Leslie Etienne, Interim Chair of Africana Studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts

Dr. Leslie K. Etienne is the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Africana Studies and Culture as well as the Director of the Africana Studies program and Clinical Associate Professor and at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI). He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Philander Smith College, a Masters degree in International Affairs and Development from Clark Atlanta University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership and Change from Antioch University and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from IUPUI.

His research interests are frameworks for Black emancipatory education, Black internationalism, Black cultural production, museum education, and historical and contemporary manifestations of Black radical and intellectual traditions.

Dr. Etienne is also the founding Managing Director of the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (ARTI), serves a Project Director of the IUPUI/Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School, and in 2018 co-curated Remember 1968, an exhibit that highlights a timeline of the year 1968, focusing on six overlapping areas that parallel present day issues on college campuses: Gun Violence, Freedom of Speech, Student Activism, Global/Local Resistance, Patriotism, and Organizing. Leslie “Les” K. Etienne is a Visiting Professor in both the School of Liberal Arts Africana Studies program, and in the School of Education at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Susan Kigamwa, Assistant Director of Development for both the School of Architecture and the School of Art at Yale University

Susan Kigamwa is an Assistant Director of Development for both the School of Architecture and the School of Art at Yale University. Prior to this, she served as a fundraiser for I.U.P.U.I.’s Office of Community Engagement. While serving in this capacity, Susan was invited to serve as a member of A.R.T.I.’s leadership team to offer insight on appropriate fundraising strategies and trends. Her education journey includes a Masters’ degree in Business Administration from the United States International University, Africa, and a Masters’ degree in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at I.U.P.U.I. Kigamwa is pursuing her Ph.D. part-time in Urban Education and Leadership Studies at I.U.P.U.I. Her research interests include Black immigrant student experiences in higher education and philanthropic supports to underrepresented college student populations.

Kigamwa and her family came to Indiana after several years of building a corporate career in Kenya and re-started a career in fundraising and development in the United States. Susan recently relocated to West Hartford, Connecticut, after living in Indiana for over 14 years with her husband and two daughters. As part of the Black immigrant population in America, Susan brings to A.R.T.I. her voice and sensibilities for the arts as expressed through Black theatre.

Kigamwa serves in various capacities in her community, including as a member of the Nationalities Council of Indianapolis, a hospitality team member at her church, and a board member for Weiss Scholarship Foundation, which offers educational opportunities for underserved Kenyan children in Nyanza, Kenya. In addition, Susan has a passion for her faith and family, advocating and supporting efforts for the opportunity of equity and racial justice; and building knowledge about African American history and experiences.

Abdul-Khaliq Murtadha, assistant professor for Department of Theatre and Dance at Auburn University

Abdul-Khaliq has taught theatre and filmmaking in a variety of settings, including K-12 schools, universities, private workshops, summer camps and independent master classes. He’s been a dialect and voice coach, guest lecturer, professional mentor, and advised and instructed MFA conservatory students. His work as an independent producer and writer has led him to collaborate with artists and entrepreneurs in varied areas including story development, marketing, and advertising. 

As a director, AK has led play productions, play readings, and classic and contemporary scene-study workshops. His research and process stem include study of Stanislavski, Meisner, Adler, and Strasberg’s acting methods as well as the voice work of Linklater, Berry, Rodenburg, and many others.  His work with different theatre companies has used techniques from Ann Bogart’s Viewpoints as well as Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed to devise productions for schools, prisons, and corporate settings based on social, health, and educational issues. 

He is an active member of both the Actor’s Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA and has enjoyed various classical and contemporary roles in regional and repertory theatres across the country. A few of his most recent acting roles include: Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure at the Ensemble Theatre Company, (Santa Barbara),playing Claudius and the Ghost in Hamlet for the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company , Orsino in Twelfth Night at both the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival and Pioneer Theatre Co.(Salt Lake City), Martin Luther King, Jr. in Mountaintop at WBTT (Sarasota, FL) , James T in Barbecue at the Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis), for Ensemble Theatre Co. (Santa Barbara),  and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the LBJ plays – All the Way and The Great Society , as well as Dr. Prentice in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner at Asolo Rep in Sarasota.

