Chris Finan

Executive Director

Christopher Finan is NCAC’s executive director. He previously served as president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFE), the bookseller’s voice in the fight against censorship. He has been an advocate for free expression since 1982. Prior to joining ABFE, he was executive director of Media Coalition, a trade association that defends the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors of media. He is a former chair of NCAC and Media Coalition. He was a trustee of the Freedom to Read Foundation and received its Roll of Honor Award in 2011.

A native of Cleveland, Chris is a graduate of Antioch College. After working as a newspaper reporter, he studied American history at Columbia University where he received his PhD.

He is the author of From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America (Beacon Press), which won the 2008 Eli Oboler Award of the American Library Association. He also wrote Alfred E. Smith: The Happy Warrior (Hill and Wang) and edited National Security and Free Speech: The Debate Since 9/11 (IDEBATE Press), a reader for high school students. The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation honored the latter with its First Amendment Award. He authored Drunks: The Story of Alcoholism and the Birth of Recovery (Beacon Press). His latest books is How Free Speech Saved Democracy: The Untold History of How the First Amendment Became an Essential Tool for Secur ing Liberty and Social Justice (Steerforth Press 2022).

Chris is married to Pat Willard, author of several food histories, including America Eats! On the Road with the W.P.A.–The First Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin’ Feasts that Define Real American Food (Bloomsbury).  They have two sons and live in Brooklyn.

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Josh Corday

Director of Development

Josh is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and attended school at the University of Utah where he graduated with a degree in Political Science.

Josh’s first job in the non-profit sector was over 15 years ago working for a small social justice organization in upstate New York. He has spent his entire career in the development field working with both small and large nonprofits with a range of services, including the Special Olympics, United Way and NewYork Presbyterian Hospital. Josh’s work has primarily focused on individual and foundation giving in various director roles, most of which had a particular focus on major gifts.

Josh believes that free speech and freedom of expression are foundational principles that must always be protected and actively defended. Joining NCAC has given Josh the opportunity to combine his professional expertise with some of his own personal beliefs.

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Nora Pelizzari

Director of Communications

Nora Pelizzari is a storyteller with over a decade of communications, editing and marketing experience. Before joining NCAC in 2017, managed marketing, communications and business development at a major international law firm. Earlier, she created and edited children’s and young adult books, working on numerous NYTimes bestsellers, at both HarperCollins Children’s Books and Alloy Entertainment. After moving to Ireland for graduate school, she served as Trinity College Dublin’s International Marketing Officer. Nora holds a BS in English and marketing from Boston College and an MPhil in popular literature from Trinity College Dublin. Her academic interests focus on the intersection of culture, media and social change, particularly the changing place of adolescence and adolescents in popular culture.

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Christine Emeran

Youth Free Expression Program Director

Christine Emeran joins NCAC with non-profit, international research and academic teaching experience. In previous roles, she served as a research consultant at UNESCO and UNESCO-International Institute for Education Planning in Paris, France, including initiatives on knowledge societies, primary education decentralization policies, youth program on climate change, and lifelong learning. Dr. Emeran is the author of New Generation Political Activism in Ukraine 2000–2014 (Routledge, 2018) and a book chapter titled “The March for Our Lives Movement in the USA: Generational Change and the Personalization of Protest” featured in a global social movement book series, When Students Protest: Secondary and High Schools (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2021). Her journal service includes manuscript refereeing at Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization and Observatorio.

In her academic career, Dr. Emeran has taught sociology at St. John’s University, Manhattan College and political science courses on social movements at SciencesPO in Paris. She holds a PhD in sociology from the New School for Social Research, New York, MA in International Education from New York University and BA/BS in International Business from the American University.  Dr. Emeran presents and writes on contemporary youth social movements in Europe and the U.S, she is glad to be contributing her knowledge to support students’ rights to free expression.

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Svetlana Mintcheva

Program Consultant

Svetlana Mintcheva joined NCAC after years of academic teaching and research on post World War II art and literature. Having spent a large part of her academic career analyzing provocative art and its socio-political contexts, she is happy to be on the front lines protecting the coexistence of a diversity of voices in the cultural sphere. Dr. Mintcheva has written on emerging trends in censorship, organized public discussions and mobilized support for individual artists. She is the co-editor of Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression (The New Press, 2006) and of Curating Under Pressure: International Perspectives on Negotiating Conflict and Upholding Integrity (Routledge, 2020).

An academic as well as an activist, Dr. Mintcheva has taught literature and critical theory at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria and at Duke University, NC from which she received her Ph.D. in critical theory in 1999, as well as at New York University. Her current research focuses on the challenges to the concept of free speech posed by social media, social justice movements and political polarization.

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Gordon Danning

Program Associate, Youth Free Expression Program

Gordon Danning has a background in both law and K-12 education.  He obtained a JD from the University of California, Berkeley but decided not to practice law and instead taught Social Studies for many years at a public high school in Oakland, California.  He has also worked for more than 25 years on an occasional basis doing research and writing for criminal defense attorneys who represent indigent defendants in Los Angeles County.

He relocated to New York in 2012 to pursue doctoral work in Political Science, and immediately before coming to NCAC he served as the History Research Fellow at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where he was tasked with researching the connection, if any, between “hate speech” and political violence.  He has published several academic and law review articles on issues relating to free speech, including Did Radio RTLM Really Contribute Meaningfully to the Rwandan Genocide? Using Qualitative Information to Improve Causal Inference From Measures of Media Availability; “It Ain’t So Much the Things We Don’t Know That Get Us in Trouble. It’s the Things We Know that Ain’t So”: The Dubious Intellectual Foundations of the Claim that “Hate Speech” Causes Political Violence; Is the Cure Worse Than the Disease? Censorship of Hate Speech May Well Increase Violence; and Freedom of Speech in Public Schools: Using Communications Analysis To Eliminate The Role of Educational Ideology.

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Rebecca Little

Development & Communications Coordinator

Rebecca Little is NCAC’s Development and Communications Coordinator. Before joining NCAC, she worked in numerous non-profit organizations, focusing on educational justice, American foreign policy, and environmental advocacy. She has also spent time volunteering and studying the intersection of politics and culture in Assam, India and Paris, France.

Rebecca’s work has focused primarily on digital communications, non-profit development, and legal assistance. Rebecca holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from Rutgers University.

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Barbara Pyles

Business Manager

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