Celebrating Black History Month

Black History Month celebrates the power, versatility and contributions African Americans have made to society. Learn about some of the Steve Hicks School’s black faculty, their research, professional interests and the trailblazers who’ve inspired them.

Eboni Lunsford Calbow

Clinical assistant professor Eboni Lunsford Calbow, Ph.D.

Background: I’m American born Black, and raised worldwide through the U.S. military.  I was born to a Black and Native American mother and a Black, Native American and Creole father, both rooted and raised in Oklahoma. We are also proud members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Professional interests: School social work, trauma informed care and intervention, educational equity and social justice, multidisciplinary and collaborative practice, and evidence-based interventions for children with disabilities

Who in black history inspires you and why: Black history as a polylithic, ever growing and richly robust body of progressiveness, power, intellect and movement inspires me daily. I’d never be able to choose a *single* soul in Black history, because it has always taken the effort of many to ground us in constant inspiration and keep us active in the present. I have personally needed everyone from Henrietta Lacks to Barack and Michelle Obama to Dr. Audrey Sorrells, Dr. Diane Rhodes and Dr. Michele Rountree, along with the whole of my multifaceted Black family.



Fiona Conway

Assistant professor Fiona Conway, Ph.D.

Background: Caribbean American

Professional interests: Biobehavioral interventions for health risk behaviors; treatments for trauma and stress-related disorders; athlete health; violence prevention

Who in black history inspires you and why: Sojourner Truth because she challenged racial oppression as well as gender oppression. 







Michele Rountree

Associate professor Michele Rountree, Ph.D.

Background: Like most Black families seeking a better life, mine was part of the Great Migration from the South to the North, particularly South Carolina and North Carolina to New Jersey where both my parents were born and raised. I grew up in a military family, born in Springfield, Mass. moving every 3-5 years based upon my father’s orders from the Air Force. I’ve lived in New Jersey, Virginia, New Mexico and Arizona.

Professional interests: Health promotion, health prevention and health equity. I often employ community-based participatory (CBPR) research approaches to ensure the translation of research findings to practice and policy.

Who in black history inspires you and why: Just one person, this is a difficult question. There are so many ancestors of African descent across the diaspora. I will say my mother and father, Bill and Harriet Rountree. Their love, guidance, dedication and resilience created the foundation from which my principles evolved.




Starla Simmons

Clinical Assistant Professor Starla Simmons, LCSW.

Background: Black – raised in the Midwest, with deep family roots in Compton, California and East St. Louis, Missouri. 

Professional interests: Social justice & liberation, addressing trauma in communities of color, ecotherapy and holistic social work interventions, group work with children and adolescents

Who in black history inspires you and why: Bell Hooks – she had a profound influence on my understanding of what it means to love yourself as a black woman when the world doesn’t; which has been critical to my personal and professional success.






Diane McDaniel Rhodes

Lecturer Diane McDaniel Rhodes, Ph.D.

Background: Black/African American; born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has lived in Austin for 48 years.

Professional interests: Family violence, partner violence, violence against women, social inequity, popular culture 

Who in black history has inspired you the most and why: Angela Davis for her fierceness, George Jackson for his humility, Whitney Young, Jr. for his insight, Charles Akins for his comfort, my parents Reuben McDaniel, Jr. for his brilliance and Myra A. McDaniel for her endurance and patience…I could go on. I have been fortunate to live a life surrounded by black folx who gave me everything they could. I still want to grow up and be Toni Morrison.