Announcing the 2022 Public Humanities Fellows

The cohort of four fellows, chosen by a statewide committee of humanities experts, is the first of its kind in Washington.

Humanities Washington is proud to announce its first cohort of Public Humanities Fellows, who will plan and implement innovative programs for their communities with an emphasis on reaching under-served communities.  

The public humanities is a vibrant field that shares the humanities outside of academic circles, but there are too few opportunities for hands-on training and professional development. Humanities Washington’s Public Humanities Fellows program hopes to change that. This is the first paid public humanities fellows of its kind in Washington State, either inside or outside of academia.  

The Fellows will meet weekly to develop foundational skills in the public humanities and to build a learning community with one another. With a focus on community outreach and innovative program design, their projects will be planned and presented to Washingtonians over the next six months.  

Meet the first cohort of Public Humanities Fellows: 


Kenji Linane-Booey will launch a “Breaking Bread” podcast, in which he interviews local community leaders over a meal he cooks for them. Listeners will hear their stories and discover the issues they are tackling across the Inland Northwest. Using this podcast, community leaders will be encouraged to make bold calls to action, sparking community engagement in high school and college classrooms.

Kenji is born and raised in Spokane Washington and still lives there today with his fiancé Ciara and their two dogs. Meeting others where they are is a core value of who he is, and this belief has given him the opportunity to receive a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University, and travel to over 20 countries. Family dinners have always been a diverse place for food and thought, and that is where he learned to embrace his own cultures as a Japanese, Irish, German, Native American, and African American man.


Avery Dame-Griff will create an interactive online exhibit and series of workshops about the history of LBGTQ+ communities in online spaces. These educational resources will be targeted at high school and college students, filling a gap in both web history and queer studies.

Avery is currently an assistant professor in the Digital Technology and Culture Department at Washington State University, Pullman, and will be joining the faculty of Gonzaga University as a Lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies in 2022. He also founded and serves as primary curator of the Queer Digital History Project (queerdigital.com), an independent community history project cataloging and archiving pre-2010 LGBTQ spaces online. His book, The Two Revolutions: A History of the Transgender Internet (forthcoming from NYU Press) tracks how the internet transformed transgender political organizing from the 1980s to the contemporary moment. 


Megan Torgerson will produce a new series of her podcast “Reframing Rural,” which shares under-told stories of people and places in our country’s most sparsely populated regions. The ten-episode, ten-month season launching September 2022 will celebrate culture and preserve history. “Reframing Rural” explores the resiliency of rural communities, calls attention to the interconnectedness of rural and urban geographies, and ultimately cultivates curiosity and conversation across geographic, class, and cultural divides.

Hailing from the windswept Great Plains of Dagmar, Montana, Megan Torgerson is a writer, creative entrepreneur and founder of the podcast, Reframing Rural. Megan holds an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University and a BA in English from the University of Montana. Fueled by storytelling’s ability to bridge divides, Megan splits her time between producing Reframing Rural, helping on her family’s wheat farm, and working as a communications consultant and grant writer for artists and nonprofits including Alice Gosti, Red Ants Pants Foundation, and Jeannette Rankin Foundation. 


Monica Cortés Viharo will develop curricula centering on democracy and civics to complement Humanities Washington’s Speakers Bureau and better serve K-12 students and teachers. These lessons will leverage the deep expertise already present within the Speakers Bureau, making knowledge accessible to a wider audience.

Monica is an actor, educator, scholar, communications consultant, and alum of the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau. She earned her PhD in Drama and a Certificate in Public Scholarship at the University of Washington (UW) and currently teaches in the UW American Ethnic Studies department. Her scholarship has been published in Theatre Topics, The New England Theatre Journal, and the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. She has taught communications and drama at Cascadia College, Shoreline Community College, New College for Florida, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, she is the performance coach for TEDx Youth Seattle and a company member of eSe Teatro, a Seattle-based Latina/Spanish-language theater company. She is a proud union member of SAG/AFTRA and the American Federation of Teachers.  

Check out information about the Fellows, their projects, and their progress throughout the year at https://www.humanities.org/public-humanities-fellows/. 

Public Humanities Fellows is a program of Humanities Washington and is generously funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.