Staff

Tiffany Puett, Executive Director

Tiffany Puett is a scholar of American religions, a community educator, and the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity and Civic Life. She has been writing, developing resources and curriculum, and leading programs on religious and cultural diversity, equity and social justice for 19 years. Her writing has appeared in publications including The Huffington Post, Medium, Religious Studies News, and The Conversation. She’s taught courses on religious diversity, ethics, and research methods at St. Francis College, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Trinity University, and 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 husband, two lovely children, and two energetic dogs.


Sadia Tirmizi, Director of Operations

Sadia Tirmizi has over 18 years of nonprofit management experience assisting organizations meet their operational and strategic planning goals. Her MBA, coupled with a social work background, has allowed her to combine her passion for addressing community needs with her expertise in managing the business side of running nonprofits. Sadia has worked with several interfaith organizations focusing on advocacy, dialogue and bridge-building. She is a fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. Prior to joining IDCL in a formal capacity in 2019, Sadia served as an oral history project volunteer and trained in conducting oral history interviews through the Muslim Voices project.


Rimsha Syed, Program Coordinator

Rimsha (she/hers) 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.


Van Wagner, Archive Coordinator

Van 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.


Elizabeth M. Melton, ACLS Leading Edge Fellow, Public Engagement Coordinator

Elizabeth 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.


Eleonora Anedda, Oral Historian

Eleonora 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. She is very excited to be working as an oral historian for IDCL and interviewing narrators for the Religions Texas Oral History Project. 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.