April Mayes

April Mayes

History; Pomona College in Claremont, California, United States


Dear LASA Members,

It would be a great honor to serve you as a member of the Executive Council. By professional training, I am a historian. By vocation, I am an educator. My practice as a scholar is grounded in collaboration, connection, and relationships. These values guide everything that I do, shaping my work as a professional academic, a mentor, a volunteer, and an advocate. I will bring these values to my work on the Executive Council.

As a member of the Executive Council, I will continue working on three goals outlined by past Executive Councils as LASA priorities: increasing support for sections; continuing to center saberes from Indigenous and African-descended intellectuals, activists, and community members; and, providing mentoring and unique opportunities for graduate students and emerging scholars. As a former department chair and currently treasurer of the board of Haitian Bridge Alliance, an organization that advocates on behalf of Haitian and Black migrants at the Mexican-U.S. border, I have experience working closely and on good terms with staff and senior leadership, with building both the infrastructure and the relationships to help people. With Haitian Bridge Alliance, I created financial infrastructure and laid the foundation of our fiscal strategy as the organization’s operation budget grew. I interviewed and hired staff, organized and ran board meetings and staff retreats, worked on our organization’s strategic plan, assisted the development of our employee handbook, conducted research and wrote reports.

One of my goals will be to work closely with section chairs to support the growth and development of sections during these difficult times. This new era also brings unique problems for sections, especially smaller ones. As a former co-chair of a small section, I am well aware of how the slightest hitch can nearly erase the hard work of building up membership and in keeping section members engaged. If elected to the Executive Council, my plan is to help LASA sections flourish. We can do this if we ask, what opportunities have opened up with the turn to the virtual and how might sections benefit from some of the advantages of an online Congress, among them, the possibility of reaching wider audiences? Supporting section growth and development can also come as a result of placing otros saberes at the forefront of our conversations, activities, and creative expressions at LASA. I am committed to working closely with sections to bring a critical mass of Indigenous and African-descended scholars, artists, and creatives to future LASA Congresses.

I will also bring to the Executive Council my years of experience working to make LASA an intellectual and creative space for emerging scholars. As Co-Chairs of the Haiti-Dominican Republic section of LASA, Dr. Kiran Jayaram and I focused on mentoring graduate students and highlighting the work of emerging scholars. Working with emerging scholars can only strengthen LASA as an organization. Moreover, since many emerging scholars come to Latin American Studies trained in other disciplines, their greater involvement in LASA occasions an opportunity for them to add Latin American Studies methodologies and epistemologies to their discipline-specific experience. LASA has been such an important intellectual space for me. I hope to make it that space for the next generation.