Barbara-Shae Jackson, PhD

Associate Project Director

Born in Montgomery, Alabama and raised in Naples, Italy, Barbara-Shae considers herself an advocate for social and racial justice, a social science researcher, and a student of the visual arts. These intersecting identities shape the questions she asks and the insights she brings to her role as associate project director at Slover Linett, which she began in the summer of 2023. In that role, Barbara-Shae works on foundation-supported community research, art museum research and evaluation studies, and other equity- and innovation-focused cultural inquiries.

Prior to joining Slover Linett, Barbara-Shae earned her PhD in cognitive psychology at the University of Alabama, investigating how racism, personality, and cognitive ability influence people’s perception of art. That work is the subject of her 2017 TEDx Talk, “The Color Line: Black and White Aesthetic Values,” and was presented in a 2020 exhibition curated by Barbara-Shae at the Paul R. Jones Museum of the University of Alabama, “When They See Us, What Do They See? Perspectives on Black Art.” Barbara-Shae is also co-author of a chapter on aesthetic preference and racial bias in a forthcoming book, Creativity, Innovation, and Change Across Cultures.

Barbara-Shae served as associate director of Coming to The Table, a national organization that addresses the systemic and social impacts of slavery, where she focused on research, program evaluation, and project development. Coming to the Table began as a reconciliation conversation between the Black and White descendants of Thomas Jefferson, later expanding to conversations among small groups around the country about the of the legacy and lasting impacts of slavery. Barbara-Shae also developed the Writing a New History Project, an effort to engage young people in a dialogue about race, in which youth from Philadelphia, Mississippi traveled on pilgrimages to cultural institutions around the South that tell the stories of the civil rights era. The program’s success led to Barbara-Shae being invited to help plan the Mississippi Freedom 50th events celebrating the return of the 1964 Freedom Riders to Jackson, MS, and the inaugural youth cohort of congressman John Lewis’s Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage.

Barbara-Shae’s research has won awards including a McNair Fellowship, a University of Alabama Public Engagement Fellowship, a Dissertation Award from the Southern Regional Educational Board, and an Outstanding Thesis Award from the University of Alabama’s College of Arts & Sciences. She earned her undergraduate degree in English and African American studies from Mary Baldwin College in 2008, and her masters and PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Alabama in 2021 and 2023, respectively. In 2023, that university published a profile of Barbara-Shae covering her research and her path to Slover Linett.

Barbara-Shae is also a poet, singer, and former actor. She enjoys attending theater, collecting vinyl soul records, watching documentaries, and listening to podcasts.