First Wave: Catalysts

Pedro Noguera, PhD :

Pedro Noguera, PhD

Distinguished Professor of Education, Emory Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean

University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education 

Pedro Noguera was appointed dean of the USC Rossier School of Education in July 2020 and is the holder of the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean’s Chair in Education. A sociologist, Noguera’s research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts. He is the author, co-author and editor of 13 books. His most recent books are The Crisis of Connection: Roots, Consequences and Solutions with Niobe Way, Carol Gilligan and Alisha Ali (New York University Press, 2018) and Race, Equity and Education: Sixty Years From Brown with Jill Pierce and Roey Ahram (Springer, 2015). Prior to being appointed dean of the USC Rossier School of Education, Noguera served as a Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Before joining the faculty at UCLA he served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University (2004–2015), Harvard University (2000–2003) and the University of California, Berkeley (1990–2000). Noguera was recently appointed to serve as a special advisor to the governor of New Mexico on education policy. He also advises the state departments of education in Washington, Oregon and Nevada. From 2009–2012 he served as a trustee for the State University of New York as an appointee of the governor. In 2014 he was elected to the National Academy of Education and Phi Delta Kappa honor society, and in 2020 Noguera was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Noguera has received seven honorary doctorates from American universities, and he recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, from the National Association of Secondary School Principals and from the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty. Noguera holds bachelor’s degrees in sociology and American history, a master’s degree from Brown University and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Deirdre Royster, PhD :

Deirdre Royster, PhD

Associated Associate Professor of Public Service & Associate Professor

New York University, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Department of Sociology

Deirdre A. Royster joined the Department of Sociology and Wagner Graduate School of Public Service as an Associate Professor. She earned her B.S. in Sociology and Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1987) and her M.A. and Ph. D. from Johns Hopkins University (1991,1996). Previously, she taught at UMass-Amherst (1996-2001), where she was an award-winning teacher, and most recently at the College of William and Mary, where she chaired the Department of Sociology (2003-06) and directed the Center for the Study of Inequality (2004-08) and the Black Studies Program(2007-08). Dr. Royster's first book, Race and the Invisible Hand: How White Networks Exclude Black Men from Blue Collar Jobs (University of California Press, 2003) received the 2004 Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Book Award. Her research interests cross-cut sociological areas including Racism and Racial Stratification, Economic Sociology/Urban Political Economy, Public Policy, Race/Class/Gender Studies, and Work/Labor/Labor Markets.

Sudhir Venkatesh, PhD :

Sudhir Venkatesh, PhD

William B. Ransford Professor of Sociology and African American Studies

Columbia University, Department of Sociology

Sudhir Venkatesh is William B Ransford Professor of Sociology & African-American Studies, a position he has held continuously since 1999. He previously served as Head of the Integrity Research in the Growth org at Facebook. He is currently advising Twitter as the Lead Social Scientist for initiatives to improve the online health of the platform, a position he has held since Autumn 2018. In 2009 he served as Senior Research Advisor to the Office of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 2 years. He was elected a Junior Fellow, in the Society of Fellows, Harvard University, 1996-1999.

Alford Young, Jr., PhD : Network Director

Alford Young, Jr., PhD

Network Director

Edgar G. Epps Collegiate Professor and Chair, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Associate Director, Faculty Director of Scholar Engagement and Leadership 

University of Michigan, Department of Sociology, Afroamerican and African Studies, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Center for Social Solution, National Center for Institutional Diversity

Professor Alford Young, Jr. is pursuing research in three general areas, all of which concern the phenomenon of race or the social experiences of African Americans, and all of which employ ethnographic interview-based research methods. First, he is engaged in a series of projects on urban-based, low-income African Americans, exploring how they conceive of work opportunity and the world of work in modern society. Second, he is conducting a study of how African American scholars who research and teach about the African American experience address issues concerning the social utility of their scholarship and how that relates to their sense of mission and purpose as academics. Third, he is involved in a several small-scale studies of American higher education that address the experiences of faculty and students of color.

William Jelani Cobb, PhD :

William Jelani Cobb, PhD

Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism

Columbia University, Columbia Journalism School

Jelani Cobb joined the Columbia Journalism School faculty in 2016. He has contributed to The New Yorker since 2012, and became a staff writer in 2015. He is the recipient of the 2015 Sidney Hillman Award for Opinion and Analysis writing and writes frequently about race, politics, history and culture. He was most recently an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut where he specialized in post-Civil War African American history, 20thcentury American politics and the history of the Cold War. Dr. Cobb is also a recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations. He is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress as well as To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic. His articles and essays have appeared in the Washington Post, The New Republic, Essence, Vibe, The Progressive, and His collection The Devil and Dave Chappelle and Other Essays was published in 2007. He has also contributed to a number of anthologies including In Defense of Mumia, Testimony, Mending the World and Beats, Rhymes and Life. He is editor of The Essential Harold Cruse: A Reader. Born and raised in Queens, New York. He is a graduate of Howard University and Rutgers University where he received his doctorate in American History.

Jennifer F. Hamer, PhD :

Jennifer F. Hamer, PhD

Professor of African American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Interim Associate Vice Provost for Educational Equity, Senior Faculty Member 

Pennsylvania State University, African American Studies, Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity

Jennifer Hamer has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Texas-Austin with an accomplished career as faculty member and an academic administrator. She has held faculty appointments at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Wayne State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Kansas. Among the latter three institutions, she also held administrative appointments as head of department, associate dean and Vice Provost of Diversity and Equity. Her publications follow her research interest in African American families, working class communities and an emergent focus on matters of equity in higher education. In the area of African American families and working-class communities, she has offered courses on black families, black communities, black men, black women and African American childhood and youth. She has authored publications on African American nonresidential fathers, single-parenting African American mothers and fathers, and black communities. Her academic administrative experiences center her recent research focus on equity related university policies and practices. Beyond teaching and research, she has served as editor for Race and Society, the official journal of the Association of Black Sociologists; and founding editor of both Black Women, Gender and Families and Women, Gender and Families of Color and currently serves as Advisory Editor for the latter. She joined the faculty at Penn State in 2019 and, in addition to her faculty appointment, serves as a Senior Faculty Mentor in The Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity at Penn State.

