Candidates for Student Board

Darius Bittle-Dockery

Darius Bittle-Dockery

University of Pittsburgh

My name is Darius Bittle-Dockery and I am applying to be a Student Member of the Board of Directors for the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). I am confident that my diverse professional background, leadership experience, and the real-world application of my anthropological training has positioned me as an ideal candidate for this role.

I am currently a PhD/MPH candidate in Medical Anthropology and Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. My research lies at the nexus between science and technology studies and public health. Specifically, I examine how the information ecology within the Jordanian humanitarian health system affects the ability of Syrian refugees to effectively manage their chronic illnesses. My research sites and topic demand that I consistently engage with a variety of stakeholders, including both refugees and aid workers, to not only gather my own data, but also to supply them with actionable information as my research uncovered new insights.

I am committed to conducting engaged scholarship and using my positions and capacities to identify novel areas of intervention that can help address social determinants of health within the lives of refugees. I also aim to advocate for other groups marginalized by similar social, political, and health inequities. As a Student Member of the SfAA Board of Directors, I will be similarly committed to working with SfAA's members, especially those typically underrepresented in the discipline. I will work to address their concerns, and advocate not only for their needs, but the greater anthropological community's as well.

Throughout my graduate career, I have continuously taken on professional positions and various leadership roles that support similar aspirations. Outside of academia, I have applied my anthropological skill set through volunteer and contract work with local non-profit organizations and international NGOs to help them to effectively conduct and use ethnographic studies to drive the design and delivery of their programs and policies. Within my university, I helped establish the Anthropology Department's "Hot Metal Bridge" Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship program—designed to help talented students from traditionally underrepresented groups bridge the gap between an undergraduate degree and a graduate training program. Similarly, my most formative and rewarding position was serving as the Undergraduate Advisor for the Anthropology Department. In that capacity, I mentored young anthropology scholars about how anthropology could serve them within their personal lives and about how applying that knowledge could enable them to help others as well.

During my tenure as a SfAA Board Member, I will look to further promote non-traditional career options that enable anthropologist to use their skills to solve the world’s most pressing problems. From the current Covid-19 pandemic to encroaching climate change, the world is enveloped within compounding crises set to increase disparities across the globe. Through my professional work and applied research, I believe in the value and utility of applied anthropological methods for solving this myriad of complex problems. Anthropology is well positioned to address these issues through its unique ability to connect policies, programming, and action to the actual needs and lived experiences of the people they are meant to serve.

In my capacity as a Student Member of the SfAA Board of Directors, I will continue my proven track record as a scholar, leader, and advocate for the increasing importance of applied anthropological work. As someone who has consistently attained a high level of success in my personal and professional pursuits, I am confident that my academic, professional, and personal experiences will enable me to immediately contribute to, and hopefully build upon, the already prestigious work of the Society for Applied Anthropology. I thank you in advance for your consideration.

Sherilyne Jones

Sherilyne Jones

University of South Florida

It is with pleasure and an honour that I submit this letter of nomination for the Student Member of the Board of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). My decision stems from the Society’s unifying factors of commitment to making an impact in the world, by supporting the interest of scholars, students, and practitioners in a wide range of settings not limited to academia but in other disciplines, environments, and governments.

I believe that my active leadership and involvement in a broad spectrum of organisations and activities makes me uniquely qualified to bring a diverse perspective to the position. First, a bit about me - I am from Belize, which is a former British colony geographically located in Central America but with its roots in the Anglophone-Caribbean. With Mexico as its northern neighbour, Guatemala to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the eastern border, the country has a unique historical context. As a descendant of enslaved Africans and European enslavers, (Creole Belizean) I am defined by language, traditions, and racial composition, which has afforded me a unique perspective, allowed me to participate in many traditional activities unique to my ethnicity, other ethnic groups in Belize and cultures from across the Caribbean. My understanding of contemporary socio-economic and cultural challenges of my country primed my interest in learning more about my own past and sharing this interest through teaching and academic explorations and aligned with my aspiration to pursue a doctorate in Applied Anthropology at the University of South Florida’s department’s program combines theory, ethnographic insight, and methodological expertise towards practical solutions and is ideal to accomplish my goals.

