UACT Staff and Advisory Board


UACT is an organization within the Department of Anthropology that is run through student leadership, collaboration, and continual involvement with UMass partnerships and community organizers locally and around the nation.

UACT’s staff work together to make real decisions and do real work. We are an organization that values all voices within our staff and constituent communities, and we thus aim to operate with as much of a consensus-based grassroots orientation as is practical given our structural context. 


UACT Staff:


Jordan Bensley (Graphic Identity Builder)

Jordan is a third year at Hampshire College, studying the intersections of design, critical social thinking, and trans/queer activism. They see an importance in actively learning about the webs of identities in this world and all of the stories in those webs. They are very interested in working on exploring more trans resources on the web and trans driven social projects. They took GCO last spring semester and will be helping out UACT this year. ***Fun Facts: passion for horses is a bit on the obsessed side, affinity for mingling at social events, curiosity for all the little things.  


Jackie Brown (Administrative Coordinator)

Jackie is a sophomore at UMass in the process of creating her major through the BDIC program. She has found that the place she feels most pushed yet comfortable in college has been in the UACT community and is excited to stay involved. She enjoys reading a good book, laughing, and seeing new places.  



Sarah Duey (Outreach Coordinator)

Sarah is a fourth year majoring in Sociology and minoring in Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies. She is a co-coordinator of the Stonewall Speakers Bureau and an active member of VOX: Students for Reproductive Justice and the Pride Alliance. She has also founded a dialogue space called Queer Conversations and a socializing space for people on the asexual spectrum in and around Western Massachusetts.



sue ellen Sue-Ellen Duffy (Campus Facilitation Trainer)

I graduated from UMass with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education and Engagement in 2013. Since graduating, I have continued in UACT as the post-grad intern and CP Campus trainer. Through this role I train, prepare, and support student facilitators who are both preparing to and are also actively facilitating their peers through a social justice lens. I spend 1/4 my time juggling ovens in a bakery, 1/4 shaping lights in a theater, 1/4 with amazing people, ideas, theory, and practice in UACT, and the other 1/4 climbing trees, following the neighborhood cats, sharing meals and deep conversations. (Is she a squirrel-dog? No one knows).


Kinsey Foreman (Social Justice Media Coordinator)

Kinsey is a junior studying Social Thought and Political Economy at UMass. She is also pursuing a certificate in Civic Engagement and Service Learning. The most frequently asked question she receives (especially from her parents) is “so what can you do with that after you graduate?”. If you have any ideas, please let her know! Her GCO class spent last Spring Break working with the Maine People’s Alliance where she discovered her love for organizing, tough conversations and coffee.


Jenny Lanza (Facilitator Trainer)

Jenny is a senior majoring in public health sciences and minoring in biology. She has been involved with UACT for one year as a facilitator and will be staying involved by training facilitators during her final year at UMass. She is passionate about ways of teaching and learning that are engaging and inspiring. Her other interests are reading, writing, hiking, and learning about ecology. 



Alina Ortiz Salvatierra (Facilitator Trainer)

Alina studies Installation Art and Activist Education at Hampshire College. She is from Los Angeles, CA and hopes to return one day to the sunny west coast. She became involved with UACT through being GCO student in spring 2012. Her social justice work has always incorporated creative practices, storytelling, reconnecting with her ancestors, and community building/ relationship building.  Her current role in UACT is training the future facilitators of the spring 2014 class. She is passionate about critical pedagogy and the ways it can exist within institutions and outside of them. She loves sweet treats and deep talks so feel free to reach out if you have any questions about UACT, artivism, collaboration, and GCO. 



Director Jen Sandler Ph.D.

Jen Sandler, Ph.D.

Jen is Director of UACT and Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at UMass. Jen’s research focuses on the knowledge practices of diverse activist organizations and policy reform coalitions. She conducts ethnographic research on what she calls "epistemic activism," examining how internally diverse groups of people who want to create change together come to know what they know, and how they work to teach the public and the powerful to think how they think. Jen has worked as a participant-researcher with urban educators, community organizers, policy activists, intervention researchers, parent activist groups, and popular education organizations in several urban centers in the United States as well as in Mexico.

Jen received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, and held visiting faculty positions at Trinity College and Bates College before coming to UMass in 2012. As a professor, she often works with diverse activists as co-educators who engage her students with different ways of understanding contemporary power, social inequalities, and diverse approaches to social and political change. Her classes (both within and outside UACT) usually involve significant and unsettling disruptions to the traditional power dynamics of the university classroom and university-community relationship.

Jen spends most of her non-UACT time writing and reading, meeting, learning anew how to engage with fundamentals like food growing and home and community making, and being entertained by her young son. Urban proclivities and transnational desires notwithstanding, she is always pleased to look out her window in Easthampton, MA and see a legit mountain.


UACT Advisory Board

The UACT Advisory Board meets twice per year as an entire group, and advises the UACT Director on an as-needed basis. The Advisory Board helps UACT to balance its growth and communicate its evolving projects within the Department of Anthropology, other institutional entities of UMass Amherst, and the various external communities and organizations with which we have or might develop relationships.

Advisory Board Members:
Sonya Atalay, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Lily Brown, UACT Alumni Representative
Justin Helepololei, Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology
Julie Hemment, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Art Keene, Emeritus Professor, Department of Anthropology
Ventura Perez, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
John Reiff, Director, Community Engagement and Service Learning
Ashley Sherry, Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology
Amanda Walker-Johnson, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Two participants from among current UACT facilitators and staff
Two participants from among current UACT community partners