• Patricia Williams Lessane, PhD., Executive Director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture

  • Dr. Williams Lessane is a cultural anthropologist whose focus areas include Pan African religious identity, Black feminist theory, and representations of Black life in popular culture. She earned a BA in English from Fisk University, a MALS from Dartmouth College, and a PhD. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before joining The College of Charleston, she was a faculty member at Roosevelt University and a consultant for The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.


  • John White, PhD., Dean of the College of Charleston Libraries

  • Dr. White is the Dean of Libraries at the College of Charleston and the Director of the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (  Previously, he was the Director of the Program in the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World at the College of Charleston.  He earned BA in Political Science from Bridgewater College and his Ph.D. in History from the University of Florida.  He is the author of several works on race and politics in South Carolina, a member of the editorial board for the South Carolina Historical Magazine, and co-Editor of Laying the Foundation:  Digital Humanities in Academic Libraries (Purdue University Press, 2016).


  • Daron Lee Calhoun, II, Race and Social Justice Initiative Coordinator

  • Daron Lee Calhoun II is a historian on the History of African American Higher Education. In various roles at the College of Charleston, he has assisted with educational outreach and event planning and serves as a producer and head researcher on a feature-length documentary film project with director Julie Dash. He received his BA in African American Studies from Morehouse College and attended the College of Charleston in the graduate History program. He is a community activist and involved in a variety of social justice organizations. He began working with the Race and Social Justice Initiative in May 2016 to facilitate coordinating of speaker events and programming.


  • Denise Ciccarelli, Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations

Denise leads the College’s efforts to facilitate and grow mutually beneficial relationships between corporate and private foundation partners. She serves as a conduit for the College to share innovative opportunities that benefit economic growth throughout our region. She is focused on building lasting partnerships through engagement and stewardship, understanding the importance that each stakeholder brings to the College.

  • Dr. Lisa Brock, RSJI 2017 Scholar-in-Residence

Lisa Brock (aka Doc Brock) is the Academic Director of the Arcus Center of Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College, where she has worked to infuse social justice into Liberal Arts Education. Her writings on Africa and the African Diaspora have appeared in dozens of academic journals, political outlets, book chapters and the groundbreaking book, Between Race and Empire: African-Americans and Cubans Before the Cuban Revolution.  Lisa is currently Co-Chair of the Board Trustees of the Davis Putter Scholarship Fund and senior editor of Praxis Center, an online blog and resource center for scholars, activists, and artists. A rebel all her life, Lisa fought for girls’ rights and Black rights while growing up in her native Cincinnati, Ohio area and against police violence and judicial misconduct in Washington D.C. while an undergraduate. She became a leader in the anti-apartheid movement while in graduate school in Chicago and lived in Mozambique as a Fulbright Scholar where she critically merged her academic interest with southern African liberation struggles. She worked to found the Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection at Columbia College Chicago (CCC) and to endow an international travel scholarship for students involved in African-American Studies. She has also led study abroad programs for faculty, students and activist to South Africa and Cuba. As a historian and justice leader, Lisa is an internationalist who views history as a way to enter contemporary discussions about race, class, gender, and global inequalities. Lisa attended Oberlin College and earned her B.A. from Howard University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in African History from Northwestern University.

  • David Rothmund, RSJI Graduate Assistant

  • David Rothmund is from Lombard Illinois. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Elmhurst College under the guidance of Dr. Lindsey Patterson and Dr. Rob Butler. David is currently a history master’s candidate at the College of Charleston. His thesis examines the Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC) and the leaders of the growing African American left during the New Deal/World War II era. Hoping to continue this research and eventually teach, he is pursuing acceptance to a Ph.D. program next fall.


  • Ebony Venson RSJI Senior Undergraduate Assistant

  • Greetings! My name is Ebony T. Venson and I hail from the All-American city of Hartsville, South Carolina. I am a Senior Political Science Major with a double minor in Crime, Law and Society and Urban Studies at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. I am involved in several organizations on campus. I currently serve as the President of the Iota Omicron Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and hold other leadership positions in the Black Student Union, College Democrats, and The Political Science Club. My interests include; housing and urban development, criminal justice, healthcare and social justice. Following my undergraduate studies at the College of Charleston, I plan to further my education and obtain a Masters in Public Administration.



  • Lanasa Clarkson, RSJI Junior Undergraduate Assistant

  • Greetings! My name is Lanasa Clarkson and I am from Camden, South Carolina. I am currently a junior at the College of Charleston double majoring in Political Science and African American Studies, with a concentration in Politics, Philosophy, and Law. At the College of Charleston, I serve as the President of Black Student Union and I also serve as a Student Ambassador and a Peer Facilitator. After completing my undergraduate studies, I plan on going to law school to practice civil rights law.



  • Conseula Francis, PhD, Associate Provost of Academic Affairs-Posthumous

  • Consuela’s talents were many.  She was a formidable intellect who could make a hard day shorter and a difficult meeting easier.  There was no burden she could not lighten, no path she could not straighten, by applying her unique combination of good humor and keen insight.  Conseula was patient when patience was productive, impatient when the action was needful.
  • Conseula first came to the College of Charleston as Assistant Professor of English in 2002.  In 2007, she was appointed Director of the African American Studies Program and played a critical role in the growth of the program and the development of the African American Studies major.
  • Consuela’s scholarly work focused on American and African American literature, with a more recent focus on romance novels and popular fiction.  In 2011, Conseula earned the College’s highest honor as an instructor, the Distinguished Teaching Award.
  • As Associate Provost, Conseula had essential leadership responsibilities for the College’s curriculum and for our complex web of obligations to accreditors and to state and federal agencies.  We are a much better university because of her good work.