Senior Scholars

Pedro Noguera, PhD :

Pedro Noguera, PhD

University of California, Los Angeles

Pedro Noguera is a Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. His 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 of twelve books (His most recent book is Race, Equity and Education: The Pursuit of Equality in Education 60 Years After Brown. New York: Springer Press), and he has published over 200 articles and monographs. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations, including the Economic Policy Institute, the Broader, Bolder Approach and The Nation Magazine. Noguera appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on several national media outlets, and his editorials on educational issues have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA he served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University (2003 – 2015) Harvard University (2000 – 2003) and the University of California, Berkeley (1990 – 2000). From 2009 - 2012 he served as a Trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. In 2014 he was elected to the National Academy of Education. Noguera recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, from the National Association of Secondary Principals, and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.

Deirdre Royster, PhD :

Deirdre Royster, PhD

New York University

Much of Deirdre A. Royster’s research charts the area where race relations and the labor market meet. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. An award-winning instructor, she previously taught at the College of William and Mary, where she chaired the Department of Sociology and directed the Center for the Study of Inequality and the Black Studies Program. Her research interests include sociological areas such as racism and racial stratification, economic sociology/urban political economy, public policy, race/class/gender studies, and labor markets. Her book Race and the Invisible Hand received the 2004 Oliver Cromwell Cox Best Book Award.

Select Publications
Race and the Invisible Hand: How White Networks Exclude Black Men from Blue Collar Jobs (2003)

Internet/Media Links book description of Race and the Invisible Hand

Sudhir Venkatesh, PhD :

Sudhir Venkatesh, PhD

Columbia University

A documentary filmmaker and an award-winning author, Sudhir Venkatesh is a versatile sociologist who will take bold action to claim a better perspective of his subjects. His research methods, which have included “going rogue” in a housing project for seven years, help contextualize urban poverty and underground economies. His books have received multiple awards, including the Best Book award from the Economist. Along with making regular media appearances on networks like C-SPAN and PBS, he is also a frequent guest contributor to the New York Times’ Freakonomics blog. Finally, he maintains several academic positions as William B. Ransford Professor of Sociology, Director of Columbia University’s Youth and Globalization Collaborative Research Network at the Social Science Research Council, and Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy.

Select Publications
American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (2002)
Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor (2006)
Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets (2008)

Internet/Media Links
Press for Gang Leader for a Day
Press for Off the Books
Website for the film Dislocation

Alford Young, Jr., PhD : Network Director

Alford Young, Jr., PhD

Network Director

University of Michigan

Alford Young Jr.’s social research helps answer pressing questions about how urban African American men view their community, social position, and place in the job market. An Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in Sociology and Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, Young is also Chair of the University of Michigan’s Department of Sociology (effective July 1, 2010). He currently serves on the editorial boards of Sociological Theory and Racial and Ethnic Studies. He is the director and founder of the Scholars’ Network.

Select Publications
The Minds of Marginalized Black Men: Making Sense of Mobility, Opportunity, and Future Life Chances (2004).

Internet/Media Links
Princeton University Press book description of Minds of Marginalized Black Men review

William Jelani Cobb, PhD :

William Jelani Cobb, PhD

Spelman College

William Jelani Cobb has made his mark in the field in multiple ways as historian, essayist, cultural critic, and delegate. An Associate Professor of History, Cobb specializes in post-Civil War African American history, 20th century American politics, and the history of the Cold War. At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, he served as a delegate and historian for the 5th Congressional District. He is a recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations, and has been a featured commentator on National Public Radio, CNN, Al-Jazeera, CBS News, and other national news outlets.

Select Publications
To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (2007) – finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing
The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays (2007)
The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress (forthcoming)
• Articles and essays in Essence magazine, VibeEbony, the Washington Post, the Progressive, and

Internet/Media Links

Jennifer F. Hamer, PhD :

Jennifer F. Hamer, PhD

University of Kansas

Jennifer Hamer, University of Kansas Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity, professor of American Studies and African and African American Studies, and editor of Women, Gender, and Families of Color. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. Jennifer Hamer's general area of study is the sociological and interdisciplinary qualitative study of families, especially those within the United States. Dr. Hamer monitors and evaluates progress toward goals and works closely with standing and ad hoc committees that address diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Kansas. She also facilitates diversity and inclusion-related activities, builds partnerships with students, administrators, and units across campus, and has expanded D&E’s portfolio with community engagement, particularly with the local school district. The vice provost supervises leadership of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, the Multicultural Scholars Program, Sexuality and Gender Diversity, the Haskell Liaison partnership, and Jayhawk Student One Stop. In addition to spending time with her family, Dr. Hamer also enjoys hanging out with her two dogs and one cat.

