Scholars and Other Participant Bios

Click for full list of Research Site Leaders

Lisa Brooks, Ph.D,  Amherst College

Lisa Brooks holds a Ph.D from Cornell University, 2004, M.A.; Boston College, 1998;  B.A. Goddard College, 1993. Professor Lisa Brooks teaches courses in Native American studies, early American literature and comparative American StudiesShe received her Ph.D. in English, with a minor in American Indian Studies, from Cornell University in 2004. Before coming to Amherst, she was John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. Her first book, The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast (University of Minnesota Press 2008) reframes the historical and literary landscape of the American northeast. Illuminating the role of writing as a tool of community reconstruction and land reclamation in indigenous social networks, The Common Pot constructs a provocative new picture of Native space before and after colonization. The Media Ecology Association honored the book with its Dorothy Lee Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Culture for 2011. Although deeply rooted in her Abenaki homeland, Professor Brooks’s work has been widely influential in a global network of scholars. She co-authored the collaborative volume, Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective (University of Oklahoma Press 2008), which was recognized by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) as one of the Ten Most Influential Books in Native American and Indigenous Studies of the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century.  She also wrote the “Afterword” for American Indian Literary Nationalism (University of New Mexico Press 2006), which won the Beatrice Medicine Award for Scholarship in American Indian Studies. In 2009, Brooks was elected to the inaugural Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and she currently serves on the Editorial Board of Studies in American Indian Literatures. In addition to her scholarly work, Brooks serves on the Advisory Board of Gedakina, a non-profit organization focused on indigenous cultural revitalization, educational outreach, and community wellness in New England. She is currently working on a book project, “Turning the Looking Glass on Captivity and King Philip’s War,” which places early American texts, including Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, within the historical and literary geography of Native space.


Dave Cohen, VBike

Dave Cohen has more than 30 years of experience promoting bikes for everyday transportation. He was instrumental in guiding numerous bike and transportation-related projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Pedal Express in Berkeley, CA, a bicycle delivery service he founded utilizing a fleet of cargo bikes. Pedal Express gained national recognition for its innovative business model and creative partnerships. In 2015, Dave founded VBike (www.vbikesolutions.org), an advocacy group dedicated to promoting new bicycle technologies and designs to help inspire a shift in Vermont’s bike culture towards a far more transportation-oriented future. Dave also works as an integrative psychotherapist in Brattleboro, VT, specializing in ecopsychology and mind/body approaches. VBike is a nonprofit organization dedicated to shifting the bike and bike culture in Vermont towards a far more inclusive, fun, and transportation-oriented future.  Our main focus is to promote exciting innovations and solutions, including electric-assist technology and cargo bikes, which profoundly expand the range, carrying capacity (children and cargo), hill climbing ease, comfort and the overall utility of biking. To get Vermont moving on these advances in bike transport, VBike has developed a diverse fleet of electric bikes for families, commuters, seniors and others to provide hands-on experiences of these mobility solutions. The fleet, which is unique in the US, has been featured around Vermont for test rides at community events, and workshops. In 1996, VBike piloted its highly successful Take it Home program, providing Brattleboro area residents an opportunity experience to their daily errands and trips by taking home one of our electric-assist fleet bikes for a period of up to a week. The project inspired widespread adoption of e-cargo bikes and e-bikes in the area. VBike is working to expand the Take it Home program statewide in 2017. VBike also works with VTrans through its contract with Go Vermont (our state’s alternative transportation agency) aimed at providing free bicycle consultations for Vermonters looking to purchase a cargo bike, e-assist system or anything related to bike transport. VBike also provides cost-free support and consultations to the state’s bike shops.


Jessica Dolan, Ph.D

Research & Contributions from Jessica Dolan.

Jessica Dolan earned her Ph.D. from McGill University in 2016, and her M.Sc. from University of Kent at Canterbury in 2005.  She is an environmental anthropologist and ethnobotanist, who researches and writes about human relationships with the natural world, land-based learning, environmental management, food security, culturally significant plant species, and composting. She has worked with Indigenous communities in Canada and the United States for the last ten years on projects that contribute to environmental restoration, education, traditional knowledge revitalization, land conservation, and Indigenous sovereignty. She works primarily with the Haudenosaunee, in their communities of Six Nations of the Grand River, Onondaga, Akwesasne, and Kahnawá:ke, but also has worked with the Cree Nation of Wemindji and on pan-Indigenous and Urban Indigenous education, research, and advocacy. Before that, she did research in Ireland on traditional environmental knowledge. She is active in the Society of Ethnobiology, applied anthropology, conservation, and Indigenous Studies scholarly networks. Bridging policy, university, and community-based projects, she most recently worked as an environmental assessment officer and youth and elders camp coordinator for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Environment Program. Her current large project is researching and writing an ethnobotanical field guide, combining archival and community-based research in Haudenosaunee and Algonquin communities. She is also working on a paper on ethics of Native/non-Native collaborations in environmental work, and one on Haudenosaunee traditional food systems and sovereignty. She grew up in Brattleboro, Vermont. For more information, please see: www.jessica-dolan.com.


