Meet the MSSP Program faculty experts. Together with other faculty in the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) and faculty across the University, we are here to help you develop your own area of policy expertise. Join us in our work toward a more humane world through policy change.
Ezekiel Dixon-Román, PhD
Ezekiel Dixon-Román is the Director of the program. An expert in education and social policy and in the philosophy of science of measurement and statistics, he teaches MSSP 897: Applied Linear Modeling in the MSSP program, and serves on the MSSP Governance Committee. He also teaches the elective course MSSP 690: Policy and ‘Difference’ in Postmodernity and the MSSP+DA required course MSSP 710: Democratizing Data: Analytics for Social Change. Dixon-Román was a Harold Gulliksen Psychometric Research Fellow of Educational Testing Service and an Institute of Education Sciences postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. His research is on the cultural studies of quantification, education, and social policy. Specifically, he is interested in the social reproduction of ‘difference’ (e.g., race, gender, class, sexuality, and dis/ability) in education; the production of knowledge with the methods of quantification and the ways in which the instruments used in these methods are reconfiguring the boundaries of ‘difference’; and critical inquiry on social policies that seek to address issues of inequality, social mobility, and education. Dixon- Román is lead editor with Edmund W. Gordon on the 2012 volume, Thinking Comprehensively About Education: Spaces of Educative Possibility and Their Implications for Public Policy. In his forthcoming book, Inheriting ImPossibility, he deconstructs the foundational assumptions of nature and culture in theories of social reproduction in education and the philosophy of science of quantification. His emerging work critically examines the ontologies of computational and data analytics, governmental topologies, and the enacted reconfiguring boundaries and assemblages of ‘difference.’ He was a member of the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education and serves on the Advisory Board of the Out-of-School Time Resource Center.
Amy Castro Baker, PhD
Amy Castro Baker, PhD serves on the MSSP Governance Committee. She teaches MSSP 628: Policy Analysis. Dr. Castro Baker’s research explores how economic and social policies contribute to existing disparities, particularly within housing and lending markets. She was awarded the GADE Research Award, the Society for Social Work and Research Outstanding Dissertation Award, and the Nina Fortin Memorial Award for her work on women and risky lending markets in the subprime foreclosure crisis. She is currently developing a cost-effective mixed methods approach to supervised machine learning and Big Data policy analysis that involves direct partnership with public policy interest groups. Dr. Castro Baker also has more than a decade of non-profit experience and sits on the leadership team of the SPARK Movement, an interdisciplinary organization pioneering new methods of systems level social change in a digital age. Prior to her time at Penn she served as a Philadelphia mayoral committee member for the Blueprint to End Homelessness and worked with the Honorable Marjorie Margolies at Women’s Campaign International.
Dennis Culhane, PhD
The Dana and Andrew Stone Professor of Social Policy at the School of Social Policy and Practice at The University of Pennsylvania, Dennis Culhane, serves on the MSSP Governance Committee. Culhane is also a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Population Studies and the Director of Research for the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a leader in the integration of administrative data for research and directs the Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy initiative, a MacArthur-funded project to promote the development of integrated database systems by state and local governments for policy analysis and systems reform. Culhane’s work has resulted in federal legislation requiring all cities and states to develop administrative data systems for tracking homeless services in order to receive HUD funding. Along with Abt Associates and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), he has co-authored the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) since its inception in 2007. His work has also been instrumental in a national shift in how cities address chronic homelessness and family homelessness. Culhane’s recent research has focused on the aging homeless population, and how homeless adults may gain access to housing stabilization services under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.
Amy Hillier, PhD
Amy Hillier teaches MSSP/SWRK 730: Community Mapping and serves on the MSSP Governance Committee. Her primary faculty appointment is with SP2 and she holds a secondary faculty appointment at PennDesign, in the Department of City & Regional Planning. Dr. Hillier’s research has focused on spatial disparities in housing and public health within US cities, including historical mortgage redlining, affordable housing, access to healthful foods, park use, and exposure to outdoor advertising. Most recently, she conducted an evaluation of the impact of the opening of a nonprofit food market in Chester, Pennsylvania—an area known as a “food desert.” Since 2016, her research has focused on the experience of transgender and gender non-confirming students in high schools and the needs of transgender kids and their families from schools, health care providers, and social service agencies. Dr. Hillier collaborated with staff and youth from The Attic to write the policy supporting transgender students in the School District of Philadelphia. With Dr. Amy Castro Baker, she conducts critical participatory action research and policy-related research through the SexGen Policy Lab.
