Robin J. Hayes, PhD

An East Flatbush, Brooklyn native, Robin founded Progressive Pupil in 2006. She is the first person at Yale University to earn a combined doctorate in African American Studies and Political Science. With the help of a scholarship from the A Better Chance program, she graduated from prestigious St. George’s School in Newport, Rhode Island at age 16. After completing her bachelor’s degree at New York University with honors, she supervised a legal clinic for homeless families at the Urban Justice Center and facilitated human rights delegations and aid shipments to Cuba, Nicaragua and Chiapas, Mexico as a national coordinator of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO). Hayes produced, directed and co-wrote the documentary short, Beautiful Me(s): Finding Our Revolutionary Selves In Black Cuba, which was enthusiastically received by audiences at film festivals throughout the U.S. and in Cannes and at universities including Stanford, UC Berkeley, Syracuse University and Yale. She is director/producer/writer of the forthcoming feature documentary Black and Cuba. In addition to publishing scholarly articles in Souls, Maroon and an anthology co-edited by Manning Marable, Hayes has given lectures about her work on Black politics at college campuses throughout the US including the University of Chicago, University of Southern California and the University of Washington-Seattle. Hayes has received funding for her work from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities and held residential fellowships at Williams College, Northwestern University and the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. At The New School, she is Assistant Professor of Media Studies, International Affairs, Non-Profit Management and Urban Policy.



Christina M. Greer, PhD

Christina M. Greer is an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University and frequent commentator about American electoral politics on Fox 5 Good Day New York, ABC and NBC Nightly News. Her book Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration and the Pursuit of the American Dream was recently published on Oxford University press and featured on The Brian Lehrer Show and NY1. Prof. Greer received her B.A. from Tufts University and Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University.


Brian A. Kates, A.C.E.

Brian Kates is a film editor whose work on “Taking Chance,” a 2009 HBO movie with Kevin Bacon, won an Emmy Award. He has also worked on episodes of the HBO series “Treme” and the film “Killing Them Softly.” His work on the films “Jails, Hospitals and Hip Hop,” “Tarnation,” “Lackawanna Blues,” and “La Lupe: Queen of Latin Soul” highlight his commitment to filmmaking through a social justice lens. He is an alumnus of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts film program.


Samuel Kelton Roberts, PhD

Samuel Roberts is Associate Professor of History and Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University and specializes in drug policy, health and social justice. He is the author of Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation and Coordinator of the Working Group in African-American History and the Health and Social Sciences (AAHHSS) at Columbia’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and Society Scholars Programs. Born and raised in Richmond, Roberts received his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his Ph.D. from Princeton University.


Shannon Shird, MA

Shannon Shird is an alumna of Progressive Pupil’s New Leaders for Social Change leadership development program. In addition to serving as Community Initiatives Coordinator at Brooklyn Arts Council, she works with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Black Alliance for Just Immigration and the ARTpreneurship Workshop. She has years of community organizing experience around issues, including immigrant rights and human rights. She is an alumna of Smith College.