Our Staff

Lori Barcliff Baptista, Ph.D., Director, African-American Cultural Center
Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Theatre & Music
Faculty Affiliate, Program in Museum and Exhibition Studies  
An interdisciplinary scholar/artist, Dr. Baptista integrates arts, humanities and social science frameworks, practices and perspectives to examine cultural representations and their impact on marginalized communities.  Her scholarly work and research interests reflect a long-standing preoccupation with how members of diverse communities transmit social knowledge and a sense of identity through seemingly mundane objects, materials and expressive formats.
She brings to bear more than 18 years of experience researching, developing, and participating in cultural programs and initiatives that convene artists, civic leaders, students, faculty and staff, cultural institutions, and grassroots organizations to address pressing social concerns. Critical of the “heroes and holidays” approach towards diversity, she is especially interested in creative practices that individuals engage in to honor, validate and convey their sense of connectedness to multiple places or traditions, and has published a number of articles, working papers and book reviews on these topics. Dr. Baptista earned a Ph.D. in performance studies from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in liberal studies from Rutgers University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. She teaches film, literature, ethnography, museum studies and performance-based courses.


Kay McCrimon, Assistant Director-Museum Exhibits Curator        

Ms. McCrimon comes to the Center from the DuSable Museum of African-American History where she created public programs and designed educational materials and publications for museum visitors.  Ms. McCrimon also has extensive experience as a museum researcher/historian.  Kay is a graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio/Television and a Master of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Arts. In addition, she is a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Integrated Marketing.

Brenda Pinkett-Little, Assistant Program Director                                

Ms. Little obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Finance from Roosevelt University. Through her long-standing connections with various community organizations, Brenda works to create programs that lead in community-building. She does so by establishing new connections, while still cultivating and enhancing existing community partnerships through various program initiatives.

Jacqueline Yvonne Smith, Graduate Assistant

Jacqueline graduated with a BA in Art History from Columbia College Chicago in 2011 and is currently in her second year of the Museum & Exhibition Studies Masters program at UIC.  Her academic and professional background is in contemporary to modern art and her focus is the body in relationship to art.  She looks forward to applying the skills and tools she learns throughout her program to her work with the AACC.

Sienna Little, Student Marketing Assistant

Sienna works to engage students in the work of the AACC through social media and our new “Street Team” efforts. She is currently in her last year as an undergraduate honors student in UIC’s School of Public Health, and aspires to start her career within the public health profession.  In addition to her scholarly and professional endeavors, Sienna spends her time volunteering for various organizations and interning with Chicago Public Schools in the Office of Student Health and Wellness.

Jennifer Manning, Student Graphic Designer

An advanced undergraduate honor student in the College of Art, Architecture and Design, Jennifer’s  major in Graphic Design and incorporates her skills to enhance the visual aesthetic of AACC publications, signage and exhibitions. She enjoys creating effective visualization of ideas and practical solutions for all projects that she is involved in.

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