This past summer faculty member Dr. Imani M. Cheers was promoted to associate professor at the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA). With SMPA having close to 40-year history, Dr. Cheers is not just the first African American woman to receive this promotion, but the very first person of color ever at the school to receive this title as a current faculty member.
Dr. Cheers first joined SMPA in 2013 and has been a trailblazer in the field since she got here. She is an award-winning multimedia producer, director, digital storyteller, and filmmaker. As a professor of practice, Dr. Cheers uses a variety of mediums including video, photography, television, and film to document and discuss issues impacting and involving people of the African Diaspora. She was also the 2019 recipient of the Staub Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring.
Her scholarly focus is on the intersection of women/girls, technology, health, conflict, agriculture and the effects of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Cheers is also an expert on diversity in Hollywood, specifically the representation of Black women in television and film. She published her first book, “The Evolution of Black Women in Television: Mammies, Matriarchs and Mistresses” in August 2017. Dr. Cheers has traveled the world, examining issues of social justice, equity, environmental justice, land reform, and maternal health.
Dr. Cheers is the co-creator and managing editor of Newsroom U, an innovative, immersive multimedia journalism initiative for high school and college students. She is also the Director of Academic Adventures with Planet Forward, an environmental storytelling initiative at SMPA.
Dr. Cheers recently returned from Palestine, South Africa, and Namibia and will soon travel back to all three countries for a documentary film about land and water rights, tentatively titled “agricultural apartheid.” Committed to diversity and inclusion, Dr. Cheers has brought several events to campus -- from Newsroom U to the Blacktivism and the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking photojournalism project, "Songs of My People" exhibits.
She has advocated for diversity and inclusion at SMPA and has been a valued mentor to all students at GW but especially to students of color. In 2018, Dr. Cheers started a mentoring program for black women students, staff and faculty. “Sisters in the Academy” now boasts a membership of close to 100 participants.
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Cheers on this important and exciting promotion!