John L. Jackson, Jr., PhD :

John L. Jackson, Jr., PhD

Richard Perry University Professor and Walter H. Annenberg Dean

University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communications

John L. Jackson, Jr. is a filmmaker and urban anthropologist who works at the intersection of visual culture, critical race theory, media studies, and the ethnography of diasporic religions. John L. Jackson, Jr., is the Walter H. Annenberg Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Richard Perry University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He was previously Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice and Special Adviser to the Provost on Diversity at Penn. Jackson earned his B.A. in Communication (Radio/TV/Film) from Howard University, completed his Anthropology from Columbia University, and served as a junior fellow at the Harvard University Society of Fellows before becoming Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. An urban researcher, media ethnographer, anthropologist of religion, and theorist of race/ethnicity, Jackson’s work also critically explores how film and other non-traditional or multi-modal formats can be most effectively utilized in specifically scholarly research projects, and he is one of the founding members of CAMRA, the University of Pennsylvania-based initiative organized around creating visualand performative research projects and producing rigorous criteria for assessing them. He is currently a faculty member at Penn’s new Center for Experimental Ethnography, and he has affiliations with Penn’s Departments of Africana Studies and Anthropology, as well as with the Graduate School of Education and the School of Social Policy & Practice.

Sean Joe, PhD :

Sean Joe, PhD

Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development and Principle Director

Washington University in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Race and Opportunity Lab

Sean Joe is a nationally recognized authority on suicidal behavior among Black Americans, and is expanding the evidence base for effective practice with Black boys and young men. His research focuses on Black adolescents' mental health service use patterns, the role of religion in Black suicidal behavior, salivary biomarkers for suicidal behavior, and development of father-focused, family-based interventions to prevent urban African American adolescent males from engaging in multiple forms of self-destructive behaviors. Working within the Center for Social Development, Joe has launched the Race and Opportunity Lab, which examines race, opportunity, and social mobility in the St. Louis region, working to reduce inequality in adolescents transition into adulthood. The lab leading community science project is HomeGrown STL, which is a multi-systemic placed-based capacity building intervention to enhance upward mobility opportunities and health of Black males ages 12-29 years in the St. Louis region. Joe's epistemological work focuses on the concept of race in medical and social sciences. He serves on the Steering Committee of the national Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the National Advisory Council of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Forward Promise initiative. In recognition of the impact of his work, Joe was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Society for Social Work and Research, and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., PhD :

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., PhD

Professor and Vice Provost

University of Chicago, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, Diversity and Inclusion and Faculty Development

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., MSW, Professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, has been appointed Vice Provost. Waldo will lead the University's Diversity &Inclusion Initiative, supporting the Center for Identity + Inclusion; the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality; and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC), and collaborate with units across campus to help them advance their diversity and inclusion goals. Johnson will also lead the Faculty Development Program and oversee chair development, dual careers, and faculty recruitment/relocation. Additionally, he will oversee the Provost's Postdoctoral Fellows Program and the Neubauer Family Assistant Professors Program. Johnson will serve as Vice Provost in a part-time capacity for the Winter Quarter, 2022, during which time he will also maintain his responsibilities as Deputy Dean for Curriculum at the Crown Family School. He will join the Office of the Provost full-time at the start of the Spring Quarter, 2022.

Athena Mutua, LLM :

Athena Mutua, LLM

Professor & Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar

University of Buffalo, School of Law

Athena Mutua received her B.A. from Earlham College, her J.D. and M.A. from American University, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School. She writes in the areas of critical race and feminist legal theory. Her work includes the edited collection Progressive Black Masculinities (Routledge, 2006) and articles titled “Restoring Justice to Civil Rights Movement Activists: New Historiography and the ‘Long Civil Rights Era’ ” (2008); “The Rise, Development, and Future Directions of Critical Race Theory” (Denver University Law Review, 2006); and “Gender Equality and Women’s Solidarity Across Religious, Ethnic, and Class Difference in the Kenya Constitutional Review Process” in the William and Mary Journal of Women and Law (2006). The latter article involved activism and research for which she received the University of Buffalo Exceptional Scholars Young Investigator’s Award. Her article “Introducing Class Crits: From Class Blindness to a Critical Legal Analysis of Economic Inequality” (Buffalo Law Review,2008) explores issues of race and gender as they relate to class structures and introduces the concepts and boundaries of Class Crits, a project she helped found.

Mark Anthony Neal, PhD :

Mark Anthony Neal, PhD

James P. Duke Distinguished Professor and Chair of African and African American Studies

Duke University, African and African American Studies

Mark Anthony Neal is the James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of African & African American Studies and Chair of the Department of African & African American Studies at Duke University where he offers courses on Black Masculinity, Popular Culture, and Digital Humanities, including signature courses on Michael Jackson & the Black Performance Tradition, and The History of Hip-Hop, which he co-teaches with Grammy Award Winning producer 9th Wonder (Patrick Douthit). He is the author of several books including What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (1999), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (2002) and Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities (2013).  The 10th Anniversary edition of Neal’s New Black Man was published in February of 2015 by Routledge. Neal is co-editor of That's the Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (Routledge), now in its second edition. Additionally Neal host of the video webcast Left of Black, which is produced in collaboration with the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke. You can follow him on Twitter at @NewBlackMan and IG at @BookerBBBrown