Ioana Marinescu, PhD
Ioana Marinescu teaches MSSP 630 Quantitative Reasoning and MSSP 668 Economics for Social Policy. Professor Marinescu is an economist who studies the labor market to craft policies that can enhance employment, productivity, and economic security. To make an informed policy decision, it is crucial to determine the costs and benefits of policies. Dr. Marinescu’s research expertise includes online job search, workforce development, unemployment insurance, the universal basic income, and employment contracts.
Dr. Marinescu’s research has been published in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Labor Economics and the Journal of Public Economics. She is the economist leading the Data@Work Research Hub, a workforce data gathering and sharing project funded by the Sloan Foundation. She writes a monthly op-ed for the French newspaper Liberation, and a monthly blog post on hiring and management tips backed by research at CareerBuilder.com.
Azahara Palomeque, PhD
Azahara Palomeque provides administrative, academic, and strategic support to the MSSP Program. In her role as Associate Director, she manages admissions and recruitment initiatives, advises students, builds relationships with alumni, and collaborates with faculty and staff to bring professional enhancement and academic success to the MSSP community. She teaches the Global Seminar MSSP 797: Whose Colony? Politics, Identity and Social Policy in Revolutionary Cuba (1959-2017), and serves on the MSSP Governance Committee.
Palomeque’s research engages Spanish, Latin American and Brazilian politics and cultures, focusing on postcoloniality, politics of modernity and underdevelopment, sovereignty and governmentality, social movements, identity and memory – topics on which she has published peer-reviewed articles, essays and a book chapter. She is currently working on a book that dissects the role of hispanismo in creating political alliances between Spain, México, Cuba and Argentina by analyzing the cultural production of exiles and immigrants at times of political turmoil, including the Spanish Civil War and the Cuban Revolution.
As a poet, she is the author of the books RIP (Rest in Plastic) (RiL Editores, 2019), En la Ceniza Blanca de las Encías (La Isla de Siltolá, 2017), American Poems (La Isla de Siltolá, 2015), and the bilingual chapbook El Diente del Lobo/ The Wolf’s Tooth (Carmina in minima re, 2014). She has published poems and short stories in cultural journals in México, Cuba, Spain, Perú and the United States; her poetry has been partially translated into English and Greek, and has been included in a number of anthologies. In addition, Palomeque reports on US social issues for the prestigious Spanish newspaper CTXT, and maintains a bi-weekly Op-ed in El Periódico Extremadura.
Palomeque holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Communications, and Media Studies from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, a MA in Luso-Brazilian Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a MA and a PhD in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Princeton University.
Daniel Baker, JD, PhD
Daniel Baker is a Lecturer in the MSSP Program, where he teaches MSSP 628: Policy Analysis. He holds a BA with college honors in philosophy from the University of Washington, a JD from Duke University, a graduate diploma in economics from the University of Cambridge, and an MPP and a PhD in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Daniel’s research focuses on the theory of social policy and public administration. It looks at the intersection of democratic theory, ethics, and practical policy analysis. In particular, his research aims to reconcile the normative obligations in deliberative democracy, one of the most prominent conceptions of democracy in modern political theory, with the practical and pragmatic arguments for cost-benefit analysis and evidence-based policy that sway much of the social policy and public administration literatures.
Daniel is a licensed attorney in his home state of Washington and practiced law near Seattle before pursuing his doctoral degree. He has published on the First Amendment and researches the interplay between legal obligations and moral obligations in modern governance. Outside of work, Daniel plays chess and reads extensively about economic history and the history of philosophy.
