Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists


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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.

Victoria X. Danner, MAA, PMP 
Principal Investigator, Project Manager, Northern Virginia Co-Regional Coordinator

Victoria is a medical anthropologist and project manager from Bethesda, MD. She was a researcher, analyst, and program coordinator for several organizations such as the National Cancer Institute, Greater Baden Medical Services, Inc and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. 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 impacts of the 2016 elections. 

Victoria is interested in the influence of politics on healthcare accessibility and policy. This brought her to the original WAPA salon in December 2016. The 2016 elections caught her attention as it presented the power and influence of social media and the political leanings of major news channels on the understanding of political discourse in the general population i.e. “fake news”. This included debates on healthcare and the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 (Obamacare). Victoria is currently the project manager and co-principal investigator of Voices of Virginia.

Marisa Prosser, PhD
Project Coordinator, Literature Review Committee Leader

With a PhD in psychological 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.

Having grown up in a "red" part of New York State and lived the past 15 years in "blue" cities, Marisa was discouraged by the decline in civic debate, broken friendships, and frayed family ties that emerged in the context of increasing political polarization. She believes anthropology can play a role in sharing stories—directly from the people, unfiltered by media—to increase understanding and foster empathy across the political aisle.

David Smith 
Project Coordinator, Grants/Fundraising Committee Leader

Russell Belcher,MA

Project Manager and Regional Coordinator for 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.

Kristi Moses, MAA

Kristi Moses has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in anthropology and am 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 Shenandoah 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, are liberals' understanding of conservativism accurate and vice versa?

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