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Prof. Ava Thompson Greenwell appointed Faculty-in-Residence for South Residential Area

Prof. Ava Thompson Greenwell, an author and filmmaker, will begin her term as Faculty-in-Residence in fall 2022.

Beginning next fall, a new face will welcome Northwestern undergraduate students living in the South Residential Area. Medill professor Ava Thompson Greenwell has been appointed as the area’s next Faculty-in-Residence. The South Area is made up of the 636 Emerson, 640 Emerson, 1838 Chicago, Allison, East Fairchild, Hobart, Jones, Rogers, Shepard and West Fairchild residence halls.

Founded in 2010, the Faculty-in-Residence program provides students living on campus an opportunity to connect and interact with faculty outside the classroom. Each of the five Faculty-in-Residence oversees a Residential Area and creates programming that builds community and encourages engagement amongst their respective residents. Each Faculty-in-Residence is encouraged to showcase their individual personality through their programming. Many have shared their interests with student clubs, through activities and by hosting faculty dinners.

 An alumna who holds three degrees from Northwestern, Thompson-Greenwell is interested in the intersection of race, gender and journalism, and teaches reporting at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. During the 2021-2022 academic year, she has lectured in courses and across Evanston on her documentary “Mandela in Chicago,” which focuses on Chicago’s anti-apartheid movement. Students in one of her courses produced their own “mini” documentaries using footage from “Mandela in Chicago.”

“I get nearly as much out of witnessing students’ growth as they do,” said Thompson Greenwell, who teaches reporting courses at Medill.

Outside of the classroom, Thompson Greenwell currently serves as co-director of Medill’s South Africa Journalism Residency Program and as a faculty mentor for the Posse Program.

“I love watching students mature and blossom,” said Thompson Greenwell. “During my tenure at Northwestern, I’ve had several opportunities to work with students beyond the classroom. I think becoming a Faculty-in-Residence will allow me to engage with students in a different way that’s even more fulfilling.”

The appointment is a true coming home moment for Thompson Greenwell. As an undergraduate, she lived in Shepard Hall, East Fairchild and West Fairchild. When it comes to her future residents, Thompson Greenwell hopes to collaborate with her residents to develop new programming. “What I’ve learned from mentoring and raising my own three adult children is to find out what they are most interested in first, then add to their suggestions,” she said.

In 2021, Thompson Greenwell published Ladies Leading: The Black Women Who Control Television News, a book focused on the history and experiences of Black women news managers and their contributions to the industry. She also hosts and produces “Ladies Leading,” a podcast that features Black women in a variety of professions. 

Thompson Greenwell succeeds Melissa Foster, who will transition to the Northeast Area. Enectali “Tali” Figueroa-Feliciano, Faculty-in-Residence for the Northeast Area, will end his term in June, after serving in the role for six years.