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Dr. Paul Ortiz, Program Director

Dr. Paul Ortíz in front of tree leavesDr. Paul Ortiz has been the director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program since the fall semester, 2008. Under his leadership, SPOHP has received three national academic awards and has raised more than one million dollars in grants and contracts. During this time, SPOHP’s social justice research methodologies have been emulated by scholars and oral history programs throughout the world. SPOHP undergraduates and graduate students have embarked on dozens of major oral history field work trips in the United States, and students have presented their research at academic conferences, community organizing workshops, and public history panels. SPOHP alumni have become professors at institutions such as Emory University, Texas A & M, and the University of Kentucky while former undergraduates have matriculated to elite law schools including Duke, Georgetown, and Howard universities.

His publications include Emancipation Betrayed (University of California Press), a history of the Black Freedom struggle in Florida, and Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Jim Crow South (New Press), which went into its fourth printing in 2014. His latest book, An African American and Latinx History of the United States,  is the 2018 Winner of the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award. Dr. Ortiz was president of the Oral History Association for the 2014-2015 term, and has previously served as Vice-President as well as chair of the nominating committee for the OHA.

Professor Ortiz is currently the faculty adviser for UF chapter of the Dream Defenders, Students for a Democratic Society, Venezuelan Students Association and CHISPAS. He was awarded the 2013 César E. Chávez Action and Commitment Award by the Florida Education Association, AFL-CIO. The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program received the Oral History Association’s 2013 Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi Award for outstanding achievement in using oral history to create a more humane and just world. He was the recipient of the Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Award in 2014 for contributions to civil rights and social justice. He is membership chair for the United Faculty of Florida University of Florida union chapter.

Paul serves on the international editorial boards for Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies as well as for Palgrave Studies in Oral History, Palgrave Macmillan Books. He has served as a Post-Doctoral Faculty Mentor for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation as well as for the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program.

Professor Ortiz received his Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 2000.  He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Evergreen State College in 1990 in History and Political Economy after transferring from Olympic Community College. For Dr. Ortiz’s full biography, please see Dr. Paul Ortiz – Director 2008-present.

Dr. Ryan Morini, SPOHP Associate Program Director

Dr. Ryan Morini began his work with SPOHP in 2010 as a graduate research coordinator for the African American History Project (AAHP). He received his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from UF in May 2014. Ryan has worked with Western Shoshone communities in central Nevada since 2008, focusing on social memory and critical approaches to heritage.

His research has been supported by the Sven and Astrid Liljeblad Fund, the Jacobs Fund, the Southwest Oral History Association, the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, and the Great Basin National Heritage Area Partnership. He was a 2013 recipient of the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences O. Ruth McQuown Scholarship Award.

His current Nevada research is historic ethnography of cultural and social dimensions of Shoshone land use and ownership in the 19th and early 20th centuries–or, in a different turn of phrase, a heritage ethnography of New survivance. A significant focus of the project will also be the re-examination of the field notes of anthropologist Julian Steward, whose work with Western Shoshones has long been canonical not only for students of the Great Basin, but social scientists throughout the world. This project is intended to demonstrate the ways in which Western Shoshone culture, rather than being a remnant from a prior era or a hindrance in “adapting” to the colonized landscape, is in fact a resource that Shoshones throughout the years have used in diverse ways to empower their communities and build up opportunities for future generations.

Ryan also continues to work closely with AAHP, conducting interviews with community members not only in Alachua County, but also in the counties of Hamilton, Marion, Levy, Putnam, St. Johns, Gadsden, Leon, Escambia, and others besides.

Tamarra Jenkins, Administrative Specialist I

Image of Tamarra JenkinsTamarra Jenkins has been the Office Manager for the Proctor Program since 2010. In her capacity as Office Manager she oversees all HR, fiscal and C&G matters. She has assisted with the creation and submission of numerous grants to major funding organizations, including the Florida Humanities Council, U.S. National Park Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She works directly under the Director of SPOHP and closely with all Proctor Program staff and students to ensure their academic and professional needs are met. Her credentials for the current position she holds has been cultivated through her 9 years of service at UF; starting as a student assistant with the UF International Center to several years as a program assistant in the College of Engineering. Over this time she has obtained PRO3 Series certificates in HR/Payroll Management, Fiscal Management and Business Communication. 

With the accounting knowledge she possesses, Ms. Jenkins was appointed to the Oral History Associations 2015-2016 Finance Committee and collaborated with other business professionals to review current OHA practices and recommend ways they can be tailored to enhance efficiency. She is currently a participant of the University’s Employee Education Program, enrolled ¾ time at Santa Fe College, pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Business Administration Management. All of Tamarra’s free time, is used to support her children’s academic and athletic endeavors.

