Maria McKenna, Ph.D.
Dr. Maria McKenna '97 is a Professor of the Practice for the Education, Schooling and Society Program and the Department of Africana Studies. Dr. McKenna received her Ph.D. from Saint Louis University in Educational Foundations after completing undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University. Her teaching and research span the disciplines of education and ethnic studies focusing on the social, cultural, and philosophical contexts of American education. As a qualitative researcher with expertise in community-based and youth centered research methods, she focuses on youth voice, the value of the arts in civic engagement, and Montessori/peace education. She is particularly interested in understanding urban, public school environments and the constituent groups that use those schools. She teaches exclusively at the undergraduate level, offering courses in youth empowerment, urban education, educational philosophy, and narratives surrounding diversity many with community-based learning components. Dr. McKenna is a recipient of a 2015 Reverend Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the 2017 Reinhold Niebuhr Award for Social Justice. In her spare time, she supports the work of the Robinson Community Learning Center and Good Shepherd Montessori School. She and her husband, Mark, a Professor of Law the the University of California, Los Angeles have four children and reside in South Bend, Indiana.
Richard Pierce, Ph.D.
(Please note that Dr. Pierce is currently on leave) Dr. Pierce is a professor in the Department of History and Department of Africana Studies at Notre Dame. He is primarily a historian of twentieth century American history who specializes in the urban experience of African Americans. His research lies in the political economy of race and race relations in the Midwest, particularly Indianapolis, during the 20th century. His approach is an interdisciplinary one, utilizing theory and methods from urban studies, political science, legal, sports, and education history. His first book project, Polite Protest: The Political Economy of Race in Indianapolis (Indiana University Press, Spring 2005), examined an African American urban community after 1945 and is one of the very few works to deal primarily with the political economy of African Americans within a particular city. It argued that African Americans pursued a strategy of negotiation and coalition building that attempted to alleviate their Jim Crow status while maintaining the gains they had made in the areas of housing and labor. In his work, he seeks to better understand the process of acculturation African American undertook in transforming their experience in urban communities from domestic migrants to vital components of the political economy. It was in that space where African Americans developed the strategies that later allowed them to successfully navigate electoral politics.
Dr. Pierce has 3 children and resides in South Bend with his wife, Leigh, the Director of Marketing for the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
Professors McKenna and Pierce are award-winning and highly respected scholar-teachers whose engagement of students within and beyond the classroom at Notre Dame is legendary. I am confident that under their joint leadership AnBryce will continue to grow and flourish - Rev. Hugh Page Jr., vice president, associate provost and professor of theology and Africana studies at Notre Dame.
Amanda oversees the vision and execution of the AnBryce Scholars Initiative in all respects. She works directly with the students on a myriad of issues from financial aid, to immersion into adult life, to navigating campus as a first generation student. She coordinates campus facing outreach and serves as the primary contact for Financial Aid, the CARE Team, Center for Social Concerns, and other affiliates across campus. Amanda directs the Global Immersion Experiences each spring for first year students and works directly with Professor Patrick Clauss who instructs the unique, credit-bearing AnBryce Writing and Rhetoric course and handles all internal financial matters for the program.
Amanda graduated with a Masters in Not for Profit Administration from the University of Notre Dame. A first-generation student herself, Amanda feels a deep connection with the program. She began working at the University in 2010 and has been with AnBryce Scholars Initiative since its inception in 2013. Amanda is from Granger, Indiana and has two children.
Professional Education and Outreach Specialist
Sarah joined AnBryce in the fall of 2015. She coordinates professional networking initiatives, including summer internships and programming, and professional mentoring. She coordinates our domestic network immersion experiences, and assists with career preparation including the building of resumes and personal statements. She also provides direct support for development relationships and outward facing communication.
Sarah graduated from Duke University, where she majored in French and studied abroad for year in Paris. She moved to South Bend when her husband became the Head Men's Golf Coach in 2005. They have two children.
