Our Executive Committee

The Executive Committee handles strategic planning, oversight and annual development of the Pop Conference.

Ann Powers

Critic and correspondent for NPR Music. She is the author of several books, most recently Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music (Dey Street, 2017). She lives in Nashville and is currently working on a critical biography of Joni Mitchell.

Eric Weisbard

Associate Professor of American Studies at University of Alabama, co-editor of Journal of Popular Music Studies, and author of Top 40 Democracy and the forthcoming Songbooks: The Literature of American Popular Music. He organized the Pop Conference from 2002 to 2018, editing three books of conference writing.

Karen Tongson

Author of Why Karen Carpenter Matters (2019), which is nominated for a 2020 Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction, and Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (2011). She is professor and chair of gender & sexuality studies at USC, as well as professor of English and American studies & ethnicity. Karen organized the 2020 Pop Conference.

Jason King

Chair of New York University’s
Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music where he is also Associate Professor, Director of Global Studies, and Director of Writing, History & Emergent Media Studies.


Michelle Haban-Pallán

Professor of Chicana/ Latina Studies in the Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and adjunct in the School of Music and Communication at the University of Washington. She authored Loca Motion: The Travels of Chicana/Latina Popular Culture and coedited Latino/a Popular Culture.

Charles Hughes


Director of the Lynne & Henry Turley Memphis Center at Rhodes College, where he is also Assistant Professor of Urban Studies. His book Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South was one of Rolling Stone’s “10 Best Music Books of 2015.” Charles organized the 2019 Pop Conference.

RJ Smith


Los Angeles-based journalist and editor, and author most recently of American Witness: The Art and Life of Robert Frank, the definitive biography of the photographer and filmmaker. His biography The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, was listed among The New York Times “100 Notable Books of 2012.” RJ will be organizing the 2022 Pop Conference.

Paula Mejía


Colombian-American writer and editor from Houston, Texas. She is the Culture Editor of Texas Monthly, and she is a co-founding editor of NPR Music’s Turning the Tables series about centering women and nonbinary musicians in the musical canon. Her first book is a 33 1/3 series volume on The Jesus and Mary Chain’s album Psychocandy.

Jenn Pelly


Contributing editor at Pitchfork and author of The Raincoats, a 33 1/3 volume on the feminist punk band. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, NPR, and elsewhere. She is a curator of the Basilica Soundscape festival.