Dr. Kami Fletcher – President
Dr. Fletcher is an Associate professor of American & African American History at Albright College. Her newest course entitled “African American Deathways and Deathwork” examines African American norms and ideas surrounding death as well as encourages students to see how death intersects with race, class, gender, religion, region. She is the author of “Real Business: Maryland’s First Black Cemetery Journey’s into the Enterprise of Death, 1807-1920”. She is also the co-author of the forthcoming volume Till Death Do Us Part: American Ethnic Cemeteries as Borders Uncrossed (University Press of Mississippi, March 2020). Currently, Dr. Fletcher is working on two manuscripts: The first, co-authored is First 100 Years of Black Undertaking in Baltimore. The second is a co-edited volume, Southern Cemeteries, Imprints of Southern Culture.
Sarah Lirley McCune – Secretary
Dr. Lirley McCune earned her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 2018, where she also earned a Graduate Minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. She is an Assistant Professor of History at Columbia College. Dr. Lirley-McCune specializes in the history of women and gender as well as the history of death and death investigations. She is currently working on a book that examines coroner’s inquests conducted in St. Louis, Missouri from 1875 to 1885 using race, class, and gender as categories of analyses.
Dr. Tamara Waraschinski – Director of Communications
Dr. Waraschinski grew up in Germany and then moved to Australia, where she received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Adelaide in 2018. She now live close to Portland, Oregon. Dr. Waraschinski’s work experience in aged care, as palliative care volunteer, as well as her personal background, has informed her life-long curiosity of how we construct this social world of ours. She became a social theorist and death scholar, particularly interested in how capitalism corrodes our ability to accept that we are mortal beings. Trying to do her part in finding ways that amend the painful consequences of our grief and death illiteracy, Dr. Waraschinski now works in the non-profit sector. However, scholarly work and education around issues of death, dying and grief remain an integral part of her.
Jennifer Tran – Treasurer
Jenn is a first-generation daughter of refugee immigrants with a deep-rooted passion for the social and personal processes of Death. Her dedication to advocating for decolonization began with lifelong observations of how marginalized communities experience death and grief in the U.S. – observations which became intensely personal with the death of her father. This clumsy and uncomfortable experience highlighted the deep lack of knowledge/tools the Westernized Death industry has to support and honor diverse families and traditions. It strengthened Jenn’s commitment to improve the quality of death and dying across intersections of race, class, gender, culture, religion, and social justice. As a veteran of the start up world, Jenn brings a non-academic perspective to this distinguished group of experts, as well as the frameworks gained through her wealth of experience in Hospice Volunteerism, the SF Asian Women’s Shelter, and as a member of the Order of the Good Death.
Sarah Chavez – Website Development Chair and Social Media Editor
Sarah is a death practitioner, Death Positive activist, and writer working to examine the relationship between ritual, decolonization and death itself. She is the Executive Director of The Order of the Good Death, a founding member of the popular event series Death Salon, co-host of the Death in the Afternoon Podcast, and co-founder of feminist death site Death & the Maiden. In recent years Sarah has worked as a museum curator and served as the historian for a prominent cultural and historical landmark in Los Angeles. As a leader of the Death Positive movement, she is passionate about addressing the underlying issues that adversely effect marginalized communities’ experiences of death. Sarah advocates for others to reclaim experiences around death, dying. and grief by sharing history, education, and her own rituals and ideas for decolonizing death within her own Latinx community.
Dr. Trish Biers – Conference Committee Chair
Dr. Biers is a bioarchaeologist who specialises in the analysis of human remains and the ethics of displaying the dead. She regularly tweets about thanatology, museums, and mummy studies. She teaches on treatment of the dead, contemporary death ways, and curates the human remains collections at the University of Cambridge. She is co-founder of Mors Mortis Museum a website dedicated to the discussion of human remains on display across the heritage sector. A specific interest of Dr. Biers’ is on decolonising collections and promoting transparency in how human remains were collected, the colonial/imperial catalysts for such collections, and the need for institutions to collaborate with source communities to promote a better understanding of these collections.
Michelle Acciavatti – Co-chair of Education and Outreach Committee
Michelle is an End of Life Specialist who lives in Vermont. As a death worker and educator she helps people understand their quality of life values so that they live well until they die and make informed choices about after death care and disposition. She works with people of all ages, including those dealing with death during pregnancy, as well as community organizations and institutions. She is the founder of Ending Well, which provides personalized support as people plan, prepare and experience their owngood death from the earliest stages of thinking about death, through the dying process and disposition. She is also the co-founder of Green Burial Vermont a non-profit dedicated educating individuals, communities, and cemeteries in Vermont about socially and environmentally responsible burial practices. She is passionate about building community resources for people facing the end of life.
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