Vanessa K. Harper

Columbia University
Phone: 3522840500
Vanessa K. Harper has lived and worked in Cuba as a researcher, producer, documentarian, and facilitator of collaborative agreements between U.S. and Cuban institutions since 2005. She runs Travel Cuba With Us and Cuba Yoga Retreats, tour companies specializing in ethical traveler tours and yoga retreats that directly support the Cuban people. Vanessa is also the founder of Support the Cuban People, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that prioritizes food and medicine aid to individuals in need, apolitical academic engagement, and micro-grant support for independent artists and entrepreneurs in Cuba. Vanessa joined OHMA in 2021 to incorporate the oral history practice into her eighteen-year, multimedia body of work that documents the lives of subsistence farmers in the western mountains of rural Cuba, and their stories, over time, using documentary photography, video, genealogies, archival materials, and more. While at OHMA she brought all of this work together in a project titled Honoring El Moro: A Cuban Collective Memory. In addition to this project, she focuses her social documentary and oral history work in and around Havana on women over the age of eighty, artists, entrepreneurs, and other humanitarian and special interest projects. Vanessa holds a BS in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and an MS in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida, with a concentration in Food and Resource Economics and Cuban Studies. She graduated with an MA from OHMA at Columbia University in May 2023 following completion of her thesis: Trust, Love, and Collaboration: On Doing Oral History in Cuba.


Vanessa K. Harper holds a BS in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Asheville (2000), an MS in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida with concentrations in Food and Resource Economics and Cuban Studies (2006), and an MA in Oral History from Columbia University (2023). She worked in the film industry for more than a decade as an Executive Producer and has worked or volunteered for nonprofit organizations for more than two decades. She has received certifications from the New York Film Academy (digital editing), University of Oxford - UK (art history), the North Carolina School of Natural Healing (natural medicine), and the Yoga Alliance (RYT200). Vanessa is also a registered Florida Seller of Travel (ST44066) focusing on legal travel to Cuba under OFAC's general license Support for the Cuban People (515.574).


Conducting oral histories of the Cuban people (residing in Cuba and among the diaspora), Facilitating ethical Traveler Tours and Yoga Retreats in Cuba, Nonprofit support of the Cuban people, General nonprofit consulting, Fundraising and Development, Grant writing, Consulting on Cuba, Documentary photography, Video and audio recording and editing, Website design and development, Transcribing and indexing, Multi-media curation

Regions Available for Work

Other Regions: United States (based in northeast Florida) and Cuba (based in Havana)

Purpose of Contact

  • I am available to answer questions, or provide mentorship to other oral historians
  • I am available for hire - as an oral historian, consultant, presenter, educator, or related services
  • I am available to collaborate - on research, community projects, artistic endeavors, or other joint undertakings with peers
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