Our Officers

Kwesi DeGraft-Hanson, Ph.D.

Kwesi J. DeGraft-Hanson graduated in 2013 with a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University. His research explores intersections of African American history, culture, and literature in colonial and antebellum slavery in the American South. His focus is on what he terms "Hidden Landscapes of Slavery,"—places and spaces, like some former plantations and slave auction sites in the American South that are unmarked and without commemoration. He researches historical and contemporary maps and texts for spatial, architectural and cultural information to facilitate remapping and re-imaging said landscapes, to recreate these as virtual sites that allow commemorative attention towards the former enslaved persons who inhabited these places. 

Dr. DeGraft-Hanson’s published works are, “The Cultural Landscape of Slavery at Kormantsin, Ghana,” Landscape Research, Vol. 30. No. 4: 459-481, October 2005; “Unearthing the Weeping Time: Savannah’s Ten Broeck Race Course and 1859 Slave Sale,” Southern Spaces Journal, 18 February 2010; and a sidebar essay, “‘Torn Asunder’: Savannah’s 1859 ‘Weepin’ Time’ Slave Sale,” in Slavery and Freedom in Savannah, edited by Leslie Harris and Daina Ramey Berry, University of Georgia Press, February, 2014, pp. 61-63. His most recent publication was in a Georgia Newsletter: “‘The Weeping Time’: The story of the largest slave auction and a descendant’s homecoming journey,” in Jamil’s Georgia, the Saporta Report, an online publication of the Georgia Humanities Council, Atlanta, Georgia, August 3, 2015, accessible via this link

DeGraft-Hanson is also a landscape architect, and is registered and licensed to practice in Georgia and Louisiana. He obtained his Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Georgia in 1990. He has practiced landscape architecture in the American South, and internationally in Ghana, West Africa. An educator as well, DeGraft-Hanson has taught landscape architecture and related horticulture courses in South Carolina and Georgia, primarily, notably at the University of Georgia, from 1996 through 2005. In 2002, DeGraft-Hanson also taught at the Department of Architecture, at the University of Science and Technology, Ghana.

From his upbringing and experiences in his homeland of Ghana, and from his academic and professional practice, and personal experiences in the United States, including being married to an African American, and especially from extensive travel in what he terms “Hidden Landscapes of Slavery” in the American South—especially along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, he  realized the paucity of commemoration to those who were enslaved in the United States of America, despite the harshness and atrociousness of slavery, and the fact that these enslaved are responsible for the wealth and stature of the US. He was inspired to design, and advocate for, a fitting memorial (yet unbuilt) to commemorate the former enslaved of America.

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Latrisa DeGraft-Hanson

Latrisa presently is a graduate assistant with the University of North Georgia’s Student Money Management Center (SMMC). She conducts financial literacy workshops, class room presentations and 1:1 consultations with UNG students and staff.

Prior to this role, Latrisa worked for 19 years within Bank of America’s Consumer Banking channel across Metro-Atlanta.  She has a wide range of experiences and expertise in helping customers and clients with consumer banking needs.  From 2005 until 2015, Latrisa successfully managed multiple Financial Centers as a Financial Center Manager. She was responsible for associate development, exceeding sales metrics and achieving strategic goals and objectives.

A long-time volunteer with United Way Atlanta, Latrisa serves as a financial coach to individual community members. She also serves as a Precinct Poll Manager with Gwinnett County Elections.

Currently pursuing an MBA at the University of North Georgia, Latrisa has degrees from the University of Georgia, an ABJ (1986) and a MA (2006).

She and her husband Kwesi, have been married for 32 years. They are parents to three young adults who are engaged in professional careers.

Dorian J. Owens

A graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens, Dorian is a designer at heart. He is the one responsible for the creation of this website, along with its maintenance. For the past few years, he has been using his skills in Landscape Design to produce visualizations for clients in the southeast United States.

He learned about OCEANS through Dr. Hanson, while working on a few Landscape Architecture projects with him. When the mission and vision of OCEANS, Inc. was shown to Dorian, he was intrigued by it, and the fact that there is no national memorial to commemorate the enslaved who worked tirelessly (against their will) to build this country into what it is now is what has attracted Dorian to this project.

"ALL our history, whether good or bad, is a part of American History, and all of it needs to be exposed so that we as a people can grow, and Live as The Lord would have us to live. Besides, you can't go forward unless you first KNOW who you are and where you came from." ~DJO

Marquita Ross

Marquita Ross graduated in 2017 with an M.Ed in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Kennesaw State University. Her research explores culturally responsive education and the role of equity (not equality) in education. She believes the role of education should be to empower students to challenge the status quo and fight for justice in society. Her ideologies concerning education closely relate to the philosophy of critical pedagogy. She believes that schools should foster change and the most important thing about knowledge is to provoke students to take action. Her views support the idea that knowledge should empower students to challenge social norms and take a stand on controversial issues.

In 2014, she also acquired global certification by interning at the International School of Uganda. This certification recognized her achievements of valuable global learning in the areas of global perspectives, intercultural skills and global citizenship. 

Additionally, Ross has a Bachelor’s of Science in Middle Grades Education. Her concentrations are in Social Studies, Reading, and Language Arts. She currently teaches 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies for Gwinnett County Public Schools, which is the largest school system in Georgia. 

In light of her passion for discovering the effects of slavery and other injustices on the American educational system, Ross is delighted to team with Dr. DeGraft- Hanson in supporting the vision of commemorating those who were enslaved in the United States. She is passionate and optimistic about uncovering, rediscovering, and commemorating these places and spaces, like former plantations and slave auction sites in the American South that are unmarked and without commemoration—the “hidden landscapes of Slavery”.