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2018 Leadership Fellows

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September 18, 2018

The AAA is thrilled to introduce the 2018 class of Leadership Fellows Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein, Carla Pezzia, and Matthew Reilly. The AAA Leadership Fellows Program provides a unique opportunity for anthropologists early in their careers to learn about leadership opportunities within the Association. Mentors provide fellows with an in-depth “behind the scenes” look at AAA’s governance system, offering a clear sense of the range of opportunities for leadership service to the Association, as well as advice on making room for AAA service along with research, teaching, and other service to the community and profession. Fellows shadow their mentors at the AAA Annual Meeting in meetings of the Executive Board, Association Committees, and Section Committees. In addition, fellows are invited to attend the AAA Donors Reception and a Leadership Fellows Social bringing together past and present cohorts of fellows. 

Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein
New Knowledge Organization, Ltd.

I lead media research at an interdisciplinary New York City-based think tank. I consider myself primarily a linguistic anthropologist, with a focus on various kinds of large-scale communication and theories of community and identity. I’m particularly interested in the role of mass media in inequality.

There is relatively little overlap between the communities of practicing anthropologists and linguistic anthropologists, at least at the AAA. As a Leadership Fellow, I hope to create more connections between these groups, advocate for the needs of practicing anthropologists, support more mentorship opportunities for linguistic anthropologists. I did not have access to a lot of resources when I was looking at careers outside the academy, and I’d like to help change that.

My ongoing professional service has been in outreach and mentorship, both mostly informal. I’m excited to take on this kind of service in a more structured way and become more involved with the AAA.


Carla Pezzia
Assistant Professor
Human Sciences Center, University of Dallas

I am a medical anthropologist with particular interests in mental health care among medically underserved populations, both in the United States and Latin America.

I have previously served in leadership roles for the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) and the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, which sparked my interest in serving in other capacities for both the SfAA and AAA.

As a Fellow, I would like to figure out where I may be of most service to AAA and its members. I would like to actively engage with leadership to address issues experienced by traditionally underrepresented groups in the profession and in the AAA membership.

I would also like to take the opportunity to learn more about the “business” of the Association to better understand my purpose in being a member as well as to better promote the Association and discipline to my students.


Matthew Reilly
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Gender Studies, and International Studies
City College of New York

I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in race, class, colonialism, and capitalism in the Atlantic World. My two current research projects are based on the Caribbean island of Barbados and the West African nation of Liberia. My research interests also include the role that whiteness and white supremacy have played, and continue to play, in shaping archaeology.

Being a new faculty member at the City College of New York pushed me to apply for the program. The experience of coming to a public university with passionate and dedicated students and faculty and with limited resources, motivated me to seek opportunities to more effectively engage with a wider student base in underserved communities.

I am thrilled to be part of the Leadership Fellows Program. The past plays a crucial role in understanding our present and shaping our future, and it is my intention to work with the AAA to facilitate more substantive dialogue between archaeologists and cultural anthropologists with the shared goal of striving for social justice. I will work hard to encourage student involvement and participation in the AAA and strive to build an inclusive, public-facing association that affects change at all levels of society.

Originally published on the Anthropology News website, September 18, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.

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