Fernando Chang-Muy, MA, JD
Fernando Chang-Muy is the Thomas O’Boyle Lecturer in Law at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. He teaches at both the Law School and at the Graduate School of Social Policy and Practice on topics such as US Immigration Law, International Human Rights and Refugee Law, and Nonprofit Leadership.
He served as Legal Officer with both the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO), AIDS Program. He also served as the first director of Swarthmore College’s Intercultural Center, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, advisor to the Provost on Equal Opportunity, and lecturer on International Human Rights in the Peace and Conflict Studies.
He began his legal career as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia serving as Director of the Southeast Asian Refugee Project, providing free legal aid to low-income immigrants and refugees in Philadelphia. He is also past founding director of the Liberty Center for Survivors of Torture, a project of Lutheran Children and Family Services, established to serve newcomers fleeing human rights violations.
In addition to teaching, he combines his experience in academia and operations, as principal and founder of Solutions International, providing independent management consulting, facilitation and training to philanthropic institutions, non profit organizations and government agencies. His areas of expertise include designing and facilitating large group, action-focused strategic planning processes, board governance retreats, staff internal communications systems, and resource development plans and individual donor campaigns.
In 2008, former Philadelphia Mayor Nutter appointed him as a Commissioner to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. He is former Board member of Philanthropy Network, The Philadelphia Award, The Merchants Fund, the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Coalition. He is author of numerous articles on diverse topics dealing with immigration & refugees, public health and management, and is co-editor of the text Social Work with Immigrants and Refugees (2nd ed. NY: Springer Publication, 2016). He is a graduate of Loyola, Georgetown, Antioch and Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation. He is a recipient of both the 2011 and 2018 Penn Law Public Interest Supervisor/Advisor of the Year Award honoring outstanding project supervisors and advisors; and the 2016 recipient of the Law School Beacon Award, recognizing exemplary commitment to pro bono work by a Penn Law faculty member.
Bum Chul Kwon, PhD
Bum Chul Kwon is a Research Staff Member at IBM Research, where he is a member of the AI for Healthcare team. He teaches MSSP 634: Capstone I: Telling Stories with Data. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University. His research goal is to enhance users’ abilities to derive knowledge from data using interactive visual analytics systems. His work has been published at premier venues in visualization and human-computer interaction, such as IEEE InfoVis, IEEE VAST, TVCG, ACM SIGCHI. He also serves on the program committee for top-tier conferences and workshops, including IEEE InfoVis, PacificVis, and Visual Analytics in Healthcare Workshop. Prior to joining IBM Research, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in University of Konstanz, Germany. He earned his PhD and MS in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and his BS from University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Rosemary Clark-Parsons, PhD
Rosemary Clark-Parsons received her PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication in 2018, where she currently serves as the Associate Director for the Center on Digital Culture and Society. She also holds an appointment as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Annenberg and is a Research Affiliate with Penn’s Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality & Women. She also teaches MSSP 632: Capstone I: Policy Communications.
Clark-Parsons is a researcher, teacher, and activist working at the intersection of technology and gender justice. Her research agenda centers on questions of how digital platforms and their users are reconfiguring the face and reach of contemporary feminist social movements in the United States. Her book project, Doing it Ourselves: The Networked Practices of Feminist Media Activism, is based on her dissertation project, which won ICA’s Activism, Communication, and Social Justice Interest Group’s Outstanding Dissertation Award and focuses on feminists’ turn toward the digital. At the same time that emerging media platforms enable activists to quickly reach wide audiences at little or no expense, digitally networked movements face online harassment, commercial cooptation, and activist burnout. Drawing on interviews and ethnographic fieldwork, Clark-Parsons demonstrates how activists are taking up networked media to pursue a do-it-ourselves-style feminism, building movements and communities from the ground up, all while juggling the affordances and limitations of their media tools. Key pieces of her analysis have been published in leading journals, including New Media & Society, Communication, Culture & Critique, and Feminist Media Studies. Her research and commentary have also been featured in Wired, Bitch Media, The Inquirer, Quartz, and on Good Morning America.
