ALI Faculty

Mary Brackett

Mary Brackett joined the University of Virginia’s (UVA) Organizational Excellence (OE) department as a senior associate in 2014. She provides consulting, leadership, and support for pan-institutional projects and the overall OE program. Additionally, Mary has managed several major institutional projects involving diverse stakeholder groups, including a redesign of the University’s major capital program and a benchmarking project of six administrative functions that included input from thousands of faculty, staff, and students. 

Prior to her current role, Mary served as the director of HR applications and strategic planning at UVA, where she led the design and implementation of many enterprise applications. Mary has been with the University since 2001.

A lifelong learner, Mary earned her MBA, completed the EDUCAUSE Institute Management program, and holds certifications in the UVA Darden School’s design thinking framework, Ideo’s Storytelling for Impact and Creative Collaboration programs, and the Prosci Change Management program. Mary also serves on the Board of the Network for Change and Continuous Improvement, volunteers at the University of Virginia Hospital, and is a member of the Prosci Return to Work Advisory Board.  

Makiba Foster

Makiba is the Librarian of the College for The College of Wooster Libraries in Wooster, Ohio. Foster’s past leadership roles include successful tenures as the director of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) for Broward County Libraries and the Assistant Chief Librarian at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a New York Public Library. Makiba’s public and academic library career has focused on reimagining services to better serve and positively impact the community. Her work imagines libraries as incubators for the arts/artists, especially through her creation of a social justice Artist Residency, faculty and community collaborations focusing on the role of libraries and archives in advancing social justice through digital archives like Documenting Ferguson, and co-creating the historic web archiving project Archiving the Black Web (ATBW), a national partnership between HBCU libraries and Black collecting public libraries. In 2021, Makiba was recognized by Library Journal as a 2021 “Mover and Shaker” in the area of Digital Developer for Archiving the Black Web. She is also a recipient of the 2020 Florida Library Association award for Outstanding Scholarly Contribution for her scholarship on the Negro Motorist Green Book.

Elyse Girard

Elyse is the Executive Director for Communications and User Experience at the UVA Library and will facilitate cohort learning on communication topics throughout the ALI week.

Dominique Luster

Dominique combines a decade of expertise in the cultural heritage and memory preservation fields with a passionate commitment to Black history and narrative-driven archiving. With a background that intertwines archival science, genealogical research, and cultural studies, she is not only an adept archivist and researcher but also a connoisseur of narratives that shape community identities. Her career spans significant roles in universities, libraries, and museums nationwide, where she developed a nuanced understanding of history as a curated interplay of power and memory, rather than a mere chronological record of events.

Dominique’s work is characterized by a dedication to bringing to light the often-suppressed, oppressed, or erased stories of marginalized communities, especially within the Black diaspora. As CEO of The Luster Company, Dominique pioneers innovative methods to honor and articulate the rich, complex narratives of the Black experience. This venture is more than a business; it’s a manifestation of her commitment to redefining historical narratives, ensuring that they encompass the diverse, often untold stories of the Black community. Her work is a testament to the power of archival practice in shaping collective memory and identity. Dominique is an alumna of the 2018 ALI cohort (Berea College).

Catalina Piatt-Esguerra

Catalina is UVA’s Associate Dean for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility. She will ensure that ALI weaves IDEA into its curriculum and will deliver specific content related to creating welcoming spaces in any organization.

Mario Ramirez

Mario is the Associate Dean and Chief Librarian at The City College of New York (CUNY) Libraries. Previously, he was Head of Special Collections and Archives at the California State University, Los Angeles, and has also held appointments as Project Archivist at the Bancroft Library (UC Berkeley) and the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Hunter College, CUNY). From 2018 to 2019, he was a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. He received a PhD in Information Studies and a Certificate in Experimental Critical Theory from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2017.

