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A Message From Dean Robert (Bob) Jose

Welcome! Cultural identities and spirituality are meaningful and essential parts of many students’ lives, on our campus and in the world. Cultural and Spiritual Life at Northeastern strives to acknowledge, affirm, and respect each and every one of these identities in a way that doesn’t label them as “differences,” but rather in a way that highlights how individual points of uniqueness can come together to form a part of something much bigger. We are here to advance freedom, promote justice, assist in building relationships between groups and individuals, facilitate inclusivity,  educate across difference, empower our communities  as well as provide resources and information to everyone within the Northeastern Network.

Cultural and Spiritual Life Leadership

Photo of Bob Jose

Robert (Bob) Jose

Dean, Cultural Life

Bob serves as the Dean for Cultural Life which includes the John D. O’Bryant African American institute, The Asian American Center, The Latin X Center, The Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, The Social Justice Resource Center, The LGBTQA Resource Center, The Center for Intercultural Engagement. He works closely NU Hillel and The Office of Global Services. A veteran of more than 30 years working in Higher Education, he has a deep passion for enhancing the experience of all students. He strongly believes that the key to inclusivity is building understanding, that educating across differences along with developing skills in empathy based engagement must be priorities if students are going to be successful.
Richard D. O'Bryant

Richard O’Bryant Ph.D.

Director, John D. O’Bryant African American Institute

Dr. O’Bryant is director of the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute at Northeastern University – named in remembrance of his dad. At the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute Dr. O’Bryant oversees educational, leadership development and cultural programs, services and activities focused on African American students. The John D. O’Bryant African American Institute has become more engaged with many aspects of Northeastern University including academic components, community outreach efforts, connecting with the NU Black alumni and the enhancement of the breadth and depth of programs and services offered. Dr. O'Bryant also teaches in the College of Professional Studies, the Political Science Department, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and is affiliated faculty with the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. Dr. O’Bryant has connected the Institute nationally as President of the John D. O’Bryant National Think Tank (JDOTT) and an organizational membership with the Association for Black Cultural Centers (ABCC). Dr. O’Bryant joined Northeastern in 2003 and came to Student Affairs in 2007. Dr. O’Bryant received his Ph.D. in urban and regional studies from MIT in 2004 and is a longtime member of the Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts (CBMM).

Alexander Levering Kern

Executive Director, Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service

Alex is a Quaker, ecumenical and interfaith leader, widely-published poet and writer, educator, and chaplain. Alex serves as the first Executive Director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service (CSDS) at Northeastern University in Boston, leading the school’s campus ministries and developing new models of campus dialogue and global citizenship formation. Northeastern’s pioneering work has been recognized by the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), President Obama's White House Interfaith and Community Service Challenge, and others.
Prior to coming to Northeastern in 2012, Alex served as Executive Director of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM), greater Boston’s oldest interfaith social justice network, and as Protestant Christian chaplain at Brandeis University. Alex co-founded the Interfaith Youth Initiative (IFYI) – a dynamic peacemaking and leadership program for high school and graduate students. As an educator, Alex has served as an adjunct faculty member, speaker, panelist, or consultant at institutions including Harvard Divinity School and Pluralism Project, Brandeis University, Pendle Hill Quaker Center, Andover Newton Theological School, Hebrew College, Boston University School of Theology, the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), and Merrimack College’s Center for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations.
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Naomi Boase

Director, Center for Intercultural Engagement and Social Justice Resource Center

Originally from Grand Rapids, MI, Naomi started working in the CIE-SJRC July of 2019. Through the work of the CIE-SJRC, she hopes that, every day, more students, staff, and faculty will feel they can show up authentically as they are, wherever they are. She believes the CIE-SJRC is a place where all people, herself included, can seek wholeness and healing through liberatory learning.
Naomi comes from a background in humanitarian aid and international development. She previously worked in the Levant where she managed psychosocial projects in the north of Jordan, which focused on identity and relational development with refugee populations. Naomi holds a Bachelor of Arts from Taylor University in International Studies (Middle East Studies) and a Master of Science from SOAS, University of London, in Violence, Conflict and Development.

