Vincentian Chair of Social Justice 2020-2021 Lecture Series

“Women of Color in the Academy”

This Webex lecture series aims to explore the inequity and exclusion that women of color experience in the different streams of modern culture. Each presentation is followed by a discussion with participants. 

Naa Oyo A. Kwate, Ph.D. headshot
photo provided by Christophe Delory©

Lecture 4: Dr. Naa Oyo Kwate on “If Black lives don’t matter in real life, why would they on the page? Navigating racism in scientific research funding and publishing.” 

Date: Thursday, April 29, 2021
Time: 7–8:30 p.m. EST (Webex)

This virtual lecture series aims to explore the inequity and exclusion that women of color experience in the different streams of modern culture. Join us on April 29 when Dr. Naa Oyo Kwate, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Human Ecology at Rutgers University, presents “If Black lives don’t matter in real life, why would they on the page? Navigating racism in scientific research funding and publishing.”

Dr. Kwate’s talk will explore the challenges Black scientists—and women in particular—face in conducting health research. Drawing on personal experience and existing data, Dr. Kwate will discuss the impact of racism on the scientific enterprise. Her presentation will be followed by a discussion including questions from the audience. 

A graduate of St. John's University's doctoral Clinical Psychology program, Dr. Kwate's research focuses on race related stressors and resource inequalities for African Americans in urban contexts. She is the author of Burgers in Blackface: Anti-Black Restaurants Then and Now, and an upcoming work in May 2021, The Street: A Photographic Field Guide to American Inequality.

Naa Oyo A. Kwate, Ph.D. is Associate Professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, jointly appointed in the Department of Africana Studies and the Department of Human Ecology.  A psychologist by training, she is an interdisciplinary social scientist with wide ranging interests in racial inequality and African American health.  Her research has centered primarily on the ways in which urban built environments reflect and create racial inequalities in the United States, and how racism directly and indirectly affects African American health.  Much of her work has been in New York City, where she has studied topics including the disproportionate density of fast food in Black neighborhoods, the prevalence and effects of outdoor alcohol advertising, and experiences with racism and mental and physical health.  Kwate's research has been funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and by fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution and others. She is the author of the short work, Burgers in Blackface: Anti-Black Restaurants Then and Now, published by the University of Minnesota Press, and editor of the forthcoming The Street: A Photographic Field Guide to American Inequality, published by Rutgers University Press.

Dr. Beverly Greene (Moderator)

Beverly Greene, Ph.D., ABPP is a Professor of Psychology at St. John’s University and a practicing clinical psychologist in New York City. A Fellow of the Academy of Clinical Psychology, the American Psychological Association and 7 of its divisions, she is Board Certified in Clinical Psychology (American Board of Professional Psychology) and licensed in psychology in New York and New Jersey.  Dr. Greene is the author of over 100 scholarly publications of which 12 have received national awards for making significant and distinguished contributions to the psychological literature. She is also the recipient of 40 national awards for distinguished contributions to scholarship, teaching/training, mentoring, leadership and service in organized psychology and advocacy in psychology in the public interest. Those contributions are in the form of longstanding pioneering professional contributions to the development of greater understandings of the intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation and social marginalization in psychotherapy and the development of multiple identity/intersectional paradigms.  Her groundbreaking theoretical formulations have forcefully advocated for the deepening of competencies in working toward the greater integration of psychological theory, research, practice and social justice.  That work provides a public health framework for understanding and providing mental health services to many of society’s most marginalized members. 

Jennifer F. Kelly, Ph.D. (Panelist)

Jennifer F. Kelly, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and is board certified in clinical health psychology. She currently serves as the 2021 President of the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Kelly is the director of the Atlanta Center for Behavioral Medicine, with expertise in disorders that involve the relationship between physical and emotional conditions. She currently serves on the APA Board of Directors as recording secretary. She is past president of the Georgia Psychological Association and Div. 31, and past-chair of the Board of Professional Affairs and the Association for the Advancement of Psychology. Dr. Kelly has received numerous awards, including the 2012 Timothy B. Jeffrey Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Health Psychology; 2011 APA State Leadership Award and 2011 APA Diversity Award; 2000 APA Karl F. Heiser Advocacy Award; 2000 Legislative Award by the Georgia Psychological Association; 2004 APA Practice Organization Federal Advocacy Award and 2006 Outstanding Psychologist Award from Div. 31. She has numerous publications, including articles in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, Behavioral Sciences and the Law, Pain Digest, "Comprehensive Review Book for Pain Medicine" and "Practical Management of Pain."