In the classroom, Clark-Parsons has worked with a diverse range of students, from high schoolers to undergraduates to continuing adult learners, to develop media and communication strategies for social justice. She has also been involved in a number of activist projects, both inside and outside the academy, always with an eye toward merging communication scholarship and social justice work. Prior to CDCS, she helped found the Media Activism Research Collective at Penn and the ICA’s Activism, Communication, and Social Justice Interest Group. In Philadelphia, she has collaborated with grassroots feminist collective Permanent Wave Philly to explore media-based practices of empowerment and has helped organize the city’s annual March to End Rape Culture. In addition to her research and teaching, Clark-Parsons offers consulting for social justice and higher education organizations on media strategies for community outreach.
Clark-Parsons is a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area. Prior to Penn, she attended Ursinus College, where she received her BA in Media and Communication Studies, English, and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies. She currently lives in West Philly, with her partner, Ryan, and their daughter, Robyn.
Erin Coltrera, MSSP, MSW
Erin Coltrera, LSW, MSW, MSSP, received a Master of Social Work (’14) and Master of Science in Social Policy (’14) from the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. She currently works for as the Research and Program Officer for the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) and has nearly a decade of relevant experience working with a range of diverse populations and contributing to the development of complex, people-oriented policies and programs.
After graduating from SP2, Erin worked as a Child Advocate Social Worker at the Support Center for Child Advocates (SCCA). As a child advocate, she helped develop statewide child welfare policies and procedures and also co-authored the Advocacy and Legal Services section for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ human trafficking manual. While at SCCA, Erin participated in the development of a special project to address the unique needs of children who have experienced trafficking and then moved into the role of Project Manager. As Project Manager, Erin provided guidance for the development and execution of agency policy and positions involving child survivors of trafficking, performed policy and legislation analysis, and worked to advance SCCA initiatives and advocacy objectives related to anti-trafficking. Her work included co-authoring the accredited Pennsylvania Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting course, as well as preparing and giving testimony to the PA Senate Judiciary Committee in support of Safe Harbor Legislation, which was successfully passed in October 2018.
After several years at SCCA, Erin moved to the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia (AVP) to become Project Director of the Enhanced Response Initiative to Intra-Familial Homicide. While at AVP, Erin worked to increase collaboration among agencies and organizations in the government and non-profit sectors. She has assisted and taught MSSP 628: Policy Analysis with Dr. Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania in the Master of Science in Social Policy and Master of Social Work programs at SP2 since 2016.
Ted Dallas teaches the elective course MSSP 601: The power of partnerships between government, non-profits and the private sector.
Dallas is the President and Chief Operating Office of Merakey, a human services provider with approximately 11,000 employees in ten states. The company serves individuals living with intellectual disabilities, behavioral health issues, and substance use disorders and also provides education and autism services to children and young adults.
Prior to that, Dallas served as the Secretary of the Department of Human Services in Pennsylvania and in the State of Maryland. During his tenures as Secretary, he implemented a variety of initiatives for both Governor Wolf and Governor O’Malley including a full Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act and other significant reforms to help seniors, individuals living with disabilities, and children. Dallas also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor O’Malley in Maryland, the Executive Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, and First Deputy Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia. He also worked in the private sector for a Fortune 500 company.
He was chosen to receive a national award from Casey Family Programs for his contributions to the child welfare field and his efforts to improve the lives of children and families, and the Thomas J. Zuber Memorial Patient Service Award recognizing his efforts for implementing the Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania. He also received the Nourish Award from MANNA in for his work helping individuals access healthy food as part of their medical treatment.
He is also a proud alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania.
Anne Esacove, PhD, MPH, MSW
Anne Esacove (she/her/hers) brings years of experience teaching sociology and gender studies, as well as professional experience in public health, to her teaching and scholarship. She is committed to bridging research and practice (broadly defined) in her work, so particularly enjoys teaching MSSP 741: Gender and Social Policy.
Esacove’s research explores how health promotion efforts and social movements attempt to create meaning about and control bodies, sexuality, and gender. Her current research examines how the concept of “cisgender” is used in public health research and explores if there are opportunities to develop more productive and transformative uses.