Adam Franklin-Lyons, Ph.D, Marlboro College

Adam Franklin-Lyons earned a B.A. and B.M. from Oberlin College, 2000; M.A., Yale University, 2006, Ph.D., Yale University, 2009. Adam’s work focuses on the European medieval and early modern past. He specializes in teaching archival methods—the extrapolation of history from small or mundane records. He has always been passionate about getting students as close as possible to the original sources of history—receipts, letters, contracts, legal documents. His students have worked on projects ranging from medieval monasticism or papal reform to the history of leaded gasoline and the local history of Vermont during both the republic period and the Civil War. His classes cover a range of topics as well, including the medieval Mediterranean, historiography, religious history, and women’s history.  His own research focuses on famine and food supply in late medieval Spain. He has worked extensively in the Barcelona and Valencian archives as well as other cathedral and urban archives in the region. In particular, he has focused on the management and purchase records from the Barcelona Cathedral poorhouse, looking at the changing availability and price of basic foodstuffs during the fourteenth century. He incorporates digital history techniques into his work, especially using GIS (computer based mapping programs  known as “Geographic Information Systems;”) to look at medieval travel and communication. Through his work at Marlboro, Adam has taught both college and high school students using local archives and working with resources in Windham county. During a seminar on local history and a summer course of letter writing and correspondence, the students worked with primary source documents from both Marlboro and Brattleboro using resources from historical societies as well as Brooks Memorial Library’s local history collection. The library, in particular, has letters and personal papers written by many notable figures including political activists such as Clarina Howard Nichols. By reading about historical actors in their own words and usually in their own handwriting, students can experience a much more immediate connection to the history they study in school. Additionally, Adam offers introductory workshops on mapping and geographic analysis. Software has progressed such that the entry level is lower than it has been in the past and students can begin to produce their own maps and think geographically in a relatively short amount of time and other methods for creating visual displays of data.


Carol Hendrickson, Ph.D, Marlboro College

Carol Hendrickson is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Marlboro College. She has conducted field research on Maya textiles, clothing, and issues of identity in the central highlands of Guatemala for more than 35 years. An expert on visual and material culture, her research focuses on the ways that people, the objects they create, and the places where they live non-verbally relate cultural meanings and provide insight into local understandings of history, gender, class, politics, and place-based identity. Carol Hendrickson is also part of an intellectual movement in anthropology and related disciplines pushing the boundaries of what it means to do visual social science research and publication. In addition to collecting research materials using more conventional methodologies (e.g., interviews, participant observation, and photography), she advocates taking visual field notes as an important means for seeing—in the double sense of observing and understanding—in the field. She has written and spoken extensively on that subject as well as on experiments in the visual presentation of research results.


Janaki Natarajan, Ph.D,  Marlboro College

Janaki is Director of the M.A.T. in Teaching for Social Justice at Marlboro College.  She has an Ed.D. from Harvard and a B.A from Swarthmore College. She has held faculty positions across the U.S, at Dartmouth College, University of California, Berkeley, University of the District of Columbia, in the DC public schools, and in Lorton Prison, and others, including being a regular teacher in Middle and High School Grades in Brattleboro. She is the founder of Educational Praxis, a non-profit organization connecting people from distinct backgrounds to exchange local and global knowledge and skills. Spark Teacher Educational Institute, a component of Educational Praxis, has been working in the schools and communities of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts for the past twelve years. Spark offers the training for Certification for the Vermont Department of Education in  K – 12 grades, as well as a Masters in Teaching for Social Justice in partnership with Marlboro Graduate School.  The principles of learning and teaching of Spark are founded on building just and humane communities.  She was born in Ban­galore, South India, where she worked with the Sarvodaya move­ment in India and the liberation movements in Angola, South Africa and Mozambique. She is director of Bapa­grama Educational Center, a Bangalore school serving the Dalit poor in nearby villages and with a tradition of social service and community organizing since 1949.  Janaki’s own work embraces more than four decades of teaching and research, including extensive work in China, India and Tanzania, where she taught at the University of Dar Es Salaam.


