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Who Are Emerson’s Newest Faculty Members?

Five new faces joined Emerson’s full-time faculty this fall, and four familiar faces are now teaching full-time or taking on a tenure track position. They represent five departments across both the School of the Arts and School of Communication.

We asked each of them four questions about their field, their classroom, and who they are when they aren’t teaching:

Zhao Peng in white t-shirt in front of hedges
Journalist-in-Residence Zhao Peng

Zhao Peng

Journalist-in-Residence
Journalism

Zhao Peng is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Journalism at Michigan State University. Her research is in the domains of social media behaviors, news use behaviors, gender studies, and media psychology. 

She employs both quantitative (survey, scale development, experiment, content analysis) and qualitative (in-depth interviews, focus groups, textual analysis) methods to investigate how attributes of social media environments influence people’s privacy perceptions, and how female professionals construct their image in online spaces. 

She is also interested in statistics and is pursuing an MS in Statistics alongside her doctoral degree. Her dissertation studies parents’ “sharenting” behavior and examines online privacy boundary management beliefs and practices of parents. 

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

Audiences starting to play an important role in news production. 

What do you most want students to take away from your class?

Hands-on skills and diverse perspectives.

What was the last thing you learned?

Being patient with myself. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

Running, watercolor painting, and playing violin

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Assistant Professor Kenneth Ransom

Kenneth Ransom

Assistant Professor
Performing Arts

Kenneth Ransom is an international actor and teacher with over 30 years of experience across the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Originally from Los Angeles, Kenneth trained at UCLA, where he earned an MFA. He also trained and worked at Shakespeare and Company. 

He is currently appearing in The Wilds on Amazon Prime, and will soon appear in an untitled Amazon television series based on the works of Tolkien. Other credits include Gods of Egypt; Australian television dramas The Heights and Doctor Doctor; Crocodile Hunter; Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles; and The Secret Life of Us. 

On stage, Kenneth worked with Mary Zimmerman on her Australian production of Metamorphoses and Dr. Wang Xiaoying of the National Theatre of China on his Australian production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Other highlights include Glengarry Glen Ross and The Motherfucker with the Hat, both performances nominated for Performing Arts WA (Western Australia) Awards. 

He has taught at several notable Australian acting institutions, including the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts, the National Theatre Drama School, Victorian College of the Arts, Queensland University of Technology, and, most recently in the U.S., Berkeley Rep School of Theatre. 

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

Well, film production has been decimated by COVID protocols. I was just cast in a film to be shot in Sydney before I traveled to Emerson. It was going to be a great dovetail. However, the film never happened because the star pulled out the night before day one of shooting, and now Sydney is in lockdown. There is a likely connection. 

That said, one of the most exciting things that is happening in an industry that relies upon congregation is that we actors are now in a position that requires us to generate, frame, and develop new ways to convey our work. It’s much harder, but it puts us more in the driver’s seat with regard to our own process. 

What do you most want students to take away from your class?

In line with my previous answer, I want students to learn how to self-start and develop a practice that helps them continue to grow in that regard. 

What was the last thing you learned?

Paul Revere didn’t actually shout “The British are coming! The British are coming!” I visited the Old North Church yesterday. It was apparently a more clandestine mission than that. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

Listen to music and watch sports. Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox, I’m in. 

Valerie Johnson head shot
Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence Valerie E. Johnson

Valerie E. Johnson

Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence
Communication Sciences & Disorders

Valerie E. Johnson has BS and MS degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from Florida State University, and a Ph.D. in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has over 20 years of experience in academia. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of child language disorders and multicultural issues in communication disorders. 

As an active researcher, Dr. Johnson has co-authored a book chapter, and has published her research in peer-reviewed journals in her field. She is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. 

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

It is exciting that the field of communication sciences and disorders is finally addressing social justice. In the wake of COVID-19 and the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, the field could no longer ignore the historical barriers in place that minoritized individuals must overcome to achieve access to the profession. Authentic attention to this issue is long overdue, and it is time for the field to take bold steps. My academic career has been dedicated to this issue, and I look forward to working with colleagues to eradicate disparities. 