In 2016, Ms. Jenkins won the University of Florida Superior Staff Accomplishment Award.

Tamarra manages the schedules of approximately 50 students, staff, visiting faculty in order to maximize SPOHP’s ability to serve the UF campus and broader communities. Tamarra manages SPOHP’s budget, a large amount of contract invoices as well as SPOHP’s ongoing development and fundraising that sustain our ability to provide educational services to faculty, students and staff at UF including vital experiential field work opportunities. Tamarra provides guidance to graduate students, undergraduates as well as to visiting faculty, volunteers, and members of the public who rely on SPOHP to fulfill UF’s goals in teaching, service and research.

For any matters concerning the Proctor Program, please contact Ms. Jenkins via phone at 352-392-7168 or email:

Deborah Hendrix, Digital Humanities Production Coordinator

Image of Deborah hendrixDeborah Hendrix is SPOHP’s Digital Humanities Coordinator, where she serves as Archivist and Videographer, and has worked with the program since 2000. Born on St. Simons Island, Georgia, Deborah graduated Glynn Academy High School in 1972 and attended Brunswick Junior College, where she received an A.S. degree in Marine Biology and Medical Technology. Deborah worked as invertebrate technician with Dr. Eugene Keferl, also tagged loggerhead turtles on Jekyll Island with Dr. Archie Carr. Deborah worked in hospital laboratories as a medical technician in Brunswick, GA, Houston, TX, and Gainesville, before returning to school to get a graphic design degree from Santa Fe Community College in 2000.

In 2006, Deborah received a B.A. in History and a minor in Anthropology at the University of Florida. Deborah has studied film and video editing since 1990, and attended a one-month immersive film school at Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine, in July/August of 2010. In 2016, Deborah won the University of Florida Superior Staff Accomplishment Award.

Currently, Deborah is SPOHP’s expert on digital processing and archival methods and our main connection to digital archivists at Smathers Libraries. In this capacity, Deborah is responsible for managing SPOHP’s 7,500+ collection of oral history interviews and making these ultimately accessible to students, scholars and members of the general public. Deborah answers questions from scholars from across the world who have queries about UF’s Oral History holdings. Deborah’s expertise in digital humanities is sought out by organizations across the country and she has served on several national Oral History Association committees.

Sandra Romero, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Project Coordinator

Image of Sandra RomeroSandra Romero received her Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Studies in Fall 2016. Sandra began working with SPOHP as a transcriber for oral histories in Fall 2015. In 2016, she founded the HBCU Project which documents the legacies and importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities through the interviews of alumni and current students. She is also a leading transcriptionist for the African-American History Project. Sandra has recently joined the Poarch Creek Project, transcribing archival audio records within the Hugo Rozelle Collection. She has worked on the Annual Virginia Fieldwork in Folklore Trip and also was the leading coordinator for the Melrose “Back in the Day” trip this year. Sandra hopes expand her project on a high school level and also hopes to receive her Master’s in the next few years.

George Topalidis, Florida Judges Project Staff

Image of George TopalidisGeorge Topalidis is a P.h.D student in the Sociology, Criminal Justice and Law Department at the University of Florida. George is working on the Florida Judges Project which focuses on interviewing retiring judges from the three districts of Florida.

His research interests include Race and Ethnicity, Migration, and Social Memory studies. The subject area of his research is early 20th-century emigration of Ottoman Greeks from the Ottoman Empire to the United States. George established the Ottoman Greeks of the United States Project (OGUS) at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program in the Spring of 2016 and is collecting data to expand the project’s capabilities. He recently published an Op-Ed in the Gainesville Sun which was based on a podcast he composed in December of 2016. The podcast is entitled, The Acropolis and the Madonna: A Case Study of Refugee Deportation from the United States. In Fall of 2019, George will be presenting his work entitled, An Imagined Community: Claiming Ottoman Space as Greek, at the Modern Greek Studies Association Conference in Sacramento, California. In May of 2020, George is going to be conducting interviews with second and third generation descendants of immigrants from the former Ottoman Empire in one or more of the following communities: Philadelphia, Jersey City, Houston, Detroit, Chicago.