She is the author of Modernizing Sexuality: U.S. HIV-Prevention Policy in Sub-Saharan African, which shows how Western idealizations of normative sexuality and the power of modernity intersect in U.S. HIV global prevention policy. Esacove received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan and Master Degrees in Public Health and Social Work from the University of Washington in Seattle. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the SexGen Policy Lab at the School of Social Policy and Practice.
Denise Ferreira da Silva, PhD
An academic and practicing artist, Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva’s work addresses the ethico-political challenges of the global present. She is currently Director and Professor at the Social Justice Institute-GRSJ at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), A Dívida Impagavel (Oficina da Imaginaçāo Política and Living Commons, 2019), Unpayable Debt (Stenberg/MIT Press, forthcoming) and co-editor (with Paula Chakravartty) of Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). Her several articles have been published in leading interdisciplinary journals, such as Social Text, Theory, Culture & Society, Social Identities, PhiloSOPHIA, Griffith Law Review, Theory & Event, The Black Scholar, to name a few.
Her artistic works includes the films Serpent Rain (2016) and 4Waters-Deep Implicancy (2018), in collaboration with Arjuna Neuman; and the relational art practices Poethical Readings and Sensing Salon, in collaboration with Valentina Desideri. She has exhibited and lectured at major art venues, such as the Pompidou Center (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery (London, MASP (Sāo Paulo), Guggenheim (New York), and MoMa (New York). She has also written for publications for major art events (Liverpool Biennale, 2017; Sao Paulo Biennale, 2016, Venice Biennale, 2017, and Documenta 14) and published in art venues, such as Canadian Art, Texte Zur Kunst, and E-Flux.
She is a member of several boards including Haus de Kulturen de Welt (Berlin), International Consortium for Critical Theory Programs and the journals Postmodern Culture, Critical Ethnic Studies, Social Identities, and Dark Matter.
Michael Froehlich, JD
Michael Froehlich (he/him) is the Managing Attorney of Community Legal Service’s Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit in Philadelphia. He teaches MSSP 631: Law and Social Policy.
Michael leads CLS’s work on behalf of homeowners and victims of predatory consumer scams. He represents clients in court and advocates before regulatory agencies, Philadelphia City Council, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He works closely with a number of client and neighborhood groups and has presented at hundreds of community meetings, workshops, and townhalls. Michael is the co-director of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network’s statewide Homeownership and Consumer Rights Law Group, and has presented at numerous state and national conferences. Michael has a particular interest and expertise in preserving the Philadelphia Family Home against predatory reverse mortgages, property wholesalers, real estate tax foreclosures, and equity stripping schemes. He has argued cases on behalf of clients before the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania Superior Court, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Prior to joining the Homeownership and Consumer Rights Unit, Michael spent many years as a staff attorney with CLS’s Public Benefits Unit, representing clients applying for and receiving food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, cash assistance, and a wide range of other income supports. He has also worked as a legal aid attorney at Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania in Chester, PA, and Bay Area Legal Aid in Oakland, CA.
Michael received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He received his BA from Haverford College.
Cherése Godwin, MSW, PhD
Dr. Cherése Novelle Godwin is a lecturer in the MSSP Program, where she teaches MSSP 606: Data for Equitable Justice Lab. Dr. Godwin obtained her Master of Social Work from The School of Social Policy & Practice at The University of Pennsylvania at 23 years old. Upon graduating, Dr. Godwin began working on a UN short term country wide consultancy project on ending violence against women in the Caribbean for the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. After successfully completing the consultancy and establishing a model that has been used throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, she worked in Washington, D.C. providing community support to individuals suffering from mental illness.
