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Arcus Center Staff

Executive Director

MiaMs. Mia Henry (she/her/hers) is the Executive Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Mia joined the team in 2014 with over 18 years of experience in nonprofit management, training facilitation, intergenerational community organizing, and civic and history education.

Mia was the founding director of the Chicago Freedom School (CFS), a nonprofit organization that supports youth-led social change and youth-adult partnerships in community organizing. Since her work with CFS, Mia has been a consultant nationally with Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs), and in Chicago with the Chicago History Museum, Chicago Public Schools, the University of Chicago Hospital, and the University of Chicago Oriental Institute. 

Mia is the owner and operator of Freedom Lifted, a small business dedicated to providing civil rights tours. She is also the founder of Reclaiming South Shore for All, a diverse, grassroots group of residents committed to mobilizing the South Shore (Chicago) community and institutionalizing systems that promote peace, youth leadership, and political accountability. She has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Harold Washington College, as well as a high school history teacher and International Baccalaureate (IB) program coordinator for Chicago Public Schools. 

Mia is deeply passionate about social movement history, positive youth development, and civic engagement through an anti-oppression lens. She serves on the Boards of Directors for the Mikva Challenge and the Community Justice for Youth Institute.  Mia earned her B.S. from Rutgers University and her M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Academic Director

Lisa Brock_2014Dr. Lisa Brock (she/her/hers) is the Academic Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Her articles on Africa and the African Diaspora have appeared in dozens of academic journals and as book chapters. Her text, Between Race and Empire: African-Americans and Cubans Before the Cuban Revolution, was co-edited with University of Havana Professor Digna Castaneda in 1998; her latest project is a comparative study of Afro-descended peoples in the United States and Cuba.  Lisa is also on the editorial collective of the Radical History Review and on the Board of the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund.

Lisa has been an activist all her life, from fighting for girl’s rights and black rights in her native Cincinnati, Ohio area and against police violence and judicial misconduct in Washington D.C, to becoming a leader in the anti-apartheid movement in Chicago, Illinois. She lived in Mozambique as a Fulbright Scholar in the 1980s and successfully merged her academic interest with southern African Social Justice Struggles. In the mid 2000s, she worked with others to found the Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection (archives) at Columbia College Chicago and led the effort to endow an international travel scholarship there. She herself successfully developed study abroad programs in South Africa and Cuba.

Lisa has maintained strong ties with many of her former students and began a unique networking/leadership matrix to continue peer-to-peer and cross-generational mentoring. As an historian and activist, Lisa is an internationalist who views history as a way to enter contemporary discussions about race, class, gender, and global inequalities, and has for over twenty years been an active Public Intellectual.  Lisa attended Oberlin College and earned her B.A. from Howard University. She earned her Ph.D. in African History from Northwestern University.

Center Manager

JaxJax Lee Gardner (they/them/theirs) is the Center Manager of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Jax joined the Center in February 2016 after five years with Kalamazoo College in the History and Social Science Departments. Jax has spent the last twenty years working in and around issues of social justice personally and professionally.

Originally from Washington, DC, Jax holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Western Michigan University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Poetry from the College of Charleston, and is a Certified Birth Doula with Doulas of North America International (DONA). They previously held an ACSJL Staff Fellowship (2015).

Jax’s social justice trajectory has closely followed issues of health and economic justice for women and children (particularly as they intersect with queerness and racism). Jax is the Founder and Current Board Co-Chair of the St. Luke’s Diaper Bank to help combat diaper need in the City of Kalamazoo. 

When they're not busy fighting the good fight, Jax relishes in spending quality time with their two children, Bram and Louis.

Program Coordinator

Justin Danzy (he/him/his) joined the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership in 2017 as the Program Coordinator. Originally from Southfield, Michigan, Justin is a 2016 graduate of Kalamazoo College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and African Studies.

While at K, Justin was the recipient of the Davis Projects for Peace grant, which he used to travel to Kampala, Uganda, where he worked with the Bavubuka Foundation to enact a hip-hop and sustainable agriculture project which resulted in the establishment of the first Indigenous Hip-Hop Farmer’s Market in East Africa. Also, as a senior, Justin traveled to Paris, France to present his Senior Individualized Project at the International James Baldwin Conference at American University in Paris. In 2015, Justin studied away in New York City through the New York Arts Program, where he worked with poet and playwright Dave Johnson and Free Verse Magazine, a publication that works with New York City’s probation facilities to elevate the voices of probationers through creative writing while breaking down barriers between the probationers, probation officers, and the community.

During his free time, Justin runs the blog Black Diaspora Project with some of the many close friends he’s made throughout the African diaspora. He is excited to rejoin the ACSJL team after working at the Center as a Student Fellow from 2014 to 2016.

Praxis Center Managing Editor

BaileyBailey Mead (she/her/hers) is the Managing Editor of the Praxis Center. She joined the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership in 2016 with more than 17 years of experience in fund development and marketing at organizations that work against violence and for justice for low-income and LGBT communities, women, people of color, elders and children. Bailey also served as the Project Director for the With/Out - ¿Borders? 2016 Conference.

Bailey earned a B.S. in Women’s Studies and English from Eastern Michigan University. An activist in Detroit for more than 20 years, Bailey has been involved in feminist and queer organizing, the movement against police brutality, environmental justice actions, community gardens, literacy projects, and was a founding board member for the Southwest Detroit TimeBank. She currently serves as Board Treasurer for the Can-Do Kitchen. Bailey relocated to Kalamazoo in 2012 and together with her partner, opened Handmade Kalamazoo, a social enterprise dedicated to strengthening the artist economy and building authentic community connections in Kalamazoo.

Bailey holds a RYT500 yoga teacher certification and teaches trauma-informed yoga as an act of resistance and self/collective-healing in a culture of violence, creates safe spaces that attempt to welcome marginalized people into empowered practice, and approaches this work with deep gratitude and respect for the liberating gift of yoga that westerners have received from Indian culture.

Executive Assistant

Julie Marron-Parker (she/her/hers) is the executive assistant at Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. In 1986 she received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University and her Massage Therapy Certification from Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts in 2001. She has spent over fifteen years supporting a variety of small businesses in achieving their goals including her own art business and massage therapy practice. 

Julie is a long term resident of Kalamazoo who cares deeply for her community and its members. Her passions include women’s rights and family and children’s issues.  She has donated proceeds from her art work to centers that provide support for women and children who have experienced domestic violence.  She has gifted massage therapy services to at risk pregnant women and children.  She was also grateful to participate in the Kalamazoo Infant Mortality Community Initiative as a member of our community.

Julie’s other interests include experiencing life through her youngest daughters eyes, creating art, listening to podcasts and canning fresh produce to savor in the heart of winter.

Staff