What do you most want students to take away from your class?

I would love for my students to take away my passion for the discipline. I am confident that they will study hard and excel academically. However, I want them to understand that passion includes that drive to be a better person, which will translate to becoming a better [speech language pathologist] for the clients they will serve. 

What was the last thing you learned?

The last thing I learned was how to navigate the T. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

I enjoy exercising, the arts, traveling, and enjoying good food with friends and family.

Joshua Streeter in front of stone wall
Assistant Professor Joshua Streeter

Joshua Rashon Streeter, MA ‘08

Assistant Professor
Performing Arts

Joshua Streeter teaches in the area of theatre education, focusing on pre-service licensure, faculty development, drama and theatre education, critical pedagogy, Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) and Theatre for the Very Young (TVY), musical theatre, and arts integration. His scholarship analyzes the pedagogies used in rehearsals and classrooms, and considers the relationship between process and product in a creative or embodied experience. 

He was named the 2015 Winifred Ward Scholar from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE), was one of the 12 writers for the 2014 National Theatre Standards, and has worked as a consultant for numerous state departments of education. He holds degrees from Millikin University, Emerson College, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas at Austin. 

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

Moving back to Boston – a city I love and a place that has served as a touchpoint multiple times in my career. 

What do you most want students to take away from your class?

A sense of community, increased self-efficacy, and tools to support and engage young people in the classroom and within the community. 

What was the last thing you learned?

I’m relearning how to play piano. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

Run, cook, and go to Trader Joe’s. 

Dana Edell head shot
Assistant Professor Dana Edell

Dana Edell

Assistant Professor
Performing Arts

Dana Edell, an activist/scholar/artist/educator, has produced and co-directed more than 70 original plays and seven albums of music written and performed by teenage girls addressing social and racial justice issues. She has worked as a theatre teaching artist with young people in public and private elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as in prisons in Rhode Island, California, Delaware, and New York. 

Dana was co-chair of the Girls’ Participation Task Force at the United Nations, where she directed annual theatre productions written by girls from more than 20 countries. She consults with organizations and schools throughout the U.S. and abroad, creating curricula and facilitating workshops and trainings about antiracist gender justice, civic engagement, youth activism, feminist Jewish education, and arts integration. Through her writing, presentations, and media appearances, she advocates for the need for collaborative and activist performing arts experiences for girl-identified and gender expansive young people. Her first book, Girls, Performance and Activism: Demanding to Be Heard, will be published by Routledge in Fall 2021. 

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

I’m thrilled to see how many theaters and theater programs around the country are recognizing the urgent need to ensure that they are practicing social and racial justice in their productions and programming. More and more university theater programs are offering courses, majors, minors and degrees in more community-engaged, social justice work and are making fierce commitments to diversity and equity.

What do you most want students to take away from your class?

I want students to really see the potential for theater to change the world! I want them to recognize the ways theater has been used to ignite social change for thousands of years, and to see how their own talent and passion can be used to heal and transform our schools and communities.

What was the last thing you learned?

I have a 2-year-old who just told me that the teeth of a T-Rex are as big as bananas. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I just moved to Boston yesterday and I love exploring new places, walking for miles, and discovering all the secret spots and hidden gems and connecting with my neighbors. Anyone reading this, please email me any local recommendations!

Familiar Faces in New Roles

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Journalist-in-Residence Angela Anderson-Connolly

Angela Anderson-Connolly ‘90

Journalist-in-Residence 
Journalism

Angela Anderson-Connolly worked as a radio journalist for more than three decades. She has spent time as a reporter, anchor, and news director working on the local and national level. She also has experience in television news as a producer. 

She received the Alan L. Stanzler Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2019 as an Emerson College affiliated faculty member, and was recognized as Advisor of the Year for her work with WEBN/RTDNA in 2019. 

