Poet and storyteller Tania De’Shawn Russell joins AHA staff

Birmingham native will help expand AHA’s digital audience as coordinator of outreach and social media.

Birmingham, AL | May 11, 2023

AHA News Storytelling
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. / May 9, 2023 — Tania De’Shawn Russell has joined the staff of the Alabama Humanities Alliance, where she’ll serve as the statewide nonprofit’s outreach and social media coordinator. Russell will help expand AHA’s reach, connect more Alabamians to the humanities, and highlight how the humanities can make Alabama a smarter, kinder, more vibrant place to live.

Russell is a Birmingham native and a graduate of Berea College in Kentucky. She has extensive social media and digital marketing experience, as well as a passion for how storytelling can transform lives and restore agency to marginalized communities. As a poet and teaching artist, Russell has been featured at the Magic City Poetry Festival, Birmingham Children’s Theatre, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. She has also served as a teaching assistant for PEN America’s Birmingham chapter, and as the artist in residence at The Flourish, Alabama.

“We all have gems of unsaid, unwritten, and sometimes undervalued stories to share,” Russell says. “No matter how silly, ordinary, or heavy, they all build different points of connection to people we may never meet. I am humbled to be a part of a community at AHA that fearlessly shares the stories so many would want us to forget. My love for storytelling continues to grow as I see the change so many of our scholars make by speaking about their firsthand experiences and latest research. I aim to ensure our entire community feels seen, supported, and valued.”

Earlier this year, the Magic City Poetry Festival named Russell its 2023 Eco-Poetry Fellow, an award that celebrates the intersections between poetry and the environment. As part of her fellowship, Russell will partner with the Birmingham Public Library to produce poetry events that uplift and enlighten the Birmingham community.

Russell’s partnership with the Birmingham Public Library isn’t new. In 2022, the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library received an Alabama Public Humanities Grant from AHA to present an event based on Russell’s first book, be gentle with black girls: addressing adultification bias and protecting black childhood. The evening included an author reading by Russell and a panel discussion centered around Black girls’ lived experiences.

“We talk a lot at AHA about how the humanities can provide context, cultivate empathy, and really help Alabamians see each other as fully human,” says Phillip Jordan, communications director at the Alabama Humanities Alliance. “Tania embodies those values to her core. She is committed to making the humanities accessible to all and to helping everyone realize that we’re all storytellers who can learn from each other. I’m thrilled that she’s joining us and will help us keep growing AHA’s diverse community of lifelong learners statewide.”

To connect with the Alabama Humanities Alliance, visit alabamahumanities.org, and join AHA’s virtual community on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


About the Alabama Humanities Alliance
Founded in 1974, the nonprofit Alabama Humanities Alliance serves as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. AHA promotes impactful storytelling, lifelong learning, and civic engagement. We provide Alabamians with opportunities to connect with our shared cultures and to see each other as fully human. Through our grantmaking, we help scholars, communities, and cultural nonprofits create humanities-rich projects that are accessible to all Alabamians — from literary festivals and documentary films to museum exhibitions and research collections. Learn more at alabamahumanities.org.