Meet the Staff

Professional Staff

Charrise Barron
Interim Director
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Dr. Charrise BarronDr. Charrise Barron

Dr. Barron earned a PhD in African and African American studies with a secondary concentration in ethnomusicology from Harvard University. She holds a Master of Divinity summa cum laude from Yale Divinity School, with a certificate from Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music (ISM). She also holds an A.M. in African American studies from Harvard. While her research and writing have explored a range of topics in African American religion, music, and history, her current book project centers on contemporary gospel music. This work illuminates the marked shifts away from previous eras of gospel performance and culture which have defined the last twenty-five years of the genre. She has taught and held research fellowships at Yale and Colorado College, and she has even lectured on gospel music at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. She is a Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) Doctoral Fellowship alumna and a member of the Harvard University Society of Horizons Scholars.

Dr. Barron brings years of service in campus life at Harvard University and Yale University. For five years she was as a resident tutor in Adams House, a Harvard University dormitory. There, she led a team of tutors who advised and advocated for undergraduate students regarding racial discrimination. The team also educated the community concerning racial and ethnic diversity. In 2013, the Harvard Foundation awarded her the Race Relations Advisor Award. She also served as pastor of the Black Church at Yale (BCAY), which has offices and operations in Yale’s Afro-American Cultural Center. BCAY is a fully student-run, university-recognized campus church founded in the 1970s by black Yale students and alumni.

Prior to these roles, Dr. Barron graduated from Harvard University with an A.B. cum laude in Computer Science and worked throughout the United States, western Europe, and Mexico as a senior business systems analyst for Information Services International, a division of Mars, Inc. (the company that makes M&M’s chocolate candies). She also founded and ran a web design and marketing consulting company prior to attending graduate school.

Dr. Barron joined the Brown University faculty last year as a Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in Religious Studies, Africana Studies, and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA). She remains a faculty member while interim director of the BCSC. She is currently teaching the course Social Justice and the Musical Afrofuture, which is cross-listed in religious studies, Africana studies, and music.

Kristy Kumar
Assistant Director, Co-Curricular Initiatives

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Kristy KumarKristy Kumar

Kumar serves as the Assistant Director for Co-Curricular Initiatives where she collaborates with students, faculty, staff, and alumni to enhance Brown's excellence through equity and justice. She works with our Latinx, Black, and Asian American Student Initiative Coordinators to build community, cultivate support, and the potential for collective action. Kumar also supports the Graduate Students of Color Initiative and Commencement Events.

In her previous role as the Assistant Director of Educational Programs at the Women and Gender Advocacy Center at Colorado State University, she led interpersonal violence prevention programming to dismantle rape supportive culture and create cultures of consent. Kumar received her M.A. in Human Rights focusing on race, gender, and equity from the University of Denver and a B.A. in Political Science and Global Poverty and Practices from the University of California, Berkeley. She has also served as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia and has a background in anti-violence education. She's passionate about decolonial feminisms and art as activism.

Anne Marie Ponte
Coordinator, Co-Curricular Initiatives

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Anne Marie PonteAnne Marie Ponte

Anne Marie is pursuing her BA in Sociology and minor in Ethnic Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She has been a loyal employee of Brown University for 29 years, with 19 years in the Center. She provides supervision to Heritage Series Programmers, advising to Center-affiliated student organizations, and professional support for the Center's finances and facilities. Her work will help to promote critical learning and engagement for students in the Center.

Olivia A. McNeill, M.Ed
Assistant Director, First Year and Sophomore Programs

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Olivia A. McNeill, M.EdOlivia A. McNeill, M.Ed

Olivia supervises the Minority Peer Counselor Program and the Third World Transition Program. Although she moved frequently throughout her childhood, her roots are in the southern region of the United States.Olivia conducted a program assessment of the Social Justice Peer Education Program to advocate for equitable compensation and a defined pedagogical framework. Additionally, she developed the Leadership Collective, a leadership development program for first-year and sophomore students. Olivia finds deep purpose in supporting students as they develop into healthy and whole community members. She earned her M.Ed in Higher Education with a focus in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington and a B.S. in English Education from Appalachian State University. She enjoys reading, hiking, and herbal medicine-making.

Maurisa Li-A-Ping
Coordinator, First Year and Sophomore Programs

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Marisa Li-A-PingMarisa Li-A-Ping

Maurisa Li-A-Ping is a storyteller, educator, and performer raised by a village of Black women in Brooklyn, New York. As the Coordinator for First Year and Sophomore Programs in the BCSC, Maurisa supervises the BCSC Hourly Staff, the Social Justice Peer Education Program and LEAD. As a storyteller and educator, Maurisa is passionate about utilizing culturally relevant art forms to promote the holistic growth of students. Through Maurisa's dedication to her craft and career, she has performed at various venues from the World-Famous Apollo Theater, United Nations, Barclays Center and more. Maurisa has earned an M.S.Ed in Higher Education Student Affairs from Indiana University, a B.A. in Sociology from St. John's University, and received national honors, grants and publications.

Christopher J. Lee
Graduate Student of Color Program Coordinator

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Christopher J. LeeChristopher J. Lee

Christopher J. Lee is an Interdisciplinary Opportunity Fellow at the Pembroke Center and a PhD candidate in English at Brown University, where their research project interrogates anti-queer violence in a variety of politicized and aesthetic forms. As Graduate Student Coordinator at the BCSC, they serve as a liaison to graduate students of color (GSOC) by organizing programming that reflects the social and academic interests of the GSOC community. They also send out a biweekly newsletter alerting graduate students of color of events and opportunities.

Beyond their work within academic institutions, Chris also serves as chair of the Community Curator committee for AS220’s Queer Arts Festival, an annual event series that envisions an alternative and addendum to Rhode Island Pride. Their writing has appeared in The Baffler, The New Inquiry, and Women & Performance.