The Equity & Inclusion Fellowship program supports the participation of students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds at the Annual Fall Research Conference. The goal of this fellowship program is to introduce recipients to the world of public policy and APPAM and foster a lifelong affiliation and engagement with both. Special thanks to the Equity & Inclusion Fellowship Selection Committee for reviewing applications and selecting the recipients.
Congratulations to the 2023 Equity & Inclusion Fellowship recipients!
Teresa Abrahamson-Richards, University of Washington
Sukriti Beniwal, Georgia State University
Aurora Brice, New York University
Raheem Chaudhry, University of California, Berkeley
Cheng Chow, The University of Hong Kong
Candace Coates, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Naniette Coleman, University of California, Berkeley
Anna Crawford, University of Colorado
Monica Davalos, California State University, Sacramento
Sofia Dueñas, University of Notre Dame
Morgan Farnworth, University of Kansas
Heather Gomez Bendaña, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Vernicia Griffie, George Washington University
Calaia Jackson, University of Delaware
Andrew Johnson, Michigan State University
Daniela Jurado, Brandeis University
Jilli Jung, Pennsylvania State University
Jalnidh Kaur, Columbia University
Harneet Kaur, Syracuse University
Jancy Ling Liu, Georgia Institute of Technology
Anthony Lizarraga, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Tozoe Marton, Brandeis University
Jala Morrow, The University of Texas at Arlington
Jaeyeong Nam, Florida State University
Edima Ottoho, Boston University
Diana Quintero, Vanderbilt University
Jaime Ramirez-Mendoza, University of California, Davis
Jillian Royal, Cornell University
Zehra Sahin Ilkorkor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Rogelio Salazar, University of California, Los Angeles
Chloe Smith, Cornell University
Nathaniel Tran, Vanderbilt University
Yung-Yu Tsai, University of Missouri
Claudia Valencia Uribe University of California, Irvine
Jiaxin Jessie Wang, Vanderbilt University
Brittani Williams, Texas Tech University
De'Ja Wood, Vanderbilt University
Isaac Yeboah, Virginia Commonwealth University
Yerin Yoon, Boston College
Jamie Ziolkowski, Arizona State University
Tess Abrahamson-Richards, M.P.H. (she/her) is a citizen of the Spokane Tribe, the United States, and England. She has lived on Coast Salish territory in Seattle, Washington for the past 17 years and is a mother of two young daughters. Tess is pursuing her Ph.D. in Social Welfare at the University of Washington where her research is focused on policy and governance impacts on Indigenous reproductive justice and family economic wellbeing. In particular, her current work assesses the role of overlapping governance structures and respect for Tribal sovereignty in equitable implementation of state-level policies in the United States, such as Paid Family and Medical Leave.
She is also involved in evaluating a first-of-its-kind culturally tailored guaranteed basic income pilot program for pregnant urban Indigenous mothers. Much of Tess’ professional experience has been in early childhood service delivery, research, and evaluation, with an emphasis on supporting innovative culturally-grounded programming and effective implementation thereof. Outside of her academic and professional pursuits, she enjoys running, family outdoor adventures, and reading fiction. Tess is a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow.
I am a fouth-year Economics PhD student at Georgia State University. My research interests lie in the effects of health policy, institutions, market structure, and reproductive and gender economics. I am particularly interested in how health care providers make decisions, the effects of organizational and policy environments on such decisions, and their implications for patient welfare and health outcome inequities.
Aurora Brice is a New York University Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service graduate student. She is pursuing a Master's in MPA-PNP specializing in Management and Leadership. Aurora has extensive community experience. She has established a reputation as a transformational leader with a proven history of innovation and achievement.
Aurora is a Brooklyn native who has done extensive community work to build equity. Aurora has served as a Community Board Member, Block President, First Chair of the Economic Development Committee, and Interfaith Hospital Advisory Board Member. Her most significant accomplishments in her community work were increasing the number of residents participating in meetings/initiatives, improving police and community relations, reducing the number of bars and restaurants opening in bad faith by revising the liquor license criteria for community support, preventing a neighborhood hospital from closing; and bringing awareness to senior issues. In addition, as a former employee at the N.Y.C. Department of Education, she worked on projects such as the Brooklyn S.T.E.A.M. Center and My Brother's Keeper. Aurora is committed to supporting marginalized communities, amplifying voices for better resources, and creating equity for all.