Dr. Wendi Williams (Panelist)

Celebrated scholar, author, and educator, Dr. Wendi Williams has committed her life's work to educate teachers, institutions, policymakers, advocates, and the general public on the intersection of education and psychology. Her work threads the intersection of psychology and education with black women’s liberatory leadership practices by which to understand our everyday lived experiences.

An expert and thought leader on issues of race, gender, and class, her writing and work have been featured in and NowThis News and published in scholarly journals such as Women and Therapy, the Journal of School Counseling, and the Journal of Counseling Psychology. Dr. Williams is a skilled educator and thought-leader as she makes complex social phenomena accessible and applicable to a wide range of audiences, from lay-persons in community, corporate settings, and academic contexts. She is currently working on two books exploring women's work and leadership experiences: Black Women at Work and WE Matter!: Intersectional Anti-Racist Feminist Interventions with Black Girls and Women, and a co-edited book, A More Radical Elsewhere: Foundations, Understandings, and Practices for our Freedom

Dr. Williams is the Dean of the School of Education at Mills College in Oakland, CA, and the President of the Society for the Psychology of Women, Division 35 of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Kelly Brown Douglas headshot

Lecture 3: The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas on “A Journey of Faith: From Crucifying Death to Resurrection Hope

Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Time: 7–8:30 p.m. EST (Webex)

This virtual lecture series aims to explore the inequity and exclusion that women of color experience in the different streams of modern culture. Join us on March 16 when The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, presents “A Journey of Faith: From Crucifying Death to Resurrection Hope”. James Baldwin once observed that there comes a time in the life of every Black person in America when they must face the “shock” that “the flag to which you have pledged allegiance…has not pledged allegiance to you.” This lecture will reflect a testimonial of personal faith, as Dr. Douglas seeks to explore what it means to have faith in the God of Jesus Christ during a time of Black death and Black protest—a time when it seems as if Black Lives never will come to matter.

View Event Flyer (PDF)

The Very Reverend Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas was named Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Theology at Union in September 2017. She was named the Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology in November 2019. She also serves as the Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral and Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street.

Prior to Union, Dean Douglas served as Professor of Religion at Goucher College where she held the Susan D. Morgan Professorship of Religion and is now Professor Emeritus. Before Goucher, she was Associate Professor of Theology at Howard University School of Divinity (1987-2001) and Assistant Professor of Religion at Edward Waters College (1986-1987).

Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1983, Dean Douglas holds a master’s degree in theology and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Union.

Dean Douglas is the author of many articles and five books, including Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective and Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. Her academic work has focused on womanist theology, sexuality and the black church.

Rolanda Ward, Ph.D. (Moderator) 

Dr. Rolanda L. Ward is an Associate Professor of Social Work and the inaugural faculty director of the Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equity, and Mission at Niagara University.  Dr. Ward is a macro-trained social worker who works in the community to address racial disparities, including equitable COVID-19 vaccine access as well as higher-education matriculation for BIPOC high school students. She is a former youth minister and loves helping young people articulate their faith practices.  

Nada M. Llewellyn, Esq (Panelist)

M. Llewellyn, Esq. serves as Chief Diversity Officer, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Deputy General Counsel.  Ms. Llewellyn joined the Office of General Counsel as Associate General Counsel in June 2005, and was promoted to Deputy General Counsel in June 2014.  She assumed the roles of Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President for Human Resources in August 2016, and leadership of the Office of Equity and Inclusion in July 2018

Ms. Llewellyn, in collaboration with the President and Provost, is charged with the strategic leadership of institutional diversity and inclusion efforts.  As Chief Diversity Officer, she advises senior leadership and leads strategic equity planning efforts that advance the University’s mission and vision and collaborates with key University stakeholders to develop and deploy initiatives that contribute to the achievement of equity-related goals.  Together with the Dr. Manouchkathe Casssagnol, she chairs the university’s Equity and Inclusion Council. As Associate Vice President for Human Resources, her responsibilities include oversight for all employee benefits, compensation, payroll, student employment, training, and EEO/Title IX programs.

