The Project Team

Gilder Lehrman Center

David Blight

David W. Blight is Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies at Yale University, where he also directs the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. His latest book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, received the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2019. His previous books include Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory and American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era. Prior to joining the Yale faculty in 2003, Blight taught at Amherst College, North Central College, Harvard University, and the public high school in his home town of Flint, Michigan. Blight is the director of CIC’s Legacies of American Slavery project.

Michelle Zacks
Associate Director

Michelle Zacks is associate director of the GLC. Raised in the New Haven area, Michelle has conducted interdisciplinary field work and historical research on coastal communities in Georgia, Florida, Haiti, and Antigua. Most recently, she worked as a folklorist and public historian on Maryland’s Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, where she focused on African American history and culture. Her book manuscript, in progress, is titled “The People’s Fish: Florida Mullet and the Marine Commonwealth.” Zacks has a B.A. in Literature from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, an M.A. in Latin American Studies (concentration in Tropical Conservation and Development) from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

Lisa A. Monroe
Project Manager

Lisa A. Monroe is project manager at the GLC, where she coordinates the Legacies of American Slavery initiative. She has a varied background in education and the public humanities: For several years, she co-led BookTalk, a popular citywide reading group at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, her hometown. In New Haven, she co-founded Social Justice C.A.L.L., a community reading group focused on literacy and collective Black history education. Her recent research examines the Black women’s club movement in Connecticut. She earned a B.A. in English Literature from Towson University and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University. Currently, Monroe is a doctoral student in the History of Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she examines the intersection between U.S. public school curricula, the construction of American citizenship, ideas of national identity, and the American narrative.


Philip Katz
Director of Projects

Philip M. Katz has been director of projects at the Council of Independent Colleges since 2013 and serves as staff director of the Legacies of American Slavery initiative. A historian by training, he earned his A.B. from Harvard and Ph.D. from Princeton. His portfolio at CIC includes a number of projects designed to support the humanities at member institutions. Previous positions include acting executive director of the New York Council for the Humanities, research director for graduate education at the American Historical Association, and assistant director for research at the American Alliance of Museums. Katz is the author of the award-winning book From Appomattox to Montmartre: Americans and the Paris Commune (1998) and maintains a keen interest in the global dimensions of the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era.

Samantha Sabalis
Director of Development

Samantha Sabalis joined the Council of Independent Colleges through the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program for recent PhDs in the humanities in September 2018 and became a full-time CIC employee in September 2020. As director of development, she works on the solicitation and management of foundation and federal grants and assists with the management of grant-funded programs. Sabalis has experience as a college instructor, project coordinator, and museum educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland; an M.Phil. in medieval language, literature, and culture from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland; and a Ph.D. in English from Fordham University.

Phillip Warfield
Project Assistant

Phillip Warfield is pursuing a Ph.D. in United States history at Howard University, where he also works as a graduate assistant serving the Howard University Social Justice Consortium (supported by a grant from the Mellon Foundation). In 2019, he obtained a B.A. in history from Southern Adventist University with four additional minors: English, religion, education, and intercultural communication. A professional historian-in-training and digital storyteller who has lived all over the nation, Warfield believes in the necessity of contextualization and the strength of histories hidden deep within mainstream narratives. As project assistant to the Legacies initiative, he supports this blog and other communications activities.