Corinna J. Moebius, Ph.D. is a writer, educator, walking guide, catalyst and consultant. She helps individuals, organizations and communities access and share knowledge, participate in decision-making, and shift policies and paradigms. She reminds us of our interconnectedness with one another and with the Living Earth, opening hearts and minds.
An interdisciplinary, “border-crossing” thinker and doer, Corinna is trained in cultural anthropology, critical geography, public history, critical race/gender studies, African & African Diaspora Studies and Latinx/Latin American Studies, as well as Permaculture, ecology and eco-spiritualities.
Her career, while eclectic, has without fail remained true to her values: cultivating a just, equitable and resilient world.
“I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963)
Consulting & Facilitation
In 1997, I entered the world of social entrepreneurship when I founded my own consulting business, Bordercross Communications. After working as Managing Editor for a “Best of the Web” directory, I wanted to bridge the digital divide by helping clients to share their own content online. Many of my clients were businesses and nonprofits run by women and people of color.
In 1997, three African American digital divide activists and I co-produced “The Hookup: Seeking Internet Solutions for African American Communities,” held at Howard University in Washington, DC. It was the likely the first national convening to focus not only on the digital divide but on the need for online content production by, for and about people of African descent. Speakers included pioneering Nigerian computer scientist Phillip Emeagwali, tech startup guru Clarence Wooten and the late Anita Brown, founder of Black Geeks Online.
After moving from Los Angeles to Washington, DC in 1998, I worked full-time as director of communications for womenCONNECT.com, one of the first DotComs to focus on the needs of women business owners and professionals. I left that position to work in the nonprofit sector as Director of Interactive Media for Children’s Express, an international youth journalism organization that fell into bankruptcy after hiring a new executive director.
In 2000, I decided to return to consulting, but this time with a focus on using the Internet to help build stakeholder engagement in cities and neighborhoods. I wanted to help make communities more equitable, inclusive and ecologically resilient by making civic decision-making more participatory.
Fortuitously, I met Mencer “Don” Edwards of Justice & Sustainability Associates, LLC (JSA), a firm specializing in designing and implementing large and small group multi-stakeholder agenda setting and decision-making processes, especially as related to land use and urban planning.
Don brought me on as an Associate (contractor) and trained and mentored me in facilitation and public process design. Soon, I was working on multiple projects and managing JSA’s website, PublicSpaceForum.com. In one of our meetings with a prime contractor, HNTB, I proposed a methodology for constituent engagement to include in our pitch for a contract with the city. It became the cornerstone for our proposal, and (after we won the contract) to our process of engaging citizens in th revision of the DC Comprehensive Plan. JSA adopted it as part of its core methodology for stakeholder engagement and used it for the next 20 years.
I spearheaded Washington, DC’s first convening aimed at increasing meaningful engagement of Latino stakeholders in urban planning and development; I also participated in one of the first diolagos (dialogues) aimed at creating a Latinos in Planning division of the American Planning Association (APA).
My methodology for constituency development became a cornerstone of the public engagement process for the DC Comprehensive Plan: “A Vision for Growing an Inclusive City.”
I am profiled in the public participation chapter of the book, Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design (Wiley & Sons, 2010).
In 2006, I moved to Miami. I continued to offer occasional consulting and facilitation services for various clients, while also taking part- and full-time jobs.
After working for two years as the director of Imagine Miami, a South Florida civic engagement initiative, I honed my skill in facilitation by learning new civic dialogue techniques and facilitating civic dialogues in addition to board retreats, strategic planning sessions and other forms of dialogue and deliberation.
In 2020, a year after earning my Ph.D. in Global & Sociocultural Studies, Don Edwards–CEO of Justice & Sustainability Associates–reached out to me again, this time with the offer of a full-time (remote) position as Senior Associate. I gladly accepted his offer. In January 2021, he invited me to serve as the firm’s first Director of Research & Education.
At JSA, I wear multiple hats. On one hand, I help with business and strategic development, communications, and improving business processes; I updated the firm’s Theory of Change, for instance, and created frameworks for monitoring and evaluation. I also support projects across multiple practice areas, including Planning & Development, Transportation & Infrastructure, History & Conciliation, and Sustainability & Resilience.