Some of his TV and Film credits include: NCIS-LA, All My Children, Raising the Bar, The Unit, Medium, Numb3rs, and the current streaming feature – 8989 Redstone. (Amazon Prime).  Awards include Best Actor – New Orleans Short film festival – In the Wind; NAACP Award: Best Ensemble – All My Sons (playing Chris Keller) at The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles.  

Dr. Abdul-Khaliq Murtadha is formerly an associate professor of Africana Studies at IUPUI. He was a Featured Guest Artist and founder of the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI where he directed The People Speak/ Voices of the African Diaspora. He is an ensemble member of the Fonseca Theatre Company in Indianapolis, a member of the artistic ensemble at Crescent City Stage in New Orleans, and his interactive multimedia play The American Muslim Project was the resident umbrella project for the 2019 Indy Convergence in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

Khaula Murtadha, Associate Vice Chancellor, IUPUI Office of Community Engagement

Dr. Murtadha is a mother and educator, having taught preschool, elementary, middle school science, undergraduate and graduate classes. Dr. Murtadha’s PhD is in Educational Leadership, from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

She is the former Executive Associate Dean of the IU School of Education, and now serves as Associate Vice Chancellor for the Office of Community Engagement at IUPUI. She is also a faculty member of the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program in the School of Education. She serves on the Indianapolis Public Library Board of Trustees, as well as that of the Christamore House and the Indiana Council for Continuing Education.

Dr. Murtadha has served as either PI or Co-PI for externally funded research and programming grants in excess of $5 million. Some of Murtadha’s awards include the Center for Leadership Development Madame C. J. Walker (Outstanding Woman of the Year) Award; the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Indianapolis Chapter-Breakthrough Woman award; the Father Boniface Hardin Award and the Indianapolis chapter of the National Council of Negro Women Leadership in Education Award.

She has published in the Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education; the Education Administration Quarterly; the Yearbook of the National Council of Professors of School Administration; in Urban Education; the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education; and the Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration. She serves as the editor of the ENGAGE! journal, focused on community engaged research.

Her current research includes ethics in community-university partnerships; African American women in educational leadership and effective leadership in urban schools.

Regina Turner, Associate Professor, Communication Studies and Division of Undergraduate Education, IUPUI

Regina Turner joined University College faculty in 1998 and served as the campus-community liaison working with churches, high schools and families to raise awareness and interest in higher education.

Through a joint appointment with communication studies, she created a course that combined three of her life’s passions –theater, higher education and social justice –and focuses on the internal motivations that can lead to student attrition. Specifically, she has worked collaboratively with the School of Education to create scripts to be performed in the community to encourage children’s interest in STEM disciplines.

Her research interests include uses of theatre to bridge the gap between high school and college, the impact of student culture on educational achievement, and the development of a stronger relationship between academic and student affairs to encourage student retention. Turner presented more than 50 full-length productions that focused on the intersection between the lives of students and higher education, covering issues such as romantic relationships, challenges in government regulations and intolerance of religious pluralism.

Vernon A. Williams, Communications & Community Engagement Strategist for the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement

With a career built on journalism, marketing and education, Vernon uses his experiences to help tell the story of how IUPUI engages with the community, while also building upon the collaborations the campus has built with the community.

Community engagement is a part of who Vernon is, and he sees no other way to live, especially when he gets the gratification of seeing people’s situation improve.

Starting as a young student in Gary, Vernon has consistently found ways to get involved to help his community, from starting clubs in high school that focused on service projects to tutoring freshman at risk of dropping out of college to joining and eventually helping lead the local chapter for the Indiana Black Expo. He is also involved with his church, Mount Zion Apostolic Church.

Vernon draws on the many connections he has made and continues to make in the community, ranging from local and campus officials to residents who live nearby, to find ways IUPUI can help address concerns and become involved in local issues.

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