Raheem is currently a fifth-year PhD candidate in Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. He is interested in understanding how we can increase access to opportunity for all children, particularly those from disadvantaged and historically marginalized backgrounds.
His research, broadly, examines how public policy and political institutions can work to perpetuate or attenuate economic and racial inequality, with recent work focusing on voting rights, land use regulations, and low-income housing policy. This works sits at the intersection of local public finance, urban economics, and political economy. Prior to coming to UC Berkeley, he conducted research on a range of issues affecting low-income families at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Cheng Chow is a research postgraduate student at the Department of Social Work and Social Administration in The University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on immigrant political incorporation, citizenship studies, and immigration policies, seeking to provide a comprehensive understanding of immigrant integration dynamics.
Candace Coates is in her fourth year pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests focus on housing, health disparities, and poverty, driven by a desire to refine social policies for more effective solutions to these intricate issues. As a fellow at the Institute of Research on Poverty, Candace collaborates with distinguished scholars, delving into a broad spectrum of topics tethered to inequality and poverty.
Beyond academia, Candace holds over fifteen years of experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her tenure in the Milwaukee County Housing Division enriched her insight, where she provided crucial support to various housing models. This practical involvement profoundly influenced her research focus and deepened her understanding of the housing challenges faced by vulnerable communities. Candace's ultimate goal is to translate her research into actionable change. By melding her academic rigor with practical experience, she aims to shape policies and practices that foster fairness and justice, sculpting a more inclusive narrative for marginalized communities.
Naniette H. Coleman is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of California Berkeley, an Emergent Political Economies Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, and a multi-year UC-National Laboratory Graduate Fellow (Los Alamos) from 2020-2023. She was the first and is the only social scientist selected for the latter University of California-wide distinction in the history of the program. Naniette is also an affiliate of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at Berkeley and two centers at Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for the Internet and Society (2019-2023) and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (2019-2021).
Naniette’s research sits at the intersection of the sociology of culture and organizations and focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, and privacy in the US context. Specifically, Naniette’s research examines how organizations assess risk, make decisions, and respond to data breaches and organizational compliance with state, federal, and international privacy laws. Naniette is the recipient of numerous academic and professional service honors including the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the American Association of Colleges & Universities, Chancellor Robert J. and Mrs. Mary Catherine Birgeneau Public Service Award for Service to Underrepresented Students at UC Berkeley, SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, Alumni Public Sociology Award, Presidential Management Fellowship, and President's Life-time Volunteer Service Award. Current academic and professional service commitments include founding and leading the first Summer Institute in Computational Social Science at a Historically Black College or University, SICSS-Howard/Mathematica in 2021 and subsequent iterations of the institute in 2022, and 2023.Naniette holds a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in Democracy, Politics, and Institutions from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and both an M.A. in Economics and a B.A. in Communication from the University at Buffalo, SUNY. A non-traditional student, Naniette’s prior professional experience includes local, state, and federal service, as well as work for two international organizations, and two universities.
Anna Crawford is a PhD candidate in public policy at the Center for Policy and Democracy, School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver). She researches abortion politics and policy using theories of the policy process, advocacy coalitions, and representation, and she teaches a graduate course on political advocacy. Anna has co-authored work on the role of emotions in the policy process and has several papers in progress on the topic of abortion.
Cutting her teeth as a Planned Parenthood community organizer and clinic escort, Anna has over a decade of advocacy experience and now sits on the board of directors for the Women’s Lobby of Colorado, a statewide public policy advocacy organization. She previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. Anna currently co-chairs CU Denver’s university-wide Institutional Equity Advocacy Council. Anna earned her graduate certificate in public policy analysis from CU Denver, her MA in English from Penn State University, and her BA in English and Anthropology from Texas Tech University. She is a third generation Mexican-American who grew up in Texas and now lives with her partner in Colorado with their son, cats, and books.