Mario has occupied several leadership and committee positions in the Society of American Archivists and served a three-year term on its governing council from 2019-2022. He has taught courses on archives and special collections for the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, the iSchool at the University of Washington, and the California Rare Book School (CalRBS). Mario has also guest lectured at Indiana University, Bloomington; the University of California, Irvine; the University of California, San Francisco; Harvard University; and Simmons University. He has presented at conferences across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Mario is on the Advisory Board of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded project “Community-Centered Archives Practice: Transforming Education, Archives, and Community (C-CAP TEACH)” at the University of California, Irvine, and is a Board Member for the “Spanish Homosaurus,” a project through the University of Washington and Northeastern University funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Among Mario’s publications are “Whither the Human in Human Rights: On Misrecognition, Ontology, and Archives” (Archivaria), “On ‘Monstrous’ Subjects and Human Rights Documentation” (Emerging Trends in Archival Science), “‘To Suddenly Discover Yourself Existing’: Uncovering the Affective Impact of Community Archives” (with Michelle Caswell and Marika Cifor, American Archivist), and “Being Assumed Not to Be: A Critique of Whiteness as an Archival Imperative” (American Archivist). In 2022, he co-guest edited (with Lorena Gauthreau, University of Houston) a special issue of the International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion (where he is an Associate Editor) titled “Documenting Transborder Latinidades: Archives, Libraries, and Digital Humanities.” Mario will guest edit the 50th anniversary issue of Archivaria, which will be dedicated to the legacies of critical theory in archival theory and practice, and is slated for publication in 2025. Mario is an alum of the 2011 ALI cohort (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

Holly Smith

Holly is currently the College Archivist at Spelman College. Previously, she served as African American Materials Specialist in the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her B.A. in History and Black Studies from The College of William and Mary, an M.A. in History from Yale University, and her M.S. in Library and Information Science, with concentration in Archival Management, from Simmons College. Holly is an alumna from the 2016 ALI cohort (Berea College).

Christina Thompson Shutt

Christina Shutt is the executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM), the premier institution for understanding the history and legacy of Abraham Lincoln and Illinois. She is a recognized leader in libraries and museums and is frequently sought after for her expertise in museum management and accreditation. Since her appointment in 2021, Shutt has worked with legislators to transform the position of Illinois State Historian to focus on underrepresented history, launched community outreach efforts to make the institution more welcoming and inclusive, and hosted the signing ceremony to make Juneteenth an official state holiday in Illinois. Additionally, her innovative and collaborative leadership resulted in the ALPLM being awarded first-time national museum accreditation, a distinction only 3% of museums hold in the United States. Throughout her career, she has championed efforts to make libraries, archives, and museums more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible, believing that the heart of these institutions must represent the communities they serve. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Central Methodist University and holds two masters’ degrees in library science/archives management and history from Simmons University.

ALI Speakers

Karen Dabney

Karen Dabney | Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

Karen M. Dabney is the Artistic Director and Program Manager of UVA Acts. Ms. Dabney comes to UVA Acts from the world of higher education, having taught as a full-time Tenure-Track or Visiting Assistant Professor from 2015-2021. She holds a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Colorado–Boulder, an MFA in Directing from the New School for Drama in New York City, and a B.A. in Women’s Studies with a minor in American Racial and Multicultural Studies from St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

Ms. Dabney has always been committed to creating and participating in diversity and inclusivity programming as well as to conducting research on intersectionality, approaching it all as Applied Theater (also known as Community-Based Theater). As a proud and active member of the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Interactive Theatre Project, she directed, performed, and facilitated several short performance pieces that dealt with issues of identity, prejudice, and privilege from 2012-2015. Karen continued this Theatre for Dialogue work as a full-time educator, at Midwestern State University in North Texas (2015-2017), at Westminster College in Western Pennsylvania (2017-2020), and at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (2020-2021). At the first two schools, she annually rehearsed and facilitated a piece on consent entitled “Since Last Night” for mandatory orientation programming and athletic Title IX training, as well as pieces on race, sexual assault, and online bullying. At the final institution, she guided an ensemble of four to devise a children’s play about gender identity.

An extension of Ms. Dabney’s involvement in and passion for Community-Based Theater is her investment in understanding and advocating the role of theater produced by and for the U.S. Army community in the last fifty years, highlighting the community-based theater methods employed in this particular enclave of American culture. Additionally, she has written and presented several papers exploring the playwright David Henry Hwang’s understanding of the fluidity of cultural identity, has directed and produced works by Adrienne Kennedy, Amiri Baraka, and Ntozake Shange which centralized the presence of black bodies on the stage, and has coordinated on-campus events that use excerpts from full length plays to engage the college community in discussions on issues such as DACA, immigration, gay marriage, religion, sexuality, gender in athletics, and peer pressure. These events were modeled after Bryan Doerries’ ongoing Theatre of War Project which utilizes excerpts from classic Greek tragedies to engage targeted audiences in dialogue (military regarding PTSD and mental health, medical care providers regarding end of life care and medical ethics, correctional officers regarding liminal spaces and humane treatment, etc.). Ms. Dabney’s other research interests include pedagogy, improvisation, and new work development. For the Mid-America Theatre Conference, she recently co-chaired the Pedagogy Symposium and currently co-chairs the Anti-Racism Ad-Hoc Committee. Her article “Ms. Gendered: An Educator’s Journey Devising a Children’s Play about Gender Identity” was published in the peer-reviewed online journal Etudes in December 2021.

