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Michelle Cook (she/her) is an educator and historian. In 2022, after a decade of researching the history of marginalized groups in her own community, she co-founded The Salus Populi Project to bring attention to the experiences of African American veterans of the Union Army. Since 2016, Michelle has presented her research findings in lectures to historical societies, community organizations, and museums whose missions support restorative justice initiatives. She is the Research Director for the Slavery, Memory, and Justice Project, and possesses extensive experience in and knowledge of best practices in archival research, with a particular emphasis on the history of African Americans in Missouri. 


Project Founder & Editor

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Associate Editor

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Riley Sutherland (she/her) is a student in Harvard University’s History Ph.D. program. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in History, American Studies, and Memory and an M.A. in History. Her research focuses on memory, trauma, archival power, and state-building in the nineteenth-century United States, especially as they relate to military women and Revolutionary War widow pensions. Sutherland is also passionate about teaching, public history, and the digital humanities. She has worked as an editorial assistant for the Pinckney Papers Project and an archival intern for the National Archives at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. She also volunteered at the Clay County Museum and Historical Society, where she curated exhibits, transcribed documents, created an inventory system, and led public programs.




Steve Harris is the owner and principal of Harris Consulting, a legal firm that advises clients on matters of education, including state and federal policies to advance academic achievement, curriculum development, principal development, and teacher in-service. As the son of a career Air Force sergeant, Steve spent his childhood moving around the world. He earned a B.S. in Math/Computer Science from William Jewell College, then spent two years as a systems analyst before earning his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He also earned his M.A. in Math Education from New York University before completing an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Steve’s doctoral work focused on leadership for the improvement of outcomes for large urban school districts. As the Chief HR director of the Kansas City School District, Steve made the structural changes the district needed to avoid state take over. He also became the first Diversity Director for the 14,000-student University of Central Missouri. Steve has worked with school districts and universities in Seattle, Nashville, Atlanta, Syracuse, Champaign, IL, and Jacksonville, FL. Having practiced law, worked at all levels in education, and run two non-profits, Steve decided early on that he would only work in and with organizations that are trying to do good, and especially to do good for those who have historically been marginalized by our society.

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Christopher Wilkins is a historian of slavery and American democracy. He earned his doctorate and masters in History at Stanford University. His scholarship has been featured in essay collections focusing on the global dimensions of the American Civil War and post-war Reconstructions in Europe and the Americas from the eighteenth century to the present. He serves as an advisor to the Slavery, Memory, and Justice Project and is currently writing a book on academic freedom and democracy.

Vice President

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Ann Riley Sutherland (she/her) is an independent researcher and grant writer. Trained as a marketing development engineer, she received her B.S. in Chemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Kansas and her M.B.A. from Concordia University (Mequon). After moving to Liberty, Missouri, she served as President of the Clay County Museum and Historical Society. She led a renovation of the museum’s lower level, curated new exhibits, prepared public programs and fundraisers, and successfully applied for several grants. After receiving a grant from the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, she produced a documentary, walking tour, and museum exhibit about the Civil War in Liberty. When she is not researching U.S. history, Sutherland enjoys running, basket-making, and visiting historic sites with her family.



Corresponding Secretary

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Hayley Michael graduated summa cum laude from William Jewell College in 2022 where she studied history and political science. During her time at Jewell, Hayley served as a founding member of the Slavery, Memory, and Justice Project where she and the other members researched the previously untold history the people enslaved by the college’s founders. She presented this research at the Missouri Conference on History and Duke Colloquium Undergraduate Research Day and has contributed to many articles written in Kansas City area newspapers. Hayley was the 2022 Faculty Award Winner and is in the Phi Epsilon, Phi Alpha Theta, and Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Societies. She currently works at the White House Historical Association in Washington, DC as the Events and Projects Specialist for the Office of the President with plans to obtain her M.A. in Public History.


Laurel Clark

Wanda Harmon

Joyce Pollock

Spencer Talbot

Luann Taylor

Krislin Fenner

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