Announcing the 2023 Davis Center Summer Fellows and Grant Winners!

The Davis Center is thrilled to announce our 2023 Summer Fellows and Grant Winners!

Gordon J. Davis ’63 Social and Racial Justice Fellows

The Gordon J. Davis ‘63 Social and Racial Justice Fellowships provide a flexible opportunity for students to define how to advance social and racial justice initiatives. Students may propose internships, research projects, coursework,  partnerships with community-based organizations, community service, and other opportunities, provided that the specific focus is on racial or other social justice issues, and expressions. Students may propose opportunities that are located in or beyond their home communities, or take advantage of local, regional, or national opportunities.

This fellowship honors Gordon J. Davis ’63, who is a dedicated public servant and influential civic leader who has held important posts in New York City government, led initiatives to increase the hiring and promotion of Black and other underrepresented lawyers in major law firms, and served in leadership roles for several major arts organizations such as Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. While a student at Williams, Davis co-founded the Williams College Civil Rights Committee along with his advocacy to abolish fraternities on campus and his leadership of the Gargoyle Society. He is the son of W. Allison Davis ‘24 and the nephew of John A. Davis ’33, the African American brothers for whom The Davis Center is named. At Harvard Law School, from which Gordon Davis graduated in 1967, he was a principal founder of the Harvard Black Law School Association. The Gordon J. Davis ’63 Social and Racial Justice Fellowships are generously funded by classmates James B. Blume ’63 and Harry R. Hagey ’63.

To learn more about Gordon J Davis, we encourage you to read his incisive New York Times op-ed “What Woodrow Wilson Cost My Grandfather.” You might also check out these Historymaker interviews with him, this Williams magazine profile of him, and this announcement of these fellowships on the Venable website, where he is a partner in the firm’s New York Real Estate Group.

Levi Hughes

Class Year: 2025

Project Title: America Runs On Labor: Creating Social Capital and Racial Solidarity in the Labor Movement

Project Description: For this summer I will be undergoing a comparative case study doing research on both successful and unsuccessful attempts at creating diverse and multi-ethnic labor coalitions. The key points of this research will be to identify strategies and tactics that enable successful multi-ethnic union organizing and the ways in which racial trust and allyship within labor struggles can be fostered and reinforced. This will also extend into other successful grassroots movements as unions are not only organizational but also a social movement of their own. Moreover, this research is tied to social and racial justice as not only will this research contribute to the identification of ways to promote durable social justice coalitions but also will contribute to the promotion of a more resilient labor movement as union membership bridge racial wealth gaps and resource inequalities to things such as healthcare, education, and stable housing. 


Ayanna Columbus


Class Year: 2024

Project Title: Making Due: Precarious Life in NYC

Project Description: This summer I will be pursuing a photography project documenting the lives of Black women, queer folks, and immigrant laborers in NYC. Growing up in East Flatbush, a low income ethnic enclave in Brooklyn, I have seen how life at the margins is characterized by both the sedentariness and uncertainty of poverty. Because gentrification, eviction, deportation and police brutality are an imminent threat to these bodies, photographing vulnerable black populations (which is more or less all black populations) feels like an urgent necessity to preserve and remember these people against the constant demands that they uproot or remove themselves. How does my public make due?


Jennifer Philistin

Class Year: 2024

Project Title: Empowering the Haitian Diaspora: Exploring Grassroots Initiatives in Miami

Project Description: This Summer, I plan to collaborate with some of the grassroots organizations in Miami that focus on the Haitian diaspora. Through interviews with key personnel in these organizations, I hope to understand more about their mission, strategies, and the impact they have on the community. Additionally, I intend to develop a website that consolidates information about these grassroots organizations, providing a centralized resource for Haitian Americans who are interested in getting involved, or supporting these initiatives. The website will feature profiles of the organizations, details about their work, and opportunities for folks to contribute.


Mia Calzolaio

Class Year: 2026

Project Title: Internship with the NYC Trans Oral History Project

Project Description: This summer, I will be working with the NYC Trans Oral History Project under the supervision of WGSS professor AJ Lewis. I will be working roughly 20-30 hours a week with the organization. My primary tasks will include assistance with grant research, working alongside another supervisor to collect information needed for grant applications and identify relevant grants; background work that includes writing descriptive content for interviews and organizing volunteer/interviewee information; and outreach work, like performing new interviews and identifying spaces around the city that might want to participate in the work of the project. The collective will also be working on an anthology in book form while I am interning, so I may help with the organization of that project.