Thereafter, the onset to her career as a professor began, lecturing sociology and race and ethnic relations. She went on to obtain her PhD in Social Policy, Planning, Administration and Social Sciences from the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University, where she was also a Contributing Professor of the Master’s of Social Work Department. Post graduating with her published dissertation on A Study of the Relationship Between Incarceration, Birth Rate, and Racial Disparities Among African Americans Since the Passing of the Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act of 1994, she took on a position as Chair & Associate Professor of a BSW program and also began teaching as a contributing faculty member for Walden University’s MSW program. Dr. Godwin later moved to Saint Kitts and Nevis and opened her consultancy firm providing social policy writing and advising to countries and also advising businesses on people, culture, and mental health, while she performed the monitoring and evaluation of UN programs across the entire Caribbean.
Dr. Godwin is a UNESCO Public Speaker on Humanities and represented the entire Eastern Caribbean at the World Humanities Conference with a published paper. She was asked by the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, after winning the Woman in Leadership of the Year Award from the International Labour Organisation, to represent all employers as a Social Security Board Director and served her three year term in that appointment. Dr. Godwin also took on the role as the first Psychologist/Social Worker for all of National Security in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis advising the Prime Minister, Commissioner of Police and other National Security heads. She took on a similar role working directly with the Governor and HR of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the monetary council for 8 countries, as their Wellness Consultant, advising on policy, culture, and people.
Dr. Godwin has such an appreciation for SP2, and her experience as an international social worker and as a social policy and race relations expert and is looking forward to lecturing her first semester in the MSSP program.
Kevin Jenkins, PhD
A two-time award-winning national journalist, health disparities activist, and dynamic speaker, Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins teaches MSSP 629: Research and Evaluation Design and MSSP 704: Critical Studies in Health Inequity and Policymaking. Dr. Jenkins is one of the most electrifying voices in America dedicated to eliminating racial health disparities. Enlightening the masses on how racism negatively influences health, he leverages innovative data-driven strategies to improve the quality of health and the standards of healthcare services of racial and ethnic minorities.
Prior to embarking on a professional voyage as a Lecturer within the Ivy League, Dr. Jenkins covered many major sports and entertainment events throughout the state of North Carolina. Famous across the state as the First Announcer to host the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Associations’ (CIAA) Super Saturdays, he relished entertaining crowds of 20,000+ sports fanatics for six consecutive years from 2000 to 2006. He was also the first weekend host of the North Carolina Educational Lottery and has served as the Public Speaker Announcer for North Carolina Central University and the On-Field Announcer for the Triple-A Affiliate for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Durham Bulls.
Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins keenly delivers evidence-based solutions to dismantle the effects of racism from health, healthcare, and healthcare decision-making. Dr. Jenkins articulates his real-life experiences and enduring knowledge through powerful presentations, lasting empathy, and straight-talks to lead strategies focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion-to-action. He has successfully navigated academics, healthcare, and corporate arenas as both a thought-leader and consultant working with notable clients such as McKesson Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Duke University, and Virginia Department of Health and Human Services.
Acknowledged as a national authority in racism in medicine, Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins has received a wide range of acclamation and recognition. His contributions have focused on breaking the social stigmas relating to racial injustice in the fields of healthcare. His efforts in analyzing the link between racial stress and vascular-based diseases & Alzheimer’s disease has received an extensive commendation from the leading health and education authorities. Named among the 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health by the National Quality Forum, his contributions have been featured in media outlets such as ABC World News, The Grio, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Tribune, and NBC. Dr. Jenkins serves as a fellow within the Veteran’s Health Administration’s Office of Minority Health and on the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Health Equity.
Mark Keightley, PhD
Mark Keightley is an economist at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) in Washington, DC and teaches MSSP 628: Policy Analysis. At CRS he advises Congress and their staff on macroeconomic fiscal policy, business and international corporate taxation, and housing policy. Prior to joining CRS, Mark was a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and an associate at the Congressional Budget Office. He holds a PhD in economics from Florida State University.
Mark’s research at CRS has been cited by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, U.S. Supreme Court, Government Accountability Office, Tax Policy Center, Federal Reserve of Dallas, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Center on Budget Policies and Priorities, CNN, Businessweek, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Reuters, Tax Notes, Daily Tax Report, and various books and academic papers.
