Suzanne Snider (Founder/Director, Oral History Summer School 2012-) is a writer, documentarian, and educator whose work is deeply influenced by oral history theory and practice. Her most recent projects have taken the shape of sound installation, essays, and archive design. In 2012, she founded Oral History Summer School, an interdisciplinary training program in upstate New York. She consults frequently for institutions and project teams including MoMA, Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Prison Public Memory Project on oral history-related challenges. As an interviewer, she has worked for Columbia University's Center for Oral History Research, New York Academy of Medicine, HBO Productions, and the Brooklyn Arts Council. Her own oral history projects have addressed disappearing labor forces, rehabilitative medicine, parapsychology, and feminist presses (supported by the Radcliffe Institute/Schlesinger Library Oral History Grant). Her writing/audio work appear in The Guardian, The Believer, Legal Affairs, and The Washington Post, along with several anthologies and artist catalogs; she received a 2011 commission from Triple Canopy for New Media Reporting. Snider teaches at the New School for Public Engagement and served as a visiting lecturer at Columbia University (OHMA) in spring 2014. Prior to her work with adult learners, she taught in the New York City public school system (pre-K through 6th), and developed arts curriculum for visually impaired students at the New York Institute for Special Education. With support from the Yaddo Corporation, the MacDowell Colony and the UCross Foundation Center, she is completing her first book, The Latecomers. She received an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and dual BA in Literature and Dance from Wesleyan University.
Ben Harbert (Collecting and Composing 2015) joined the music faculty at Georgetown University after receiving his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. His Ph.D. research was on music in three Louisiana prisons. His current research interests also include documentary film, international extreme metal, and music of the Near East. His theoretical approach connects investigations of musical experiences to analyses of musical phenomena. Harbert has been a teaching fellow at University of California, Los Angeles and a lecturer at Pomona College as well as a resident artist at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Before returning to academia, he directed the guitar, percussion and music theory programs at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. Harbert is a concert-level performer on guitar, Near Eastern ‘ud, and Indian tabla. He has led a number of performance groups including the Los Angeles Electric 8 and extended rock ensemble arrangements of Erik Satie’s musique d’ameublement.
Dina Zempsky LCSW (Mixed/Memory 2015), currently works as a Program Director at the national oral history project StoryCorps and is responsible for the developing The Memory Loss Initiative; a program to support the recording of stories of people with Alzheimer's and related dementias. Best practices from this program can also be related to recording interviews with people with traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's and other areas of cognitive loss. By training, Dina is a geriatric social worker with a private practice with the elderly and their families. She is also a consultant to the PBS documentary film, Nine to Nine about one family's caregiving journey.
DW Gibson (Oral History and Writing 2017) is the author of the awarding-winning book The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-First Century and Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today’s Changing Economy. He shared a National Magazine Award for his work on “This Is the Story of One Block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn” for New York Magazine. His work has also appeared in Harper’s,The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Village Voice, and The Caravan. Gibson has been a contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered and “There Goes the Neighborhood,” a podcast co-produced by WNYC and The Nation. His documentary film, Not Working, a companion to the book, is available through Films Media Group. His directorial debut, Pants Down, premiered at Anthology Film Archives in New York. Gibson serves as director of Writers Omi at Ledig House in Ghent, New York, and he co-founded Sangam House, a writers’ residency in India, along with Arshia Sattar.
Eugenie Mukeshimana (OHSS Intensive 2014, Interviewing Survivors 2013) is the Founder and Executive Director of Genocide Survivors Support Network (GSSN), a NJ-based nonprofit organization that serves immigrant genocide survivors in America. As one of the leading voices among survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, she frequently presents on genocide and war topics and travels around the country to speak about her experiences during the genocide. In an effort to gain a better understanding of current and future challenges of living with the memories of the genocide, Eugenie began to conduct filmed interviews with Holocaust survivors about their post-holocaust experiences. Eugenie helps survivors to open up and tell their stories often for the first time and sometimes before total strangers. She also helps them manage the post-disclosure range of emotions. Her work with refugees as a freelance telephonic language and cultural interpreter for leading language service companies helped her uncover serious communication challenges faced by refugees and service providers across the country and has contributed a chapter in Children and Families Affected by Armed Conflicts in Africa: Implications and Strategies for Helping Professionals in the United States. NASW Press 2012.Eugenie holds a Bachelor’s in Social Work from the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY. She was a 2012 Human Rights Advocate Program fellow at Columbia University. She is a mother of one daughter born during the genocide and lives in South Orange, NJ.
