Advisory Board

The board for the Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation provides exceptional service. Our board members give of their time to assist our staff in reviewing applications for both workshops and internships leading to placements, serving as internship supervisors, and sharing with our staff the best ways that we can reach out to students we may not otherwise reach. Big thank you current and past board members!

Current Members


Shannon A. Brogdon-Grantham is the Photograph and Paper Conservator at the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI). She is a graduate of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation where she focused on photograph conservation and had minor concentrations in paper and preventive conservation. She holds a B.A. in art from Spelman College. Prior to her current position, Shannon was a Smithsonian Institution Post-graduate Fellow in the Conservation of Museum Collections and was based at the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Shannon has held internships at the Center for Creative Photography, Paul Messier, LLC – Conservation of Photographs and Works on Paper, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of African Art, Southern Art Conservation, LLC, the Robert W. Woodruff Library – Atlanta University Center, and the Emory University Michael C. Carlos Museum. Shannon has also performed collection surveys and assessments of photograph and paper-based collections for the Longwood Gardens Archive and the Spelman College Archive. Shannon is active in her professional organizations and is a member of the American Institute for Conservation and the Washington Conservation Guild.


Tony Chavarria is the Curator of Ethnology at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology (MIAC/LAB) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A graduate of University of Colorado at Denver, he was the first Branigar Intern at the School of American Research in Santa Fe.  Tony has served as secretary and board member for the Council for Museum Anthropology, and a board member for the Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology, both sections of the American Anthropological Association. He has contributed to the publications A River Apart: The Pottery of Cochiti and Santo Domingo Pueblos, Painting a Native World: Life, Land and Animals and Here, Now and Always: Voices of the Native Southwest.  Among the exhibitions he has curated are the traveling exhibition Comic Art Indigene and Heartbeat: Music of the Native Southwest. He also served as a Community Liaison and Curator for the inaugural Pueblo exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. He resides and abides at Santa Clara Pueblo.


Bianca Garcia is the Assistant Conservator of Paintings at the Balboa Art Conservation Center, and the Program Manager for the Andrew W. Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation initiative. Bianca earned her M.S. in Art Conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation. She received her B.A. in Art Conservation at the University of Delaware. Ms. Garcia’s training includes internships at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Arts.


Leslie Guy has served as the Chief Curator of the DuSable Museum of African America History since 2016. At the DuSable, she is working on developing diverse and mission aligning programs for the museum’s multiple constituencies. Coming to DuSable with over twenty years of experience in the museum field Ms. Guy, has held curatorial, conservation and administrative positions. At The African American Museum In Philadelphia , she has curated several shows among which include: Badass Art Man:  The Work and Collection of Danny Simmons ( a poet, artist and collector who was the founder of Def Poetry Jam and recognized as one of the nation’s foremost collectors of Africa American art); Legendary (a show that featured the work of award winning photographer Gerard Gaskin who documented the LGBT ball scenes in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C and Atlanta for over twenty years); and, As They See It (an exhibition that placed the work of established artist in conversation with  a school based  art program that Ms. Guy developed).

In addition to work as a curator, Ms. Guy developed an IMLS funded Museum Management Program for minority doctoral students; oversaw a Save Americas Treasures funded preservation project for film based materials; taught Museum Studies at Lincoln University; and served as a Move Conservator at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. 


Caitlin Mahony is an objects conservator at the National Museum of the American Indian. Some of her interests include historic and contemporary basketry, care of outdoor sculptures, glass deterioration, and the processing and degradation of hides. Through all aspects of her work, she aims to further develop a collaborative practice in conservation through partnerships with and support of Native communities and artists. She works closely with her colleagues to implement the Conservation department’s Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship program. Previously, she was an assistant conservator in the Department of Objects Conservation for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, charged with the care and study of arts from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. She holds an MA from the UCLA/Getty Program for the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, and a BA in Anthropology from Skidmore College.


Muriel McClendon is a Professor of History at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). Professor McClendon’s research on the English Reformation has contributed significantly to our understandings of religious change and urban coexistence. Focusing particularly on Norwich (early modern England’s second largest city), McClendon has used the city archives to demonstrate how religious tolerance could outweigh personal conflict, even during an age of religious strife. She has also written on worker protest, urban economies, gender, saints’ days, and religious identities during the period. 

Alongside her scholarly contributions, Professor McClendon has served UCLA as Vice Chair for Graduate Affairs and Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. To be sure, she is a well-rounded academic who knows how to research and write history while dedicating time to ensure students of all backgrounds are welcome and supported on campus.


Nicole Passerotti is a member of the Seneca Nation, Bear Clan and was recently an assistant conservator at the Field Museum in Chicago. She holds an M.A. and Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from SUNY Buffalo State College. In 2019, as a program assistant for Untold Stories, she helped plan and participated in the “Indigenous Futures and Collaborative Conservation” closing session at the annual conference for the American Institute for Conservation. She also recently participated in the panel “Anthropo-seen: Confronting Controversial Collections and Navigating Visibility for Underrepresented Communities” at the Council for Museum Anthropology. As a panelist for the 2019 Chicagoland Women in Science Mixer she had the opportunity to encourage more diverse perspectives in the sciences. Her prior conservation experience includes a Samuel H. Kress Fellowship at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and work at the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University, the Kaymacki Archaeological Project in Turkey, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Cantor Center for the Arts at Stanford University, the de Young Museum, and the Textile Museum of Oaxaca. She received a B.A. in English from Oberlin College. Nicole is the Project Associate for the Andrew W. Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation.


