Cathy N. DavidsonCathyTall

Founding Director

Cathy N. Davidson is the Founding Director of the Futures Initiative and a Distinguished Professor in the Ph.D. Program in English at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She is co-director of the CUNY Humanities Alliance, a program in partnership with LaGuardia Community College, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and dedicated to training graduate students to teach in community colleges.

Davidson is also Director of HASTAC, the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (, the world’s first and oldest academic social network, which she co-founded in 2002. HASTAC has over 15,000 network members “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn.” She is co-PI of Digital Media and Learning Competitions, administered by HASTAC and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. These competitions have awarded more than $10 million in grant funding to support nearly one hundred innovative projects operating around the world.

Davidson is a renowned scholar of cultural history and technology, including the history of the book, the history of industrialism and postindustrialism, digital humanities, and the impact of new technologies on culture, cognition, learning, and the workplace. Currently, her scholarship focuses on the future of higher education, including in The New Education: How To Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux (forthcoming, Basic Books, September 2017).

Davidson previously taught at Duke University for more than two decades, where she was the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies. From 1998 to 2006, she also served as Duke University’s (and the nation’s) first Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies, working with faculty and students to design more than seventy pioneering new cross-campus programs, technologies, and institutes.

She has published more than twenty books, including Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America (Oxford University Press, expanded edition, 2004), The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, with David Theo Goldberg (MIT Press, 2010), and Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking, 2011). A frequent speaker and consultant on institutional change at universities, corporations, nonprofits, and other organizations, she writes for the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Post, and Times Higher Ed, among others.

President Obama appointed her to the National Council on the Humanities (2011-2017). In 2012, Davidson was named the first educator to serve on the board of directors of Mozilla, and, in 2012, she received the Educator of the Year Award (with HASTAC cofounder David Theo Goldberg) from the World Technology Network. She is the 2016 recipient of the Ernest J. Boyer Award for Significant Contributions to Higher Education.


Katina RogersKatinaTall

Director, Programs and Administration

As the Futures Initiative’s Director of Administration and Programs, Katina Rogers guides and mentors graduate fellows, develops programming, and exercises administrative oversight over all aspects of the program. Her scholarly work focuses on many aspects of higher education reform, including scholarly communication practices, professionalization and career development, public scholarship, and advocacy for fair labor policies. She is working on a book titled Putting the Humanities Ph.D. to Work: Theory, Practice, and Models for Thriving Beyond the Classroom (under contract with Duke University Press). Rogers is the editor of #Alt-Academy, a digital publication dedicated to exploring the career paths of humanities scholars in and around the academy, and holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder.


Lauren MelendezLaurenTall

Undergraduate Peer Mentoring Director and Administrative Specialist

Lauren previously worked at ESPN Audio in Network Radio within the Sales Planning Department. In this role she coordinated with the Network Sales Team on stewarding General Market, Hispanic, Digital, and Remnant inventory with, pricing, clearing Network Audio buys, and worked with the finance department to expedite credit approvals, billing and several other administrative responsibilities. Lauren has been in the Media Industry for the last seven years and has worked in sales and buying roles at Fox Station Sales, as well as at Initiative Advertising Agency. Lauren is very excited in making the transition from Media into working here at the Graduate Center as an administrative specialist of the Futures Initiative and HASTAC. Lauren is also attending Graduate School at Hunter College in counseling. Lauren feels the admin role here at CUNY will be a great learning experience and growth opportunity, and she is excited by the prospect of working with undergraduate students in the CUNY colleges and community colleges as part of her position at the Futures Initiative.

Photo of Celi LebronCeli Lebron

Budget Manager

Celi Lebron is the Futures Initiative’s Budget Manager. She recently graduated from City College of New York with a B.S. in Computer Engineering and a minor in creative writing (in English—her second language). During her studies, Celi discovered her interest in finance and began working at the Art Department of City College of New York, where she managed the department’s budget. In addition to her role with the Futures Initiative, she works as a Brand Activation Manager for Anheuser-Busch InBev. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Celi is bilingual and began her CUNY trajectory at Hostos Community College, where she developed a strong community of peers while learning to navigate the U.S. higher education system. She hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in Finance and Economics.

Frances Tran

Postdoctoral Fellow and Interim Associate Director 

Frances Tran received her PhD in English and a certificate in American Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center in spring 2016. Her dissertation, “Animate Impossibilities: on Asian Americanist Critique, Racialization, and the Humanities,” received the Alumni and Doctoral Faculty Prize for the Most Distinguished Dissertation of the Year Award from the English program. Frances is excited to return to CUNY as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and the Interim Associate Director of the Futures Initiative. Her research draws on Asian American and multiethnic science and speculative fictions for the insights they offer into new modes of sensing, un-learning, and becoming that articulate pedagogies and practices for critiquing persisting forms of institutionalized racism. Engaging the speculative as variously a literary genre, research method, and critical practice, her scholarship strives to create space for realizing “other” humanities attuned to the continuing materiality of racial difference and social inequality. Frances hopes to continue advancing her commitments to public education and antiracist pedagogy through her work with the Futures Initiative.