Housing is a Human Right (Rachel Falcone, Michael Premo) (OHSS Intensive 2013) is a creative storytelling project that aims to help connect diverse communities around housing, land, and the dignity of a place to call home. We create a space for people to share stories of their community and ongoing experiences trying to obtain or maintain a place to call Home. We are building a collection of intimate, viscerally honest narratives exploring the complex fabric of community and the human right to housing and land, painting a living portrait of human rights.Stories are recorded in sound in the tradition of oral history and shared as audio stories, photographs and multimedia across multiple platforms-including interactive exhibitions in unconventional spaces & broadcasts via traditional and new media outlets.
Jeffrey Lependorf (Collecting and Composing 2015) received a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree from Oberlin Conservatory. A composer of operas and chamber music, he is also a certified master of the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute. His music has been performed around the globe—literally: a recording of his "Night Pond" for solo shakuhachi launched into space when the shuttle Atlantis took off on May 15, 1997 and remained for a year aboard the Russian space station Mir. He began shakuhachi study with Kinko master of shakuhachi Yoshinobu Taniguchi, who gave him the venerable name "Kokû" ("empty nothingness"). Jeffrey also serves as Director of the Music Omi International Musicians Residency at the Omi International Arts Center here in Columbia Count: www.omiartscenter.org. Some of his recordings can be found on iTunes and Amazon.com, and his “Masterpieces of Western Music” audio-course, part of Barnes & Noble’s “Portable Professor” series, can be downloaded at audible.com.
Jeremy Thal (Collecting and Composing 2015) is co-founder and co-director of Found Sound Nation, a New-York based music organization that leverages the power of collaborative sound-making to help build strong, just, healthy communities. With Chris Marianetti, Jeremy co-designed Found Sound Nation projects in NYC, Haiti, Zimbabwe, China, New Orleans, Mexico, Indonesia, Switzerland, and elsewhere. He also co-directs OneBeat and the Dosti Music Project, two incubators for music-based social entrepreneurship where innovative musicians from around the world collaboratively create original music, and develop strategies for arts-based social engagement bridging cultural and geographic divides. He studied ethnomusicology, French horn, and Chinese at Northwestern University, and continues to work as a performer, playing in major music festivals and obscure bookstores around the world. As a horn player and multi-instrumentalist, he has recorded and toured with indie rock heavyweights Neutral Milk Hotel and The National, and leads his own band, Briars of North America. Jeremy has served as a lead teaching artist at the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, working with incarcerated youth. A founder of ZeroBit Music, he composes and produces music for film, theater, web sites, and video games.
Karen Gardner (OHSS Assistant 2013) is an aspiring writer. Her work thus far explores new analyses of microeconomic development theory, including critiques within labor economics, urban economics, and community-based development. Her work has included an interview-based project in the Ilam region of eastern Nepal analyzing the power dynamics involved in a tea factory’s conversion to organic production. A subsequent project analyzes USAID’s agricultural technology interventions in Nepal. Aside from writing, she is also an aspiring farmer, baker, and marathon runner. She received her Bachelor’s in Economics at Bard College.
Laura Checkoway (Oral History and the Documentary Film 2013) has penned revealing celebrity profiles and investigative features for numerous publications and is the former senior editor of Vibe magazine. Her first book, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2011 and shortlisted as one of the best music books of the year by NPR. In 2011, she directed and produced a series of documentary segments for PBS World. Currently, she’s producing video content for Google and Toyota/Scion. Her first feature length documentary, Lucky, is in post-production.
Lauren Elizabeth Kelly (Archives/Production Coordinator 2016, Program Coordinator 2016, Oral History and Radio 2015) is a filmmaker with a background in ballet and postmodern dance, interested in experimental practices, cognition, PTSD, creativity, and humor. She holds an M.A. in Media Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Documentary Studies, both from The New School University, and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has screened at festivals and galleries around New York and at backup_Festival Weimar Germany. Lauren is currently based in Burlington, VT, where she is working on three films: a documentary about addiction and treatment in Vermont, a short film portrait of her mother as she moves from one home to another following a stroke, and a portrait of an antique shop owner as he moves out of his shop to make way for condos in the South End of Burlington.
LJ Amsterdam (Collecting and Composing 2014) is an activist, youth worker, and dancer. She is a proud OHSS alumnus who uses oral history practices to support media for action. LJ lives in Millerton, NY with her partner Walter (also an OHSS alum) where they work as collaborators on The Watershed Center, a social movement resource and retreat center. She facilitates youth-powered political and media projects, including radio production programs for kids at Kite's Nest in Hudson. Her academic background is in Ethnomusicology and African-American Studies and she holds an M.A. from Columbia University. Her master's thesis, on Indigenous hip-hop artists and love as political power, won the Zora Neale Hurston Award for Greatest Contribution to the Social Sciences. She has published work in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal and in a forthcoming edited collection from UCLA. At Columbia, LJ worked as an archivist on a community-partnered repatriation of Iñupiat music. Additionally, she has worked at independent record labels, inside NYC public schools, and as a Heavy Metal DJ.