John L. Jackson, Jr., PhD :

John L. Jackson, Jr., PhD

University of Pennsylvania

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 Ph.D. in 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. He is the author of Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001); Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (University of Chicago Press, 2005); Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic Civitas, 2008); Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem (Harvard University Press, 2013); Impolite Conversations: On Race, Politics, Sex, Money, and Religion, co-written with Cora Daniels (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2014), and Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (NYU Press, 2016), co-written with Carolyn Rouse and Marla Frederick. He is also editor of Social Policy and Social Justice (2016), distributed by the University of Pennsylvania Press. His most recent film, co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas, is Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel, 2012), and he is currently part of the production team completing Making Sweet Tea: The Lives and Loves of Southern Black Gay Men. 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 visual and 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

Washington University in St. Louis

Sean Joe is a nationally recognized authority on suicidal behavior among African Americans. 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. Joe served on the board of the Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN USA), the scientific advisory board of the National Organization of People of Color Against Suicide, and the editorial board of Advancing Suicide Prevention. He is the founder and director of the Emerging Scholars Interdisciplinary Network, a national interdisciplinary and multi-ethnic professional development network for early career social and behavior scientist. In recognition of the impact of his work, Joe has received the Edwin Shneidman Award from the American Association of Suicidology for outstanding contributions in research, as well as the Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research.

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., PhD :

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., PhD

University of Chicago

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., MSW is Associate Professor at the School of Social Service Administration and faculty affiliate at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture of the University of Chicago. A family researcher, his scholarship examines social and environmental factors and contexts on urban Black males’ developmental, physical and mental health statuses and their social role identities, assumption and performance across the life course. Johnson is Co-Investigator of the Fathers and Sons Program Evaluation Study, a NICHHD funded longitudinal, intervention study in collaboration with the K.L.E.O. Family Center located in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood and aimed at enhancing parent-son bonds between nonresident African American fathers and their 8-12 year old sons. Utilizing a randomized control trial (RCT) study format, the study examines the capacity of nonresident African American fathers to promote positive health behaviors within their sons via effective communication, cultural awareness and skill building. Johnson is also Co-Principal Investigator for the Father-Son Communication Project (FSCP), a pilot study, funded by the Joint Research Fund of the Chapin Hall Center and the University of Chicago, that collaborates with community organizations in several of Chicago’s most socially disorganized neighborhoods to engage African American father (biological, social, and mentors) and son (ages 12-20) dyads in conversations about their sons’ safety and navigating violence (community, state-sponsored, and racially-motivated). The study aims to generate knowledge about how these father/son dyads strategize to assist their sons navigate violence in urban spaces, and proposes to use this knowledge to develop and test curricula designed to support fathers’ involvement in violence prevention. Johnson served as a research consultant with ACF/HHS’ Parent and Children Together (PACT) Study, a longitudinal, mixed-methods evaluation of fatherhood programs, led by Mathematica Policy Research. He also served as a member of the ACF/HHS Office for Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) Welfare Research and Family-Self-Sufficiency Technical Work Group and the inaugural chair of Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Research Commission. He is a member of the National Association of Black Social Workers and the Society for Social Work and Research; the 2025 Network for Black Men and Boys, and the American Psychological Association (APA) Public Interest Directorate’s Working Group on Health Disparities in Men and Boys. Johnson is a board member of the Center for Family Policy and Practice in Madison, Wisconsin. He is the editor of Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health and Social Policy.


Athena Mutua, LLM :

Athena Mutua, LLM

University of Buffalo Law School

Athena Mutua serves as the Scholars Network’s legal expert, focusing on the areas of critical race and feminist legal theory. She received the University of Buffalo Exceptional Scholars Young Investigator's Award for her research on a Kenyan women’s solidarity campaign. A Professor of Law, she has a JD and MA from the American University and an LLM from Harvard Law School.

Select Publications
Progressive Black Masculinities (editor, 2006)
• “Restoring Justice to Civil Rights Movement Activists: New Historiography and the ‘Long Civil Rights Era,’” in Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper Series (2008)
• “Introducing ClassCrits: Rejecting Class-Blindness, A Critical Legal Analysis of Economic Inequality,” in Buffalo Law Review (2008)

Internet/Media Links
Mutua’s introduction to Progressive Black Masculinities

Mark Anthony Neal, PhD :

Mark Anthony Neal, PhD

Duke University

Mark Anthony Neal is James B. Duke Professor of African & African-American Studies and Professor of English, and Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University. Neal is the author of five books including​What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Public Culture,​Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic and Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities, and co-editor, with Murray Forman, of​ That’s The Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (now in its 2nd edition)​. At Duke Neal offers courses in Black Cultural Studies, including signature courses on “Michael Jackson and the Black Performance Tradition” and “The History of Hip-Hop,” co-taught with Grammy Award Winning Producer 9th Wonder. Neal also directs the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship (CADCE) which produces original digital content,including the weekly video podcast ​Left of Black, (now in its 9th season), produced in collaboration with the John Hope Franklin Center for International and Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke. Follow Neal on Twitter at @NewBlackMan and Instagram at @BookerBBBrown; His Digital Home is NewBlackMan (in Exile) (