Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation Project
Meet the Team

Laura Weis, Ph.D.
Project Coordinator

Laura Weis coordinates the SHMR Project on behalf of the Jesuits in the United States, and works to build relationships with descendants, community members, researchers, Jesuit partners, and others to advance the project’s mission and goals. She holds a Ph.D. in Peace Studies and History from the University of Notre Dame, where she studied religion, conflict, and peacebuilding, and the relationship between U.S. culture and foreign relations. She previously worked in Washington, D.C., advocating for the peaceful prevention of violent conflict with the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the American Friends Service Committee. Laura is also an alumna of Saint Louis University, where she earned a B.A. in history and sociology.

Kelly L. Schmidt, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate
Research Coordinator

Kelly Schmidt leads the SHMR Project’s research effort to learn the identities and lived experience of the enslaved men, women and children who belonged to the Jesuits. She also coordinates the project’s genealogical research to connect living descendants of the enslaved to their ancestors. Kelly is a doctoral candidate at Loyola University Chicago, where she is pursuing degrees in United States History and Public History. She earned her undergraduate degree at Xavier University, where she was an Honors Bachelor of Arts (Latin, Greek, and Philosophy) and History major with minors in Gender and Diversity Studies, Peace Studies, and Philosophy. Kelly worked for about eight years at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center as a docent, youth docent mentor and museum experiences specialist.

Ayan Ali
Project Assistant

Ayan serves as project assistant for the SHMR Project, handling administrative and operational duties while also contributing to research. She recently completed her undergraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied women’s studies and history. Ayan previously interned with the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE) and Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments (ALIVE STL).

David Miros, Ph.D.
Director, Jesuit Archives & Research Center

David Miros is the director of the Jesuit Archives & Research Center, and he directed the SHMR Project on behalf of the UCS Province from May 2016 until January 2019. He now serves as an advisor to the UCS Provincial for the project.


Jonathan C. Smith, Ph.D.
Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, SLU

Dr. Jonathan C. Smith directs the Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconciliation (SHMR) Project on behalf of Saint Louis University (SLU), where he serves as the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement. Dr. Smith is also an Assistant Professor in the African American Studies Program. His teaching and research focus on the history and ideology of race in American culture. He has particular interests in how ideologies of race shape and are shaped by African American literature and culture. He is also a widely published poet. Dr. Smith’s work has appeared in Callaloo, Quarterly West, Obsidian II: Black Literature in Review, Crab Orchard Review, Minnesota Review and the Riverfront Times. He holds both a Ph.D. in English & American Literature and an M.F.A. in Writing from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was the recipient of the prestigious Chancellor’s Fellowship for African American students. Jonathan is also an award-winning teacher and an alumnus of Cave Canem.

Cicely Hunter
Graduate Research Assistant (2019-20)

Cicely serves as a graduate research assistant for the Slavery, History, Memory, and Reconciliation Project to uncover the lived experiences of enslaved people whom the Jesuits owned. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of American Studies at Saint Louis University. She earned her undergraduate degree at Marquette University, where she majored in History and Political Science and minored in Africana Studies.

Jeffrey Harrison, SJ
Research Assistant

Father Jeffrey Harrison, SJ, is a research assistant on the Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation Project. Currently serving in pastoral ministry at De Smet Jesuit High School, he has taught history to high school students for much of his apostolic career. He also worked for two years in East Africa with Jesuit Refugee Service, four years in Belize and 11 years at St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in North St. Louis. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in history from Saint Louis University. He earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

Michael Harter, SJ
Digitization Assistant

Father Michael Harter, SJ, contributes to the SHMR Project’s efforts to digitize historical records pertaining to Jesuit slaveholding. Father Harter has previously worked to train young Jesuits, serving as novice director, assistant to the tertian director, and formation assistant to the provincial. He has spent around a dozen years editing and publishing Jesuit magazines and periodicals in St Louis, New York, and Australia. He completed his undergraduate work and a master’s degree in English Literature at Saint Louis University, before pursuing theology studies in Toronto, Canada.

SHMR Project Research - Preliminary Findings
Jesuit Colleagues Respond to History of Jesuit Slaveholding


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