He has taught economics and public policy at several other universities, including: Rice University, William & Mary, Northwestern University, Syracuse University, George Mason University, and George Washington University.
Alisha Martinez, PhD
Dr. Alisha Martinez serves as a data specialist in the Office of School Support for the Fairfax County Public Schools, which is the 10th largest school district in the country. She brings over 17 years of experience in the field of education working in a variety of settings including local and federal government and the non-profit and private sector. Prior to working for the Fairfax County Public Schools, she was a Senior Director of Research and Business Analytics at K12 Insight, a research and technology consulting firm based in Herndon, Virginia. She teaches MSSP 629: Research and Evaluation Design.
Alisha began her career as a classroom teacher in the Atlanta Public Schools through the Teach for America program. After teaching, Alisha obtained her Masters in Social Policy from the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Haverford College and her PhD in Education from George Mason University. She is originally from Brookline, Massachusetts and currently resides in Virginia with her husband, Oscar, and their two children, Sofia and Isabella.
Elijah Mayfield, PhD
Elijah Mayfield is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Carnegie Mellon University, where he researches how human decision-making and biases are encoded in machine learning systems. He also teaches two MSSP courses, including MSSP 607: Practical Data Science and MSSP 608: Practical Machine Learning. Previously, he was Vice President of New Technologies at Turnitin, managing machine learning and NLP research for educational products used by more than 30 million students globally. He joined Turnitin when they acquired LightSide Labs, which he founded as CEO with support from the Gates Foundation, the College Board, the US Department of Education, and others. Mayfield has coauthored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications on language technologies and human-computer interaction, receiving awards including a Siebel Scholarship, an IBM PhD Fellowship, and being named to Forbes 30 under 30 in Education.
Rochelle Michel, PhD
Rochelle S. Michel has held a number of roles in the context of educational testing, assessment, educational research, and non-profit program management, including working as the Executive Director of Admission Programs at Educational Records Bureau, Director of Research within the Academic to Career Research Center at Educational Testing Service (ETS), Research Director at Curriculum Associates, and Psychometric Manager at ETS. In addition, she was an Assistant Professor of Research and Evaluation Methodology at Florida International University. She also has extensive teaching experience in Mathematics and Statistics, at the junior high school, high school, and college levels. Dr. Michel received her PhD in Psychometrics from Fordham University.
Ama Nyame-Mensah, PhD, MA
Ama Nyame-Mensah, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow within the Master of Science in Social Policy program at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). Ama’s core research agenda examines how culture, context, and experiential learning activities shape and shift outcomes across the life course, with a focus on how these socially constructed phenomena affect children and adults from underserved and understudied populations. She is also interested in the application of critical modes of inquiry and analysis to the study of (human) difference as well as strategies for improving data use in policy and practice settings. Before coming to Penn, Ama worked as a research staff member at the Computing Research Association’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline. Ama holds a PhD in Social Welfare from the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware.
Oana Parvan, PhD
Dr. Oana Parvan teaches MSSP AI & Revolution. Maroon Algorithms. She is also the coordinator of the international digital symposium “Recursive Colonialism, Artificial Intelligence & Speculative Computation” (December, 2020).
With a background in Philosophy and Semiotics, Dr. Parvan holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths University of London. Her research focuses on events of resistance and modalities of propagation of dissent, drawing from political theory, media studies and art practices. She is the author of The Arab Spring between Transformation and Capture. Autonomy, Media and Mobility in Tunisia (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2020).
As a member of the research and practice network Sound System Outernational, she has authored and edited work in the field of sound studies.
She was a visiting lecturer in Postcolonial Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London and designed and delivered modules on Refugee Politics and Revolutions at City Lit, London.
Her writing has appeared on MetaMute, Dark Matter and Race & Class.
Ethan Plaue is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania and a lecturer in the MSSP program. He teaches the course MSSP 710: Democratizing Data? Critical Data Studies in Algorithmic Governance, which explores the increasing power of computational analytics in governance and control. His research focuses on developing a revisionary history of the mediation concept, especially in relation to early nineteenth-century transformations in economic and racial regimes. Before coming to UPenn, he received an MFA in poetry at the University of Iowa where he taught English literature and creative writing.
