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2016 AAA Leadership Fellows Apply Anthropology to Today’s Pressing Issues

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July 29, 2016

Contact Name: Anne Kelsey
Contact Email: akelsey@americananthro.org
Contact Phone: 703-528-1902

2016 AAA Leadership Fellows
Apply Anthropology to Today’s Pressing Issues

Julia Wignall, Courtney Kurlanska and Alisa Perkins have been named the 2016 American Anthropological Association (AAA) Leadership Fellows. The AAA’s Leadership Fellows program is designed to provide a unique opportunity for anthropologists beginning their careers to learn about leadership opportunities and to encourage future leadership in the Association.

As a practicing anthropologist, Julia Wignall dedicates the majority of her time to improving the patient and family experience at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Wignall is the sole anthropologist working at Seattle Children’s, in a position that she created, and hopes to inspire fellow anthropologists to use their skillset to improve practices and policies in a wide variety of industries. Wignall received her master’s in applied anthropology from California State University, Long Beach in 2013.  

Courtney Kurlanska is a public anthropologist working to bridge the divide between research and practice. She completed her PhD research on the political economy of rural microfinance in Nicaragua in 2012 at the State University of New York, Albany. Kurlanska is particularly interested in the ways communities adapt to difficult economic conditions. Through her Fellowship, Kurlanska hopes to learn about AAA’s role in public anthropology and the Association’s efforts to accommodate the rising numbers of contingent faculty within the discipline.

Alisa Perkins received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2012 and currently serves as assistant professor in comparative religion and global and international studies at Western Michigan University (WMU). Perkins’ ongoing research draws on theories of race, gender, cultural citizenship, and urban space to examine how Arab, South Asian, and African American Muslims in the Detroit metro area negotiate expressions of religious identity in public and political realms. As a faculty member at WMU, Perkins has worked to strengthen links between the campus and the surrounding community, an initiative she plans to bring to her role as a future leader at AAA.

Each year a group of three to five Leadership Fellows is paired with a mentor chosen from among AAA leadership.  Mentors are available to Fellows throughout the year to answer questions related to AAA.  Fellows also shadow their mentors at the AAA Annual Meeting. This year’s mentors are Ed Liebow, Executive Director of the AAA; Edmund Hamann, Professor of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; and Mark Aldenderfer, Professor of Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced.

The Fellows will be honored in an award ceremony at the 115th AAA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis.

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Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with more than 10,000 members, is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and tackling the world’s most pressing problems.



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