I consider myself an exceptional, active leader throughout my career , demonstrated through my involvement in the numerous committees, task force, councils, and appointments to the local and regional board of directors, including the President of the Museum Association of the Caribbean (MAC). As a member of the MAC executive board, I often performed beyond the call of duty to ensure the organisation’s overall success, ensuring that all perspectives and possibilities are explored, for decision-making to be well-grounded, bold, and attainable.

As the former Director of the National Museum of Belize, I have made significant impacts on public policy and development in the Culture and Heritage sector, including contributing to the development of the National Culture Policy for the country. I ensured the active participation of individuals and communities by creating a culture of consultation and support for their needs by identifying resources for their plans and visions to be realised. One of my most significant contributions was hosting the Annual General Meeting and conference of the Museum Association of the Caribbean (MAC) in Belize. At the time I was the Board secretary and was tasked to execute this annual event, where scholars, practitioners, and students in museum management, convened to discuss challenges as well as solutions facing Caribbean museums. As a facilitator for a research conference my passion for consistent, regulatory excellence, demonstrated active leadership, passion for excellence, and contributions to the mission and vision of the organisation were recognised. I was nominated for board president – a position I held for 3 years. My experience has also garnered me invitations and opportunities to speak at several national, regional, and international events regarding heritage management and its impact on diverse communities and societies. As a member of the board, I would look forward to helping integrate the strategic operations which allow for the adoption of diverse and connected world from a student perspective.

It would be an honour to be a part of SfAA as a Student representative – a role in which my leadership and sincerity of purpose can improve the relationship, contributions, and participation of diverse peers to be active members of the society and most importantly access the benefits the organisation can give in achieving their individual goals.

Amanda Stoltz

Amanda Daria Stoltz

University of California Santa Cruz

If not for the Society of Applied Anthropology (SfAA), I would not currently be pursuing my Ph.D. in the human dimensions of marine resources. SfAA has transformed my career as a marine social scientist. Under the mentorship of Dr. Stoffle, I attended SfAA for the first time in 2019 and found a community of marine social scientists who use anthropological methods to solve complex socio-ecological problems. Ensuring that SfAA continues to thrive is important to me, and that is one of many reasons why I would be a valuable addition as the student member of the board. 

This past school year I served as the graduate representative for the Environmental Studies department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. While working to support my fellow students and colleagues through the uncertainties and stress of COVID-19, we also faced a student strike, a wildfire that came within a mile of campus, and several multi-day power outages. I organized and moderated a department wide listening session on our school reopening for in-person instruction and was able to get the students and the faculty on the same page. This experience has helped me build a skillset that may benefit the SfAA board.

One of the reasons why I want to be a part of SfAA is that I’ve seen social science consistently and openly undervalued by scientists in other disciplines. Finding my marine social science community and the people who support and understand the work that I do is paramount to my success as a researcher. Reading papers in my field authored the incredible social scientists I met at SfAA is awe-inspiring. I have pride in my fellow marine social scientists and feel this pride reciprocated. This makes me a stronger researcher and gives me the confidence needed to defend the importance of applied anthropology to biologists, economists, fishers, policy-makers, and the public. Continuing my relationship with SfAA as the student member of the board will allow me to continue learning from and working with this esteemed group of anthropologists.

Participating in SfAA has given me community, confidence, and the ability to continue learning about the anthropological theories and methods that guide my research. Since attending that first conference, I have published six scientific papers, started my Ph.D. with the encouragement of Dr. Pomeroy (who I met at SfAA), built lasting relationships with anthropologists in my field, and grown immensely as a researcher. I have been working part-time as a social scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey and they have asked me to join their Pathways Program which will support me through school and, after I graduate, allow me to join the USGS in a permanent federal position. Conducting applied and actionable research for the American people has always been a goal of mine, and because of SfAA, my dreams are coming true. Being able to join the SfAA board as the student member would be an honor. Thank you for your time and consideration. 

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