Angelina Ruffin is a PhD Candidate in Social Welfare and teaches MSSP 606: Data for Equitable Justice Lab. Her research focuses on developing culturally-relevant strategies that address violence against women in minority and marginalized communities. She is a William Fontaine Fellow and her research has garnered grant support from the Fahs-Beck for Research and Experimentation at the New York Community Trust and the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence. She is a certified Anti-Violence Advocate, trained by the Penn Women’s Center, and a Board Member of Women Organized Against Rape, one of the nation’s first rape crisis centers. In addition to pursing her PhD at SP2, Angelina was named Director of Performance Management and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Philadelphia by Mayor Jim Kenney November 2016. Angelina has previously served as the Director of Performance Management at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and Policy Advisor to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health on Maternal and Child Health. Angelina attended Cornell University and graduated in 2004 with a BS in Policy Analysis and Management. She was a Dean’s Healthcare Scholar at Carnegie Mellon University where she earned her Master’s degree in Health Care Policy and Management, and graduated with distinction in 2005. Angelina is originally from Philadelphia and is married with an eight-year-old son.
Nicole Sansone, PhD
Dr. Sansone is a lecturer in the MSSP program, where she teaches MSSP 710: Democratizing Data and lectures on art history, critical theory, and politics. She is also the Ai consultant for the forthcoming audio drama podcast “Ultimate Solution” and host of its companion podcast on debates in technology and society. She sits on the editorial advisory board for Sluice magazine.
Dr. Sansone received her PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London in Cultural Studies, and her research is in the fields of aesthetics, media theory, and cultural studies. Her work is broadly interested in non-traditional and decolonial knowledge systems which, in the past, has included investigations of the production of sky imagery by virtual modeling softwares and science fiction. Currently, Dr. Sansone is developing work on the administrative state and the impact of machine vision on migration governance. This latest project is heavily informed by her time as a migrant rights activist in the U.K., and as a member of the steering committee to establish Lewisham Borough and Goldsmiths as sites of sanctuary.
Previously, Dr. Sansone has lectured at Goldsmiths, University of London and the Royal Art Academy The Hague. She has also served as curator at IMT Gallery in London and as assistant curator of General Electric’s (GE) corporate art collection. During her time at GE Dr. Sansone co-advised on the collection’s first major acquisition since its founding and curated its first-ever exhibition honoring LGBTQ history month. Her writing on art for popular audiences can be read on The Photographer’s Gallery blog, Furtherfield, Full Stop, and The Creator’s Project.
Dan Treglia, PhD, MPP
Dan Treglia is Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, where he studies causes and policy solutions for homelessness and poverty and hosts SP2’s podcast, Scholars on the Streets. He is also a Research Fellow with the United Way’s ALICE Project, which quantifies and studies the circumstances of income insufficiency across the country, a Researcher with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the President of StreetChange, a mobile app that increases community engagement in solving homelessness. Before joining Penn he was the Deputy Director of Research at the New York City Department of Homeless Services. He has a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a PhD in Social Welfare from SP2.
Mijke van der Drift, PhD
Mijke van der Drift works on ethics as a focal point in a multi-disciplinary research about social transformation. Van der Drift will teach the elective Ethics, AI and the Construction of Worlds at MSSP and is tutor at the Royal College of Art, London and the Royal Academy of Art, the Hague. They are a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge in 20-21, as part of the Revolutionary Papers project, in collaboration with the London School of Economics and the University of the Western Cape.
The book chapter ‘Radical Transfeminism: Trans as anti-static ethics escaping neoliberal encapsulation’ co-written with Nat Raha is recently published in New Feminist Studies: Twenty-first-century Critical Interventions, ed. Jennifer Cooke with Cambridge University Press. Van der Drift has articles forthcoming in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy and Identities: Journal for Gender, Politics and Culture.
In 2021 van der Drift will be working on a research Extractivism, Datafication and Transformative Justice funded by the Kone Foundation, Finland.