Dr. Mel Michelle Lewis (she/they) is Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice at American Rivers. In this Executive Leadership role, Dr. Mel provides strategic guidance on social and environmental justice initiatives and creative visioning for the future of clean water for everyone everywhere. Dr. Mel is also a Collaborator with The Art of Change Agency, an Affiliated Researcher with the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, and Orion Magazine board member.
Prior to joining American Rivers, Dr. Mel was Associate Professor and Director of the Ecosystems, Sustainability, and Justice Program, co-founder of The Space for Creative Black Imagination: An Interdisciplinary Making and Research Institute, and Chair of the Humanistic Studies Department (Maryland Institute College of Art). Previously, they also chaired the Center for Geographies of Justice, the Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Department, and Africana Studies Department (Goucher College), as well as the Department of Ethnic Studies (Saint Mary’s College of California).
Originally from Bayou la Batre on the Alabama Gulf Coast, their creative work explores queer of color nature writing themes in rural coastal settings. Their manuscript Biomythography Bayou is under contract with The Griot Project Book Series, Bucknell University Press.
Dr. Mel completed their M.A. and Ph.D. in Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. They hold an M.S. with a Public Policy concentration from Towson University and a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Sociology from Goucher College. They are currently pursuing an MPP with an emphasis in Environmental Policy.
What is your favorite river? Fowl River and the freshwater wetlands of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta to the north and the marine environments of the Gulf of Mexico to the south.