Facutly Staff Affiliates

Earlene Avalon, PhD, MPH

Earlene Avalon, Ph.D.

Faculty Staff Affiliate - JDOAAI

Earlene Avalón, PhD, MPH is the Lead Faculty and Associate Professor of the Healthcare Administration, Health Sciences and the Post-Bacc/Pre-Medical programs at the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University. She holds an undergraduate degree in Chemistry, a Master’s degree in Public Health and a PhD in Health Professions Education.

Dr. Avalón’s research interest focuses on promoting health equity for marginalized populations with an emphasis on supporting workforce diversity initiatives and formalize mentoring programs. She has extensive experience and training in ethnographic and survey research, qualitative analysis and mixed-methods research design.

Maria Elena Villar

Maria Elena Villar, Ph.D.

Faculty Staff Affiliate - LSCC

Dr. Villar comes to Northeastern from Florida International University where she has taught in the School of Communication and Journalism since 2007, and was promoted to full professor in 2021. She served as Chair of the Department of Communication and then Associate Dean of Strategic Communication for the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts. Villar’s research is situated at the intersection of strategic communication and health/science communication, focusing on community engagement with under-represented and hyper-vulnerable populations. She has published over forty peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and articles in conference proceedings, and has been the PI or Co-PI on several multidisciplinary sponsored research projects. She has led efforts in improving equity, diversity and inclusion in academia and is committed to continuing this work at Northeastern.

Aaron Daniels

Faculty Staff Affiliate - CSDS

In addition to being an Associate Teaching Professor in the Psychology Department at Northeastern University, Aaron B. Daniels is also a Mindfulness Fellow and Training Mentor in Northeastern University’s Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service (CSDS). Through the CSDS, he offers Mindful & Spiritual Accompaniment. He is a Research Fellow with Psychology & the Other based out of Boston College. He leads Northeastern’s Psychology & the Other Workgroup and is the author of four books focusing on Jungian, Existential, and Phenomenological thought.

Martin Dias

Faculty Staff Affiliate - JDOAAI

Dias's research interests involve the design and use of information systems that support group and interorganizational information sharing and collaboration. He has conducted research as a research associate on two NSF-funded efforts – one on interagency collaborations in public safety and the other on ERP implementation. Martin is particularly interested in improving organizational performance and legitimacy through enhancing the design and implementation of interorganizational information architectures. Accordingly, his teaching has covered the use of information systems in business process management and improvement at the MBA level, and both introduction to management information systems and use of emerging information technology at the undergraduate level. Prior to joining the D'Amore-McKim School of Business faculty, Dias served as an instructor at Bentley University and Eastern Nazarene College. Through his teaching and research, Dias has studied and worked with numerous multi-national corporations and inter-agency collaborations using information systems to improve efficiency and effectiveness. In addition to research and teaching, Dias worked for fourteen years at State Street Corporation with 10 years of progressive leadership experience in the area of information technology implementation and use.
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Ori Fienberg

Faculty Staff Affiliate - CSDS

Ori Fienberg has been a part of the Northeastern community for over 9 years. Currently, he serves as the Associate Director of Academic Integrity for the College of Professional Studies; among other responsibilities, he directs initiatives to prevent, address and track violations of the Academic Integrity Policy, and promote independent, original work. He also teaches Poetry Writing.

A graduate of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, Ori’s essays, poems, and short stories have appeared in dozens of publications including BOAAT, Cincinnati Review, Heavy Feather Review, Mid-American Review, PANK, Rattle, and Subtropics. He is the winner of Elsewhere Magazine’s 2020 prose chapbook contest. Ori lives in Evanston, IL.

