Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice
Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice

Who We Are

Meet the Founding Executive Director: Michelle Stephens

Michelle Stephens joined the Department of English and the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in spring 2011. She is a psychoanalyst and served as the dean of the humanities in the School of Arts and Sciences from 2017–2020. Originally from Jamaica, West Indies, she graduated from Yale University with a Ph.D. in American studies. She is the author of Black Empire: The Masculine Global Imaginary of Caribbean Intellectuals in the United States, 1914 to 1962 (Duke University Press, 2005) and Skin Acts: Race, Psychoanalysis and The Black Male Performer (Duke University Press, 2014). She has published numerous articles on the intersection of race and psychoanalysis in such journals as JAPA, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, and Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. She has also coedited three recent collections in archipelagic studies: Archipelagic American Studies with Brian Russell Roberts (Duke, 2017); Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago with Tatiana Flores (Duke, 2017); and Contemporary Archipelagic Thinking with Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel (Rowman and Littlefield, 2020). She was a founding series coeditor of Rutgers University Press's Critical Caribbean Studies book series and sits on the editorial advisory board of Rowman and Littlefield's Rethinking the Island book series. 



Michelle Stephens

Campus Directors

Reporting to the founding executive director, each campus director is a faculty member who oversees the implementation of the institute's mission at the local level. Directors cultivate and shape humanities-driven programs of excellence that involve a multidisciplinary collection of scholars whose work addresses racism and social inequality.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar: Institute Campus Director, Rutgers University–New Brunswick

Charles and Mary Beard Distinguished Professor of History

Erica Armstrong Dunbar joined the Department of History at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in 2017. She holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and specializes in African American, United States, and women’s and gender history, with specialization in late 18th-century and early 19th-century history. She is the national director of the Association of Black Women Historians.

Erica Dubar

Elise Boddie: Institute Campus Director, Rutgers University–Newark

Professor of Law, Henry Rutgers Professor and Robert L. Carter Scholar 

Elise Boddie joined the Rutgers Law School faculty in 2013. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. An award-winning legal scholar, her work explores the regulation of race in spatial contexts and dynamic systems in law and policy that perpetuate racial inequality. Before joining the Rutgers faculty, Boddie directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.’s nationwide litigation program. She is also the founder and director of The Inclusion Project, which works to advance racial equity and inclusion in law and policy using multiple tools of research, outreach, community engagement, and media. 

Elise Boddie

Gregory Pardlo: Institute Campus Codirector, Rutgers University–Camden

Associate Professor of Creative Writing; Director M.F.A. Program

Gregory Pardlo CCAS’99 joined the faculty of the Department of English and Communication at Rutgers University–Camden in 2016. He holds an M.F.A. from New York University and an M.F.A. in nonfiction from Columbia University. In 2015, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Gregory Pardlo

Patrick Rosal: Institute Campus Codirector, Rutgers University–Camden

Professor of Creative Writing

Patrick Rosal joined the faculty of the Department of English and Communication at Rutgers University–Camden in 2011. He holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. In 2018, he was named a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow.

Patrick Rosal

Finance and Administration 

The senior director of finance and administration is the institute’s chief nonacademic officer, responsible for finance, administration, sponsored research administration, human resources, information technology, financial and strategic planning, and administrative support for the central and three campus institute offices. The position provides universitywide leadership in strategic operational and financial planning and management in support of institute academic, research, and business goals.  

Jennifer Leon: Senior Director of Finance and Administration

Jennifer Leon started her career at the Office of Continuing Professional Education at Rutgers University in 1991. She is a Rutgers College graduate with a degree in visual arts who also completed a master’s degree in adult and continuing education from Rutgers’ Graduate School of Education. After moving on from her first position at the university, she has held the positions of program development administrator at the Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education; associate dean for finance and administration at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology; and most recently, director of administration for the humanities at the School of Arts and Sciences.

Jennifer Leon