UROC Staff

Makeda Zulu-Gillespie
Executive Director
612-626-9829 | zulug001@umn.edu
Makeda Zulu-Gillespie is UROC’s chief executive officer with primary responsibility for securing UROC’s success in all aspects of its work. She provides executive oversight of strategic planning, revenue generation, financial stewardship, organizational development, staff management, and operational activities. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from Grambling State University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Leola Crawford
Principal Office/Administrative Specialist
612-624-4470 | leola@umn.edu
Leola Crawford is responsible for logisitical aspects of UROC's special events including Critical Conversations, UROC Community Day, and events and receptions throughout the year.  She also oversees UROC's room scheduling and rental operations, is co-coordinater of UROC's Neighborhood U series, and provides scheduling and budgetary support to UROC's Director of Research. Leola joined the UROC staff in 2009. 

Johneva Davis
Principal Office/Administrative Specialist
612-624-5881| davi3797@umn.edu
Johneva Davis provides UROC's visitors and callers with information about UROC and other University of Minnesota resources. As part of UROC's Operations Team, Johneva helps with facility maintenance, provides calendar assistance for UROC leadership, supervises student interns, and helps with room rental requests. A graduate of the Aveda Institute Minneapolis, Johneva comes to UROC with a background in customer relations and community volunteerism. 

James De Sota
Director of Administration and Projects
612-624-4514 | jadesota@umn.edu
James De Sota pairs up University researchers and community needs. He oversees a variety of projects, including the Northside Achievement Zone 2013 Neighborhood Survey and the Northside Job Creation Team. James also served as lead coordinator for UROC's $3.6 million, federally funded Broadband Access Project. Prior to joining the University, James served as the neighborhood director for the Southeast Como Improvement Association, an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Minnesota Literacy Council, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Gambia, and researcher and consultant for several for-profit industries in the geographic information sector.

Hawona Sullivan Janzen
Gallery Curator and Special Projects Coordinator
612-626-1526 | janze005@umn.edu
Gallery curator Hawona Sullivan Janzen brings arts and cultural programs to UROC's gallery. She has coordinated exhibits and events involving more than 100 artists and arts organizations on topics ranging from the Cambodian refugee experience to African-American storytelling and a children's photography exhibit of life in North Minneapolis following the 2011 tornado. She is a volunteer with the Minnesota African American Museum, Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented, and the African American Leadership Forum.

Christina Melander
Research Fellow
612-624-4618 | melan108@umn.edu
Trained in community-based and participatory research approaches, Christina Melander focuses her research at UROC on sex trafficking, gender equality, and structural work inequalities.  She comes from a diverse background in social work practice, including working with sexual assault/domestic violence survivors, homeless populations, low-income communities, and immigrant in the Chicago and Twin Cities areas. Christina has a master's degree in social work from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Anna Orr
Executive Office and Administrative Specialist
612-624-7404 | arorr@umn.edu
As UROC's executive office and administrative specialist, Anna Orr is responsible for a range of operational and administrative duties, including co-coordinating UROC's Neighbohood U series, overseeing building operations, and supporting the UROC's leadership team. Anna has a bachelor's degree in speench communication/radio and television studies from Southwest Minnesota State University and was born and raised in North Minneapolis.