Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists


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Dr. Frances Norwood, Ph.D
Principal Investigator

Dr. Frances Norwood is a medical anthropologist and long-time WAPA member.  During the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, Dr. Norwood was President of WAPA and as members called WAPA to act in response to rhetoric and policy leading up to and following the elections, a workgroup was formed. Two actions came out of this workgroup.  One was a public response by WAPA directed to the new administration and the second was the formation of Voices of Virginia.

When asked why Voices of Virginia was formed, Dr. Norwood replied, “It was an idea based on my experience growing up in rural North Carolina.  Where I’m from many of my friends and neighbors probably vote differently than I do, but that doesn’t mean we don’t share the same concerns and hold many of the same values.  In a small town, your kids go to school together and your neighbors are the first ones to help out when a storm comes through.  This project is about bringing what we as anthropologists do best to this current period of social crisis, so we are bringing ethnography to this problem.”  Voices of Virginia is WAPA’s response to the divisive rhetoric that dominates politics and media and includes anthropologists from the greater DC region and across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Dr. Norwood adds, “We could not do this without our volunteers, the communities and organizations across Virginia that are agreeing to participate. Ultimately, this project is about bridging what appears to divide us.”

Victoria X. Danner, M.A.A, 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.

Dr. Marisa Prosser, Ph.D 
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
Appalachia and Southwest Virginia Regional Coordinator

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.

Terilee Edwards, Ph.D
Northern Virginia Co-Regional Coordinator

Kristi Moses, M.A.A

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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