Beyond the Hall: A Day of Conversation about Commemoration, Historic Preservation, & the Study of History


John Ahearn attended St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic elementary school and created a mural of the Crusades for the back of their 6th grade class. As an artist downtown in the 70’s, he was preparing a monster movie and he learned to life-cast faces of his Colab friends. In 1979, He did face-casting in the window at Fashion Moda in the Bronx and drew crowds. The lifecast portraits were hung along the walls of Fashion Moda as the “South Bronx Hall of Fame”. Rigoberto Torres was 17 attending Taft high School in the the Bronx. He saw the relief portraits at Fashion Moda and understood a connection to his Uncle Raul’s Bronx statuary factory. He and John formed an art partnership that still continues. During the 80’s they developed community casting workshops in the Bronx that produced several permanent neighborhood sculpture murals. Recently, they were art residents at the Inhotim Art Center in Brazil and completed two large wall reliefs including a whole bus with local passengers and an Afro-Catholic procession.

Susan Amper is a Professor of English at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. Susan is the author of the book How to Write About Edgar Allan Poe; she has given a Ted Talk on Poe, was an invited speaker at the NYU Fall 2016 Poe Room Event, and recently presented her paper, “Poe, Van Dine, and the Crypto-Mystery” at the 2017 NEMLA convention in Baltimore. Susan also writes about Poe for the blog criminalelement; recent posts include The World’s First Murder Mystery: A Birthday Present from Edgar A. Poe and Edgar Allan Poe: Dominated by Humor, Not Terror.

Robin Auchincloss is the Director of Campus and Facilities Planning.  She is a an architect and has worked in the field of public architecture for more than 20 years focusing in educational facilities, sustainability and renovation of distinctive public buildings.

Janet Bunde serves as the University Archivist at New York University. Her research interests include the development of educational partnerships between special collections staff and teaching faculty. She holds an M.A. in History and a Certificate in Archival Administration from NYU and a B.A. in History from Haverford College. 

Kate Culkin is an associate professor of history at Bronx Community College. She is the author of Harriet Hosmer: A Cultural Biography and an associate editor of the Harriet Jacobs Family Papers. She was introduced to the Hall of Fame while working as a graduate student at Bronx Community College.

William deJong-Lambert is a historian of science whose research focuses on the “modern synthesis” of genetics and natural selection. He recently co-edited a two volume edited collection, “The Lysenko Controversy as a Global Phenomenon,” and has also published a book, “The Cold War Politics of Genetic Research.” His research has been published in numerous journals, including “The Journal of Genetics,” “The Journal of Cold War Studies,” “Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences” and “Journal of the History of Biology.” He has received numerous grants for his research from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright, the American Council for Learned Societies, The Rockefeller Foundation, the American Philosophical Society and others. His current project is a book tentatively titled, “The Fly Room: The Invention of Genetics and the Science of Evolution.”

Angel Hernandez is Director of Programs and External Relations for The Bronx County Historical Society. He is a native of The Bronx with a passion to unearth historic information on his hometown. A graduate of Lehman College with a degree in Sociology, Angel enjoys educating people in The Bronx about its rich history and its ever-changing demographics. Angel works very close with educational institutions in an effort to teach local and neighborhood history to students – a subject rarely taught in the classroom. Angel is also the director for The Bronx Latino History Project which is a research study on Latinos who’ve lived or contributed to Bronx History. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in History at Lehman College.

Prithi Kanakamedala is an Assistant Professor of History at Bronx Community College. As a public historian she has worked for City Lore, Brooklyn Historical Society, Weeksville Heritage Center, and Irondale Ensemble Project. She curated the semi-permanent history exhibit Brooklyn Abolitionists at the Brooklyn Historical Society and served as Historian for the larger public history project entitled In Pursuit of Freedom examining Brooklyn’s nineteenth century anti-slavery movement. Prithi holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sussex and is originally from Liverpool, England.​

Elena Martinez is the Co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center, a gallery and performance space that celebrates the Bronx’s musical and artistic legacy, and she has been a Folklorist at City Lore since 1997. She has produced or co-produced documentaries such as From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale (PBS 2006, winner of a 2007 ALMA Award for Best TV Documentary), We Like It Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo (SXSW Festival 2015), and Eddie Palmieri: A Revolution on Harlem River Drive (Red Bull Academy 2016). She has worked as a curator or assistant curator on several exhibitions, including ¡Que bonita bandera!: The Puerto Rican Flag as Folk Art and Nueva York: 1613-1945. She has published numerous articles and reviews in scholarly journals and publications, and she serves on the Advisory Boards for Casita Maria/Dancing in the Streets’ South Bronx Culture Trail, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies Archive at Hunter College, and Los Pleneros de la 21. She has been awarded a 2013 BOROMIX Puerto Rican Heritage Award, Comité Noviembre’s Lo Mejor de Nuestra Comunidad 2013, and a 2016 Community Award by El Maestro’s Cultural & Educational Center. Presently, she is working on a research project focusing on the Afro-Puerto Rican participation in the 369th Regimental Band (the “Harlem Hellfighters”) during WWI.

Philip Panaritis is the Senior Borough Instructional Lead for Social Studies for the Bronx Field Support Center.  He has worked in Social Studies Education for the NYC DOE for 32 years, as a grant writer, curriculum developer, grant administrator, staff developer, supervisor of mentoring, local history promoter, and avocational historian.  His work has been published in Kappan, Newsday, UFT Journal, Bronx County Historical Society’ Journal, Alaska Magazine, Alaska Journal of History, and Archaeology Magazine.  He graduated from SUNY Binghamton and Teachers College, and has lived in the Bronx for 26 years.  Phil is the co-founder of the Hunts Point Slave Burying Ground Project.

Catriona Schlosser serves at the Archivist at CUNY Television. She holds an M.A. in Archives and Public History from NYU and a B.A. in History from Fordham University. While completing her Masters at NYU, Catriona created the digital web exhibit, “The College on a Hill,” a site that explores the history of NYU’s University Heights campus, now Bronx Community College, through its architecture. 

Artist and agitator Ruth Sergel creates bold and compassionate works that explode traditional media. Bridging art and technology, memory and wonder her socially-engaged projects include Chalk, an annual public intervention and memorial, the creation of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, and Voices of 9.11. Her work has been exhibited at MoMA, the Corcoran and the New-York Historical Society. Ruth was honored to be part of the Community Leaders Briefing Series at the Obama White House.  Her first book, See You In The Streets: Art, Action + Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire was published in 2016 by the University of Iowa Press. For more on Ruth Sergel, please visit:

Cynthia Tobar is an oral historian, conceptual media artist and archivist interested in documenting and preserving community-based stories of social justice and activism. Her latest work includes a community-based storytelling project in her neighborhood of Bushwick, “Cities for People, Not for Profit”: Gentrification and Housing Activism in Bushwick that is capturing artist, activist, and local residents stories of displacement. Currently, Cynthia is the Head of Archives at Bronx Community College.  She has an MA in Political Science from New School University, and an MLS, with a certificate in Archival Management, from Pratt Institute.