Voices of Virginia


Russell Belcher, MA

Project Manager and Co-Regional Coordinator, Southwest Virginia and Appalachia

Russell is a native of Buchanan county, located in the Appalachian coal fields of extreme Southwest Virginia. He attended Emory and Henry College in Southwest Virginia receiving a BA in Biology. He received a master’s degree in medical anthropology from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. At present, Russell owns a video production company focused in documentary video ethnography, especially relating to Appalachia.

Russell became involved with Voices of Virginia as he became increasingly concerned about the plight of rural people and their way of life. Following the 2016 presidential election, he saw the results of decades of invisibility and fading hope for any future in his home town and others like it. He sought to bridge the chasm between the people he grew up with and those he now lives with in suburban Washington, DC.

Deirdre LaPin, PhD, MPH

Project Manager and Co-Regional Coordinator, Southwest Virginia and Appalachia

Deirdre LaPin is an anthropologist and specialist in development and health with longstanding experience in strengthening the socio-cultural capital of communities across Africa and rural United States.  She has applied her experience throughout a multi-faceted career in academia, international development agencies, and the private sector. She received a doctorate in African Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s in public health and a post-doctoral certificate in health communication from the Bloomberg School at The Johns Hopkins University. She works as a consultant on community-based social investment and as a scholar associated with the University of Pennsylvania.

A native of Kentucky, Deirdre maintains an abiding interest in the American rural experience.  She has published on local cultural traditions in Arkansas and Kentucky and looks forward to extending her research into the state of Virginia.


Kristi Moses, MAA

Field Researcher and Analyst

Kristi Moses has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in anthropology and is interested in applying the knowledge, tools, and lens of the discipline to real world issues.  She works in international development and recently served in Ghana in the Peace Corps.

Kristi is currently a researcher in the Southwest and Appalachian regions of Virginia.  After the 2016 presidential election, she wanted to know the current state of conservativism in America and understand how people's identities are tied to those labels.  She is interested to know the extent to which the construction of these identities on social media is accurate or inaccurate.  For example, is liberals' understanding of conservativism accurate and vice versa?

Molly Maddra-Santiago, MA

Field Researcher and Analyst

Molly Maddra-Santiago is pursuing a PhD. in Anthropology at American University, with a focus on race and class identity in the United States.  Her particular interest is the relationship between social memory and local politics. She holds a B.A. in Spanish Language and an M.A. in Global Affairs from George Mason University.  She worked in the non-profit sector for six years before returning to school full time.

Originally from Prince George, Virginia, in the southeastern part of the state, Molly has spent time traveling and visiting family all over Virginia and has a longstanding interest in Virginia history and the ways the past affects the present of the state.

Cherry Hunsaker-Clark, MAPA

Field Researcher and Analyst

Cherry Hunsaker-Clark has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Anthropology with an attention to Peacebuilding. She is eager to use her skills to unite groups through the process of shared stories. She keeps busy doing freelance work and raising her three children.

Cherry grew up on a farm in Rural Idaho and now lives in the DC area. After the 2016 elections she wanted to help bridge the divide between conservatives and liberals by humanizing the other through bringing to light the personal experiences of people living in rural America. Currently a field researcher in Southwest Virginia, Cherry is eager to facilitate people sharing their stories with one another—because everyone has a story to tell.

Marian Katz

Budget and Finance Manager

Marian Katz grew up in Queens, New York and holds a B.S. in nutrition education from Cornell University. For the past fifteen years she has been an administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland responsible for managing the travel budget as well as planning international travel for scientists attending world- wide conferences. She also tracked travel expenses to ensure compliance and staying within budget allocations.

In the past decade she has actively engaged in field research visits to Appalachia assisting her husband, Russell Belcher, in his video documentary recording of numerous regional music festivals for the state of Virginia. As a result of her ethnomusicological experiences in southwest Virginia she has become interested in regional folkways and traditions and has learned clogging, a distinctive dance style originating in Appalachia. She has developed a deep respect for the people of rural southwest Virginia who have welcomed her to their mountain home.  She is excited to join Voices of Virginia.

Victoria X. Danner, MAA, PMP

Coordinator for Voices of Virginia

Victoria is a medical anthropologist with a focus on patient-driven/focused research and program development. She is a certified Project Management Professional and Data Visualist and has worked with non-profit organizations including the Lupus Foundation of America, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, National Cancer Institute, and AmeriCorps. Victoria is a manager and administrative coordinator for Voices of Virginia and supports team members with website updates, grant proposals, research data, and general administration. She became involved with Voices of Virginia in its earliest stages in 2016 when it was a salon of WAPA members gathered to propose an ethnography centered on the changing political and sociocultural landscape in America.

Marisa Prosser, PhD, MA

Research and Data Coordinator

With a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Connecticut and a master's in applied medical anthropology from SUNY-Buffalo, Marisa has 15 years of experience conducting research in anthropology and public health, including work on immigration, ethnicity & identity, violence prevention, and disparities in higher education. Marisa is interested in the role that culture and identity play in fostering human well-being and in applying this knowledge to enhance peoples' lives in meaningful ways. She hopes that the stories shared via this project can play a role in fostering empathy across existing sociocultural, economic, and political boundaries, and enhance civic engagement and participation in communities throughout the United States.

For more information, please email voicesofvirginiaproject@gmail.com.

Last reviewed 02 Feb 2020

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