Below you will find a listing of the faculty and staff for the Africana Studies Program. If you are unsure of who to contact with your questions, please call the main program office at 509.359.2205.
Dr. Scott Finnie, raised in the Bay Area, came to Spokane in 1975 on a basketball scholarship at Gonzaga University. He earned a B.A. in English and a Minor in Criminal Justice in 1979, a Master's degree in American History from Eastern Washington University in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University in 2000. His dissertation was entitled "The Impact of the Removal of Affirmative Action Upon the Freshmen Class at the University of Washington - Implications of a Ten Year Quantitative Study."
Dr. Finnie has been a faculty member of EWU's Africana Education Program and History Department since 1992. As a recipient of over 20 awards for excellence in teaching, leadership, civil rights and mentoring - Dr. Finnie has made over 40 presentations in the past ten years at Oxford-England, Mexico City, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle as well as the Inland Northwest on such themes as civil rights, affirmative action, servant leadership, diversity and cross-cultural communication, the American criminal justice system and faculty hiring in higher education.
He has published a dozen articles in The National Social Science Journal, The Inland Northwest Health Services Training Manual, Investigating Diversity: Race, Ethnicity and Beyond, The Oxford Round Table Journal, The Journal of Intercultural Disciplines, Ethnic Studies Review, The Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly and The International Journal of Servant Leadership.
A film enthusiast, Professor Schwendiman attended UC Santa Barbara and completed her first two degrees in Film Studies. She later worked for four years at a local NBC affiliate in Spokane before returning to school at Eastern Washington University to complete her post baccalaureate in Electronic Media and Film. During her studies as a graduate student, she discovered her interest and developed a love for African American Cinema, the Black Film Historiography, as well as Third World Cinema and the expression of the Empowerment Theory film. Her Master's Thesis focused on "Resolving the Problem of the 'Twoness' and the Struggle for Identity in Independent African American Films.
Professor Schwendiman began her career as an adjunct faculty for the Spokane Community Colleges teaching Film Communications. She subsequently joined Eastern Washington University as a producer and host at KEWU for the radio program while also working as an adjunct professor in Africana Studies teaching African American Cinema. Professor Schwendimn joined Eastern Washington University as a full time faculty member in 2009 and holds the position of lecturer in Africana Studies. Currently, she teaches course in Introduction to African Culture, African American Family, African American Cinema, Black Aesthetics, various Independent study courses, and is introducing a new class in Winter 2014, African American Social and Intellectual Thought: From Booker T. Washington to Cornel West. She continues to research and present lectures on topics concerning the formation, defining, and redefining of blackness, culture, identity, and gender in film. She has been happily married to Bryce Schwendiman for nearly 25 years and is the mother of nine wonderful children.
Rachel Doležal holds her Master's degree from Howard University and is a professor in the Africana Studies Program at Eastern Washington University. Doležal has taught African and African American Art History, African History, African American Culture, The Black Woman's Struggle, and Intro to Africana Studies at EWU. Her scholarly research focuses on the intersection of race, gender and class in the contemporary Diaspora with a specific emphasis on Black women in visual culture. Her passion for civil rights is influenced by her years in Mississippi, where she advocated for equal rights and participated in community development. She is the former Director of Education at the Human Rights Education Institute, a licensed Diversity Trainer and a Consultant for human rights education and inclusivity in regional schools. During her experience as the Director for the Human Rights Education Institute, Doležal developed programs and curriculum that expanded the annual audience from 3,000 per year to 23,000 per year. She created world-class exhibits, coordinated cultural events, scheduled keynote speakers, organized panel discussions and began the Young Advocates for Human Rights summer training program. Her efforts were met with opposition by North Idaho white supremacy groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, the Neo Nazis and the Aryan Nations, and at least eight documented hate crimes targeted Doležal and her children during her residency in North Idaho.
In addition to her role as an educator, Doležal has fourteen years of experience as an exhibiting artist and has taught K-12 & college art lessons in public, private, and non-traditional school settings. Her works have been featured in The Artist's Magazine, shown in 13 states and displayed at the United Nations' Headquarters in New York. Doležal began teaching private & group art lessons in 1994 and synthesizes art history, cultural studies, & the creative process when teaching. She believes that the creative process is part of what makes us human and unifies our self-identity with the world around us. Doležal was an instructor in the Art Departments at North Idaho College from 2005-2013 and has taught at Eastern Washington University since 2007.
Most recently, Rachel Doležal has been appointed by the Mayor of Spokane to serve as a police commissioner for the Office of the Police Ombudsman, to oversee fairness and equity in law enforcement. She writes weekly for The Inlander as a social commentator and recently contributed to an important chapter to a textbook, "The War on Poverty: A Retrospective," which was published this summer. Doležal also entertains an interest in the medical field and has begun pre-medical studies, working toward an MD and a residency in trauma surgery. She hopes to combine her medical knowledge with her passion for human rights and engage in life-saving surgery efforts around the world. Her other experiences include work in a community law office as a legal secretary, African dance, culinary arts, ethnic hair styling, modeling, managing a political campaign, and mothering two sons. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, gardening & cooking.
Dr. LaToya Brackett recieved her Bachelor's degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University and her doctorate degree in African American and African Studies from Michigan State University (MSU) in 2011. Her dissertation is titled "The Evaluation of a Retention Program: An analysis of efforts to retain underrepresented students on the campus of a public predominately white mid-western university from 1995-2006." Her dissertation research produced four major concepts relating to the retention of African American students at MSU with an overarching theme of Social Capital. With this research she continued to assist high school aged youth with gaining the knowledge and assistance necessary to succeed in higher education when working with a non-profit in Charlottesville, VA call City of Promise.
Dr. Brackett worked as the Community Connections Coordinator at the City of Promise with the purpose of getting resources to the served community. Dr. Brackett also received her Masters in Counseling from MSU in 2011. Her primary focus was on multicultural community counseling. She received awards for professionalism and diversity in the counseling program each year she was enrolled. As a doctoral student Dr. Brackett taught for four semesters at MSU primarily in the Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures department. Dr. Brackett is currently awaiting the publications of her book chapter entitled "African American Experience: Income, Occupations, Savings, Investments, and Social Security Trends since 2000" in the edited book Race Still Matters: African American Lived Experiences in the Twenty-First Century" to be published late 2014.
Rahel Wondimu, raised in Ethiopia, moved to Spokane as a child in 2003. In 2012, she earned her B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Sociology and Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University. As an undergrad, Rahel participated in the 13th and the 15th Annual Graduate and Undergraduate EWU Student Research and Creative Works Symposium, presenting projects titled Taureg Salt Caravans of the Sahara and No more Cutting the Girls!, respectively, and was Vice President of the Anthropological Society.
After graduating cum laude in 2012, Rahel worked in the International Programs office at Washington State University. Her work consisted of tracking students' progress in the Global Studies Minor, providing financial advising to students attending Study Abroad and Faculty Led Programs, ensuring students' awareness of foreign policies, guidelines, and protocols when studying abroad, bringing passport and visa documentation up to date, and registering students studying abroad in the International Travel Registry (allows the government to be aware of where students are located in the event of an emergency). She later accepted a position with the WorkFirst Program in the Student Success and Career Services Department at Spokane Community College where she helped students stay on his/her individual academic track toward completing a degree by providing tutoring services, and by assisting each to find internships and other community resources for better academic and career outcomes.
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