Lani Chappell

Hometown – Montgomery, Alabama
Undergrad – Yale College, 2022, BA in American Studies with Distinction
Current Occupation – Archivist-In-Training, Incoming MSLS Student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Greatest Impact

I want to highlight a full-circle RBS moment of impact. In my second year of college, I wrote a seminar paper on the lineage of Black community schooling in New Haven that was later included in the syllabi of two Yale courses. One of those courses was “Race, Place, and Education in New Haven” taught by none other than Yale and RBS alum Errol Saunders. It was affirming as a young Black Studies scholar to know that my work told a worthy story; it was also an honor to collaborate with a veteran educator and scholar like Errol, who has been a friend and mentor figure since my own selection weekend!


Born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, Lani moved to coastal Morocco after high school to study Arabic intensively for one year as a US Department of State NSLI-Y scholar. At Yale, Lani worked for three years at the Yale Sustainable Food Program, served as an in-home tutor with Refugee and Immigrant Student Education (RISE), and was a trip leader for Yale Outdoors. Lani received fellowships from Timothy Dwight College that funded work with Love Fed New Haven and the Palestine Museum US in Woodbridge, Connecticut. Researching in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was a memorable part of her time at Yale, and the experience planted the seeds for her pivot to archival science.

After graduating, Lani moved to Savannah, Georgia, to work as the Tenenbaum Museum Education Fellow at Telfair Museums’ Jepson Center for the Arts. Her exposure to art history and visual literacy pedagogy while at Telfair sparked her interest in art education, digital humanities, and equity in the management of cultural heritage institutions. Lani was recently selected as a Carolina Academic Library Associate (CALA) to begin fully-funded graduate study at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Library and Information Science in Fall 2023. She is excited to join the ranks of Black librarians and information architects, and plans to become a Certified Archivist. Additionally, she has been brought on as an archival research fellow at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Lani jumps at any chance to go backpacking, hiking, or paddling all over the US. She has centered her love of outdoor adventure in her academic and professional life. During college, she conducted research on the history of nature camps for Black women and girls in the Rocky Mountains, a project that took her to the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library in Denver, Colorado. As an environmental educator, Lani has worked several summers at the City Kids Wilderness Project in Jackson, Wyoming, leading wilderness trips in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. She has been a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR) since 2018.