Graduate Assistants

Heaven Berhane

Graduate Assistant for Strategic Initiatives (Major Events and Graduate Student Outreach)

Master of Divinity, Yale Divinity School, 2018

Hometown: DMV

Heaven Berhane is a third year Divinity Student. This is her second year working at the House. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity. Prior to attending Yale, she obtained her Bachelors in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Masters in Social Work from Howard University. Heaven was born in Sudan, and her family is originally from Eritrea. Heaven and her mom, dad, and sister immigrated to America as refugees. Heaven has worked in the field of social work for four years. During her time as a licensed social worker, she worked for various non profits that focused on marginalized communities, in particular those from the Diaspora. Her hope is to combine her passion for social work, ministry, and social justice to advocate and help those in the Black community.

What Heaven loves about the House: “What I love about the House is the sense of family that it provides. Additionally,  the leadership and compassion of Dean Nelson as her role as director of the House has been an inspiration to myself and many others here on campus.”

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Dianne Lake

Graduate Assistant for Intercultural and Social Justice Programing

J.D. Candidate, Yale Law School, 2020

Hometown: Freetown, Sierra Leone

Dianne Lake is a first year J.D. Candidate at Yale Law School originally from Freetown, Sierra Leone. Her family immigrated to the U.S. following the Sierra Leonean Civil War and have since been based in Los Angeles. She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale College in 2016. Before attending Yale Law School she worked as a Woodbridge Fellow for the Yale Office of International affairs and curated Yale’s Contemporary African Arts and Culture Festival, Africa Salon. Dianne’s research and academic interests include International Human Rights, Post-Conflict Politics, Critical Legal Studies, Feminist Theory, Cultural Rights, and the intersections of Art and Social Justice.

What Dianne loves about the House: “I love the house because of it’s rich history, it’s supportive community, and the space it provides for black students and black culture on campus to thrive.”

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Ama Ruth Francis

Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement Initiatives and Experiential Learning

J.D. Candidate, Yale Law School, 2018

Hometown: Roseau Valley, Dominica

Ama focuses on environmental and immigration law. She is a member of the Black Law Students Association, the Yale Environmental Law Association, and participates in the Environmental Justice Clinic and Immigration Legal Services. She’s a native West Indian with a passion for mangoes.

What Ama loves about the House: “I love the House because it offers up a space where I feel at home on campus.”

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Joshua Narcisse

Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement Initiatives and Experiential Learning

Master of Divinity, Yale Divinity School, 2019

Hometown: Queens, NY

Joshua is a second year Master of Divinity student from Queens, NY. Prior to matriculating at Yale he obtained his BA in History and Political Science from Howard University. He is currently pursuing ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and serves as Youth Minister at the First Presbyterian Church of Stamford. Academically, Joshua is interested in how religion has influenced the ethical and spiritual dimensions of protest toward an understanding of how Black institutions develop as a practice of resistance. Joshua is also a first-generation college student, a big brother, and a NY Giants fan.

What Joshua loves about the House: “I love the House simply for its existence. The House doesn’t shy away from its mission and advocacy for students of the African Diaspora at Yale University. The House is Home, whether you come once or you camp out in its halls everyday. It makes the lines that connect us across the diaspora tangible and as a GA for Experiential Learning it is the starting line from which we can begin to piece together who we are as a global people.”

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Kenturah Davis

Graduate Assistant and Art Gallery Manager

Painting/Printmaking, Yale School of Art, 2018

Hometown: Los Angeles

Kenturah Davis is a visual artist. She has found that her time at Yale has opened up new opportunities to further pursue a multidisciplinary way of working. Upon completion of her MFA degree she plans to continue making art that locates the intersections of drawing, writing, sound and movement as a metaphor for the intersectionality that is ever present in the ways people identify themselves and others.

What Kenturah loves about the House: “I love the House for it effort and ability to share and support a wide range of experiences through its programming and for lending vital support to help us thrive as students.”

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Kazimir Brown

Graduate Assistant for Student Success Programs

Master of Divinity, Divinity School, 2019

Hometown: San Francisco

Kazimir earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Political Science from Santa Clara University and a Master of Public Policy from U.C. Berkeley. Before moving to New Haven she was living in Washington D.C. where she had the privilege of serving as a political appointee in the Obama-Biden Administration. Upon graduation she seeks to combine her passion for theology and policy in ways that will help build, heal, nourish, and progress underrepresented communities.

What Kazimir loves about the House: “I love the House because of its commitment to preserve, promote, and unite the unique experiences of those within the African Diaspora.”

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Richard L. Lucas III

Graduate Assistant for Strategic Initiatives (Black Men’s Initiatives, Greek Life)

Master of Divinity, Yale Divinity School, 2019

Hometown: D.C.

Richard Lucas III is a self proclaimed 21st century abolitionist. As a member of the Black Lives Matter movement, he is deeply invested in seeing the social, academic, economic, political and theological liberation of my people. In short, Richard “turns up for those that society has turned away.” This passionate pursuit is what brought him to Yale to study social justice, civil disobedience and theology. Prior to Yale, he attended Bowie State University, the first historically black college in the state of Maryland, where he earned a B.A. in History & Government and also served as Student Government Association President and become a brother of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

What Richard loves about the House: “I love the House because it’s a space where there is love and wherever there is love, there is freedom.”

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Jolisa Brooks

Graduate Assistant for Communications

MESc, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies 2018

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Jolisa is a Political Ecologist, Indigenous Detroiter, Environmental justice advocate, Co-Founder of Yale ROOTS, acting BGN President, and most importantly a lover and disciple of Christ. She will join the US Foreign Service upon graduation.

What Jolisa loves about the House:  ”I believe in engineering spaces that are conducive to Black fellowship, success, and peace; the AfAm fosters that kind of community. While navigating my first year at Yale the House served as pillar where I found like minded peers, build genuine friendships and grew both personally and academically. It is a great honor to contribute to the legacy and work of the House, and I’m really excited to be on staff”

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Brittany Thomas

Graduate Assistant for Strategic Initiatives (Sustainability, Community Garden)

Master of Environmental Management | Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 2018

Hometown: Woodbridge, VA

Brittany Thomas is pursuing a Master of Environmental Management at Yale F&ES, as preparation for management of water and sanitation programs in the USAID Foreign Service. At F&ES, Brittany organizes community events through ROOTS, the Forestry Club, and the EQUID Committee, and is passionate about encouraging African-American and underrepresented students to pursue environmental careers. In her free time, Brittany enjoys portrait painting, rapping, songwriting, and creating documentaries to advocate for WASH equity.

What Brittany loves about the House: “I love the House due to its presence as a central hub for students, professionals, and community members to connect together and celebrate blackness in its many forms. I am excited for the opportunity to join the House staff and expand my campus network.”