Our Staff

Lori Barcliff Baptista, Ph.D., Director, African-American Cultural Center
An interdisciplinary scholar/artist, Dr. Baptista integrates arts, humanities and social science frameworks, practices and perspectives to examine cultural representations and their impact on marginalized communities. Her scholarly work and research interests reflect a long-standing preoccupation with how members of diverse communities transmit social knowledge and a sense of identity through seemingly mundane objects, materials and expressive formats. She brings to bear more than 18 years of experience researching, developing, and participating in cultural programs and initiatives that convene artists, civic leaders, students, faculty and staff, cultural institutions, and grassroots organizations to address pressing social concerns. Critical of the “heroes and holidays” approach towards diversity, she is especially interested in creative practices that individuals engage in to honor, validate and convey their sense of connectedness to multiple places or traditions, and has published a number of articles, working papers and book reviews on these topics. Dr. Baptista earned a Ph.D. in performance studies from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in liberal studies from Rutgers University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. She teaches film, literature, ethnography, museum studies and performance-based courses.


Brenda Pinkett-Little, Assistant Program Director


Ms. Little obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Finance from Roosevelt University. Through her long-standing connections with various community organizations, Brenda works to create programs that lead in community-building. She does so by establishing new connections, while still cultivating and enhancing existing community partnerships through various program initiatives.


Mario LaMothe, Postdoctoral Associate


Mario is a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Illinois – Chicago’s African-American Cultural Center. He was a Postdoctoral Associate in Interdisciplinary Sexuality Studies at Duke University’s Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, and received a doctorate in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. Mario’s research interests focus on theories of Caribbean performance traditions and African diaspora health cultures. His book project, Giving Bodies: Dance, Memory, and Imagined Identities in Haiti, investigates what is at stake when performing and visual artists reframe Haiti’s embodied traditions to devise new images that counter internal and foreign negative representations of Haitians. Mario is also a performing artist, arts producer, curator, and LGBTQI activist.


Sandra Muñoz, Programming Assistant


Sandra Muñoz is an alumni of the University of Illinois Chicago. Ms. Muñoz obtained her Associates degree in Biological Science at Prairie State College and completed her undergraduate studies here at UIC in the spring of 2017. She is passionate about ecology and making the world a better, sustainable place for future generations. Sandra enjoys camping, reading, and spending time with family. As a programming assistant here at the African American Cultural Center, Sandra aides in facilitating the dissemination of findings through social media and other tools in accordance with the AACC mission, goals, priorities and budgetary rubric as well as assisting in general office work. She, along with the other student workers, spreads awareness of the center through our #Streetteam.


T’Yanna Moore, Student Graphic Aide

Originally from Florida, T’Yanna is a sophomore in UIC’s graphic design program. Here at the African American Cultural Center,  she aides in our graphical design projects.


Emmanuella Ben-Eboh, Student Graphic Aide

Originally from Nigeria, Emmanuella Ben-Eboh is currently a sophomore in UIC’s industrial design program. Here at the African American Cultural Center,  she aides in our graphical design projects. She loves to dance, sing, paint, quilt, and hanging out with friends. Emmanuella is also part of the Industrial Designers Society of America (UIC Chapter).


Kevin Bell, Student Marketing Assistant


Kevin Shaquille Bell is an undergraduate student currently enrolled in the University of Illinois Chicago. Kevin is a first generation college student. He obtained his Associates in Applied Science at Harold Washington College and is currently completing his undergraduate studies in Computer Science. As a student marketing assistant here at the African American Cultural Center, Kevin aides in working on our website, social media posts, and general office work. He enjoys long walks on the beach, cooking new recipes, playing video games, and flying drones. Kevin is passionate about making it easier for the world to access information. Kevin is a member of UIC’s Black Tech Scholars and hopes to raise awareness of the importance of diversity in the corporate workplace.


{ background-color: #ffffff; background-repeat: repeat-x; background-position: top left; background-attachment: fixed; }