A community-accountable scholar, educator, and poet, LeConté Dill joined MSU’s Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) on September 16, 2021, as an Associate Professor of Black Feminisms, Genders, and Sexualities Studies.
She has a commitment toward transdisciplinary research and is guided by Black Feminist epistemologies to listen to and show up for Black girls and other youth of color. Dr. Dill was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, California, and the context of other historically disinvested and stigmatized urban neighborhoods and the residents thriving there features prominently in her scholarship. Engaging qualitative and arts-based research methods, she works to rigorously document urban Black girls’ experiences of safety, resilience, resistance, and wellness.
“I’ve been looking for an academic space with peers who unapologetically identify and live as Black feminists, disruptors, and dreamers. A space where Black Girlhood Studies scholars don’t only have to meet up in conference hallways, journal special issues, or Zoom private chats,” she said. “I’m thrilled that AAAS at MSU is actively cultivating such a space with such a squad. The invitation to join AAAS at this time is not only a refreshing and unique opportunity but also a sacred responsibility as we collectively build anew betwixt and between community and academic spaces.”
Dr. Dill’s scholarship perfectly aligns with one of the AAAS core organizing inquiries around Black Girlhood Studies. She says, “I am confident and excited that MSU will allow my work about and for Black girls and gender-expansive youth and their strategies of resilience to shine and grow.”
The invitation to join AAAS at this time is not only a refreshing and unique opportunity but also a sacred responsibility as we collectively build anew betwixt and between community and academic spaces.
In her new position at MSU, Dr. Dill will play a key role in collaboratively building the new AAAS Department by helping with the implementation of strategic plans, the creation and implementation of operating policies and procedures, and sustaining humanities research agendas and excellence in outreach to foster and produce knowledge in the field and local communities.
“AAAS is committed to fostering Black theory and praxis ‘beyond survival into wellness.’ I look forward to contributing my ongoing practice and study of wellness to this commitment and this vision,” Dr. Dill said. “In Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, healer Minnie Ransom asks organizer Velma Henry ‘Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?’ As a poet and a mindfulness instructor myself, I am constantly reminded how our creativity and our breath hold so many answers, so many maps for our past, present, and future journeys. In the month that I’ve been at MSU, I’ve already experienced how we have centered meditation, yoga, poetry, and music in even our internal processes of AAAS. I will be building a ‘Wellness Humanities’ in AAAS and with and for the communities that we love.”
Dr. Dill has a B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College and a Master of Public Health degree in Community Health Sciences, with a focus in Child and Family Health, from the University of California Los Angeles. After earning her master’s degree, she worked in the nonprofit and public sectors in the San Francisco Bay Area on issues related to public health program planning and evaluation, health education, and juvenile justice advocacy. She then went on to earn her Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of California Berkeley and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Health Policy at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.
I have devoted quite some time as a change agent and a disruptor within the public health field,” Dill said. “I now look forward to co-conjuring bigger transdisciplinary and undisciplined visions with and for Black girls and Black gender-expansive youth.
Previous academic positions held by Dr. Dill include Director of Public Health Practice and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Global Public Health at New York University; Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center; Instructor in the Public Health Sciences Institute at Morehouse College; Research Instructor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine; and Graduate Student Instructor in both the School of Public Health and Department of Sociology at the University of California Berkeley.
“I have devoted quite some time as a change agent and a disruptor within the public health field,” Dr. Dill said. “I now look forward to co-conjuring bigger transdisciplinary and undisciplined visions with and for Black girls and Black gender-expansive youth.”
Dr. Dill’s research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Kaiser Permanente and has been published in such journals as the American Journal of Public Health; Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism; Du Bois Review; Journal of Poetry Therapy; and Journal of Adolescent Research. Additionally, since 2015, she has been a Research Associate for the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Dr. Dill received the Highest Scoring Abstract Award from the Women’s Caucus at the 2016 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting for her abstract, entitled “’What if I stay?’: Experiences of teen dating violence among urban African-American, West Indian, and immigrant African girls.” This was based on and informed by her work for over three years with Black girls in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York.
“Funders, evaluators, and journalists at the time were so focused on neighborhood violence among Black boys that they were missing documenting and intervening in the multiple types of violence experienced by Black girls,” said Dr. Dill, whose scholarship and artistic practice has flourished thanks to fellowships with the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Public Health Critical Race Praxis Institute, Critical Participatory Action Research Institute, Democratizing Knowledge Institute, and the Women of Color Leadership Project of the National Women’s Studies Association.
Writing creatively since she was in elementary school and minoring in Creative Writing in college, Dr. Dill sought more training in poetry and fiction writing through the VONA/Voices Writing Workshops and the Cave Canem Community Workshops. She is a well-published poet whose work has been featured in Poetry Magazine, Mom Egg Review, The Feminist Wire, The Killens Review of Arts & Letters, and Aunt Chloe: A Journal of Artful Candor. Additionally, in 2011, she co-authored, co-edited, and co-published a poetry anthology with a group of teens from East Oakland, California, entitled Y U Gotta Call It Ghetto? This poetry anthology emerged from her dissertation research and allowed her to engage in a methodology that she coined as “participatory narrative analysis,” which has been widely cited and adopted by other scholars and poets across the country and internationally.
Dr. Dill has been recognized for her creative work. This year, she received an Honorable Mention and was a Runner Up for the Zocalo Public Square Poetry Prize. In 2019, she received an Emerging Woman Poet Honorable Mention with Small Orange Press. She often teaches and facilitates poetry classes and is thrilled to teach the AAAS 495 course, “Writing For Our Lives,” for the first time this coming Spring semester. She says, “I’m so excited to create with and learn from our students here at MSU!”