Monica Davalos is a third year part-time Master of Public Policy and Administration student at California State University, Sacramento. She is a proud California Central Valley native and first-generation college graduate. As the daughter of Nicaraguan and Mexican immigrants, she is driven by her passion to ensure underserved Californians have equitable opportunities and the protections needed to prosper.
Monica works full-time as a senior policy analyst at the California Budget & Policy Center which is a nonpartisan, research and analysis nonprofit committed to advancing state policy and budget decisions that expand opportunities and promote the well-being of all Californians. She primarily conducts research on the intersection of homelessness, housing, and health equity. Her work strives to highlight inequitable housing outcomes and the necessity to reform policy and amplify funding streams to ensure all Californians have an affordable and stable place to call home. She was part of the 2022-23 Merritt Scholar Cohort – a California-focused scholarship and mentorship program designed to attract the next generation of affordable housing development professionals. Monica holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science from the University of California, Davis.
Sofia Dueñas is a doctoral student in sociology at the Univeristy of Notre Dame. Her research interests center around stratification in K-12 schools and the ways that data and intervention resources can disrupt patterns of racial and ethnic inequality. Her current work examines a third-grade reading and retention policy in Indiana and its impacts across racial-ethnic and socioeconomic groups. She is also interested policymaking around school discipline and violence in schools. Prior to graduate school, Sofia taught first and second grade in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. in Sociology & Education from Whittier College and her M.A. in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University.
Morgan Farnworth is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas, specializing in urban health and public policy. She is also a Health Policy Research Scholar, a national leadership program from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Before entering the doctoral program, Morgan completed a Master of Public Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a graduate certificate in homeland security and emergency management. She also received a BS in public affairs from Indiana University, where she was a McNair Scholar.
Morgan’s research focuses on government as a driver of health and social outcomes. Applying an interdisciplinary lens to the overdose crisis, her dissertation examines the relationship between drug mortality and local public service delivery, determinants of state harm reduction policy adoption, and patterns of collaboration between courts and the treatment sector.
Heather Gomez Bendaña
Heather Gomez-Bendaña (she/her/ella) is an assistant policy researcher at RAND and a Ph.D. candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her research interests include social determinants of health, special needs populations, people with disabilities, health care access, health disparities, health care quality, academic achievement gaps, education policy, education equity, and disadvantaged students.
Prior to joining Pardee RAND, she was a program coordinator at the Green Family Foundation Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program at Florida International University, where she helped design and evaluate evidence-based health promotion programs and facilitated a pilot project on care management for pediatric asthmatic children. Before that, she was a high school biology and mathematics teacher in Hialeah, Florida. She has an M.P.H. from Florida International University with a specialization in health promotion and disease prevention and a B.S. in biology from Florida State University.
Vernicia Griffie is a doctoral candidate in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University. Her dissertation research centers on measuring the impact and efficacy of state-sponsored social welfare programs in the United States. Her other recent research explores the micro-level interplay between race and political decision-making, as well as the broader conceptualization of race within social science literature. Vernicia has worked as both a graduate research assistant and lecturer, teaching classes in applied statistics and public values. Post-graduation, Vernicia plans to pursue a career in academia, where she hopes to contribute to the representation of Black women researchers and instructors in the social sciences.
Calaia is a third-year doctoral student in the Public Policy and Administration Ph.D. program at the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. Her primary research areas are education and social policy, focusing on public K-12 schools and state and local government policies and practices. In her dissertation, she will examine the civic, political, and health consequences of exposure to various discipline policies and practices in public schools and ways to inform more just and equitable policies. Calaia is a first-generation scholar from Dallas, Texas. She studied political science at the University of North Texas before completing a service year as a tutor and mentor with AmeriCorps’ City Year San Antonio. She received the Dean’s Leadership Certificate and completed a Master of Public Service Administration degree at The Bush School of Government and Public Service (Texas A&M University). Before attending the Biden School, Calaia worked with the Office of Health Equity at the American Heart Association, developing a broader understanding of the interconnectedness of policy, research, and practice. Drawing on these lived experiences, her research considers how inequalities are perpetuated in and through schools and what might make them more equitable and democratic.