Lucinda (Lucy) Segar is a writer, educator and dancer living in Hudson, NY. She earned her MFA in writing from Columbia University and her BA in writing and dance from Oberlin College. Lucy teaches multidisciplinary, writing, movement, conflict resolution workshops for children at Kite's Nest, and is a founding member of the Hudson Sloop Club. She also teaches expository and creative writing at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City (SUNY). Lucy participated in the OHSS Intensive in 2015, and is acting as program assistant for OHSS 2016.
Meral Agish (Technical Assistant, 2013) works as an independent oral historian and as a fundraiser, event planner and grant writer for the Drug Policy Alliance, Sandy Storylines, and other nonprofit organizations. She is a graduate of Yale University and recently completed the certificate program at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, where she worked on oral history projects with Vietnam veterans, long-married couples, and former residents of Durham’s demolished Hayti district. In 2013, Meral will travel to China and Japan to produce a multimedia documentary about the Tatar diaspora in the Communist era.
Michael Garofalo (Oral History and Radio 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) is senior producer for the national oral history project StoryCorps. A member of the two-time Peabody Award-winning production team (2006 & 2011), Michael has had a hand in creating nearly all of the project’s content — from producing StoryCorps’ weekly national broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and hosting the podcast, to contributing to the first StoryCorps book, to co-producing a series of Emmy-nominated animated shorts for PBS’s POV. He has trained producers in both the US and in the UK for BBC Radio 4. In 2010, Michael launched a podcast for the respected online film journal, Reverse Shot. Michael also makes music using radios — among other things — and is a Transmission Artist with the nonprofit arts organization free103point9. In 2012, Michael was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Nicki Pombier Berger (Mixed/Memory 2015) is an oral historian, educator and interdisciplinary artist. As a freelance oral historian, she primarily works at the intersection of disability and social change, through projects such as the TILL Living Legacy Project, Here: Stories from Selinsgrove and KenCrest, and Nothing About Us Without Us. Nicki currently teaches at the New School for Drama, and has taught oral history workshops at, among other venues, Columbia University, Bethel University's New York Center for Art and Media Studies, and Oral History Summer School, where she taught sessions on Mixed Ability interviewing in 2015. She is the Founding Editor of Underwater New York, a digital arts journal of writing, art, and music inspired by the waterways of New York City and the objects submerged within them, for which she has curated events and excursions in all five boroughs. Since spring 2015, Nicki has been a Research Fellow on the Robert Rauschenberg Oral History Project. From 2010-2013, she worked at StoryCorps, where she led the National Teachers Initiative and worked on the youth development program StoryCorpsU. She has a Bachelor of Science in the Foreign Service from Georgetown University (2001), a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College (2009), and a Master of Arts in Oral History from Columbia University (2013). She invites you to join her in Risk Listening, an oral history experiment.
Sady Sullivan (OHSS Intensive 2012, 2014, 2015, Building an Oral History Archive, 2013) is Curator for the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives at Columbia University where she cares for the oldest oral history collection in the United States. From 2006 - 2014, Sady was Director of Oral History at Brooklyn Historical Society, where she led nine oral history projects and managed the preservation of the legacy oral history collections. At Brooklyn Historical Society, Sady created Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations, an award-winning oral history project, racial justice dialogue series, and digital humanities site exploring mixed heritage identity. Her work is influenced by the Buddhist practice of deep listening, and formative experiences at three feminist institutions: The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies, Babeland, and Wellesley Centers for Women. Sady is interested in creating "public homeplaces" and using archives as a hub for community engagement.
Sarah Kramer (OHSS Intensive 2012, Project Lab 2014) is a documentary storyteller and journalist. She was recently a fellow at Sundance New Frontiers Storytelling Lab and currently heads up content at a soon-to-launch storytelling start-up. Prior, Kramer worked at The New York Times for six years where she was a reporter and multimedia editor, creating series such as Emmy-award winning One in 8 Million and Emmy nominated Coming Out. Her credits also include senior producer and founding staffer for Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps where she created the signature sound, provided editorial oversight on the weekly NPR broadcasts and the New York Times bestseller, Listening is an Act of Love. Her radio stories have aired on All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace; her writing in The New York Times and digital storytelling on NYTimes.com. She launched her career in documentary films for PBS and HBO and is completing a documentary short on her father. Kramer is an adjunct professor at CUNY Journalism School where she teaches the Art of the Interview. You can follow her @sarahk11.
