Project Team

Dr. Susan L. Gabel, Institute Director and professor of Special Education at Wayne State University
Susan L. Gabel


Co-Director: Dr. Susan L. Gabel, is Professor of Inclusive Education at Wayne State University where she teaches courses on inclusive teaching, curriculum, and pedagogy. Drawing on her experiences as a school teacher, Susan hopes the Institute will inspire teachers to integrate knowledge about disability and identity into the K-12 humanities curriculum. In her most recent scholarly work (Hypatia, 2018), she explores the materialism of emotions produced by ableism.

Dr. Aja Reynolds, Day One Scholar
Aja Reynolds

Co-director: Dr. Aja Reynolds, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education, Teacher Education Division and Co-Director where she teaches about liberatory educational spaces. Dr. Reynolds studies the ways Black girls and women use of "fugitive spaces" for healing, refusal and resistance. She is a Black feminist pedagogue and engages intersectionality lens to analyze and disrupt systems of oppression. Aside from her role as co-director, she will engage attendees of the institute to think more deeply about identities in relation to power and oppression to sharpen their critical analyses in identifying and advocating for equity. 

Dr. Kathleen Crawford-McKinney, Children's Literature Coordinator.
Kathleen Crawford-McKinney
Day two scholar: Children's Literature Coordinator: Dr. Kathleen Crawford-McKinney, Associate Professor, Teacher Education, Wayne State University where she teaches and researchers in the area of global children's literature. Her focus Is to bring books and children together, thereby opening windows on the world. She encourages thoughtful dialogue around global literature so that children can reflect on their own cultural experiences and connect to the experiences of children across the globe. Through her work with teachers, she encourages teachers to support their students in building bridges across cultures as a way to encourage the development of intercultural understanding and global perspectives. 
Dr. Diana Paulin
Diana Paulin


Day two scholar: Diana R. Paulin is Associate Professor of American Studies and English, and affiliate faculty in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Trinity College, Connecticut. She is the author of Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), winner of ASTR's (American Society for Theatre Research) 2013 Errol Hill Award for Outstanding Scholarship in African American Theatre Studies. She co-directs Trinity's Global Health Humanities Gateway Program and directs the African American Studies minor. In addition to her other work, Dr. Paulin has published, taught, and presented extensively on Blackness and autism, most recently as part of the "Neurodiversity, Intersectionality, and Crip-of-Color Critique" panel at Brown University's "Neurodiversity in Action Interdisciplinary Symposium" (May 2019) and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of The Met's "Crip the Met" seriesShe is co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming MLA collection Neurofutures and is currently working on a book project, entitled Autistic Blackness, and on a collaborative digital/archive entitled Locating Blackness

Dr. Beth Haller, Day Three Scholar
Beth Haller
Day Three Scholar: Dr. Beth Haller, teaches Disability Studies and Media Studies at Towson University, Maryland. Haller is co-editor of the 2020 Routledge Companion to Disability and Media (with Gerard Goggin of the University of Sydney and Katie Ellis of Curtin University, Australia). She is the author of Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media (Advocado Press, 2010) and the author/editor of Byline of Hope: Collected Newspaper and Magazine Writing of Helen Keller (Advocado Press, 2015). She was formerly co-editor of the Society for Disability Studies' scholarly journal, Disability Studies Quarterly, (2003-2006). Haller maintains a blog on disability issues in the news, Media dis&dat. She has been researching media images of disability since 1991.
Dr. Kim Nielsen, Day Four Scholar
Kim Nielsen

Day Four Scholar: Historian Dr. Kim Nielsen is Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Toledo where she teaches courses on disability history, eugenics, gender, and law. Her books include Money, Marriage, and Madness: The Life of Anna Ott(2020), The Oxford Handbook of Disability History (co-edited 2018), A Disability History of the United States (Beacon, 2012), Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller (Beacon, 2009) and The Radical Lives of Helen Keller (NYUP, 2004). Her journal publications include Signs, The Journal of Southern History, Rethinking History, and The Journal of Women's History.

Elizabeth Bailey
Elizabeth Bailey


Technology Coordinator: Dr Elizabeth Bailey is a scholar of Learning Design & Technology. Elizabeth has a background in online course design, and her research focuses on learners and learning processes. Elizabeth's role with the institute is to keep all the gears turning in the background by ensuring we have the right technical resources to support participants and presenters. Each year of the institute is an opportunity to explore the ways technical tools can be leveraged to promote learning, connection, and creativity!

Laura Torres
Laura Torres


Project Coordinator: Laura Torres is the coordinator for the Disability and Identity in History, Literature, and Media.