Andrew Johnson, MEd, is a doctoral student in the Education Policy program at Michigan State University. He is interested in the intersection of economics, sociology, and psychology, especially curious about the decisions people make and the context in which they are based and perceived to be set. He uses critical quantitative and mixed methods to study educational decision-making and evaluate policies from an equity standpoint. His areas of research span PK-16, including school choice, student retention, and college major declarations.
Prior to matriculating to Michigan State, Andrew was a middle school math teacher. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in Education Policy and Leadership from American University.
Daniela Jurado is a second year Social Impact MBA student at Brandeis University. Her concentration in Economic and Racial Equity aims to strengthen her technical and analytical skills with which she aspires to continue examining the social determinants of health and uplift community voice. Daniela is a Colombian immigrant, fluent in English and Spanish. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health, Daniela completed two terms of service with the DIAL/SELF AmeriCorps Program in Western Massachusetts. Daniela served at a community resource center supporting youth and families with individual and community well-being through asset-based community development.
She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute for Child, Youth, and Family Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She has been working on supporting a large-scale policy analysis and data analysis project, Diversity Data Kids. Her work has contributed to a literature review on the causal research evidence of paid family and medical leave (PFML) for the National Academies Consensus Report Closing the Opportunity Gap for Young Children. She is currently working on policy implementation strategies to improve equitable access to State PFML programs.
Jilli Jung is a third-year doctoral student in Education Policy Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests and experiences center around the rigorous examination of policy impacts on broadly defined education and health outcomes for adolescents, especially marginalized adolescents. Jilli’s recent work, published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, examines the impact of civics test policy on young people’s voter turnout. Her ongoing research projects include the effects of a later school start time policy on students’ sleep and health and transgender adolescents’ mental health and substance use. She is currently a managing editor of American Journal of Education. She holds BA and MA in Ethics Education from Seoul National University, South Korea. Outside of research, she enjoys climbing and playing tennis.
Jalnidh Kaur is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics and Education at Columbia University. Her research is focused on understanding how informational and behavioral barriers affect human capital investments and inequality. In particular, her projects use field experiments and panel data analysis to study the role of information and beliefs held by teachers and parents in shaping learning outcomes for students in low-income countries. Previously, she has worked with J-PAL South Asia and the World Bank, providing research assistance on large-scale randomized evaluations. She has also been a high-school economics teacher at a residential school in India. Jalnidh is a Rhodes scholar, holds an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelors in Economics (Honors) from St. Stephen's College, Delhi. She is on the 2023-24 job market.
I am a Ph.D. student enrolled in the interdisciplinary Social Science program at Syracuse University's Maxwell School. Under the guidance of Professor Sarah Hamersma, I focus my research on education policy changes and their effects on student outcomes, human capital accumulation, and labor economics. Additionally, I am intrigued by factors affecting students' health and behavior and their impact on students’ performance. Before commencing my Ph.D. journey, I held the position of Senior Business Analyst at a multinational corporation.
Jancy Ling Liu
Jancy Ling Liu, a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Tech, focuses her work on environmental, energy economics, and human behavior. Her research endeavors to understand how climate change and energy transition impact social dynamics, utilizing a blend of experimental and econometric methods. Born and raised in a small town in southwest China, she is the first generation in her family to attend university and pursue a doctorate. During her undergraduate years, she stood out as the Local Committee President of AIESEC Dalian in Mainland of China and volunteered as a Teaching Assistant for The Educators Assisting Children Hopes (TEACH) program in India. Post-undergrad, her two-year working experience at a Beijing start-up stimulated a curiosity that led her back to academia, where she completed an M.S. in Statistics and Economics from Georgia Tech in 2019.