She holds a BS in Broadcast Journalism from Emerson, and an MA in Journalism from the University of Missouri, with a focus on interactive news. 

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

The most exciting thing happening in journalism right now is the digital transformation and how it impacts storytelling. The technology allows for journalism to reach a larger audience, but also can be used to direct information to a specific audience. That can be both good and bad, as we have seen. Journalism has played a key role in delivering information during a pandemic, and asking questions to help keep people safe. 

What do you most want students to take away from your class?

I want my students to learn the importance of journalism in a democratic society and how to build trust with their audience. I hope students learn the value of diversity in journalism, not just in the newsroom members but in the stories they choose to cover. Most importantly, I want students to gain enough confidence to try new things, not to be afraid of failure, because those are the moments they can learn the most. 

What was the last thing you learned?

This is a tough one, hopefully I am always learning. I recently read My Vanishing Country: A Memoir by Bakari Sellers, which gave me some insight into a community I know nothing about, the rural South, and politics of race from Sellers’ perspective. 

On a lighter note, I have learned how to grow flowers this summer, my petunias are amazing. Soon I will be learning the new rundown software the Journalism program will be using. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

When I am not working, often I am spending time on Lake Winnipesaukee with a book in my hand. I read everything from fun fiction to biographies. I also enjoy hiking in New Hampshire and spending time with friends and family. Currently, I am reading News for the Rich White, and Blue: How Place and Power Distort American Journalism by Nikki Usher. 

Valerie Madden
Artist-in-Residence Valerie Madden

Valerie Madden, MFA ‘20

Artist-in-Residence
Performing Arts

Valerie Madden is an actor and theatre educator, designated a Linklater Voice Teacher by Kristin Linklater in 2019. She earned her MFA in Theatre Education from Emerson College in 2020, where she currently teaches the Linklater Voice Method and prior to this year, was an affiliated faculty member. Previously, she taught at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Actor’s Shakespeare Project, and Shakespeare & Company. 

She worked as a facilitator for Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education at the American Repertory Theater, engaging with audience members in conversations about the school-to-prison pipeline. Madden’s research interests center on how teachers’ voices affect student learning in the K-12 setting. 

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

There is lots of momentum around how voice training can inform and be informed by social justice work. 

What do you most want students to take away from your class?

That the only voice they need is the voice they already have. 

What was the last thing you learned?

How to make a chicken pot pie.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

Knitting and watching animal reality TV (like The Incredible Dr. Pol or Animal Cops). 

Sharifa Simon-Roberts head shot
Assistant Professor Sharifa Simon-Roberts

Sharifa Simon-Roberts

Assistant Professor
Communication Studies

As a Black millennial from Trinidad and Tobago, Sharifa Simon-Roberts brings her unique perspective to her research, teaching, and service. 

Her work centers on television, new communication technologies, and culture, with specific reference to groups traditionally underrepresented in the media – and society as a whole – such as women, Caribbean immigrants, and Black audiences. 

With media being an omnipresent force in society, one of her goals is to empower people to be critical consumers of media and conscientious creators of content. 

Emerson Today asked Sharifa three questions when she came to Emerson as a scholar-in-residence. Read her answers

Andy Miara head shot
Assistant Professor Andy Miara

Andy Miara

Assistant Professor
Visual and Media Arts

Andy Miara is a comedy writer, director, and teacher. He has written on animated comedies, including SuperMansion and Unsolved Discoveries, and is currently developing an animated comedy series for Cartoon Network. Andy has developed pilots for Adult Swim, Comedy Central, TBS, TruTV, Sonar Studios, and Universal Television, among others. 

As the former head writer of The Onion News Network, he was part of the team that created The Onion’s sister site, Clickhole.com. He began his career as a director for The Second City National Touring Company. 

Andy has taught at The Second City Training Center, Emerson Los Angeles, Northwestern University, and at Columbia College in Chicago, where he was a founding faculty member of the school’s Comedy Studies program. 

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