"What impresses me most about the AnBryce Program is both the tenacity of the students and the involvement of our donors. This coalesces into magical interactions where students gain knowledge and experience many of their peers acquire much, much later."
Professor Patrick Clauss
Director, University Writing Program
Professor Clauss administers the unique, for-credit Writing and Rhetoric class our scholars take in conjunction with our Global Immersion trip. He travels with the students at Program Manager to Ireland over Spring Break of their freshman year to facilitate writing and discussions during the trip. All Freshmen meet him during Orientation. A staunch ally of the students, he frequently provides recommendations, as well as editorial support for their Study Abroad essays, among other writings, and enjoys attending their various extra-curricular presentations on campus.
AnBryce Foundation Founders and Leadership
Founder / Co-Chair
Beatrice Welters serves as the Founder and Co-Chair of the AnBryce Foundation, a foundation she established with her husband Anthony Welters (LAW ’77), Esq. in 1995 as a way to provide opportunities to underprivileged children. She established Camp Dogwood Summer Academy in 1996. In 1998, the mission of the foundation was further advanced through the creation of the AnBryce Scholars Program at NYU Law School. In 2004, the Welters founded a second organization to serve underserved youth, the Vincent Wilkinson Foundation. Mrs. Welters is a former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She serves on the board of the Brookings Institution and is a member of the Board of Visitors of Colin Powell’s School for Civic and Global Leadership and City College. She and her husband are recipients of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in recognition of their long-standing commitment to philanthropy. Mrs. Welters serves on the Perlmutter Cancer Center Board at NYU Langone Medical Center. In 2015, the Vincent Wilkinson Foundation made a generous gift to NYU Langone to build a model program to improve outcomes for medically underserved women by reducing barriers to quality care and advancing pioneering treatments for breast cancer. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Manhattanville College and her Master of Arts from John Jay college of Criminal Justice at the City of New York. She resides in Virginia with her husband. They have two adult sons.
Anthony Welters is currently Executive Chairman of the BlackIvy Group, LLC. BlackIvy Group builds and grows commercial enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa, including logistics and infrastructure solutions and businesses that serve the growing consumer class. Mr. Welter’s global entrepreneurship in the region creates employment for individuals and new market opportunities for investors.
Mr. Welters retired as Senior Adviser to the Office of the CEO of UnitedHealth Group, which serves more than 100 million people worldwide through its health and well-being companies. During his two decades at UnitedHealth Group, Mr. Welters also served as Executive Vice President and a Member of the Office of the CEO of UnitedHealth Group and led UHG’s Public and Senior Markets Group. Mr. Welters joined UHG upon its acquisition of AmeriChoice, a $1 billion health care company he founded in 1989. Mr. Welters continues to innovate in the health care industry as the co-Founder and Chair of the Board for Somatus, Inc., an integrated and holistic kidney disease care management company.
Mr. Welters is a member of the boards of Loews Corporation, C.R. Bard, Inc and the Carlyle Group. He is Trustee Emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Board of New York University School of Law, as well as Vice Chairman of the Board of New York University and a Trustee of NYU Langone Medical Center. In 2012, President Obama appointed Mr. Welters to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he serves as Chairman of the Finance Committee. Mr. Welters is a founding member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He is a recipient of a Horatio Alger Award, awarded to those who have overcome humble beginnings and adversity to achieve success and contribute to society, and he serves on the board of that charitable organization as well. Mr. Welters is also a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest learned societies in the country. He was formerly on the board of West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. He and his wife Beatrice are also recipients of the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, in recognition of their long-standing commitment to philanthropy.
Mr. Welters was born and raised in the New York City neighborhoods of Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant. He earned a BA in economics from Manhattanville College and a JD from New York University School of Law. Mr. Welters is a member of the Bars of New York and the District of Columbia.
Dr. Paulette Curtis
Founding Faculty Director
Dr. Paulette Curtis was AnBryce's founding Faculty Director and served in that role from 2012-2019. Dr. Curtis is a graduate of Harvard University and resides in Louisiana.