Patrick Russell, South Florida Veterans History Project

Image of Patrick RussellPatrick Russell, Esq. is a Senior Attorney with The Florida Bar, and an oral historian and director for the Making History Project. The Making History Project is non-profit organization that Patrick started in 2014 to preserve the memories and stories of Veterans through video oral history interviews. The research interest for this project probes whether and to what extent combat related trauma affected World War II Veterans. The goal of this research is to ultimately compare and contrast World War II Veteran experiences with Veterans of other wars to gauge differences and similarities.  Current public outcomes for the project include dissemination of the oral history interviews with the archives of the U.S. Library of Congress, National World War II Museum, and of course with the University of Florida Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

Patrick became interested in World War II at an early age upon learning his grandfather was a World War II Veteran.  Patrick’s main research interests for World War II in addition to combat trauma include D-Day, the Eastern Front, and genocide.  To that end, Patrick has traveled to numerous battlefields and museums throughout the world including England, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Italy and Russia. In addition, Patrick Russell has presented at the 2015 Oral History Association Conference (“War and Peace: WWII Trauma 70-Years Later) and the 2014 Midwest World History Association Conference (“HungerKrieg: The War of the Calorie During World War II”). Patrick embraces technology and intends to curate his oral history interviews online at his project website and make them searchable with OHMS.  Patrick Russell obtained his undergraduate degree in Political Science with a minor in History from Marquette University in 1990 and a law degree from the University of Miami in 1993.

Kendra Blandon, Latinx Diaspora Project Coordinator

Kendra Blandon is an undergraduate student majoring in Religion and International Studies with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. She began working for SPOHP in Fall 2016 as a transcriber and translator for LDAP. Kendra collected oral histories at the 2017 D.C. Pride March and at various events and protests around the March for Florida Queer History and served as a research panelist. Kendra is currently working on a large community mural project to showcase the intersectionality of faith, immigrant narratives, and Gainesville history. 

As an intern in fall 2017, Kendra interviewed undocumented and DACAmented students in Florida and aided in the creation of UndocuPeers, a training presentation for UF faculty and staff on DACA. Kendra also serves as the Executive Director for Hispanic Heritage Month and hopes to attend law school to pursue a career in refugee law. 

Kendra is a student passionate about immigration, civil rights, and religious studies. Her dream is to work as an immigration attorney specializing in religious asylum. Her hobbies include dancing, rock climbing, and taking care of her home aquarium.

Aliya Miranda, Digital Productions and Outreach Coordinator

Aliya Miranda grew up in Gainesville, Florida and began work with SPOHP in the Summer of 2016. They started as the Florida Queer History Project’s first volunteer transcriber before being hired on as a student assistant. As a digital media coordinator they have worked to create flyers, newsletters, podcasts and promotional web campaigns. They have participated in oral history fieldwork for a number of different SPOHP collections and have also led several fieldwork projects including the No Nazis at UF project and the March For Our Lives project. They are also incredibly passionate about SPOHP’s PUNK project which seeks to document the narratives of LGBT, gender queer, POC, and female folks who inhabit punk and DIY spaces here and around the world.
Currently they head SPOHP’s documentaries team with Juanita Duque and the LDAP team as they create a two-part film detailing a history of Black and Latinx resistance at the University of Florida. These films highlight the origins of the Institute of Black Culture and the Institute for Hispanic-Latino Cultures and how students have fought to maintain the structural and historical integrity of these spaces to this day.

Grace Chun, Poarch Creek Project Archivist, MFP Co-Coordinator

Image of Grace ChunGrace Chun grew up mostly in Central Florida. She first joined SPOHP Fall 2017 as an intern working on the Voices of Dreamers Project interviewing undocumented students at UF and UCF. She is currently the project coordinator for the Poarch Creek Project as well as a project co-coordinator for the Mississippi Freedom Project. Her research interests include the movement of people, citizenship, and belonging. She is an avid podcast listener and hopes to make audio stories of her own.

Juanita Duque, Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project Coordinator

Image of Juanita DuqueJuanita Duque was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She began working at SPOHP in 2017 after obtaining her M.A. from the Center of Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. Her research interests are centered on issues of power asymmetries, socio-political and environmental justice, as well as degrowth. At SPOHP, Juanita serves as Coordinator of the Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project.

Dr. Francesc Morales, Digital Humanities Coordinator

Dr. Francesc Morales received his PhD in Romance Languages-Spanish from the University of Florida in May 2018. His dissertation research focused on the nationalism in Spain through the lens of archeology, and he continues to do politics and cultural research within European and American contexts. He had been a graduate assistant at UF since 2010, with the support of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, and the UF Libraries. He also holds a certificate in Latin American Studies, and an MA in Spanish from UF, as well as degrees in History and Digital Humanities from two different universities in Spain. At the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Francesc is involved in the History of Jewish Community in El Salvador project, as part of a larger project, the Latina/o Diaspora in the Americas Project. This work consists of digital production coupled with transcription and translation of Spanish-language materials, along with conducting oral history interviews on Hispanic history.

