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IT TAKES A village

the team & partners behind More Joy Parenting

Dr. Marcella Runell Hall


Dr. Marcella Runell Hall is a scholar and practitioner in the Social Justice Education community and the Founder of More Joy Parenting.

Hall has authored numerous books, articles and curriculum on topics of popular culture, friendship, race, spirituality and critical pedagogy. Most recently co-authoring a chapter on Parenting Mixed Race Children in Biracial Families: Crossing Boundaries, Blending Cultures, and Challenging Racial Ideologies. Dr. Hall is an affiliated member of the Center of Racial Justice and Youth Engaged Research (CRJ) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and serves on the boards for the Holyoke Children's Museum and Embrace Race. Hall is a white Mom committed to anti-racist, pro-liberation parenting, raising two young daughters who identify as Black and mixed in Western, MA with her partner.

Marcella was the founding Co-director for the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership at New York University.

She was also the recipient of the NYU 2013–2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award. The prestigious award recognizes faculty members who exemplify the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through their excellent teaching, leadership, social justice work, and community building. Marcella served as the program advisor/founder for the minor in multifaith and spiritual leadership. 

Marcella has edited three books which focus on social justice curriculum, The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook: Volume 1 (2007) with Martha Diaz, Conscious Women Rock the Page: Using Hip-Hop Fiction to Incite Social Change (2008), and Love, Race, and Liberation: ‘Til the White Day Is Done (2010) with Jennifer “JLove” Calderon. Additionally, she has written for Scholastic Books, the New York Times Learning Network, VIBE, and various academic journals, including Equity and Excellence in Education and contributed to many edited book projects. Marcella is the co-editor for UnCommon Bonds: Women Reflect on Race & Friendship with Dr. Kersha Smith (Peter Lang, 2018).

For her accomplishments in the field, Marcella has received numerous teaching and programmatic awards, including the Association of American Colleges and Universities K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. She was honored by inclusion in the JFK 50th Anniversary Legacy Gallery, and was


recognized by the Brooklyn Borough President for her social justice work.

She is also a former fellow for the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.

Marcella’s work has been featured in Edutopia, Black Issues Book Review, Teaching for Change, Rethinking Schools,, WNYC, NPR, Huffington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, Mass Appeal, Parent Lab, Thrive Global, ColorLines, Huffington Post, Higher Ed Live, Embrace Race, Medium, and Madame Noir. 


Completing special certifications from the Yale School of Management Women on Boards Institute (2019) and the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute for Educational Management (2018). She also holds a doctorate in education from the University Massachusetts, Amherst (2011); a Master’s in Arts in higher education administration from New York University (1999) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Ramapo College of New Jersey (1997).



our programming partners & affiliates


Eden Jeffries


Eden Jeffries is a graduate of New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in "Art, Community Activism and Social Justice". She participated in and worked on various social justice, arts, and education initiatives with organizations including Artists for a New South Africa, Harlem Children’s Zone, Creative Time, and America Reads.

Her work as a one-on-one academic coach and tutor (K-12), has allowed her to work closely with youth and their families. Using the important insight she’s gained on the unique needs of students and their support systems, both in the classroom and in the home, she applies comprehensive strategies to improve mental performance, motivation, and boost confidence. As someone who fuels some of her joy by nurturing and building with young people, Eden has accompanied parents as a caretaker for over a decade. She is grateful for the ways in which these relationships are vessels for deepening her education on human development, psychology, and emotional intelligence.

Eden's most recent work has been rooted in holistic health practices and alternative healing philosophies as the owner of a startup wellness lifestyle company for four years and a future candidate as a doctor of naturopathic  medicine. It is her mission to advocate for greater access and resources on disease preventative and sustainable health practices that empower vulnerable individuals and communities to cultivate healing, optimize mental and physical function, and improve overall livelihood.  


Nicki Henry


Nicki Henry is a certified personal trainer, mentor and mom. She has been motivating her clients (both in and out of the gym) for more than 20 years. Her career began in education and naturally transitioned to the wellness and fitness industry. Nicki is a born teacher. People gravitate to her positive outlook and incredibly motivating personality. Her tagline is “Get Strong, Get Confident, Get Fit with Nick!”


Nicki has a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education, and a dual Masters Degree in Mathematics and Teaching, all from Elms College. She has been a Certified Personal Trainer since 1999 and competed as an amateur bodybuilder from 1999-2011.


She lives in South Hadley, MA with her husband David Henry, a professional bodybuilder and personal trainer, and their young daughter Brynna.