In her role as Deputy General Counsel, Ms. Llewellyn provides advice and counsel regarding University legal and compliance issues, serves as the lead attorney for all of the University’s material, corporate transactions and provides pertinent information and guidance on applicable law, compliance regimes and University policies and procedures.

Mrs. Llewellyn is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan Law School.  She served as a member of the University of Michigan Law Review.  Prior to coming to St. John’s Mrs. Llewellyn was a corporate associate at the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, specializing in financing transactions and private investment funds.

Cydni Joubert, MA  (Panelist)

Cydni Joubert is a native of Dallas, Texas. She currently serves as the Resident Campus Minister of Retreats at St. John’s University where she is a double alumna. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Africana Studies and a master’s in Sociology with a concentration in Confronting Inequalities. In her current role, Ms. Joubert focuses on developing students’ faith through creating and implementing retreats to promote and expand safe spaces for college students as they transition into their next chapter of life through a spiritual and emotional journey. Her passions align at the intersection of building healthy faith identities and pursuing social equality.  

Minda Harts headshot

Lecture 2:
Minda Harts on “Catalyzing Equity: Securing a Seat at the Table”

Date: Thursday, February 4, 2021
Time: 7–8:30 p.m. EST (Webex)

On February 4, 2021 St. John's University welcomed Minda Harts, founder and C.E.O of The Memo, LLC., to engage in a discussion for the benefit of our University community based on her recent book, The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table (2019), Ms. Harts' talk and the discussion that followed provided a deeper understanding of strategies that women of color can implement to overcome barriers to success as she unpacks the politics, put names on the prejudices, and pushes personal promotion. Watch the video here.

Minda Harts is the CEO of The Memo LLC and an award-winning and best-selling author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table. Minda is a Professor of Public Service at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and hosts a live weekly podcast called Secure the Seat. In 2020, Minda was named the #1 Top Voice for Equity in the workplace by LinkedIn. She is an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and has been featured on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Fast Company, The NY Times, and Time Magazine. Minda frequently speaks at companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Nike, and Bloomberg on topics such as Managing Diverse Teams, Courageous Leadership, and advancing women of color in the workplace.

Joan Ball, Ph.D. (Moderator) 

Dr. Joan Ball is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Founder of the WOMB Service Design Lab, a participatory action research and service design consultancy based in New York. Joan's research, teaching and consulting has a strong focus on service design, consumer behavior and how best to create service systems and processes that result in business success, social impact and human wellbeing.  

Stephanie A. Shaw, Ed.D.

Dr. Stephanie Shaw received her doctorate in Instructional Leadership from St. John's University Department of Administrative and Instructional Leadership. She currently works as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Marketing Department of the Tobin College of Business and has taught courses in Marketing Strategy and Principles of Marketing. Dr. Shaw is also an Administrator in the Office of University Mission at St. John's University. 

As a result of Dr. Shaw's commitment to student engagement, retention, and mentoring, she volunteers as a mentor with nonnative English-speaking international students through the Conversation Partners Program and the ASPIRE Mentor Program at St. John's University. Dr. Shaw is also the liaison for the McNair Scholars Program at St. John's University, which is a graduate school preparation project for first-generation/income-eligible college students and individuals underrepresented in graduate education.   

Dr. Shaw has published in the International Journal of Business and Applied Sciences in her research area "Resilience as a Predictor of Variations in Freshmen Retention." Her research is also cited on the Resilience Center's website. She is a member of several organizations, including but not limited to the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Advertising Federation (AAF). Dr. Shaw is an active member of the University's first bias response team, RESPECT, and the Tobin Equity & Inclusion Task Force. 

Ayana L. Ibarra

Ayanna Ibarra is a first-generation graduate of the Peter J. Tobin School of Business at St. John’s University with a B.S. in Marketing and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. with a dual concentration in Marketing Management and International Business. With a demonstrated history of working in marketing and a passion for travel, food, and wine she has begun a career in the wine industry and contributes to highlighting and uplifting underrepresented groups in the industry.

