The Celebrating Simms project has been designed and developed around the core principles of collaborative practice and design justice. Our team and project partners include:

Project Directors

Mollie Godfrey

Associate Professor of English & African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, James Madison University

Seán McCarthy

Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication, James Madison University

Current Team Members & Project Partners

Israa Alhassani

Israa Alhassani

Arabic Translator and Instructor, James Madison University

Sylvia Whitney Beitzel

Spanish Translator and Radio Announcer, WMRA Public Radio

Kayleigh Bishop

Graduate Assistant, Digital Projects, James Madison University

Mary Beth Cancienne

Professor of English Education, James Madison University

Iliana Cosme-Brooks

Graduate Assistant, WRTC, James Madison University

Beau Dickenson

K-12 Social Studies Supervisor for Rockingham County Public Schools

David Hardy

Associate Professor of Graphic Design, James Madison University

Billo Harper


Kevin Hegg

Head of Digital Projects, JMU Libraries

Steven Holloway

Director of Metadata Strategies, JMU Libraries

Stephanie Howard

Simms Center Supervisor at City of Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation

Mariam Ismail

Graduate Assistant, Digital Projects, James Madison University

Allison Kincaid

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Secondary Social Studies Education, James Madison University

Owen Longacre

Social Studies & National Board Certified Teacher at Rockingham County Public Schools

Kirsten Mlodynia

Digital Project Specialist, JMU Libraries

Kirk Moyers

Secondary Social Studies Coordinator, AVID District Director at Harrisonburg City Schools

Jay Norton

Undergraduate Intern, AAAD Studies, James Madison University

Deanna Reed

Mayor of Harrisonburg

L. Renée

Poet, Nonfiction Writer, and Assistant Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, James Madison University

Leonard Richards

Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, James Madison University

Vanessa Rouillon

Spanish Translator and Independent Scholar

Grover Saunders

Immersive & Digital Projects Specialist


Aram Shahin

Arabic Translator and Associate Professor, James Madison University


Mary Ann Smith-Tucker

Northeast Neighborhood Community Member


Michael Terrones

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Secondary Social Studies Education, James Madison University


Former Team Members & Project Partners

Justin Attas

Graduate Assistant 

Liana Bayne

Graduate Assistant

Lauren Cavendish

Undergraduate Intern

Christine Donovan

Digital Projects Specialist

Laura Drake

Digital Collections Librarian

James Hays

Undergraduate Intern

Ember Heishman

Graduate Assistant

Spencer Law

Undergraduate Intern

Robin Lyttle

Founder and President,

Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project

Megan Medeiros

Graduate Assistant

Kyle Ramey

Graduate Assistant

Alexa Senio

DigiComm Media Fellow

Celebrating Simms Interns & Students 

Our original 2015-2016 team of interns and students included Peter Boye, Lindsey Campbell, De‘Shondra Dandridge, Paige Evans, Deana Forbes, Kailyn Harris-Gilliam, Anne Hardrick, Amanda Harvey, Micah Hodges, Hannah Jones, Katie McVicar, Emily Nava, Trevor Ohnmeiss, Raiy Pattinson, Brett Seekford, Ashley Short, and Ellie Terrett.

Celebrating Simms Advisory Board

Our original 2015-2016 Simms Advisory Board included Doris Harper Allen, Sharon Barber, Reverend Harold L. Brown Sr., Judith Carter Brown, Howard Curry, Dorothy Dickerson, Twyla French, Greg Johnson, Wilhelmina Johnson, Edna Mitchell, Deanna Reed, Ruth M. Toliver, Jennifer Vickers, and Betty Lou Winkey, among many others. Since then, the project has also benefited and grown from the engagement of Elaine Blakey, Jim Johnson, Carol Raymond, Karen Thomas, and more.


In addition to these key team members, partners, and collaborators, we had numerous experts work with our students and us to support this project, including History professors Mark Metzler Sawin (EMU), Steve Reich (JMU), Kevin Borg (JMU), Jacqueline Goldsby (Yale University), and local historian Dale MacAllister. Many thanks to David Ehrenpreis and Daniel Robinson at the IVS for providing the space, resources, and expertise to make the project possible. Many, many thanks to Stephanie Howard and her team for making the exhibition possible at the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center in Harrisonburg. Finally, the project would not have been possible without financial support from JMU’s IDEA grant and faculty senate mini-grant, the JMU Office of Research and Scholarship, JMU Libraries, JMU's College of Arts and Letters, JMU's College of Education, JMU's African, African American, and Diaspora Studies Center, JMU's English and WRTC Departments, Harrisonburg City Public Schools, and funding from Virginia Humanities.

In loving memory of Doris Harper Allen (1927–2021).
Not gone from us, just gone before us.