MEI was co-founded in July 2013 by Dr. Jessica A. Schwartz (N.Y.U. 2012), Assistant Prof. of Musicology at UCLA, and Dr. April L. Brown (U.A. 2006), Professor of History at NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Arkansas. Both are specialists in interdisciplinary higher education. Dr. Schwartz spent two years in the RMI conducting fieldwork and has been working with community members in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri since 2010. Dr. Brown has been a vocal advocate of international education for over two decades. She established the global themed semester initiative at NWACC as Honors Program Director (2008-2014) and has been involved in study abroad as a student, advisor, and instructor. As humanities scholars, both promote awareness of Marshallese history and culture.
MEI was created to blend scholarly research with practical outreach efforts to create awareness on a national stage, while also making a real difference in the lives of individual Marshallese.
MEI Officers, Staff, & Advisors
- April L. Brown, Ph.D., Executive Director
- Jessica A. Schwartz, Ph.D., Cultural Programs Advisor
- Kristina Stege, International Relations Liaison
- Sharlynn Lang, Assistant, Advisory Board
- Ruby Lewis, Assistant
- Terry Takamaru, Translator, Advisory Board
- Nixon Jibas, Advisory Board
- Adelbert & Neisen Laukon, Advisory Board
- Anita Iban, Advisory Board
- Carlnis Jerry, Advisory Board
Kristina Stege serves as MEI’s International Liaison. From Utrōk Atoll, Tina received a M.A. in Anthropology from the Université d’Aix-en-Provence in 2006 and has worked as a Pacific Islands Community Independent Consultant and filmmaker. She has worked for the R.M.I. Embassy, as the R.M.I. Project Manager for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and a Gender Specialist for the Asian Development Bank. Tina has also served as a consultant on immigration issues and on climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation. Tina was instrumental in planning and served as the emcee for MEI’s Nuclear Remembrance Day 2014: Reflect. Honor. Educate. in February 2014 at the Clinton Presidential Library. Representing civil society and MEI, she addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2015 on the commemoration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Tina also spoke to the affects of climate change on the Marshall Islands with Kathy Jetnil Kijner at the NY Museum of Natural History in March 2014. Tina consults on a variety of topics, including cultural programming, and engages in outreach efforts to Marshallese communities across the United States and in the RMI.
Founding member of MEI’s Board of Directors, Faith Laukon Jibas is a Marshallese business owner and community advocate. Faith and her husband, Nixon Jibas, own and operate NF Enterprises in Springdale, are distributors of Genesis Pure products, and work as recruiters for Anchor Packaging Company in Paragould, Arkansas, where they have helped relocate dozens of Marshallese families. Born in the U.S. and of Rongelapese heritage, Faith is active in the 4 Atolls, Rongelapese, and Bikinian communities, including the MORIBA Club in Springdale, and has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the impact of U.S. nuclear testing, including planning numerous Nuclear Remembrance Day and Bikini Day commemorations. Faith currently serves as MEI’s Board Secretary.
MEI BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- April L. Brown, Ph.D., President
- Jessica A. Schwartz, Ph.D., Vice President
- Faith Laukon Jibas, Secretary
- Linda Richardson, Treasurer
- Mick Broderick, Ph.D. (Murdoch University)
- Consul-General Carmen Chong-Gum (Arkansas Consulate, Ex-Officio Member)