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Current Working Group Members

Daniela Crespo-Miró (they/them)

Graduate Student

In the spirit of collaboration and equity, I chose to serve in RLL’s Gender Diversity Committee in order to help work towards an environment, both within and outside of the classroom, that accounts for transgender and nonbinary faculty and students. As an instructor of Spanish, I have found it is essential to provide students with the tools, as well as the trust, to engage in gender neutral language that allows them to engage with their peers, interrogate their own sense of being in the world, and express their identity fairly.

Sabine Gabaron (she/elle)

Lecturer IV of French

Despite many changes in the French language these past years, I am surprised at and disappointed in how very little attention is directed toward inclusive writing and gender representation in textbooks.  I am very much interested in finding ways to promote awareness and productive discussions, and ultimately collaborate in the development of teaching materials to strengthen our language program.

Blake Gutt (he/him)

Assistant Professor of French

I'm volunteering with the committee to help ensure that non-binary and neutral language is available in all of RLL's language and culture classes. It's important that every student is aware of these major linguistic innovations and, above all, it's crucial that non-binary and agender students are given the tools to accurately express their identities in the languages they're studying.



Nicholas Henriksen (he/him)

Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics

As Associate Chair of RLL, I believe it is crucial to acknowledge and address all barriers that can disrupt an inclusive learning atmosphere. One such challenge lies within the structure of Romance languages: our goal of maintaining an inclusive environment is hindered by the prevalence of gender-binary grammatical forms when alternative, increasingly-popular gender-inclusive pronouns exist. Confronting these realities also relates to my research as a linguist, and I'm excited to collaborate with my peers to understand how language is adapting to an evolving cultural context. Above all, as a member of Michigan’s academic community, I strive to promote a diverse and equitable campus that welcomes all gender-nonconforming identities.

Clarisa Russenberger (she/her)

Romance Languages & Literatures Major

I am a Romance Languages & Literatures (RLL) major, combining French and Italian. I am volunteering on this committee because I want to help create a more inclusive community within RLL and LSA at the University of Michigan. Language, along with general human culture, is evolving and changing. I believe it is important that this department evolves alongside it. I'm hoping to help in any way I can, learn from my peers, and help instigate a concrete change at the University of Michigan. 

Michela Russo (she/her)

Lecturer I of Spanish and Italian

As a teacher in RLL, I acknowledge that pronouns intervene profoundly with the constitution of gender identity and a sense of self. Language is one of the most common mechanisms by which gender is constructed and reinforced, through both grammar structures and everyday-life language performances, especially within and across educational spaces. Language, however, can also be the site of micro and macro aggressions, oppression, and discrimination. As such, I recognize the enormous power that languages hold. I acknowledge and value the intersection between language, cultural and educational practices, and the great ethical responsibility that we, as educators, hold in honoring principles of justice, respect, and equity through language matters. 

Alayna Simonds (she/her)

Business Administration Major and Spanish Minor

As a BBA undergraduate with a management and marketing emphasis in the UM Ross School of Business with a minor in Spanish, my RLL minor is an outlet for myself to authentically learn from and interact with a language other than my own. I volunteered to be a part of the RLL’s Gender Diversity Committee to create, engage in, and inspire critical conversation around how the teaching of Romance languages can be iterated to create a welcoming platform for all genders and identities. As someone who does not identify as non-binary and uses she/her/hers pronouns, I recognize that I have much to learn in the space of gender inclusivity, and am grateful to have joined a group of individuals whom I am learning from everyday.

Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott (he/him)

Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies

I volunteered as a way to support diversity and the ongoing fights for its recognition.