Michelle Van-Ess Grant


Michelle is a doctoral student at Northeastern University. She received her master's degree from the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and her bachelor's degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. She has worked in higher education for more than a decade at public, private, and state institutions, including Fordham University, Westchester Community College, and her alma mater, NYU.

NYU named Van-Ess Grant as the 2013 recipient of the Michael Parkes Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award. Additionally, she was the recipient of the 2015 NASPA Mid-Level Student Affairs Professional Award, regionally and nationally, and received the African American Knowledge Community (AAKC) 2014-2015 "NIA" Award for Mid-Level Professionals. She served as the Vice-Chair of the NASPA African-American Knowledge Community (AAKC), she currently sits on the NASPA Region II Advisory Board. In her role on the Advisory Role Board, Michelle has served as the Co-Chair of the Careers in Student Affairs Conference, a conference geared toward graduates and new professionals looking to pursue a Higher Education career. She has also served as the Awards Chair and currently serves as the Professional Standards Chair.

In addition to her love for higher education, Van-Ess Grant is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Omega Mu Zeta Graduate chapter.  Michelle is a charter member and former Second Vice President. She was responsible for the fundraising and disseminating scholarship opportunities to college-bound women in the Middlesex/ Southern Middlesex and Monmouth County, New Jersey. To date, Van-Ess Grant is the Zetas Have Heart/ GirlTrek Chair, a committee that encourages black women to take time out of their day to be healthy and put self-care first.


Michelle currently resides in Queens, New York, with her husband Jamel and son JJ, loving and enjoying life!


Dr. Keisha L. Green


Keisha is a South Carolinian living in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. Her daughter, Lela Joy, and son, Ellison Hope, are a source of inspiration for her work as a community-engaged scholar and critical teacher educator. As an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, she is Co-founding Director of the Center of Racial Justice and Youth Engaged Research and Co-editor of the academic journal Equity & Excellence in Education


Her research interests in English Education, youth literacy practices, critical literacy, and critical pedagogy have been featured in journals including International Journal for Qualitative Studies; Equity & Excellence in Education; Race, Ethnicity, and Education; and Educational Forum. Additionally, she has authored chapters in edited volumes including Humanizing Research: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with Youth and Communities and Youth Voices, Public Spaces, and Civic Engagement. Keisha also serves as a consultant for area educational institutions supporting their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. 


Keisha can be found cultivating joy and being of service to her community through her memberships with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Jack & Jill of America, Incorporated, and St. Johns Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. 


Annaliese Kittrell


Annaliese is a former Director of Operations for a group of dental
practices back in the Nashville, TN area, and after a move up North to Amherst, MA has transitioned to the Director of Operations in her own home, aka a Stay-at-Home Mom! She is a mother to two young children (Adela and Delaney), and a stepmom to 3 adult children (Katie, Kelsie, and Jacob). She brings to the table over 20 years of experience in Hospitality and Management, which is probably why she is always knee deep in cake batter, a craft project, or random acts of kindness with her children.


Annaliese grew up immersed in her Filipino culture as a member of the Filipino American Club of Fayetteville. As a child and young adult, she performed with the Maharlika Cultural Dance Troupe, even dancing the Tinikling (Traditional Filipino Folk Dance) at the age of 4! Annaliese attended East Carolina University with a course of study focused on a double major in English and Psychology. She always knew she wanted to become a mother, and after 2 successful IVF journeys she was able to
experience another special piece of motherhood. Her parenting style naturally embodies her artistic, creative, loving, and magnetic personality. One of her favorite Beatles songs has always been, “Here Comes the Sun”, because she believes that anyone has the potential to light up someone’s world!

Having a brave, safe space and a trusted, warm,
generous, not to mention extremely well educated and qualified, mentor and coach has been an invaluable addition to my life. I  wholeheartedly recommend Marcella!”

work with us!


Have More Joy Parenting

work with your small group to facilitate deep talks, open space for vulnerability, and generate practical action plans for change individually and within the community.  


Individually to talk through your parenting concerns, have open and honest dialogue on difficult subjects, and create a safe space to talk through what you can do today to strengthen your approach to anti-racist parenting.


More Joy Parenting provides resources to support an anti-racist, pro-liberation parenting philosophy. Search through our book recommendations & video resources all in one place!

Connecting with Marcella has been a true gift. She creates a brave and extremely safe space to have difficult conversations - and in my case, to ask many of the questions and confront some of the challenges I have not felt comfortable turning to others with. 


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