Nafisa Isa, Program Manager at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC), is a learning designer, social impact strategist, and service leader passionate about shared learning, problem-solving, and collective liberation. Her work is founded on the belief that learning is “a practice of freedom,” to quote the late, great bell hooks.
At APAC, Nafisa oversees planning for the Center's programs, with a focus on fostering innovation in museums, supervising digital engagement, and designing social impact strategy for a diverse array of projects including the Center's groundbreaking Culture Labs. Her most recent publication on community-centered design can be found in "Change is Required: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Museum," published by Rowman & Littlefield.
Nafisa was featured in Time Magazine’s Women Across America in 2018 for her efforts in creating soulful, inspiring spaces for Muslim-American women and was honored by the Smithsonian for her work at APAC in 2019. Nafisa is a graduate of Davidson College and the University of Pennsylvania’s Executive Program for Social Innovation Design, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Learning, Design, and Technology at Georgetown University. Outside of work, she can be found DJing as one-half of Shuno Re (@shuno.re), playing under-heard sounds from Bengal, South Asia, and the broader South Asian diaspora.
Curator of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific
Curator of Asian Pacific American Studies
Curator of Asian Pacific American Women’s Cultural History
Curator of Digital and Emerging Media
Manager of Education Initiatives