Meet Our Instructors



Rozzell Medina, Lead Instructor

Rozzell's passion for teaching is rooted in a belief that people learning together, in community, can greatly improve people's lives and our society as a whole. However, this won't happen if we model our classrooms and learning communities after institutions that harm people and the health of our society. So Rozzell looks to nature, Indigeneity, art, and liberation for inspiration to create healthy and creative learning communities. In addition to managing programs and serving as the lead instructor of Humanity in Perspective, Rozzell is the festival director of the Portland EcoFilm Festival. Previously, he founded and directed the creative learning nonprofit, Public Social University, which transformed art galleries, cafes, museums, and public parks into free,  temporary community schools. He also directed the Chiron Studies program at Portland State University, which enabled students to create, design, and instruct official, for-credit classes.

Rozzell grew up in and around Choctaw, Oklahoma; San Francisco, California; and San Antonio, Texas. He has lived in Portland for about 20 years, though he loves wandering off now and then, mostly to visit ancestral homelands in Mexico and New Mexico. 

 

Nakisha Nathan, Instructor
Nakisha is dedicated to co-creating learning spaces where people can enhance their sense of belonging and their capacity for leadership. She is inspired by memories of playing, learning, and photographing flora and fauna during her formative years when she lived in Panama, Canada, and throughout the United States. 

Her experiences, combined with her work organizing for laws and programs that protect people, wildlife, and the environment, continue to inform her philosophy and practice of education, leadership, and movement building. She believes that many of us who face the greatest barriers also have the expertise to transform our communities and cities but are often granted the fewest opportunities to do so. Nakisha also believes that principles of environmental justice and deep democracy are key to helping build communities that enhance our ecological and social well-being. 

She has lived in Portland for nearly ten years and looks forward to traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest and Central America as often as possible. In the meantime, she continues her quest to find and meet every member of the Araucaria Araucana species in the Portland metro area.

Image description: Against a blurry background of rocks and ocean, a close-up of the artist Carmen Papalia, an olive-skinned man with brown eyes, a dark, close-trimmed beard, and a gray hat.

Carmen Papalia, Instructor

Carmen is a nonvisual social practice artist with severe chronic and episodic pain. In 2021 he co-founded the Open Access Foundation for Arts & Culture (OAFAC), a pandemic-era cultural organization that aims to set a new cultural standard for accessibility by nurturing creative and justice-oriented accessibility practices. Addressing the limited representation of those with lived experience of disability in leadership roles within the visual and performing arts, OAFAC’s activities advance disability culture and artistry within a contemporary art context through disability-led trainings, curation, public engagements, exhibitions, performances, educational campaigns, and site-specific project development with artists, curators, and cultural workers.

Since 2009, Papalia has used organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, art institutions, and visual culture. As a convener, he establishes welcoming spaces where disabled, sick, and chronically ill people can build capacity for care that they lack on account of governmental failure and medical ableism. His work, which takes forms ranging from collaborative performance to public intervention, is a response to the harms of the Medical Model of Disability, a framework that erases disability experience by reinforcing ableist concepts of normalcy.

In 2020, Papalia was one of 25 artists who received the Sobey Art Award; in 2019 he was a Sobey long list recipient in the West Coast/Yukon region. Papalia also received the 2014 Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary, which supported a three-month residency at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the 2013 Wynn Newhouse Award. His work has been featured at: The Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Tate Liverpool, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Gallery Gachet, among others.

 


Brianna Brawley, Teaching Assistant

Brianna loves community-centered work and has found herself deeply invested in liberatory and transformative education. Brianna is an avid gardener and educator who draws on the wisdom of living systems as teachers. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, baking, going for walks, and spending time with her kitten. She is a first-year graduate student in the Portland State University Leadership for Sustainability Education program and is excited to work with Oregon Humanities as the HIP Teaching Assistant! In her time with the HIP program, Brianna hopes to help students focus on their personal leadership journeys, emphasizing self-advocacy, values-driven work, and relationship building.

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