I recently served as subject matter expert advising the Mayor’s Task Force on Racial & Ethnic Equality in West Palm Beach, Florida. I designed the website for the Task Force and researched and created sections for each of its five policy areas of focus (e.g., Criminal Justice, Education & Workforce Development, Real Estate & Housing). For each area, I compiled data on racial disparities in West Palm Beach, summarized core issues, and shared policy recommendations, case studies and resources. I linked this data to my original research on histories of structural and systemic racism in West Palm Beach, also acknowleding decades of struggle for justice and civil rights.
Until recently, I also served as an Adjunct Lecturer in the Global & Sociocultural Studies department at Florida International University, where I have taught I the Anthropology of Race & Ethnicity, the Sociology of Gender, and the Individual in Society.
Currently, I am working with CasaCuba, a new initiative of Florida International University, to develop a new course on race, culture and placemaking in the U.S. Cuban diaspora.
I’ve designed and led numerous workshops on topics such as asset-based community development and arts and civic engagement, always with a focus on equity, and I have also served as a speaker and/or panelist at conferences across the U.S.
As a Guest Lecturer on cruises to Cuba (before the Trump administration banned such cruises), I shared anti-racist perspectives. I challenged the dominant script in Cuba’s tourism industry (and in Little Havana!), which diminishes the role of Afro-Cubans in Cuban history and politics and treats Afro-Cubans as exotic “others” rooted in an unchanging past and as deserving of an inequitable present. The scripts that dominate the global tourism industry tend to perpetuate racial and racist stereotypes. Guests told me that I helped them “see” in new ways.
My academic research focuses on the ethnoracial politics of cities and communities, and forces of global white supremacy as they materialize in the design and regulation of neighborhoods, heritage districts and spaces of memorialization and commemoration. I have conducted extensive research on Little Havana and ethnoracial dynamics within Miami’s Cuban diaspora.
Educational Walking Tours
I led my own customized walking tours as a guide for two of the world’s top tour operators: Road Scholar and American Excursionist. As the senior Cuba tour leader for Classic Journeys, rated #1 walking tour company in the world by Travel & Leisure, I crafted customized tour experiences in Cuba. I also served as a Guest Lecturer on cruises to Cuba before such cruises were banned by the Trump administration.
The tour and field trip experiences I created for clients often incorporated facilitated conversations after the tour and/or interactive workshops with local artists. For example, I served as a Graduate Teaching Fellow and Advisor for “Civic Engagement & Neighborhood Revitalization: Issues and Options for Miami’s Little Havana,” a graduate level course at Florida Atlantic University. In addition to leading field trips for the students, I guest lectured students and connected them to local residents and stakeholders. The findings of the student research projects were shared with the community.
For the 2019 annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Washington, DC, I designed and co-led (with Afro-Latino community leader Roland Roebuck) a field trip focused on remembering the heritage and history of people of color in Adams Morgan and Malcolm X Park.
These students on one of my walking tours are standing in front of the monument to Antonio Maceo, the great Afro-Cuban independence hero and abolitionist, in Little Havana’s Cuban Memorial Park.
Writing, Blogs & Digital/Multi-Modal Projects
Cuban-American sociologist Dr. Guillermo Grenier and I co-authored A History of Little Havana (The History Press, 2015), a “people’s history” of the neighborhood.
I have also published articles, essays and columns, which have appeared in newspapers (The Miami Herald, Calle Ocho News), online journals and my own websites.
For a nonprofit client in Washington, DC, I designed and wrote the curriculum for a 6-month youth civic engagement program implemented in after-school programs nationwide: “Youth Visions for Stronger Neighborhoods.” Participating youth identified local assets, analyzed media representations, conducted interviews, and crafted proposals. Outcomes included youth meetings with mayors, youth-led community planning meetings, and the formation of youth councils.
I am currently working on a major book project based on my Ph.D. dissertation, which investigated the racial politics behind the development of Little Havana’s Calle Ocho district.
