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Dr. Zachary Blair is a cultural anthropologist, researcher, writer, community organizer, academic, nonprofit leader, and mass violence victim advocate.

 

He earned his PhD in Anthropology with a concentration in Gender and Women's Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago in December 2018. Zachary's professional journey encompasses a wide range of roles, including researcher, principal investigator, curriculum and academic program developer, university leader, editor, visiting professor, community health specialist, and nonprofit founder and leader. His research delves into the intersections of human experience, the built environment, political economy, and ecologies of violence.

 

As a co-founder of the nonprofit VictimsFirst, Zachary spearheaded efforts to provide direct assistance to victims and support communities in responding to mass violence, particularly mass shootings. During his tenure as Vice President and President, VictimsFirst allocated over $10.7M directly to victims between 2021 and 2024.

Zachary's commitment to social justice extends to his roles as co-founder and lead organizer of both the Community Coalition Against a Pulse Museum (CCAPM) and Pulse Families and Survivors for Justice. In these roles, he collaborates closely with Pulse shooting survivors to combat the commercialization of the tragedy and shed light on persistent issues. Through these community organizing endeavors, Zachary has played a pivotal role in holding exploitative nonprofits accountable, notably the dissolved onePULSE Foundation. This includes permanently stopping what would have been the nation's first privatized mass shooting museum—an alarming precedent that was thwarted before construction commenced.

Currently, Zachary is immersed in writing his forthcoming book titled "Machine of Desire," which delves into his doctoral research on the urban development and historical (re)production of Boystown—Chicago's gay neighborhood. He is also actively engaged in various projects exploring the ecologies of development and violence in Central Florida and Chicago, including serving as a Research Collaborator for Dis/Placements: A Peoples History of Uptown

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