Alumni Profile: Sheena Howard

M.A. ’07
Communication Arts
Current Position
Author, Filmmaker, Professor
Alumni Profile: Sheena Howard

A Writer’s Purpose

When Sheena Howard, Ph.D. (M.A. ’07), , won a coveted William Eisner Comic Industry Award in 2014 for her book Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation, it caught her by surprise. Considered the Oscars of the comics world, Howard was also the first Black female recipient of the honor.

“It totally caught me off guard,” says Howard. “I was surprised, and it turns out that I was the first Black woman to win an Eisner, ever, so it really became this important thing.”

The book initially started from a dissertation Howard wrote on the history of Black artists and writers in the comic industry. “I had to put together a timeline of Black-created comic strips from the beginning to about 2010,” she says. “That was a groundbreaking dissertation.”

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Howard studied communication arts at the College of Arts and Sciences. The author, filmmaker, and professor of communication at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., is also the founder of Power Your Research, a company that helps guide and leverage professors in branding themselves outside the classroom as experts and authorities.

“I think it’s important for experts to know how to build their platforms, especially in an age where everybody has the ability to disseminate information,” says Howard. “I create experiences for free thinkers to feel empowered when they’re challenging the status quo. Everything I do is to help people be the best person they can be.”

Outside of guiding fellow educators toward greater success, Howard is also a comics author and recently contributed to the Marvel’s Voices anthology series with one of five stories featured in Wakanda Forever #1, based on the Black Panther franchise.

At the core of Howard’s work as a writer is equality and justice. In 2014, she wrote Black Queer Identity Matrix and Critical Articulations of Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation. Two years later, she wrote, directed, and produced the documentary Remixing Colorblind, which delves into how the educational system can shift one’s perception of race. And in 2017, Howard co-wrote (along with David F. Walker) the comic book Superb, about a teen superhero, Jonah Watkins, with Down syndrome.

Howard is now working on an academic branding book based on Power Your Research and another project with Darryl McDaniels (DMC) from iconic rap group Run DMC. The mother of a 5-year-old, she is also penning a number of children’s books. “I guess it’s only natural for me to write children’s books,” she laughs.

Whatever Howard puts out into the world next will always be fulfilling to her, as long as she can continue writing. “I’m a writer,” says Howard. “I would write even if I wasn’t paid to write.”