Kate Ratcliff, Ph.D, Marlboro College

Kate Ratcliff earned her B.A., Colgate University, 1980; M.A., University of Minnesota, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1989; Professor Ratcliff’s doctoral work is a study of the rise of the American suburb and the emergence of a new middle-class culture in the late 19th and 20th centuries, examining changes in family life and gender roles during the transition from the Victorian Age to a secular, consumer-­oriented society. She was one of three finalists for the national Gabriel Prize for the best dissertation in American Studies, and was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend. Her teaching ranges from feminist theory to the Federalist Papers to post–World War II television sitcoms.  Kate has enjoyed giving public lectures over the years on topics ranging from immigration policy to Cold War American culture to suburban domestic architecture. Professor Ratcliff’s current research is focused on the history and culture of aging, with an emphasis on gender, and on the theory and practice of oral history.  Kate has taught several courses in recent years relating to local history.  One course entitled “Nearby History” focuses on Brattleboro as a lens for exploring changes in U.S. society and culture from the late 18th through the early 20th centuries.  “Presence of the Past” draws on materials and methods from Anthropology, History and Performance Studies to explore how people and places inscribe and perform their own history.  Most recently, Kate taught a course in collaboration with the Vermont Performance Lab and Green Mountain Crossroads entitled “The Politics of Change: Radical Movements in the Late Twentieth Century.”  Students learned the skills of oral history, created projects based on oral history interviews with people in Southern Vermont who were part of the radical experimentation of the 60s and 70s, and presented their work in a public celebration with all the interviewees.  Kate’s work in oral history has been informed by intensive training at both the Oral History Summer School in Hudson, New York and the Vermont Folklife Center.


Project Fundraising Committee


Steven Budd, PhD, Brattleboro Literary Festival

Steven Budd is a former community college president and a past president of the Council for Resource Development (CRD). His career spans more than thirty years in all aspects of community college leadership including Institutional Development, Enrollment Management, Public Relations, Marketing and Government Relations. Dr. Budd has developed and implemented workforce development projects under the U.S. Departments of Labor, Commerce, and Education. Dr. Budd also led a number of NEH funded projects involving the restoration of historical sites and historical interpretation. Dr. Budd served as the Principal Investigator for CRD’s NSF funded faculty professional development program and has since pursued a career in project evaluation and independent research. He holds an MBA and Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Prudence Baird, Development & Marketing Consultant

Prudence sits on the Fine Arts Committee of Brooks Memorial Library and on the Board of the New England Youth Theatre, both located in Brattleboro, VT. Prudence Baird has more than 30 years of experience in marketing, public relations, journalism and fundraising. A southern California native, Prudence is on the Advisory Board of the L.A.-based Special Needs Network, a nonprofit that serves minority and low-income families caring for loved ones with autism. She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oregon and holds a  Masters in Autism Spectrum Disorder from Antioch New England. In addition to working as a proponent for the disabled, Prudence serves as a pro bono parent advocate for families in Southern Vermont.

Andy Burrows, Write Action

Andy Burrows is a poet. He is also the publisher of Pro Lingua Associates in Brattleboro, publishing English as a Second Language textbooks since 1980. He has served on the boards of the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Center for Digital Art, and Vermont Public Radio.


Mara Williams, Marlboro College, Brattleboro Museum and Art Center

Mara Williams sits on the Marlboro College board of directors and is Chief Curator at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center (BMAC),  responsible for setting the artistic direction of BMAC, developing and executing the exhibition program, hiring and management of guest curators and essayists, as well as cultivating and soliciting funds from major donors. She also served as director of the museum from 1989 to 1998, during which time she stabilized the finances of the institution and grew the budget, obtaining several multi-year grants from national, regional, and local foundations. She is also principal of Arts Bridge, a firm developing viewer-centered exhibitions, including interactive stations and film productions, for institutions throughout New England.


Philip H. Steckler III, Marlboro College, Country Business Investments

Phil Steckler is Treasurer of Marlboro College’s board of directors and a principal in Country Business Investments, a brokerage and acquisition firm of area businesses, where he has been responsible for numerous transactions in northern New England over 30 years. He is past president of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, past president and current executive board member of the Brattleboro Development and Credit Corporation, and past president and current member of Rotary International. He is also the former president of Brattleboro Outing Club and Tennis Club, past board member of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and current board of the Latchis Corporation of the Brattleboro Arts Initiative. Phil has his master’s in teaching economics from the University of Missouri. 


Jim Verzino, Windham Grows Business Hatchery 

Jim Verzino is Vice President of the Downtown Brattelboro Alliance board and board Vice President for Brattleboro Community Television. He has started three socially conscious businesses focused on the environment and rural employment. He now helps others start and grow artisinal food and agriculture businesses as the Entrepreneur in Residence at the Windham Grows Business Hatchery.