Her research investigates the complex relationships between environmental factors and human behavior, specifically focusing on power plant retirements' effects on migration patterns and the influence of social norms on eco-labeled products. Beyond her academic pursuits, she advocates for diversity and inclusion, actively participating in DEI events and striving to contribute to the advancement of underrepresented groups in the field. In 2021, she was selected as the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) fellow and served to coach undergraduate students. In her leisure time, Jancy facilitates the campus Meditation Club sessions and relishes exploring natural parks.
Anthony Lizarraga is a doctoral student in the Educational Policy Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California-Irvine, a Master’s in Educational Studies and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Additionally, he earned a Master’s in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
His current research interests focus on understanding how teachers' perceptions through subjective social-emotional skill ratings play a role in academic achievement as well as the ways school discipline is operationalized and enacted in early childhood educational settings, in particular, the way school discipline practices disproportionally impact Girls of Color.
Tozoe Marton, MSc, is a second year PhD student at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She received her Master of Science in Global Health Policy and Management from the Heller School and then joined the Women’s Global Health Imperative Group at RTI International as a public health analyst. At RTI, Ms. Marton worked on research focused on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, gender and economic inequities, contraceptive technologies, female-initiated methods of HIV prevention, and community-based interventions among vulnerable populations in low-resource settings. Since returning to Brandeis for her PhD, Ms. Marton has been pursuing coursework exploring healthy pregnancy and childbirth outcomes from a global public health perspective. Her research focuses on the role that strengthening and empowering midwifery care can play in improving the quality of care that women receive and reducing preventable maternal mortality.
Jala is a Ph.D. student in the Public Administration and Public Policy program at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Her range of research explores academic experiences of graduate students, diversity and representation at the federal workforce level, and equity in housing interventions. She currently serves as the president of the Ph.D. Consortium, an organization that serves as the liaison between the doctoral student body and the faculty/staff in the College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs at UTA.
Jala’s recent honors include being selected as a member of the American Society for Public Administration’s (ASPA) Founders’ Fellows 2023 cohort. She was also selected as a Fellow of the Public Administration Theory Network’s (PATNet) 2022 cohort. Jala received her Master of Business Administration from UTA in 2019 and her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 2017 from Jackson State University. In her free time, Jala enjoys traveling, cooking, and reading.
Jaeyeong Nam is a Ph.D. candidate at the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at FSU. Jaeyeong is interested in the topics of social equity, administrative burden, and representative bureaucracy. His research is focused on the policy areas of small business and higher education. Prior to joining the Askew School, Jaeyeong gained work and research experience at the University of Southern California and Seoul National University as a graduate student instructor and research assistant. He holds two B.A.s in Public Administration from Korea University and Kyung-Hee University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California.
Edima Ottoho is a doctoral student (DrPH Leadership, Management, and Policy) at Boston University (BU). She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) - Health Services Management, a Master of Business Administration (MBA), and a Bachelor’s degree in Genetics and Biotechnology. Edima is a licensed Project Manager (PMP®) and has worked for over 11 years in the global/public health space. Her expertise is in healthcare program design, planning, coordination, evaluation, financing, and digitization. Her current career and research interests are in women’s strategic leadership in healthcare, addressing health disparities, workforce development, and population aging.
Currently, Edima is a Course Instructor at BU School of Public Health for a Master’s level core course titled Individual, Community, and Population Health (ICPH). She serves as the Emerging Women Leaders (EWL) fellow at BU; and is actively involved with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI)’s Gender, Rights, and Resilience (GR2) program on a project to promote women’s leadership in global health in Boston. She is a board member of the SmileTrain Young Leadership Circle (YLC), previously a Frederic Bastiat fellow, Women in Leadership Development (WILD) fellow, and the Design, Equity, Action, and Leadership (DEAL) fellow. She also briefly worked on a practicum project with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Local and Regional Health (OLRH). At OLRH, she worked in steering committees/core teams, and also significantly contributed to evaluations and guidelines on health and racial equity for local health, and workforce development efforts. Edima aspires to become a global health leader, one who leads with compassion, conscience, and commitment to influence equitable policies/programs. She is investing significantly in personal development and is open to building connections beyond the global health community.
