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:


Molly Brown-Hill (Outreach Coordinator)

Molly is a senior at UMASS majoring in Anthropology. It took her a long time to find the right major and she didn't think she ever would but she's thrilled she finally did. Molly is from Northampton, Massachusetts and can't wait to get out of the area after graduating but will always return home. Molly tries not to judge people because she believes it is unfair and stops you from experiencing/learning from someone that has awesome ideas and important stories. Molly believes stories are super important and are a crucial piece needed to bring us together in order to create change. She likes dancing, running, laughing, and eating.   


santoshi Santoshi Nadimpalli (Alumni Coordinator)

Santoshi Nadimpalli is a second-year student at UMass Amherst and is studying biochemistry and public health. She spent her first year being a part of the Grassroots Community Organizing class where she was exposed to the dynamic complexities of organizing. Realizing how both her passion for medical justice intertwines with other forms of justice and organizing she is looking forward to being a part of the UACT staff and to continually seek for learning more about the community she is a part of! 



Mica Reel (Adminstrative Coordinator)

Mica is a Sophomore at UMass Amherst majoring in Social Thought in Political Economy. Taking GCO her freshman year was transformative and she is so excited to be involved with UACT again this year! She has always found that she experiences the most growth through challenging situations that push her and GCO did just that. This past summer she interned at Causa Justa // Just Cause in Oakland California as a Tenants Rights intern to further develop her political education. She loves sunflowers, traveling, eating all kinds of food, and good company.



Shameen Akhtar (Social Media & Graphic Designer)

Shameen is a third year at UMass Amherst, and had participated in GCO last spring. She studies Architecture with a minor in Art History and is pursuing a certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Learning as well. Her passion for social justice arose from volunteering throughout high school at a homeless shelter and also contributing to creating awareness to other injustices. She believes in a world of voice.



Sandra Llewellyn (Post Graduate Intern)



Olivia Espinoza (Facilitator Trainer)

Olivia is a senior at UMass Amherst who came to the Valley from Cape Cod upon entering college. She is majoring in Social Thought and Political Economy and working towards minors in Spanish, History, and Anthropology. Olivia first became involved in UACT when she took GCO as a sophomore and then continued on to facilitate her junior year. She is now training new facilitators to wrap up her undergrad involvement with UACT. Olivia loves taking walks in any kind of weather, looking at and playing with dogs, and discovering gluten free food options. 



Kristie Herman (Facilitation Trainer)




Alina Ortiz Salvatierra (Post Graduate Intern/ Campus Facilitation Trainer)

Alina Ortiz Salvatierra is an educator, artivist, and recent graduate of Hampshire College. She is currently working in the Studio Arts building at Hampshire college and with UACT as a Post Graduate Intern/ Campus facilitation Trainer. She spends most of her time thinking about community engaged art / social practice projects and popular education models. She really loves storytelling circles, and community events/ gatherings. If you'd like to collaborate or learn more feel free to reach out :)


Jackie Brown (Newsletter Creator)

Jackie is a junior at UMass studying Civic Engagement and Economic Justice. 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.  



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