Our Team

Tiffany Puett, Executive Director

Tiffany (she/they) is a scholar of American religions and a community educator who has been writing, researching, and teaching for over 20 years. In 2015, she founded IDCL to research, document, and foster conversations about the rich diversity of Texas. She also teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at St. Edward’s University. She holds a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Waterloo and a master’s degree in Ethics from Boston University. Her work is inspired by the rich diversity of Texas, the power of storytelling, and her commitment to mutual liberation. She lives in Austin with her spouse, two lovely children, and two energetic dogs.

Elizabeth M. Melton, Public Engagement Director

Elizabeth (she/her) is a scholar and playwright whose work is dedicated to understanding race and identity in Texas. She combines critical ethnography with performance methods to reach audiences that would not typically encounter academic research. Her anti-racist play, Unpacking Longview, uses oral history performance, storytelling, and the trope of the fool to address her legacies of whiteness and the process of public school desegregation in her East Texas hometown. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in Performance Studies from Texas A&M University. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains with her partner and their pet beagle.

Van Wagner, Community Archive Director

Van (they/them) is a graduate of Yale Divinity School with an MA in Religion, concentrated in History of Christianity. They received their BA in Religion from Trinity University in San Antonio. Van has experience with both ethnographic interviewing and oral history archival work, each with relevance to religion, culture, and historic events. Their research interests include contemporary conservative evangelicalism in the US as well as its intersections with civic religion and conservative political engagement. In their free time, Van enjoys baking, playing tabletop RPGs, and writing fiction.

Eleonora Anedda, Oral Historian and Curriculum Specialist

Eleonora (she/her) holds an MA in Oral History from Columbia University, and came to this field from a Gender and Sexuality Studies background. She was born and raised in Sardinia, Italy and earned her BA in Humanities from the Università deli Studi di Cagliari and an MA in Queer History from Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has served as a research assistant for the Picture of the Homeless Oral History Project. And she founded Lesbismo Italiano, an oral history project that aims at reconstructing how Italian women with same-sex desires lived in the 20th century. When she isn’t glued to her computer she enjoys taking care of her twelve orchids, eating tagliatelle, swimming, and going for long walks with her dog.

Rimsha Syed, Oral Historian

Rimsha (she/her) is an Austin-based Pakistani Muslim writer, community organizer, artist, and daughter of working-class immigrants. Her words have appeared in publications like the Huffington Post, Truthout, and Wear Your Voice Magazine. Rimsha’s work explores themes of gender, surveillance, colonization, anti-Muslim violence, and Palestinian apartheid. In 2019, she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin where she focused on journalism and women and gender studies. In Urdu, her name means a bouquet of flowers. Rimsha thrives off the tears of patriarchy and samosas.

Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz, Oral History Fellow

Victoria (she/her) was born in Dallas, TX. She lived in West Dallas until the age of five, and then moved to Oak Cliff. She is a multiethnic person, which informs the work she does from a place of intersectionality. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Integrative Studies from the University of North Texas in Denton, with concentrations in international studies, sociology, and public administration and community service. She minored in social sciences and received her certification in Mexican American and LatinX Studies.

Victoria is a Barrio Historian of the Cemento Grande barrio of West Dallas, and Oak Cliff. In 2021 she served as Co-Chair of the “Nuestro Oak Cliff ” Exhibit and producer of the “Nuestro Oak Cliff ” Documentary. She served as an at-large commissioner on the Arts and Culture Advisory Commission for the City of Dallas. Victoria cofounded RAYO Planning, an urban planning nonprofit that centers people’s lived experiences. RAYO Planning advocates for fair and affordable housing free of environmental hazards.

Moureen Kaki, Oral History Fellow

Moureen (she/her) is a Palestinian community organizer and anthropologist born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she is currently continuing to pursue anthropology as a Master’s student. Her research interests were born of her personal experiences—living in Palestine and advocating for Palestinian liberation in the U.S. Her research interests include Christian Zionism in the U.S. and the movement’s relationship to Palestine. In her spare time, Moureen loves to take care of her three cats and dog, as well as cook, garden, and play speed chess.

Nasriya Witt, Oral History Fellow

Nasriya (she/her) is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she studied Psychology with a focus on Neurobiological research. She was born in India and raised in Saudi Arabia, Oman, California and Texas, where she immigrated to when she was 10. This has instilled within her a passion for travel, Social Psychology, and exploring the intersection of cultures that has led to being a youth program coordinator at a refugee resettlement agency and to pursuing other diverse environments like an international master’s program. She’s currently working on her master’s in Psychology in Germany and will pursue research in Social and Intercultural Psychology. In her free time, Nasriya loves to paint, perform poetry, learn German, and travel.