Mirabai Dyson

Class Year: 2024

Project Title: Berkshire Indigenous Historical Education Project

Project Description: For my project, I will be developing curricular materials on the Stockbridge-Munsee Community for Berkshire County schools. This project will target a wide array of ages, ranging from elementary to high school. For 3rd grade students, I will work with the Mount Greylock Regional School District curriculum director to bring changes to the already existing state history curriculum. The curriculum that I aim to develop will be largely specific to Berkshire County. It will work to not only teach the Tribe’s history, but to also center learners in the Tribe’s present-day activity.

Brenda Diego


Class Year: 2026

Project Title: The reality of a nonprofit and their significant impact

Project Description: Over the summer, I will be working at Neighborhood Youth Association, a nonprofit organization in LA, that focuses on empowering students to achieve higher education through mentoring, tutoring, and a holistic family approach to break cycles of poverty and vulnerability. I hope to research effective ways of motivating underrepresented communities to pursue higher education. My final project will consist of interviews with NYA workers, students, and family members to recognize the valuable work NYA has done to demonstrate how a nonprofit organization has successfully tackled social justice in education.

Ayele Wongi


Class Year: 2024

Project Title: The Internal Fight: Black Healing and Resilience

Project Description: My project is focused on creating space and avenues for Black healing. I will be conducting interviews with Black healers which I will represent in a creative writing piece/article for a  blog series accompanied by film photography that captures the essence of each healer’s story. The aim is to highlight and educate age-old healing practices from the African diaspora. As I reach out and seek healers for the pieces, I will include a directory of Black healers to provide resources for those seeking their services. The goal is to promote diversity in emotional health interventions and incorporate cultural values such as faith and community into the healing process.

Liz Kim

Class Year: 2024

Project Title:Towards Asian and Black American Solidarity: Policy Solutions to Contemporary Economic and Social Aftereffects of the ‘92 LA Riots in Koreatown

Project Description:With a focal point on the 1992 Los Angeles riots, this project aims to advance understanding of American ethnic minority relations and rectify past/continued state economic and local social negligence through a comprehensive analysis of interracial political and social solidarity, historical and contemporary state and police behavior towards ethnic groups, and conditions of south central Los Angeles and Koreatown over the past 30 years,. Through interviews, volunteer work, policy analysis, and personal involvement in communities, I hope to be able to unpack potentially harmful internalized narratives in the intimate process of research.

Michael A. Dively ’61 Summer Opportunity Grants

The Michael Dively ’61 Summer Opportunity Grants provide students with an opportunity to engage with a broad range of issues related to gender, sexuality, and intersectionality. Opportunities may include internships, summer courses, art projects, community service endeavors, research, conference attendance, etc., which place a specific focus on LGBTQ+ experiences, issues, and expressions. While the Dively Committee accepts applications for projects that are shorter than the full summer, the selection committee prioritizes those grants that are a full 8 weeks.

These summer opportunity grants honor Michael A. Dively ’61, who entered Williams as a freshman in the fall of 1957 from University School of Shaker Heights, Ohio. As a student, he was co-captain of the swimming team, vice-president of his fraternity, and a member of Gargoyle. His interest in politics continued long after he graduated. In 1968, after earning a law degree from the University of Michigan, he was elected to the first of three terms as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives. In 1976, he became Director of the Michigan’s Energy Administration. He served in many other appointed positions for the state and on several boards of community organizations. Upon leaving government, he turned to higher education, teaching political science at Albion College, American University, and Eckerd College. He holds a master’s degree from American University. In 1983, he established the Mukti Fund, a small foundation which initially focused its grant-making in the eastern Caribbean in the area of natural and cultural resource conservation. These grants are  generously funded by Michael A. Dively ’61.

Rika Nakato


Class Year: 2024

Project Title: Feminist and Queer Activism in Tokyo, Japan

Project Description: This summer, I will be working with and interviewing activists in Tokyo who focus on a range of topics including feminist and queer issues and advocacy for migrants. I hope to learn about what inspired them to pursue their activism, the specific issues they are encountering, how they conceptualize their struggles in relation to other movements domestically and transnationally, and what they want to achieve in their work. Through this research project, I hope to learn about how activism in Japan are connected to movements in other countries past and present.

Jules Gaskin-West


Class year: 2024

Project Title: Black Queer Oral Histories

Project Description: This project aims to highlight the voices of Black queer young adults in different major cities in the US. The project will take place as a series of in-person interviews in Philadelphia, New York, and Houston as Black queer people tell their own stories navigating through their own queer identities, and how these identities have shaped their relationships to generational healing and legacy. The project will culminate in the presentation of different aspects of each interview, with each participant working closely alongside me to assure that their voices are being represented with full accuracy.