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Kim Gubelman

Faculty Staff Affiliate - AAC

Kim joined Khoury College of Computer Sciences in 2018 and has been working in higher education for over 8 years. She values the diversity of thought among colleagues and students, which makes her work very engaging and fulfilling.

In her role as Associate Director of Graduate Student Services, Kim oversees the Boston graduate student services coordinators who advise Khoury’s master’s students, and collaborates with the graduate network to ensure consistency in the College’s policies and procedures. With her appointed affiliation at the Asian American Center through Cultural and Spiritual Life, she hopes to amplify AAC’s mission and values to the graduate and undergraduate student community.

Outside of work, Kim enjoys gardening, traveling, home renovating and spending quality time with her husband and two kids.

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AK Wright, Ph.D.

Faculty Staff Affiliate - LGBTQA Center

Dr. AK Wright(they/them) is a Jamaican first-generation healer-scholar. Their book project, Embodying Abolition: Healing Justice, Black Feminism and Ending Carcerality investigates how Black individuals communally and intimately live, resist, and care amid carceral forces. Situated in Black feminist thought, queer and trans studies, and carceral studies, their research explores communal healing justice approaches to carceral abolition.
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Carmen C. Sceppa, MD, Ph.D., FGSA

Faculty Staff Affiliate - LSCC

Dr. Sceppa received her medical degree from Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where she was born and raised. She received her PhD in Nutrition from The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a clinician, researcher, educator and mentor. Her work centers around advancing and prolonging health for all. Her research seeks to understand the role of lifestyle interventions on advancing overall health and quality of life. She examines health and wellness in settings that promote physical activity among underserved and vulnerable populations, specifically, older adults and the elderly, particularly Hispanics and African Americans. Dr. Sceppa’s research has provided evidence-based information to transform the way we think about healthy lifestyle from personal choice to preventive medicine. Dr. Sceppa serves as senior faculty mentor for the Network of Minority Research Investigators (NMRI) at the National Institutes of Health. She is an active and long-time member and contributor of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and is a GSA Fellow. In 2021, Dr. Sceppa was elected as Treasurer (2022-2025) of the GSA Board of Directors. She also serves as Faculty Mentor for the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Career Development & Mentoring Technical Assistance Workshop, and is an active member of the American Society for Nutrition.

Ahmed Huq, Ph.D.

Faculty Staff Affiliate - CSDS

Dr. Ahmed Faizul Huq is a Visiting Professor of Supply Chain Management in the DMSB. He was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to the USA when he was 17 years old. He has four children and his wife is a Cultural Anthropologist. In addition to teaching and research in his field, Ahmed Faizul is involved in theatre, Soccer, and the Culinary arts. Professionally his teaching interests include a variety of Production and Operations Management and Logistics courses. Before coming to Northeastern he was on the faculty at Ohio University for 18 years. He has published articles in the areas of Scheduling for Job Shops. Cellular Manufacturing environments and flexible manufacturing systems. Additional research includes Agile manufacturing, Concurrent Engineering, Just-in-Time Manufacturing, Health Care Operations, and Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

Jessica Parr, Ph.D.

Faculty Staff Affiliate - JDOAAI

Jessica Parr (she/they) is a historian of the Early Modern Atlantic, specializing in race and memory long eighteenth century, as well as in digital humanities, and archival studies. They are the author of Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon (U. Press of Mississippi). The book explores Whitefield’s development as a symbol shaped in the complexities of revivalism, the contest over religious toleration, and the conflicting roles of Christianity for enslaved people. Evangelical Christianity’s emphasis on “freedom in the eyes of God,” combined with the problems that the rhetoric of the Revolution posed for slavery, also suggested a path to political freedom.
Parr’s work has been supported by fellowships and grants from the John Hope Franklin Institute at Duke University, Boston Athenaeum, the Congregational Library, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Gilder-Lehrman Institute, the Methodist Archives of Drew University, the Caroliana Society, the Bright Institute at Knox College, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. They were elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2015 and are also Global Team leader for the prize-winning multilingual digital humanities journal, The Programming Historian, a Member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and a past president of the New England Historical Association.
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Rebecca Riccio

