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 Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies and 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 building institutional and organizations partnerships.  Avery has led student groups to Guatemala through VISAGE and Project Pyramid. She 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).

Colleen McCoy, Outreach Coordinator (email)
Colleen is the Outreach Coordinator of the Center for Latin American Studies.  As Outreach Coordinator, Colleen 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. She also co-coordinates the Américas Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. Colleen is the Chair of the Academy of IB Diploma Programme Partners Board at Hillsboro High School and serves on the Advisory Board for Cheekwood’s el Dia de los Muertos celebration. Before joining CLAS, Colleen taught public school in Spain and worked in hospitality in Australia. Colleen received her M.Ed in International Education Policy and Management from Vanderbilt in 2017.

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 and current member of the Warren Center’s Community Advisory Council. 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.