Lecture 1:
Angela Saini on “Race, Gender, Science, and Power”

Headshot of Angela Saini

Date: Monday, November 16, 2020
Time: 7–8:30 p.m. EST (Webex)

Racial categories feel tangible, but as we know from genetics, they are no more rooted in biology than they were hundreds of years ago when they were arbitrarily invented by European Enlightenment scientists who were affected by the politics of their time—a time in which women were also told they were intellectually inferior. Yet, scientific myths about human difference live on today in disturbing ways. Even well-intentioned scientists, through their lazy use of old-fashioned categories, inappropriately invoke these false ideas. How do we break them down? More importantly, how do we build a scientific community that challenges prejudices rather than perpetuates them?

See flyer (PDF) for more information. 

Angela Saini is an award-winning British science journalist and broadcaster. She presents science programs on the BBC, and her writings appear in New Scientist, The Sunday Times, National Geographic, and Wired. Her latest book, Superior: the Return of Race Science, was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and named a book of the year by The Telegraph, Nature, and Financial Times. Her previous book, Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong, has been translated into 13 languages. Ms. Saini has a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Oxford and was a fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For more information, visit

Ms. Saini discusses her latest book, Superior: the Return of Race Science

About the Panelists

Dr. Manouchkathe Cassagnol is a tenured Associate Clinical professor in the Clinical Health Professions Department, as well as, the Assistant Dean of Community Engagement, Equity and Belonging for the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She also serves as the Founding Director of the Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion (ACEI). In conjunction with her faculty appointment, she is also a Clinical Specialist for Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy at Nassau University Medical Center (NUMC). Dr. Cassagnol received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. She then completed American Society of Health Systems Pharmacist (ASHP)-accredited PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice and PGY-2 Internal Medicine Pharmacotherapy residencies at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She later completed a Drug Interactions Editorial Fellowship at the Medical Letter Inc. Dr. Cassagnol is board certified as both as a Pharmacotherapy Specialist and Cardiology Pharmacist and was recently elected as a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA). Dr. Cassagnol frequently speaks on the topic of cardiovascular pharmacotherapy to both health professionals and community members. She has presented many abstracts both nationally and internationally and has published numerous papers in the area of cardiology. In addition to teaching and clinical services, she also helps to lead the University community in antiracist and other social justice initiatives, including directing the ACEI and co-chairing the University’s Equity and Inclusion Council to advance equity and justice, as well as, catalyze institutional transformation.

Elsen Jacob is an Assistant Professor at St. John’s University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She has a clinical practice site at The Mount Sinai Hospital, where she also serves as the Inpatient Pharmacy faculty for the Mount Sinai Family Medicine Residency and Pharmacy Residency programs. Dr. Jacob completed her Pharm.D. from St. John’s University and her Pharmacy Residency from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the epidemiology program at Columbia University. Her practice and research interests include health equity, drugs of abuse and misuse, transitions of care, geriatrics, anticoagulation, patient safety, and interprofessional education. She is a founding member of the Coalition for the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice (CAP), which seeks to improve health care access, enhance patient care, and reduce health care costs through collaboration with pharmacists. Dr. Jacob is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and seeks to educate students on racism and its broad-ranging negative impact on individuals, communities, patient care, and health-care systems.

Paula Kay Lazrus is trained as an archaeologist with a focus on understanding where people settle in a landscape. As part of a large multi-disciplinary project investigating landuse, settlement, economics, and politics, Dr. Lazrus is exploring why people in Italy primarily settle in the foothills of the Aspromote, Calabria, Italy. This project requires her to conduct spatial analysis (GIS) on tax records and other archival documents from the early 1800s combined with archaeological data to investigate social, economic, and political dynamics in that same area.  Dr. Lazrus is an active member of the Reacting to the Past Consortium, an organization of faculty and administrators developing and utilizing immersive role playing games as pedagogy. She is on the Reacting Consortium Board and on the Editorial Board as well as an affiliate of the Institute for Core Studies, Environment Science Program, and the Sociology and Anthropology Departments at St. John’s University. Her work was presented at conferences and published works include studies on teaching with GIS, RTTP, and her archaeological research. Dr. Lazrus graduated with her doctoral degree in archaeology from Boston University.