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, 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 is a Research and Development Associate in IUPUI’s Office of Community Engagement. She serves as A.R.T.I.’s Development and Fundraising coordinator. 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 IUPUI. Kigamwa is a second year Ph.D. student with a focus in Urban Education and Leadership Studies at the IUPUI School of Education. 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 building a corporate career in Kenya and re-started a career in fundraising and development in the United States. Susan has lived in Indiana for over 14 years with her husband and two daughters. As part of a growing Black immigrant population in Indiana, Susan brings to A.R.T.I. her fund development knowledge in support of A.R.T.I.’s mission in addition to 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 as a board member for Weiss Scholarship Foundation that offers educational opportunities for underserved Kenyan children in Nyanza, Kenya. Susan has a passion for her faith and family; advocating and supporting efforts for opportunity of equity and racial justice; and building knowledge about African-American history and experiences.
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 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.
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.