Diana Quintero is a doctoral student in the Department of Leadership, Policy, & Organizations at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Her work uses quantitative research methods to analyze inequalities in K-12 education and identify policies and practices that effectively promote the success of disadvantaged students in the U.S. and Colombia. In the U.S., Diana evaluates the efficacy of educational policies on Multilingual Learner students' educational experiences and outcomes. She has also co-authored research on policies to increase the diversity of the teacher workforce and inequalities in teacher compensation. In Colombia, Diana is using experimental evidence to evaluate the efficacy of tutoring programs on students' cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes.
Before her doctoral studies, Diana worked as a senior research analyst at the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution. Diana holds an M.A. and a B.A. in Economics from Universidad de los Andes, and an M.S. in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jaime Ramirez-Mendoza (he/him/él) is a third-year Ph.D. student at UC Davis studying School Organization and Educational Policy. His personal experience navigating the education system as a first-generation, low-income, bilingual Latino sparked his research interest in centering racial equity to analyze college affordability, access, and success for historically excluded populations, and bridge said research to policy. Previously, Jaime worked to advance racial equity policies in college affordability as a Policy Analyst at The Education Trust, and has experience providing holistic advising to students via Upward Bound, the Educational Opportunity Program, and Destination College Advising Corps. A native of Smith River, CA, Jaime holds a master’s degree in Higher Education from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree in Chicanx Studies and Managerial Economics from UC Davis
Jillian is a Dean’s Scholar at Cornell University and pursuing her PhD in Sociology. Jointly funded through the Department of Sociology and the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, she is concentrating her research and scholarship on Race, Racism and Policy Analysis. As a PhD student at Cornell, she is currently working on a research team to analyze COVID-19 policies and their disparate impact on different demographic groups. Prior to coming to Cornell,
Jillian has had the opportunity of studying different facets of the law and legal services from the beginning of her high school career. She attended a magnet school focusing on law and public safety, and while studying there was introduced to the subjects of Constitutional and Criminal Law, and Public Policy. During her time at Montclair State University, she was able to expand her focus to address international law, human rights, and government in much more specific ways. While completing her Master of Public Administration at the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Jillian researched the treatment of women both domestically and internationally; researching the history and impact of discrimination in the U.S. legal system, that perpetuate cycles of poverty and inequality.
Zehra Sahin Ilkorkor
Zehra is a Ph.D. student in Public Policy & Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University. While pursuing her studies, she also works as a graduate teaching assistant. Her research focuses on economic development and education policy with a focus on the impact of policies on Muslim communities and immigrant populations. She previously served as a policy analyst at the Turkish Ministry of Treasury and Finance. She earned a Master of International Affairs with a concentration in Economic and Political Development from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs.
Rogelio Salazar is a first-generation PhD student in the Higher Education & Organizational Change program at UCLA's Graduate School of Education. Impacted by the effects of the school-to-prison pipeline, specifically, being denied the opportunity to learn and engage in conversations about college, Rogelio seeks to understand and dismantle systemic and structural inequities in secondary education including community college.
Rogelio's research centers on examining policies and mechanisms that hinder or render support to dual enrollment, statewide college promise programs, school discipline reform, removal of policing in schools, prison education, and racial equity reform including guided pathways in community colleges. Through a critical policy & quantitative perspective and a focus on race consciousness, Rogelio critically interrogates how racially minoritized and historically underrepresented students can be served equitably. Their goal as a scholar is to generate action-driven research that informs policies and engages relevant stakeholders. By bridging research and policy, Rogelio seeks to advance race-conscious policies that advance the outcomes of students of color and contribute to more equitable public education systems. In addition, Rogelio is actively involved in the CCHALES Research Collective at San Diego State University and the Wright-Kim Lab at the University of Michigan.
