Makuu Staff

Our Staff

Brian Peterson

Brian Peterson, Ph.D.

Brian is a three-time graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Рfirst from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and later earning his masters and doctorate from the Graduate School of Education. Presently he teaches or co-teaches two courses including The History of Women and Men of African Descent at the University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as a pre-major advisor. He is the proud father of five children (Nia, Jalen, Nicholas, Myles, and Quincy), four books (including Higher Learning: Maximizing Your College Experience), and one academic and cultural enrichment program, As̩ Academy.


Michelle Gillard Houston, M.S.Ed.
Associate Director

Michelle joined Makuu in 2015, bringing a wealth of experience as a creative producer, culture connector and multicultural programming professional for academia. An advisor/advocate in black cultural identity with a focus on Black women and girls, Michelle is campus advisor for Campus Curlz, Sister Sister, a member of WOCAP (Women of Color at Penn), and founding advisor to AfroLatinX at Penn. A fervent supporter of Philly’s black arts community, Michelle served on the board of Black Star Film festival .

An avid traveler and tour leader, Michelle has curated epic adventures for herself and other black travelers across five continents and 35+ countries and counting, all while documenting these travel deeper experiences on her Nikon and personal blog.

A proud HBCU alum, Michelle holds a B.A. in Communications from Howard University and an M.S.Ed in Counseling from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.


Daina Troy
Associate Director

Daina has been a member of the Makuu staff since 2007.  She has served as Office Coordinator and Associate Director (2007-2012, 2015), Makuu Alumni Liaison(2012-2019, volunteer position), and returned to the office full time in October 2019.  Daina’s focus is Makuu communications and student leadership development. Daina spent the beginning of her career in the media and entertainment industry, working in music and marketing. Obsessed with pop culture and Black history, she witnessed the global emergence and marriage of hip-hop, fashion, and tech firsthand. A desire to see her community thrive caused her to pivot from developing artists to developing students.

As an alumna, Daina(W’98) serves with the James Brister Society and the Black Alumni Society.