Kody Grant

Kody Grant - Tribal Liaison - University of Virginia | LinkedIn

Kody Grant (Pueblo of Isleta and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) serves as the UVA Tribal Liaison under the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Grant has engaged in cultural education for the last 15 years. He started his career as a tour guide at the Oconaluftee Indian Village teaching guests about the lifeways and culture of historic Cherokee people. Later, he began acting at the Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama as well as traveling with the cultural ambassadors of the EBCI, The Warriors of Ani-Kituwah, through the Museum of the Cherokee Indian where he taught about his community at various Native and non-native institutions. Most recently, he served as the supervisor of the American Indian Initiative at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Using the setting of early America, his focus was to help connect guests to modern American Indian communities and how relationships with the United States shaped their modern presence. At Colonial Williamsburg, he helped spearhead full-time American Indian programming throughout the museum, facilitated interpretation and training for historical and modern Indigenous perspectives for both guests and coworkers, and reestablished outreach efforts for the organization.

Rose Markey

Rose Markey, MA, serves as a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at the University of Virginia. She is also a member of the global team of Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitators based on the work of Brené Brown. At UVA, Rose designs and delivers leadership development courses for leaders and skills training on topics such as trust, emotional intelligence, communication, change management, performance management, and professional development. Rose is an active public speaker. In 1992, Rose began her career in healthcare human resources, serving in several HR leadership positions within the Texas Medical Center. Her previous experience includes healthcare recruitment, compensation, employee relations, corporate training programs, curriculum design, and classroom facilitation.

Mike Mather

Mike Mather is the managing editor of UVA Today, the University of Virginia’s main news publication that generates about 7 million views a year. Prior to joining UVA Today, Mike was a 30-year journalist based in Hampton Roads, Virginia. He worked for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, CBS affiliate WTKR television, and has worked on assignments for CBS News and CBS Radio, The New York Times, and The Daily Press. After wrapping up his journalism career, Mike worked six years as a campaign coordinator for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville. He has been with UVA since 2022.

John Unsworth

John M. Unsworth became Dean of Libraries, University Librarian, and Professor of English at the University of Virginia in June 2016. He is a 1988 PhD from the UVA English Department, and returned to serve as a member of that faculty from 1993 to 2003, during which time he was tenured as an Associate Professor of English (1998) and served as the Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), located in the Library and reporting to a Vice-Provost for Research.  

Before returning to UVA in 2016, Mr. Unsworth served for four years as Vice-Provost for Library and Technology Services & Chief Information Officer at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. From 2003-2012, Mr. Unsworth served as Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he also held appointments in the Department of English, on the Library faculty, and as Director of the Illinois Informatics Institute.

In August of 2013, for his work in Digital Humanities he was appointed by President Obama to serve on the National Humanities Council, from which he resigned in 2019. For his work at UVA’s IATH, he received the 2005 Richard W. Lyman Award from the National Humanities Center. He chaired the national commission that produced Our Cultural Commonwealth, the 2006 report on Cyberinfrastructure for Humanities and Social Science, on behalf of the American Council of Learned Societies. Mr. Unsworth has supervised research projects across the disciplines in the humanities, has published widely on the topic of digital humanities, and has directed many grant-funded projects in digital humanities, library digital infrastructure, accessibility, and related topics, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Getty Grant Program, and others.

After receiving his PhD in English from UVA and doing a stint as a Lecturer in the English Department, Professor Unsworth’s first faculty appointment was in English at North Carolina State University (NCSU) from 1989 to 1993. In 1990, while at NCSU, he co-founded the first peer-reviewed electronic journal in the humanities, Postmodern Culture. Later, while at UVA, he organized, incorporated, and chaired the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium, co-chaired the Modern Language Association’s Committee on Scholarly Editions, served as president of the Association for Computers and the Humanities, and served as chair of the steering committee for the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations.  

Before completing his PhD at UVA, Mr. Unsworth received a B.A. in English from Amherst College in 1981, and an M.A. in English from Boston University in 1982.