Course Director and Philosophy Professor
Professor Kittay teaches at Columbia University in the Department of Religion specializing in courses in Eastern and Western philosophy and religion, most recently, “Technology, Religion, Future,” “Interpreting Buddhist Yoga: Hermeneutics East and West,” “Law and Religion,” and “Contemporary Civilization.” Dr. Kittay is also a trial and civil rights lawyer, Federal Bankruptcy Trustee and a receiver for the United States Securities Exchange Commission. He has his M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Columbia University and his J.D. from Boston University, and is the President of the Tibetan Classics Translators Guild of New York, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the national Clemente organization and Tibet House US. Dr. Kittay also writes and lectures on legal ethics and compassionate lawyering.
Academic Director and Political Theory Professor
Charlene Floyd completed her Ph.D. in Political Science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her research interest in religion and politics has taken her to the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico, where she studied the role of the Catholic Church in the process of democratization, and closer to home including the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dallas, Texas, and the streets of Brooklyn, New York, where she considered the connection between faith and politics in contemporary American Protestantism. Charlene taught in the doctoral program at New York Theological Seminary, has been privileged to teach political science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Baruch College. She is currently teaching in the John Jay College Prison to College Pipeline Program.
Director of Writing and Critical Thinking
Katy Lasell is a social worker, community organizer and educator based in Brooklyn. She previously worked as the Program Manager for the Writing and Speaking Fellows at Barnard College, where she partnered with over one hundred students each year to develop their writing skills and processes. She’s organized in the movement for single payer healthcare, and in local struggles against neighborhood rezonings & gentrification. In 2021, earned her Master’s of Social Work, in the Community Organizing, Planning and Development track, and with a Policy speciality, from Hunter’s Silberman School of Social Work. Her professional interests include harm reduction, prison abolition, housing justice, and feminist pedagogy.
Law and Linguistics Professor
Alex is currently pursuing a J.D. at Harvard Law School. He received his B.A. in Economics-Political Science and Linguistics from Columbia University in 2019. He has worked previously as a translator and in education as a tutor and Spanish teacher.
G.D. Peters is a lawyer who closed his own trial practice to write fiction. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, and has joined the faculties of City College, Lehman College, Gotham Writer’s Workshop, and most recently, the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities at Children’s Village.
JESSICA RODRÍGUEZ COLÓN
Art History Professor
Jessica Rodríguez Colón is a doctoral candidate in philosophy, aesthetics and art theory at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. Her research focuses on maternal politics and performances in the Americas, ranging from evaluating maternal politics and aesthetics in media, performance arts and in the visual arts. In her work, she questions the societal prescription of motherhood and how aesthetic representations of the maternal influences maternal performances. Jessica has participated at conferences in the United States and Europe, including the International Conference on Moving Image and Philosophy in Portugal. Jessica also has a creative practice that ranges from performance arts and video to installations, as an artist her work has been presented in the Americas, Europe and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tapei. As an educator, she has taught dance and performance to high school equivalency courses. She is currently a Hemispheric Institute Fellow and was recently awarded the Adam Smith Fellowship at the Mercatus Center.
U.S. History Professor
Born and raised in NYC, James Mann began his working life in 1970 practicing international corporate law, but after 3 years he migrated to the field of private equity investment, investing in, and occasionally taking operational responsibilities, for portfolio companies. Although he continues to occasionally participate in the private finance sector, he now thinks of himself as an educator.
In 1996 he enrolled at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where he earned MA’s in American Studies, History and Anthropology. In 1999, while still a graduate student, he began teaching, initially at Pace University teaching Latin American History, and subsequently teaching Global History at Iona College and, since 2015, at the Harlem Clemente Program for the Humanities.
Outside of his vocational life, he has served as a Trustee of The Children’s Village for 22 years where he is currently Vice Chair and Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee. He is also on the Board of the Elias Foundation whose mission includes funding local community leader-activists in the Hudson Valley.
His professional degrees include:
BA, Rutgers University;
JD, Rutgers Law School;
LL.M., Harvard Law School