Chloe Smith (she/her) is a third-year Ph.D. student at Cornell University's Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. She broadly studies applied microeconomics with a focus on health economics and the economics of crime. Specifically, she is interested in drug policy and public health. Her ongoing projects include examining the community impacts of overdose prevention centers, fentanyl test strips, and safer supply programs. In addition to these, she has worked on projects relating to incarceration and immigration enforcement.
Originally from Oklahoma, Chloe pursued bachelor's degrees in economics and mathematics at the University of Kansas. She then spent two years as a research analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas working on regional policy. In 2023, Chloe was recognized by Cornell as an outstanding teaching assistant.
Nathaniel M. Tran, BA (they/he) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Health Policy, trainee in the LGBTQ+ Policy Lab, and affiliate of the Center for Research on Inequality and Health at Vanderbilt University. Their research aims to understand the effect of public policies on LGBTQ+ population health across the life course. Their research has focused on exposures to protective factors such as LGBTQ+ non-discrimination policies in healthcare, housing, employment, education, and public accommodations as well as to risk factors such as childhood maltreatment and violence victimization in early adulthood.
They are PI of a National Institute of Aging R36 that focuses on preventive services and long-term care among midlife and older age LGBTQ adults. Their research has been published in journals such as Health Affairs, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, and Transgender health, and covered by media outlets such as PBS, Huffington Post, and Yahoo! News. They previously conducted public health research and community outreach at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. They were a 2018 Fulbright Fellow to the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and earned their BA from Tufts University in 2017.
Yung-Yu Tsai is a doctoral candidate at the Harry S Truman School of Government and Public Affairs, University of Missouri. Her research area centers on public finance and social equity, with a specific focus on education and taxation. She explores how government spending and taxation impact equity in education access and outcomes. She employs econometric tools to analyze policies and gather compelling causal evidence.
Her recent studies include taxing elite colleges' effects on on-campus spending and student composition, the influence of living in a student dormitory on persistence and long-term academic/labor outcomes, and household financial resources' impact on children's college quality and corresponding labor market outcomes. With prior experience analyzing education policies in the Taiwanese Congress, her work combines academic rigor with real-world insights.
Claudia Valencia Uribe
My name is Claudia and I am a fourth year PhD student at UC Irvine in the Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy program. I am a first-generation Latina college student studying the various understandings and implications of drought on different communities and regions in California. My research also seeks to understand how water governance around the issue of drought is informed by these understandings and experiences. I believe my research interests are influenced by the communities I am a member of and grew up in, which are often those who are left out of the decision making process and who will be impacted the most by periods of water scarcity, which are becoming much more frequent and severe.
In addition to my personal research interests, I have been involved in other projects around flooding in the Los Angeles area and the impacts of climate change on undocumented, underserved communities. I received my Master in Public Policy degree also from UC Irvine in 2016, and have undergraduate degrees in economics and political science from Cal Poly Pomona. For fun, I enjoy going on hikes, snowboarding, crocheting, and binging television shows.
Jiaxin Jessie Wang
Jiaxin Jessie Wang (she/her/她) is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Under a DisCrit and QuantCrit lens, her work examines the experiences of culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse students and families in special education. Her research explores (a) disproportionate representation of minoritized students with disabilities by student characteristics, (b) quality and experience of educators who work with students with disabilities, and (c) family participation and involvement in the special education process. Her background as an Asian American immigrant and time as a special education teacher in a public middle school influences her work.
She received her M.Ed. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University and her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida, and her work has been published in the Social Psychology of Education journal. Currently, she is a scholar for the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention, a race and disability equity fellow at The Education Trust, and she serves in multiple leadership and service roles at her institution. Her hobbies include cooking, dancing, and reading the latest young adult novels.
Brittani Williams is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is currently making significant contributions as a Senior Policy Analyst for Higher Education in Washington, D.C. Alongside her professional role, Brittani is pursuing her doctoral degree at Texas Tech University, where she is conducting research on black mothering students pursuing higher education. She is also an inaugural graduate fellow alum with Howard University's Center for HBCU Research Leadership and Policy, showcasing her dedication and commitment to advancing educational opportunities for historically marginalized populations.