Racial Justice Summer Opportunity Grants

The Racial Justice Summer Opportunity Grants provide a flexible opportunity for students to define how to advance racial justice initiatives. Projects and opportunities may include internships, research projects, partnerships with community-based organizations, summer courses, art projects, community service, conference attendance, and other opportunities, provided that the specific focus is on issues of racial justice. Students may propose opportunities that are located in or beyond their home communities, or take advantage of local, regional, or national opportunities.

Simon Wainaina

Class Year: 2026

Project Title: Intern at Cross World Africa

Project Description: “As a Cross World Africa (CWA) intern, my role involves facilitating the giving of direct support to disadvantaged women and youths in vulnerable areas of Kenya, such as West Pokot and Baringo. This includes coordinating training programs in short course skills like hairdressing and tailoring as well as organizing the distribution of livestock and poultry to selected groups. Additionally, I will work closely with high school scholars, offering motivation and guidance throughout my summer internship period. Collaborating with fellow interns, I will collect and analyze data through interviews with past beneficiaries, provide valuable recommendations to CWA’s leaders and compile a final report.

Beau Nelson

Class Year: 2025

Project Title: Internship at TEACH (Training in Early Abortion for Comprehensive Healthcare)

Project Description: TEACH trains primary care providers to expand access to abortion, especially in healthcare deserts, rural areas, and the South which have lived in a Post-Roe era since even before Dobbs. Reproductive justice, which explicitly centers Black women, recognizes that there are disparities in access to reproductive healthcare that we must close to achieve justice. Both TEACH and I have rooted our work and educational curriculums in the tenets of RJ. Over the summer, I will be working on curriculum development and implementation, working with TEACH fellows, innovating their abortion training textbook, and preparing a multimedia project for their 20th anniversary where we will be interviewing providers Northern California.


Ashley Shan


Class Year: 2026

Project Title: Eating Asian America: Understanding “Asian American”  Through a Lens of Food Production and Consumption 

Project Description: This project is a communal research project performed in Asian American ethnic enclaves in NYC. Centering on food and how Asian American communities are built through food, I will investigate the cultural politics of Asian American food to understand the ways in which food has nourished community, told stories, and collectively fueled development. I will investigate how food has been imbued with the power to represent, shape, and define Asian American identity. How have we been racialized through consumption? How have our identities been shaped by food production? How have Asian Americans been interpolated into the American nation by food?


Poppy Miller

Class Year: 2025

Project Title: Made in China (but Adopted to the US): Chinese-American Trans-racial Adoptees, America, and Asian America

Project Description: Trans-racial adoptees have a unique and very personal experience with race, racial justice, and family. Trans-racial adoption is a huge topic with many different nuances, but to narrow the scope of my proposed project, I would focus on Chinese adoptees like myself. I hope to see and eventually share the varied and different experiences with race, the self, family, peers, and community that many trans-racial adoptees experience through interviewing and getting to know other Chinese adoptees, including those whom I grew up with, those I was adopted with, and others across the US.


Mafoudia Keita

Class Year: 2024

Project Title: Spatiality and Placemaking: How the West African Diaspora Experiences Environmental Injustice in New York City

Project Description: Focusing on the West African Diaspora, I intend to explore how they navigate their urban geography in New York City and how that in turn affects how they experience environmental and spatial injustice. The West African Diaspora is a community that is not heavily researched and I aim to contextualize their experiences through ethnographic research and using frameworks on other marginalized groups from scholars doing tangential exploration. The non-traditional methods of spatial and environmental injustice as well as racialized practices perpetually render the struggles and voices of the community invisible, and I aim to lessen the barrier that has continually upheld that invisibility. 

Aida P. Sawadogo


Project Title: The NYC Artist Way.

Project Description: Through film and photo documentation, my project seeks to account the first and second hand experiences of Black and especially Black, queer people who identify with being an artist, creative, or creator. This project is an effort to pinpoint and archive the motivations of the NYC artist scene in this present context and the ideas that are predominant in the community.

Amy Martinez

Project Title: Medical Translator

Project Description: This summer, I will be serving as a bilingual healthcare intern at a clinic near my hometown. The clinic is a nonprofit organization that caters to underserved, uninsured, and underinsured communities in the Middle Tennessee area by providing affordable, quality primary medical care. This opportunity greatly aligns with my interest in attending medical school and working with underserved populations.

Tariq N. Grissom


Project Title: NAACP Communications

Project Description: This summer i will be working with the NAACP on their communications with Berkshire County. This internship will compromise several things. I will be working with them to send out a diversity scorecard to organizations and businesses within Berkshire county. I will also be working with them to craft a system for logging and following up on complaints of racial injustice from community members in the county.