Marcella Runell Hall became dean of students at Mount Holyoke in 2014, moving to the Pioneer Valley from Brooklyn, New York. She is a social justice scholar and accomplished author. She recently spent seven years at New York University, where she was the founding codirector for the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership under the leadership of Chelsea Clinton, and a clinical faculty member in the Silver School of Social Work.
Hall was the recipient of the NYU 2013–2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award. The prestigious award recognizes faculty members who exemplify the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through their excellent teaching, leadership, social justice work, and community building. Hall served as the program advisor/founder for the minor in multifaith and spiritual leadership. The Huffington Post recently called Hall “a leading scholar on the interweaving between social justice, activism, hip-hop, and faith.”
Hall has edited three award-winning books, The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook: Volume 1 (2007) with Martha Diaz, Conscious Women Rock the Page: Using Hip-Hop Fiction to Incite Social Change (2008), and Love, Race, and Liberation: ‘Til the White Day Is Done (2010) with Jennifer “JLove” Calderon. Additionally, she has written for Scholastic Books, the New York Times Learning Network, VIBE, and various academic journals, including Equity and Excellence in Education.
For her accomplishments in the field, Hall has received numerous teaching and programmatic awards, including the Association of American Colleges and Universities K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. She was honored by inclusion in the JFK 50th Anniversary Legacy Gallery along with other luminaries such as Madeleine Albright and Harry Belafonte. She is also a former fellow for the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.
Hall and her partner David Hall, aka DJ Trends, have two daughters, Aaliyah and Ava.
Latrina L. Denson has served as an educator and administrator in higher education for 17 years. She earned a B.S. in psychology with a minor in vocal performance from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 1994. In 1997, Denson received her M.Ed. in community counseling from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
After completing her master‘s, she worked at Albion College as assistant director for residence life/wellness education coordinator, associate director for campus programs and organizations, and associate director for multicultural affairs and first-year experience. From 2003 to 2007, she was served as program coordinator for multicultural and leadership programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while pursuing a master‘s in higher education administration.
Denson served for seven years as director for the Center for Multicultural Student Affairs at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. She also taught in the Organizational Leadership Program and the African-American Studies Program at Richland Community College.
Denson has been an active member of such organizations as NASPA, ACPA, NCORE, and GLACLHO-I. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Born in west Texas and having spent most of her life in Louisiana, she considers herself a “Southwestern girl.” Her passions include social justice advocacy, mentoring young women, singing, playing the piano, traveling, writing children‘s books, and spending time with her daughter Maya.
Melanie Ebig Lawson joined the Mount Holyoke community in August of 2011. Prior to MHC, Lawson worked for residential life departments at the University of Connecticut, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Eastern Michigan University. She earned both a bachelor's degree in women's studies and a master's degree in counseling/college student personnel from Eastern Michigan University. Lawson's professional interests include technology and social media, women's education, feminism, body image, and the geek subculture. A Midwestern expat, Lawson is a devoted crafter who knits, crochets, paints, and sews and is a self-professed geek who loves playing video and board games, watching Doctor Who, gardening, and listening to music. She and her husband enjoy dressing up in historically accurate medieval costumes so much that they chose to get married in them at their favorite Renaissance Faire!
Wasserman is the associate director of New Student Orientation and special assistant to the Dean of the College. She graduated from Elon University with a bachelor's degree in political science and from Springfield College with a master's in education in psychology and counseling services with a specialization in student personnel administration in higher education. She greatly enjoys working with student leaders on campus and feeds off of the energy of new student orientation. She is skilled at leadership development and facilitation and leads trainings for orientation leaders in the fall and spring.
Annette M. McDermott, interim dean of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, joined Mount Holyoke in 2012 as a College chaplain and advisor to the Catholic community. Her life interest has been in engaging her mind and spirit at the intersection of religion and civil society. She earned a B.A. in political science/international relations from Fordham University and an M.A. in public policy from Trinity College in Hartford. She is currently completing her doctoral studies in political science at Boston College, where her dissertation topic is focused on the competing mediating roles of Catholic sisters in the American public square since Vatican II.
Prior to becoming a Sister of Saint Joseph (SSJ) in Springfield, Massachusetts, Sr. McDermott worked in public affairs at Mass Mutual. Since becoming an SSJ, she has served predominantly as cabinet secretary of social concerns for the Diocese of Springfield, creating an Office of AIDS/HIV Ministry and a Child Protection and Youth Protection program. She has also been working with Catholic Charities to expand its Immigration and Refugee Services and develop low-income housing in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Sr. McDermott is an avid photographer and rows/sculls with Mount Holyoke’s community rowing program. She looks forward to helping the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life create more time and space for substantive multicultural and multifaith engagement for students, staff, and faculty. She considers a vibrant, healthy community a key to living a meaningful life and she looks forward to sharing this value with the broader Mount Holyoke community.