During my spare time, I also work on my other digital arts projects:
- Afro Little Havana: highlights Little Havana’s little-known black history and provides a map of key sites. This project also features site-specific Afro-Cuban dance choreographies linked to these histories. The dances will be performed in 2021 by Little Havana-based Afro-Cuban dancer Marisol Blanco and her dance company.
- Other projects are under development.
Civic Leadership & Innovation
I earned an international reputation for my civic leadership and involvement in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. I have organized numerous neighborhood-based efforts aimed at bringing diverse neighborhood stakeholders together, protecting mom and pop businesses, and ensuring equitable development in the gentrifying neighborhood.
PBS featured me in its Women Who Lead series, and in 2018, the National Trust for Historic Preservation featured me in its Little Havana Me Importa exhibit highlighting “The Faces and Places That Define a Neighborhood.” In 2019, Calle Ocho News recognized my contributions with a Community Champion Award. See the media coverage of my efforts.
As the former director of Imagine Miami, the South Florida civic engagement initiative of Catalyst Miami (then called the Human Services Coalition), I led large-scale community dialogues and developed a series of “Changemaker Conferences” where grassroots leaders—including many from traditionally under-represented communities—connected for knowledge-sharing, capacity building and leadership development.
In Little Havana, I co-founded the Little Havana Merchant Alliance and served as Vice Chair. In this role, I organized the neighborhood’s first Open House, which gave local nonprofits and agencies a chance to share information about the programs and projects with local residents. I also launched and facilitated a long-standing community breakfast series, where locals could discuss issues of the day affecting the community.
Creative Community Connections
Arts & Community Building
Arts & Critical Thinking
Ph.D. in Global & Sociocultural Studies
In 2019, I earned my Ph.D. in Global & Sociocultural Studies (concentration in Anthropology) from Florida International University (FIU) (2019), with Graduate Certificates in Afro-Latin American Studies and African & African Diaspora Studies.
The name of my dissertation is Commemorative Bodies: (Un)Making Racial Order and Cuban White Supremacy in Little Havana’s Heritage District.
During graduate school, I was a Teaching Assistant and received the university’s prestigious Dissertation Fellowship. I also served as a Graduate Fellow in the Smithsonian’s Latino Museum Studies Program in Washington, DC and a Goizueta Graduate Fellow with the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection.
M.A. in Speech Communication
My thesis, “Where We Are From, Where We Are Goin’ To: Placing and Black Students’ Discursive Construction of Community,” illuminated the stories of black students, including Afro-Latinx students, and their efforts to create a welcoming gathering space on campus. It highlighted the intersectional dynamics, tokenism and racial bias students faced, along with forms of systemic and structural racism, as well as the resilience of black placemaking. I earned the university’s Spirit of Educational Equity award.
B.D.I.C. in Communications & Anthropology
As an undergraduate, I designed an interdisciplinary, self-designed B.A. in “Communications and Anthropology,” with a Minor in Geography, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration).
I worked part-time as a cartographer and researcher for the Historical Atlas of Massachusetts, compiling and analyzing data for the chapter on Race and Ethnicity.
I am certified in Permaculture design. Permaculture centers on whole systems thinking and the simulation, or direct utilization, of the patterns and resilient features of natural ecosystems.
I received a Certificate in Visionary Leadership from the Center for Visionary Leadership in Washington, DC.
There is no firm distinction between my “work” and “personal” life, because my work is so meaningful to me it often does not feel like work!
I like to weave, as my Southern grandmother taught me. I write poetry and stories, sing, draw, and dance. I studied Afro-Cuban folkloric and spiritual dance for twenty years and am a passionate aficionado of Afro-Cuban rumba. As a young person I was a semi-professional, award-winning French horn player.
I am certified in Permaculture design and strive to live an ecologically responsible lifestyle. I still climb trees and plant trees. I compost.
I love conversations with un-pretentious, “on the corner” neighbors: the storytellers. I’ve been known to chat for hours with old folks, sometimes while smoking a cigar. When I lived in DC, the Sunday drum circle in Malcolm X Park was my sacred space.
I like to wear hats.