Mills College Welcomes New Tenure-Track Faculty to Campus this Fall

Oakland, CA—April 3, 2019

Mills College is delighted to announce that five new tenure-track faculty are joining Mills in the 2019–20 academic year. Their passion, knowledge, and experience will bring a fresh perspective to an already vibrant faculty and inclusive Mills community. Read more about their backgrounds below and get ready to meet them in person soon.


Cliff LeeTeacher Education Program | School of Education
Cliff Lee, Associate Professor of Teacher Education

Dr. Cliff Lee earned his PhD at University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied in the Urban Schooling program. He is currently directing the Single Subject credential program at St. Mary’s College, where he is an Associate Professor. He was a founding teacher of Life Academy in the Oakland Unified School District where he earned his National Board Certification in English Language Arts in 2007. Dr. Lee’s research focuses, in large part, on the Critical multiliteracies of urban youth in out-of-school contexts and within Ethnic Studies classrooms. He has also been highly vested in research at YR Media (formerly Youth Radio) in downtown Oakland, a Peabody Award-winning national network of young journalists and artists, where he has been engaged in inquiry on Critical Computational Literacy since 2014. He has been honored by the National Council of English Teachers.

“Having been a former Oakland Unified high school teacher and Oakland resident for most of the past two decades, I am excited to be in community with others on the frontlines in advocating for justice and liberation, both locally and nationally. Mills' rich tradition of activism is the ideal place for me to connect my community work in East Oakland with my professional academic research and teaching. I look forward to building, learning, and strengthening our bonds between Mills and the Town. I am particularly excited about the possibilities of creating radical, transformative educational leaders to serve our Oakland youth!”


Jaci UrbaniEarly Childhood Education Program | School of Education
Jacquelyn (Jaci) Urbani, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education

Dr. Jaci Urbani earned her PhD in 2011 in Special Education from the joint degree program between University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University. Professor Urbani is currently the Director of the Special Education program at Dominican University, and the Founding Director of Great Expectation Inclusive Preschool. She has developed and taught 17 courses, including Advanced Assessment, Applied Educational Research, and Supervised Teaching. She developed several relevant courses for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing program at San Jose State and San Francisco State University, including Language Intervention for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students and Development of the Deaf Child. She is currently working on a book manuscript about young adults with autism.

“My undergraduate and graduate studies were in early childhood special education, and I taught at that level for over a decade. I’m excited to use this knowledge and experience as I assume leadership of the Early Childhood Special Education Program. I became a professor because I believed I could reach more students if I worked with their teachers. I was looking for a college that values learning through diversity and maintains strong connections to the community. The School of Education fit that bill. With its reputation for high-quality education, I know I’ll be challenged to be at my best by my colleagues and students.”


Dana WrightEducational Leadership Program | School of Education
Dana Wright, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership

Dr. Dana Wright earned her EdD in education from Harvard University. Wright is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Education Department at Connecticut College, where she teaches courses on curriculum, social justice, and activism. She has consistently had papers accepted to the innovative annual conference of the American Educational Research Association and has five peer-reviewed publications in highly distinguished journals in the field of education. Prof. Wright’s 2015 monograph with Routledge is titled Active Learning: Social Justice Education and Participatory Action Research. It proposes participatory action research (PAR) as a viable approach to teaching and learning in urban schools that connects learning to authentic purposes and real-world consequences and shows promise as a model for meaningful urban school reform.

“I look forward to joining the community of scholars at Mills primarily because my work is guided by the principles of critical reflection, creativity, diversity and social justice, which are values that reflect a Mills education.  At this historical moment when pressing educational issues are in the national spotlight, I am particularly excited to join my colleagues at the Mills College School of Education, which prepares the next generation of socially responsible, ethical, and innovative teachers and school leaders through a critical examination of educational policies, curriculum, teaching and approaches to school leadership.”


Mario HernandezSociology Program,Department of Social and Historical Studies | Division of Social Sciences and Humanities
Mario Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Mr. Mario Hernandez is currently finishing his PhD in Sociology at the New School for Social Research. He is a Visiting Assistant Instructor in the Department of Sociology at Wesleyan University. He has taught a range of courses such as Introduction to Sociology, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Social Stratification, Design Studies, Bohemian Countercultures, and Urban Sociology. His research is in the area of gentrification, a pressing issue for students and the sociological community today. He employs a critical race studies approach in his research and teaching, situating gentrification and racial displacement in the broader context of structural racism and spatial segregation.

“I am truly excited to be joining the Mills faculty, particularly at this important moment in our nation’s history. In recent years, we have witnessed an unprecedented attack on our country's civil liberties and the fundamental principles that we cherish as Americans. Considering this juncture in how our national identity is currently being shaped, the recent initiatives Mills has undertaken to make college education more inclusive comes at a critical time. Given the vital need for critical inquiry, I consider it a privilege to join the many artists, intellectuals and activists Mills has cultivated in the past and continues to nurture into the future.”


Ana MostafaviBiochemistry and Molecular Biology Program
Department of Chemistry | Division of Natural and Health Sciences
Anahita (Ana) Mostafavi, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Ms. Anahita Mostafavi is currently finishing her PhD at Princeton University and has an excellent publication record and broad research experience in Molecular Biology. She is a graduate teaching fellow with experience in modern STEM pedagogy and has developed courses she has taught at Princeton. Her proposed research, on DNA within protein strands, was the most clearly biochemical of all the interviewed candidates and will attract biochemistry majors who want that experience. She was Francis Boyer Fellow in Life Sciences at Princeton University, has published eight articles in peer-reviewed journals, and served three years with the Prison Teaching Initiative as an instructor of biology and chemistry.

“I am excited about the opportunity to join a tight-knit department, whose size allows the building of strong mentor-mentee relationships. Having experienced many of the challenges associated with being a woman of color in multiple chemistry departments during my scholarship; I aspire to be a source of support and inspiration for diverse students to pursue careers in science. I believe that in joining the Mills community, I will grow as an educator and scientist. I am also thrilled about not having to live through another Northeast winter!”

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