and consulted for PBS, The Learning Channel and Afropop Worldwide on Public Radio International. She serves as expert witness in legal cases involving Afro-Caribbean religions.

    Her first book is Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora (University of California Press, 2002) and is an analysis of this parading musical festival as both religious and political. Her second book, co-edited with Henry Goldschmidt, theorizes race and religion as linked constructs: Race, Nation, and Religion in the Americas (Oxford University Press, 2004).

    McAlister has produced three compilations of Afro-Haitian religious music: Rhythms of Rapture (Smithsonian Folkways, 1995), Angels in the Mirror, and the CD Rara that accompanies her first book.

    With a grant from the John Templeton Foundation/Social Science Research Council, she was recently awarded a grant to study what she terms “aggressive forms of prayer.”


  • Sadasia McCutchen ’17

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     Bio coming soon

  • Shelissa Newball

    Associate Director, Student Activities and Leadership Development

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    A proud alum of Wesleyan, Shelissa received her Bachelors in 2005. In 2008 she received her Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Connecticut. She has worked at Pennsylvania State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, and most recently the University of New Haven. She is happy to return to her Wesleyan roots!


  • Ariana Molokwu

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    Ariana Molokwu currently serves as the Program Coordinator of the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan. Prior to joining the staff here at Wesleyan, Ariana worked as a Supervisor at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, CT and as the Assistant Sponsorship Coordinator at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, CT. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Psychology and Communications, and a minor in Music, from the University of Connecticut (Class of 2014). With a broad passion for the arts, she has previously played the violin for over ten years, danced in all genres throughout her academic career, and participated in musical theater as well as the visual arts. Ariana is originally from New Britain, Connecticut.
  • Abike Sonubi’19

    House Manager, Malcolm X House

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    Bio coming soon