CLAS Administration

P_A_FisherEdward F. Fischer, Director (email )
Edward F. Fischer is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University. His work focuses on issues of political economy, identity politics, and globalization; he has conducted long-term field work with the Maya of Guatemala and in Germany.  His publications include Maya Cultural Activism in Guatemala (1996), Cultural Logics and Global Economies: Maya Identity in Thought and Practice (2001), Tecpán Guatemala: A Modern Maya Town in Local and Global Context (2002, with Carol Hendrickson), Broccoli and Desire: Global Connections and Maya Struggles in Postwar Guatemala (2006, with Peter Benson).  Most recently he has edited Indigenous Peoples, Civil Society, and the Neoliberal State in Latin America (2008).  His current research focuses on the interplay of moral values and economic rationalities.



P_A_averyAvery Dickins de Girón, Executive Director (email )
Avery is the Executive Director of the Center for Latin American Studies and a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology. She received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Vanderbilt in 2008; her research examines international development programs in Q’eqchi’ Maya communities in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, as well as economic and social motivators for internal migration. Her duties at CLAS include operational and staff oversight, grant writing and reporting, budget oversight, faculty relations, and institutional partnerships.  Avery co-teaches MHS 218 (VISAGE Guatemala), and lead student groups to Guatemala through VISAGE and Project Pyramid. She currently chairs the Language Committee for the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), which supports the teaching and learning of indigenous Latin American languages and Portuguese at U.S. universities.  She also serves as the Treasurer of the Guatemala Scholars Network, and is the faculty advisor for the Inter-American Health Alliance student chapter at Vanderbilt. Her publications include “The Security Guard Industry in Neoliberal Guatemala and the Relationship between Rural Communities and Urban Violence” (2010) and “El Otro Lado: Local Ends and Development in a Q’eqchi’ Maya Community” (2007).


Kostiw_Nicolette 3Nicolette Kostiw, Assistant Director, Director of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies (email)
Nicolette is the Assistant Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, as well as the Director of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies. She received her Ph.D. in History from Vanderbilt in 2015 after completing both her M.A. (Spanish) and B.A. (History) at West Virginia University. Nicolette is a Brazilianist and her research examines the end of slavery in Brazil, looking specifically at the ways in which former slaves and their children navigated the country’s transition into the post-emancipation era. She is also a digital humanities advocate and continually aims to better integrate historical research and technology. Her duties at CLAS include teaching introductory LAS courses, student advising, FLAS coordination, graduate certificate management, federal grant reporting, organizing professional development workshops, and overseeing summer grants programs.



20160808SG049111Lisa Finelli, Outreach Coordinator (email)

Lisa Finelli is the Outreach Coordinator of the Center for Latin American Studies.  As Outreach Coordinator, Lisa leads our public engagement programs, organizing our K-16 teacher workshop series and summer institutes, strengthening our collaborations with Minority Serving Institutions and regional postsecondary institutions, and building partnerships with local cultural arts organizations. Lisa co-coordinates the Américas Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs.  Before joining CLAS, Lisa was a teacher in public schools in Colorado and Washington state.  She has worked with a variety of populations and specializes in teaching students learning English as a new language. Lisa is passionate about language learning and has spent her summers living abroad as an aupair teaching English to children.



Alma website1Alma Paz-Sanmiguel, Adminstrative Assistant II (email )
Alma Paz-Sanmiguel joined CLAS in July 2011 as Administrative Assistant II. She comes to us with a background in graphic arts and small business management. Most recently Alma worked as Executive Assistant  of  Las Paletas  Gourmet Ice Pops.  Alma’s  duties include providing administrative support for CLAS faculty and staff, coordinating logistics of visiting speakers, and helping to strengthen the Center’s relationships both on and off campus thru events such as Global Villages at Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival, organized the Latin American Images Photo Competition.  Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Alma has been involved in cultural outreach for the Latin American community in Nashville.




P_A_paulaPaula Covington, Bibliographer (email ) Paula Covington is Latin American and Iberian Bibliographer at the Vanderbilt University Libraries and a Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies.  She has taught Latin American Research Methods for more than three decades, and is the author of an award-winning work, Latin America and the Caribbean: A Research Guide, a research project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Paula is past president of the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM), an international organization focused on the development of research services and library collections of Latin Americana. She has twice received the José Toribio Medina award for a distinguished monograph in Latin American Studies. Paula received her degrees from Syracuse University and Vanderbilt University in Latin American history and studied at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.  She is a participant in an NEH-funded project to preserve and digitize colonial Latin American slave society records (Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies). Her principal research interest is 19th-century women travelers to Latin America.