Michael A. Gomez, Professor, History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Department of History

Faculty of College of Arts and Science

Michael A. Gomez is Professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU, the founding director of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), and the series editor of the Cambridge Studies on the African Diaspora, Cambridge University Press. He has served as Chair of the History Departments at both NYU (2004 to 2007) and Spelman College (1989 to 1992, 1993 to 1997), and as President of UNESCO's International Scientific Committee for the Slave Route Project (2009 to 2011). Pragmatism in the Age of Jihad: The Precolonial State of Bundu (Cambridge, 1992) is his first book, followed by Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (UNC, 1998), concerned with the African experience in North America. Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora (Cambridge University Press, 2005) features the African diaspora, as does Diasporic Africa: A Reader (NYU, 2006). Black Crescent: African Muslims in the Americas (Cambridge, 2005) looks at the ways in which African Muslims negotiated their bondage and freedom throughout the Americas. Gomez has recently completed a two-volume work on the history of early and medieval West Africa.


Chris Gottlieb, Co-Director of the NYU Family Defense Clinic; Adjunct Professor, NYU School of Law

Christine Gottlieb is Co-Director of the NYU Family Defense Clinic, an interdisciplinary student clinic which represents parents accused of child abuse and neglect and strives to keep families together. Chris litigates, teaches, and writes in the field of child protection, focusing on the fight for justice for poor and minority families enmeshed in the child welfare system.

Chris has helped develop the burgeoning field of family defense, training practitioners and a generation of students now at the forefront of practice, and helping establish the first national organization of parent advocates. She is a leading expert on child abuse registries.

Chris’s writing highlights the dangers of government intrusion in the lives of disadvantaged families and the harm inflicted on children when their parents are not provided due process. Her article “Reflections on Judging Mothering” was selected as a Notable Essay of 2010 by The Best American Essays Series.

Prior to teaching at NYU, Chris represented children at The Legal Aid Society. She has represented hundreds of parents and youth in New York City Family Courts.

Chris is a graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU School of Law. She clerked on the Fifth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.


Marissa A. L. Jackson, Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering, NYU School of Law

Marissa Jackson joined the Lawyering Faculty in 2014. Her scholarship focuses on the implementation of human rights laws, and the impact of international human rights norms upon family law, the law of property, and land use.

Marissa graduated from Northwestern University and received her J.D. and LL.M degrees jointly, from Columbia Law School and the London School of Economics, in 2009 and 2010. While at Columbia, Marissa was an editor on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and a volunteer at Harlem's African Services Committee. She was also active in Columbia's Human Rights Institute, and earned a certificate from the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law.

Marissa began her legal career at Davis Polk & Wardwell before clerking for the Honorable Sterling Johnson, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. After completing the clerkship, Marissa joined the West African Research Center in Dakar, Senegal where she developed a human rights and education initiative for under-served primary school students in Dakar that remains active today. Marissa then clerked for the Honorable Damon Keith on the United States Court of Appeals.

Marissa was recently appointed General Counsel of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs.


Charlton D. McIlwain, Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication; Director of Graduate Studies, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

As a researcher, writer and teacher, McIlwain’s primary interests focus broadly on issues of race and media, particularly within the social and political arena. His previous work centered on how political candidates construct, mobilize, benefit or suffer damage from race-based appeals. In 2011 he co-authored the book Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns (Temple University Press). The book has received great recognition and won the prestigious Ralph Bunche Award, given by the American Political Science Association for the best book addressing ethnic pluralism (2012) and the American Library Association recognized the book as one of the Best of the Best books among academic publishers (2012). In addition to authoring/coauthoring four additional books and close to thirty scholarly journal articles and chapters in edited volumes, McIlwain regularly provides expert commentary for local, state, national and international media. McIlwain continues to pursue research about racial appeals through collaborative work focused on analyses of individuals’ real-time perceptions of race-based appeals in political advertising, as well as a variety of cognitive/physiological responses to racialized communication.


Aviva Slesin, Teacher, Open Arts, Tisch School of the Arts

Aviva Slesin is an Academy award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her feature length documentaries include The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Tablewhich won the Oscar for best documentary, Voices in Celebration, a film that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, Directed by William Wyler, a biography of the late Hollywood director which was nominated for an Emmy and Secret Lives: Hidden Children and Their Rescuers During World War II, nominated for two Emmys in 2004 as well as being named a critic’s pick by the New York Times.

Slesin also produced and directed many short films for Saturday Night Live, HBO’s Real Sex, Children’s Television Workshop’s Sesame Street and Comedy Central’s HA!. A selection of her work, The Long and Short of It, was screened at a special presentation at the Sundance Film Festival. And she has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

Slesin is a faculty member at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she teaches documentary courses in Open Arts, a program that invites students from all disciplines at NYU to come and learn about the arts. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as the Directors Guild of America.