Faculty Staff Affiliate - CIE

Rebecca Riccio is the founder and Juffali Family Director of the Social Impact Lab at Northeastern University. Her teaching and research center the use of experiential learning to cultivate systems thinking, ethical reasoning, self-authorship, and racial and social justice values among students who aspire to engage in social change. Her teaching models, featured in Ashoka U’s publications Evaluating Changemaker Education: A Practitioner’s Guide and Preparing Students for a Rapidly Changing World, integrate anti-racist pedagogy and the use of experiential grant making to promote just and equitable power and resource distribution in the social change arena. The co-author of Principles of Anti-Oppressive Community Engagement for University Educators and Researchers, Rebecca is deeply engaged in promoting anti-oppressive practices across campus as co-chair of the Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs racial justice committee, a faculty fellow in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, an Ashoka U Campus change leader, the faculty advisor to the Northeastern Honors Program social activism learning living community, a member of the NUPD Community Advisory Board, the faculty advisor to the Center for Intercultural Engagement/Social Justice Resource Center, and a member of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s design team for DEI content development. In collaboration with the ADVANCE Office of Faculty Development, Rebecca has co-created Essential Conversations, a workshop series that prepares faculty members to facilitate conversations about race, identity, and power. As a service-learning fellow and a faculty scholar in Northeastern’s Center for Advancing Teaching, Learning, and Research, Rebecca developed evidence-based strategies for integrating experiential grant making, systems thinking, and racial and social justice frameworks into her pedagogy of social change. She is a longtime faculty advisor to the Learning by Giving Foundation, a member of Millennium Campus Network’s board of directors, and an adult ally, mentor, and advisor to youth leaders addressing climate change, racial and social justice, and gun violence. Prior to joining Northeastern in 2008, Rebecca managed international development projects around the world at the Council on International Educational Exchange and SATELLIFE. Through her private consulting practice, Rebecca advises clients on the development of more just and equitable social change programming grounded in systems analysis, anti-oppression, and community empowerment. Rebecca holds a B.A in Soviet Studies from Wesleyan University and an M.A. from the University of Michigan in Russian and Soviet Studies.
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Madhavi Venkatesan, Ph.D.

Faculty Staff Affiliate - CIE

Madhavi Venkatesan is an academic economist (PhD, Vanderbilt University). Her academic interests include the integration of sustainability (ethics, equity, and justice) into the economics curriculum. She has been active in promoting education and stakeholder engagement to incorporate ethics into the existing economic framework and her written work has largely focused on these topics as a catalyst to promoting sustainability. Madhavi has also contributed to the literature on the relationship between culture, sustainability, and economics, addressing the relationship between economic systems and cultural convergence. Prior to reentering academics in 2014, Madhavi held senior-level positions in investor relations for three U.S. domiciled insurers (Unum Group, AIG, and The Hartford).

Our Vision

To create an inclusive environment that supports and engages all learners as they pursue academic success, authentic relationships, and a robust understanding of intercultural and interpersonal competencies.

Our Mission

Northeastern Cultural and Spiritual Life is dedicated to advancing self-exploration, the building of community through shared experiences, connecting learners to the University at large, providing experiential education opportunities and resources that promote the value of inclusion throughout the Northeastern network, and equipping learners to become leaders who forge a more just and equitable world.

Our Work

Cultural and Spiritual Life works to create inclusive and dynamic programing, events, and spaces centering the following areas:

  1. Building Community and a Sense of Belonging
  2. Leadership Development
  3. Peer to Peer Engagement
  4. Social Identity Development
  5. Life of the Mind (Intellectual Engagement)

through continuous support, guidance, and facilitation, as well as through consultations and trainings across the Northeastern community.