Nekesa Mumbi Moody ’92: Editor-in-Charge
Journalist Nekesa Mumbi Moody ’92 is helping The Hollywood Reporter (THR) chart a new path in entertainment reporting as the first Black woman to lead the organization since it was founded 90 years ago. Having interviewed and reported on some of the biggest names in music during her 20-year tenure with the Associated Press (AP), Moody is now leading THR through an upturned entertainment industry and pandemic.
Even still, Moody said last July, “The Hollywood Reporter is an institution, and it has incredible journalists who have done award-winning work. My focus will be on how to continue to elevate the brand and cover the industry at a time of incredible change.”
Professor Premilla Nadasen: Inaugural Award-Winner
On January 14, 2021, professor of history Premilla Nadasen was honored with the inaugural Ann Snitow Prize. Nadasen is the first person to receive this award, which “recognizes a feminist of outstanding vision, originality, generosity, and effectiveness, whose work combines intellectual and/or artistic pursuits with feminist and social justice activism.”
At Barnard, her students have gotten hands-on opportunities to learn about the needs of specific communities, such as through her course Mississippi Semester, in which students worked with the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI) — an organization that advocates for low-income working parents to have access to affordable child care in the state — to develop an index of women’s economic security in the state to assist the organization with their lobbying efforts. This year, her students will work with the Damayan Migrant Workers Association in New York City.
“As I know from my study of history, moments of disruption can lead in many different directions,” Nadasen said in February 2021. “But each of us has a role in shaping how things unfold. It is not a time to be immobile. We have to ask how we can use our research skills, framework of critical inquiry, and intellectual capacity to understand this moment.”
Marcia Sells ’81: Opera’s Chief Diversity Officer
With inclusion and diversity on many people’s minds, the country’s largest and one of its oldest arts organizations, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, hired Marcia Sells ’81 in January 2021 as its first chief diversity officer. As the Met has sought to open up the operas it produces and the talent it showcases, after nearly 140 years with little racial progress, Sells was hired to make sure that happens.
“Sometimes horrible events like the killing of George Floyd catalyze people, and they realize this is something we need to do — at the Met and across the arts,” Sells told The New York Times in January.
At the Met, Sells, who is also on the Barnard Board of Trustees, oversees the organization’s human resources department, sifts out systemic and structural inequities, and works to diversify audience and donor participation.
Susan Stamberg ’59: Radio Pioneer
Say the name Susan Stamberg ’59 and “radio legend” comes to mind. She was the first woman to anchor a national nightly news program, when National Public Radio (NPR) launched in 1971, and in March 2020, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of her groundbreaking career. Over the course of her five decades at NPR, Stamberg has interviewed historic figures like Rosa Parks and entertainment giants like Annette Bening.
“Susan Stamberg is my hero,” Bening told NPR on the day that Stamberg was honored. “Like many people, I feel I know her because of listening to what she said and what she invited me to pay attention to.”
As much as Stamberg is beloved, she also loves her job. “I’ll never leave, because every time is different, every day is different in this work, and that’s why I stayed where I am,” she said in May 2020.
Professor Paige West: World-Changing Scientist
Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology Paige West started 2021 with news that she was named to the inaugural Explorers Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World the World Needs to Know About. West joins 49 other activists, explorers, and scientists who are working to create a better future for all; the organization received more than 400 nominations from 48 countries before they whittled it down to the top 50 explorers.
West co-founded the Papua New Guinea Institute of Biological Research, an NGO dedicated to creating research opportunities for Papua New Guineans, which has graduated more than 30 scholars who now work in conservation. Whereas many anthropologists tend to work alone, West creates community with new colleagues who care about ecology. “My primary goal is to strengthen Indigenous sovereignty over biodiversity and tradition and to develop new ways in which anthropological methods can add to this practice,” West wrote in the Explorer’s Club publication. “I believe that my lasting legacy in anthropology is the development of a new generation of scholars that believes our field should be used to make the world better.”
In April, West was named a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow by the the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.