Officials select first-ever African American female associate director of SMPA

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Imani Cheers said she is honored to step into a leadership role for the school in "such a critical time."

Updated: July 8, 2020 at 12:42 p.m.

Officials have for the first time selected an African American woman to serve as the associate director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, an SMPA release states.

Imani Cheers, an associate professor of media and public affairs who has worked at SMPA since 2013, also works at the University as the director of digital storytelling and the director of academic adventures for Planet Forward – a website that features environmental stories, according to the release. Cheers said she is honored to step into a leadership role for the school in “such a critical time.”

“If you want to see substantive change at the institutional level, it is important to be in charge,” Cheers said in the release. “I look forward to working with my colleagues across the University on issues of diversity, inclusion and equity.”

Cheers is an award-winning digital storyteller, director, producer and filmmaker who received a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Washington University in St. Louis and two postgraduate degrees from Howard University.

As a professor, she has advocated for Black students on campus and documented and discussed issues involving people of the African Diaspora using media like video, film and photography, the release states. Cheers will oversee responsibilities like new hires, sabbatical requests and class schedules, according to the release.

Cheers created a mentoring program in 2018 called Sisters in the Academy for Black students, faculty and staff – a program which now includes almost 200 participants, the release states. She has also moderated group discussions on race and traveled to African countries to research food stability for the Land O’ Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders program.

This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Cheers is the director of Planet Forward. She is the director of academic adventures for Planet Forward. We regret this error.

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