Her research focused on a comprehensive definition of basic needs for graduate students. She is also serving on the Board of Advisors for the Data-to-Action Campaign for Parenting Students. Brittani's research interests are rooted in her commitment to improving postsecondary support and outcomes for underrepresented students. She aims to address the systemic barriers and inequalities that hinder their educational attainment. By focusing on students from low-wealth communities and historically marginalized populations, Brittani strives to create a more equitable and inclusive higher education system.
De’Ja Wood is an Education Policy Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University, Peabody College. Prior to her doctoral studies, De’Ja served as a college adviser in Atlanta Public Schools through Georgia College Advising Corps. She graduated with honors of Highest Distinction from Duke University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in African and African American Studies with a minor in Education and a certificate in Human Rights.
When De’Ja was a teenager, she bore witness to the Ferguson uprising just a few miles from her childhood home. Though unsettling, the uprising directed her to her purpose: to improve the lives of Black children and families through education. As such, in her research, she examines educational policies, practices, and spaces that reimagine schooling for Black children. In particular, she studies how Black families use school choice as a means to access more humanizing education spaces for their children. She also explores how leaders restructured their policies and practices to enhance Black children’s educational experiences following the global pandemic that underscored racial inequities.
Isaac Kwabena Yeboah is an experienced Management and Public Policy Analyst with demonstrated work history in the Local Government and Financial Service industry born and raised in Sunyani, Ghana. Isaac is studying PhD in Public Policy and Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received a Master of Public Administration from Regent University in 2021 and a Master of Science in Industrial Finance and Investment from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2019.
His research interests focus on the intersection of corruption, ethics, and leadership development stemming from poor governance and policy decisions. Exploring the interplay of these concepts contributes significantly to understanding the underlying factors, dynamics, and potential policy decisions to address the phenomenon.Isaac serves Virginia Commonwealth University as Graduate Teaching Assistant. Before that, he worked as a Management Analyst for the City of Norfolk, a Graduate Research Assistant at Regent University, a Business Analyst at Dalex Finance, and a Statistician for the Ghana Revenue Authority. Yeboah is an active International City/County Management Association (ICMA) member and a former Regent University Chapter Vice President. He is also a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha (Regent University Chapter) and Pi Sigma Alpha (Alpha Epsilon Theta Chapter) Honor Societies.
Yerin Yoon is a second-year doctoral student in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education & Human Development. Her research interests focus on K-12 education policy analysis, causal program evaluation, and social inequality, with an emphasis on systems of school choice. She strives to examine whether and how changes in school choice policy reduce or perpetuate racial and socio-economic segregation. Her works apply quantitative methodologies for causal inference and use extensive administrative and geographic data to find implications of education policies for all.
Before pursuing a Ph.D., Yerin was a public elementary school teacher in South Korea. She also worked as a research assistant for education policy projects funded by the South Korea Ministry of Education, National Education Commission, Samsung Scholarship Foundation, and Seoul Education Research & Information Institute. She received a master's degree in Educational Administration and a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Seoul National University of Education.
Jamie Ziolkowski serves as a policy analyst at Arizona State University’s Enterprise Policy Analysis Group. She is a second-year graduate student in Arizona State University’s Master of Public Policy program. Jamie was recently chosen to receive the 2023 APPAM Equity and Inclusion Student Fellowship and the 2023-2024 Frank and June Sackton Endowment Scholarship. As a graduate of Mills College, a women’s college, she wrote an undergraduate senior thesis on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls; Cause, Policy, and Prevention for Milwaukee & Oakland for her Bachelor of Sociology degree.
Post Mills graduation, Jamie was the first person with a service dog, a dog trained to aid a person’s disability, to ever serve as a wildland firefighter for the U.S Forest Services’ Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in California. Jamie has worked as an AmeriCorps Member twice conducting conservation field work for nonprofits in trail maintenance. During Jamie’s undergrad, she worked for California Senator Nancy Skinner’s Oakland office conducting policy and socioeconomic research. Jamie continues to conduct research on disability accommodation laws, poverty within the disability community, and domestic violence law.