From 1983-2005 Ellen Pearlstein was objects conservator at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, where she participated in NAGPRA. In 2005, Ellen assumed a faculty position in the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Material.  As a member of the founding faculty, Ellen and her colleagues designed curriculum, outfitted a laboratory, and Ellen began teaching graduate classes in the conservation of organic materials, ethics of working with indigenous communities, preventive conservation and managing collections.  In 2008, Ellen joined UCLA’s Department of Information Studies, and invited students interested in library and archive materials into her preservation and management classes.  Ellen’s research includes conservation of featherwork and basketry, effects of environmental agents on collections; pre- and post-Hispanic qeros from the Andes; and inclusion of community and curriculum development within conservation education.  Ellen is a Fellow in both the International and American Institutes for Conservation, winner of the Keck award, and President of the Association of North American Gradate Programs in Conservation. Ellen is the PI for both the pilot and implementation stages of the Andrew W. Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation.


Lylliam Posadas is the Repatriation and Community Research Manager at the Autry Museum of the American West and was previously the Assistant Curator of Archaeological Collections at the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Lylliam received an MSc in the Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials from University College London and a double BA in Anthropology and Psychology from UCLA. Lylliam has participated in field research, including efforts towards the preservation of sacred spaces, in Ghana, Peru, Louisiana, and California. Lylliam is interested in the processes that motivate and ensure the ethical development, maintenance, and sustainability of collaborative research and collections care practices and their relationship to institutional policies. Lylliam’s work focuses on systemic institutional change in support of repatriation, collections care and access, representation and diversity initiatives, as well the use of non-destructive and non-invasive analytical methods of investigating community-driven research questions. Lylliam also serves on several boards and committees including the Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation, the Society of American Archaeology Native American Scholarships Committee, and is also involved in Los Angeles-based efforts supporting community-driven research and leadership.


Landis Smith is projects conservator at the Museums of New Mexico Conservation Unit; consultant at the at the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research; and research associate at the National Museum of the American Indian.  With over 35 years of experience, Landis was previously Anchorage Project Conservator at the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History and Conservator in the Department of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, NY. At the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research, Landis co-facilitated a multi-year process to develop an online resource for communities and museums engaging in collaborative work (guidelinesforcollaboration.info). She continues to focus on collaborative conservation and documentation methodologies with Native American artists, elders and cultural leaders. Landis serves on several non-profit boards including the Haak’u Museum at Acoma Pueblo and the Mellon Diversity Opportunity at the UCLA/Getty Graduate Program in Conservation.


Charlene Villaseñor Blackis Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She recently edited Tradition and Transformation: Chicana/o Art from the 1970s to the 1990s, and a dossier on teaching Latina/o art in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. Her widely reviewed 2006 book, Creating the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire, was awarded the College Art Association Millard Meiss subvention. She has held grants from the Fulbright, Mellon, Borchard, and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, the NEH, the ACLS, and the Getty. She is Associate Director of UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center, and the editor of Aztlán. In 2016 she was awarded UCLA’s Gold Shield Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence.


Former Members


Martina Dawley (Hualapai/Navajo) (Board member through March 2019), is the Assistant Curator for American Indian Relations at the Arizona State Museum and University of Arizona faculty member. Dr. Dawley earned her Ph.D. (2013) and M.A. (2009) in American Indian Studies, and her B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Geology (2006) at the University of Arizona. She became interested in museums while working at ASM as a McNair Scholar in 2006; and continued to work as a student employee in the conservation lab from 2008 to 2013. Dawley was hired full time in her current position in the fall of 2013 at the ASM. Her main responsibilities include managing ASM’s Southwest Native Nations Advisory Board, serving on ASM’s repatriation, exhibit, and faculty committees, working as advisor, mentor, and collaborator with university students and faculty, and researching the intersection of American Indians and museums. Her research focuses on source community members as conservators in museums and the factors that determined their career path.


Marian A. Kaminitz (Board member through December 2019) became the first Head of Conservation at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution in 1991. Previously, she was Assistant Conservator in the Anthropology Department of the American Museum of Natural History, New York and an Adjunct Professor of Conservation at the New York University’s Conservation Center, teaching a course in the conservation of organic ethnographic and archaeological objects. She served as the Coordinator for the Ethnographic Working Group of ICOM-CC and subsequently as an assistant coordinator.  Her primary interests include indigenous representation in the preservation of their cultural materials; the training of conservation fellows and interns; conservation partnerships with Native communities and artists; and demographic diversification of the conservation profession.  Since the early 1990s, through this commitment, the NMAI Conservation Department has become renown worldwide as one of the top places interns and fellows can gain experience collaborating with Native people in the conservation of their cultural materials. In 2013, she was a recipient of the Sheldon and Caroline Keck Award recognizing her sustained record of excellence in the education and training of conservation professionals.  She is a graduate from the University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum Program in Art Conservation with a Master of Science in the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works and was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Pacific Regional Conservation Center, Bishop Museum in Honolulu, HI.


Kelly McHugh (Board Member through January 2018) became the Head of Collections Care and Stewardship at the National Museum of the American Indian in 2018.  Previously, she served as an object conservator where she began working for the museum in 1996 at NMAI’s Research Branch facility in the Bronx, NY.  There she participated in a survey of the over 800,000 objects in the collection, prior to the collections move to the Cultural Resources Center in Maryland. As a conservator she played an active role in the development of collaborative conservation practices for the care of Native American collections.  She continues to broaden the scope of collaboration and partnership with the Museum’s constituency through collections access, cultural protocol policy and artistic revitalization.  She received her MA Art History with a Certificate in Conservation from New York University, Institute of Fine Arts and her BA in Art History and Peace and Global Policy Studies again from New York University.


Shannon Speed (Board member through April 2018) a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, and is Director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center. Dr. Speed has worked for the last two decades in Mexico, and her research and teaching interests include indigenous politics, legal anthropology, human rights, neoliberalism, gender, indigenous migration, and activist research.


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