An Afro-Carolinian folklorist, Michelle Lanier has been an instructor at CDS since 2000. Michelle is the first person of color to direct the 25 sites, battlefields, and museums of the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites and Properties. She also served as the founding executive director of North Carolina’s African American Heritage Commission. Michelle uses her background as an oral historian and folklorist to connect communities around personal narratives and cultural expression. She has traveled to Panama and Ghana to document African Diaspora funerary traditions, and her ethnographic work in a South Carolina Gullah community led to her role as a liaison to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. Michelle also served as "Documentary Doula" and executive producer, respectively, on the award-winning films Big Charity and Mossville: When Great Trees Fall. Growing up in a family that includes veterans of five American wars has inspired ongoing work teaching students to collect veterans’ narratives for archiving at the Library of Congress.