Sara Kendall (OHSS Intensive Assistant 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) I'm interested in how cities change over time, and how people can participate in shaping their own neighborhoods, making their own media, and telling their own stories. I'm interested in how our communities can be our classrooms, and how we can organize powerful movements for justice in the places we live. I work as a Co-Director of Kite's Nest, an alternative learning center for children and teenagers in Hudson, NY, where I've also taught classes on cardboard urban planning, radio journalism, and the geographies of stuff. I'm also currently pursuing an M.A. in geography, based at the Centre for Oral History & Digital Storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal; for my research, I'll be working with the Hudson Oral History Archive. Previously, I worked as the founding station manager of WGXC: Hands-on Radio, a community radio station and participatory media project in Hudson. And in July 2012, I helped Suzanne Snider to launch the Oral History Summer School, which introduced me to a transformative language and framework for doing qualitative research and documentary work, and for listening to the world around me.
Sarita Daftary (OHSS Intensive 2016) has extensive experience in community organizing and community development work in Brooklyn. She worked at United Community Centers from 2003-2013 as part of the food justice and community organizing project, East NewYork Farms! During that time she helped to grow the project significantly, while maintaining a focus on developing community leadership, and led ENYF to become a nationally recognized model for youth and community engagement in urban agriculture and community markets. She joined El Puente in May 2015 as the director of the Green Light District, EP's ten year strategic holistic sustainability initiative. Sarita has recently worked in part-time and consulting roles with the Brooklyn Arts Council, Steve's Camp (at Gotham Professional Arts Academy), and the Food Dignity Project (a community-based participatory research initiative). Sarita graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in sociology and government, and is also a graduate of the Leadership New York Fellowship, organized by Coro New York and the Leadership Caucus of the Community Resource Exchange. Sarita attended Oral History Summer School’s Intensive workshop in 2013 and will be presenting her oral history project related to East New York at the 2016 Intensive. A version of this presentation was shared at the 2015 Oral History Association Conference as part of a panel on Gentrification and Housing Justice in NYC.
Sheri Bauer-Mayorga (Collecting and Composing 2015) studied piano, with a focus on contemporary American music and accompanying, at the Hartt School of Music and Brooklyn Conservatory, where she received aBMus. She later completed certificate courses in vocal studies, choral work, and folk song research studying the Kodály Method at Westminster Choir College, the Hartt School of Music, and Somatic Voiceworks at Shenandoah University, and song leading with composer-arranger, Alice Parker. Sheri is founder and director of a singing school for singers ages 8-18, “The Good Globe Singing School,” and also leads local community sings as part of the singing school’s mission to invigorate the life of community song. She has recorded and arranged two eclectic vocal projects for Town Hall Records with a focus on the history of American song from ballads to protest songs to be-bop and performs with the jazz trio, “The Berkshire Bop Society,” in a historical presentation of that repertoire. Sheri also currently teaches chorus, music history, and music electives at the Berkshire Waldorf High School and has a Monday afternoon classical & jazz radio show on Greene and Columbia Counties community radio station, WGXC 90.7FM.
Todd Shalom (Project Lab 2014) works with text, sound and image to re-contextualize the body in space using vocabulary of the everyday. He is the founder and director of Elastic City. In this role, Todd leads his own walks, collaborates with artists to lead joint walks, and works with artists in a variety of disciplines to adapt their expertise to the participatory walk format. He often collaborates with performance artist/director Niegel Smith. Together, they conceive and stage interactive performances in public and private environments. Todd is also a ringleader of Willing Participant. Willing Participant whips up urgent poetic responses to crazy shit that happens. Todd's work has been presented by organizations such as Abrons Art Center, Creative Time, ISSUE Project Room, The Kitchen, The Museum of Modern Art, The New Museum, P.S. 122 and Printed Matter. He is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts and also holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Boston University. Todd is a member of the core faculty in Pratt Institute's new MFA in Writing program.
Walis Johnson is a multidisciplinary artist/researcher whose work documents the experience and poetics of the urban landscape through oral history and visual ethnography, performance and artist walking practices. She is particularly interested in the intersection of documentary film, performance and socially engaged practice. Her work explores hidden fissures of culture and history that upend our understanding of the political, economic and cultural structures we use to define the American condition and ourselves. Her practice takes a critical view of the relationship between the personal and political in everyday life. Walis holds an MFA from Hunter College Interactive Media Arts and has taught at Parsons School of Design.
A photographer and a two-time participant in OHSS, Walter Hergt (OHSS Documentation) explores the interplay of long-format audio narrative, photography, and video. Originally from Northern Michigan, Walter has been perpetually leaving small towns for big ones, only to return again. Along the way, he received a Masters degree in Political Science from CUNY Graduate Center, founded a cooperatively-run book store/infoshop in Vermont, acted as director of the Institute for Social Ecology’s Sustainable Design, Building and Land-use program, and worked for sixteen years as a custom builder and energy-efficiency renovator in Vermont and New York. Walter has a breadth of experience on issues ranging from disaster relief and housing rights organizing to independent media production. He now works with The Watershed Center, a retreat and educational center for social justice organizations, and lives with his partner in Millerton, NY. You can see his current project, a multimedia documentary of Chaseholm Farm, on his website at www.walterhergt.com.