Elisabeth Rios-Brooks, African American History Project (AAHP)

Image of Elisabeth Rios-BrooksElisabeth Rios-Brooks is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida, who is double-majoring in Anthropology and International Studies, with a focus on Africa. While participating in SPOHP’s 2017 Fall Semester internship program, she co-wrote a play about her experiences during the Women’s March on Washington. In 2018 she became a staff member, and is working on the African American History Project’s March 2019 Symposium. In addition to her work at SPOHP, Elisabeth is very involved in the UF community, as the Vice President of the African Student Union, as well as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Her research is focused on code-switching in the Afro-Latinx community at UF.

Maria Espinoza, Poach Creek Project and Latinx Diaspora in the Americas (LDAP)

Maria Espinoza grew up in Guanajuato, Mexico and Immokalee, Florida. Throughout her upbringing, she traveled with her family as migrant farmworkers and worked in various east coast states. Currently she is a student at the University of Florida majoring in Criminology with a minor in Latin American Studies. She joined SPOHP the spring semester of 2017. She currently works on the Poarch Creek Project and the Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project. Her reserach focus is on the intersections between labor, race and ethnicity, and immigration. She hopes to work with labor and immigration organizations fighting for a more comprehensive and just immigration reform. She spends her free time FaceTiming with her adorable nieces and nephew.

Kasamba Kokayi, Transcriptionist for the African American History Project

Kasamba Kokayi is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in communications with a focus on photojournalism. Kasamba first joined SPOHP in the summer of 2019 working as a transcriber for transcripts from the African American History Project (AAHP). Kasamba plans on pursuing a career in entertainment photography after graduation.


Marcus Chatfield, Art of Aging Project

Marcus Chatfield is a PhD student studying US History at the University of Florida. He received an Individualized Bachelor of Arts degree at Goddard College in 2013 and a Master of Science degree in 2018 at the University of Florida. His undergraduate studies focused on developing theoretical approaches for the prevention of psychological abuse and harm in teen treatment settings. His graduate thesis in the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences was a qualitative study titled, “Adult Perspectives on Totalistic Teen Treatment: Experiences and Impact.” For this research, he interviewed 30 adults who provided first-hand accounts about the experiences, immediate effects, and long-term impacts of highly totalistic treatment programs. Marcus is interested in the way intensive group reform methods were developed and applied to American youth during the twentieth century. He is also interested in the history of racial disparities in our nation’s approaches to problematic youth behavior. His essays about the teen programming industry are online at Op-Ed News and POINTS: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society. A summary of his graduate thesis was published in an essay collection titled, Child Maltreatment in Insular & Isolated Communities (2018), which was compiled by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and the Field Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Keely Luttrell, Social Media Co-Director, Podcast Producer, Punk Project

Keely Luttrell is a fourth-year undergraduate student, majoring in History and Economics with a minor in Statistics. She specializes in 18th and 19th century European and American history, with special focuses on gender, sexuality, and political history. She first came on to SPOHP as a volunteer, eventually becoming an intern and now student assistant as of Fall 2018.  She currently runs SPOHP’s social media platforms and assists with creating outreach materials for the program. This year she is working on her senior thesis in history, which focuses on the Temple of Friendship built by Frederick the Great in the 18th century and examining portrayals of women and friendship in Enlightenment Europe. She is a Fulbright Semi-finalist to Bulgaria and she hopes to work with developing more digital humanities to make academic research more accessible to education systems and the general public.

Omar Sanchez, Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project

Omar Sanchez is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in English with a focus on cultural studies. Omar first joined SPOHP in October 2018 as a volunteer on the Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project. Later he became an intern for the Truth and Reconciliation Project in Newberry in the summer of 2019. Recently worked on the Mississippi Freedom Project and is currently a staff member for the Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project. In the future he plans to pursue a doctorate in Latinx Studies and hopeful be able to teach the next generation of students about the impact Latinx people have made on the United States.

Ray Eberling, Veterans History Project Co-Coordinator

Ray Eberling is a retired United States Air Force lieutenant colonel who spent the majority of his career as a KC-135 navigator for both the Strategic Air Command and the Air National Guard. He later held staff positions with the National Guard Bureau, Pentagon; the United States Special Operations Command; and Headquarters, United States Air Forces, Europe (USAFE). A 1970 graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, after retiring from the Air Force he earned a Master of Arts in American Studies from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, utilizing the GI Bill. In 2010 he was the recipient of the SPOHP’s Julian Pleasants Travel Award while pursuing a doctorate at Heidelberg.

In the past Ray has been an adjunct for Eckerd College’s American Studies program, where he taught a course titled, “The US Military in American Society.” He also served as a volunteer for the SPOHP in 2012 and 2013, conducting oral histories with Vietnam veterans as well as members of the 1973 “Gainesville 8” conspiracy trial.

Isabella Oliver, Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project

Isabella Oliver is a first-generation immigrant from Caracas, Venezuela. Currently studying International Studies and Political Science, she is passionate about human rights and immigration. She believes documenting the stories of marginalized communities is key in order to understand these perspectives from the point of view of those afflicted, not assigning them a narrative constructed by others. She hopes to work in human rights advocacy in the future with a special focus on Latin America and is a student assistant at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

Adolfho Romero, Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project

Adolfho Romero was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. While growing up, he had a fascination for participating in social community events. From attending leadership camps through ENLACE to engaging in helping his community. Adolfho has gained confidence in developing an affinity for Latin American Studies and learning about contemporary urban, social, race, and transnational issues.


Don Obrist, Veterans History Project Co-Coordinator

Don Obrist joined SPOHP in 2011 after retiring from a 38-year career in consumer product sales and marketing in Upstate New York.  He has interviewed Veterans who have served in World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War of 1990-1991.

In the Fall of 2015, Don presented at the Annual Oral History Association Conference, in Tampa, Fl, “Veterans of WW II Tell Their Stories”.  Don also works to develop greater awareness of SPOHP by presenting to a number of Veterans groups.

Don has a B.A. degree in Political Science from the State University of New York, and an M.B.A. from Syracuse University. He served for six years in the New York Army National Guard 42nd Rainbow Division.

Julian Valdivia, African American History Project

Julian Valdivia was born and raised in Cape Coral, Florida, and is currently a 4th year undergraduate in the History Department at the University of Florida. While he primarily works on AAHP, he specializes in Southwest Florida history and was involved in the digitization of the Lee County Collection. While working as one of SPOHP’s University Scholars in the 2018-2019 school year he travelled to Fort Myers and over conducted twenty interviews with community elders in Dunbar, one of the area’s historically Black neighborhoods. Using these resources, he wrote his senior thesis, That’s Just the Way It Is: The Legacy of Jim Crow in Lee County, Florida, and smaller related work that has been approved for publication in the Journal of Undergraduate Research, The Integration of Schools in Lee County, Florida. This semester he’ll be continuing his work on AAHP and working to digitize new recovered tapes from Lee County over the past summer.

Olivia Lafuente, Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project

Olivia Lafuente is a second-year undergraduate student who is majoring in Anthropology and Environmental Science. She grew up in Miami, Florida to a Cuban immigrant family. Olivia first joined SPOHP in the spring of 2019 while interning with Ryan Morini for the African American History Project. She is interested in food and culture, as well as the intersection between culture and its effects on the environment. She is currently working on a project for White Springs, Florida under AAHP and getting started with the Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project. Most recently, she created a documentary highlighting Teddy Bear Marshall, a prominent member of the White Springs community, and how he built his sense of community around the food he cooks. Check out the documentary here:

Megan Sam, Truth and Reconciliation Project, Poarch Creek Project

Megan Sam is a second-year undergraduate student, who is double-majoring in Sociology and Sustainability Studies. Megan first joined SPOHP in the summer of 2019 as an intern for the Truth and Reconciliation Project in Newberry, and now works as a transcriber for the Poarch Creek Project. After graduation she plans to pursue a career in sustainability

Rachel Hujsa, African American History Project, Alachua County Truth and Reconciliation Project

Rachel Hujsa is a third-year undergrad at the University of Florida from Fort Myers, Florida. She is double-majoring in Music with a focus on oboe performance and history. Rachel first joined SPOHP in Spring 2019 as an intern working for the African American History Project, where she interviewed prominent African American music professors at UF. She began working for SPOHP in Fall 2019 as a transcriptionist and is working for the Alachua County Truth and Reconciliation Project. She is interested in musicology and ethnomusicology, as well as American History.


For additional information, contact SPOHP, call the offices at (352) 392-7168, and connect with us online today.