Alexandra Pineros-Shields

Adjunct Senior Lecturer

Alexandra  Pineros-Shields's photo


Office: Heller-Brown Building 366
Phone: 781-736-3598
Brandeis Directory


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Participatory Action Research; Urban Renewal and Community Building; Immigrant Political Activism, Immigration Policy; Cross-racial and Cross-class Community Organizing; Community-Based Research.


  • HS 444a - Discrimination Analytics and Policy
  • HS 529a - Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Social Policy


  • Brandeis University
  • University of Scranton

Alexandra Pineros-Shields

Adjunct Senior Lecturer


Dr. Alexandra Piñeros Shields is a Senior Lecturer on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Master of Public Policy program. She brings over 30 years of experience working to advance the human and civil rights of oppressed communities through innovative practices that create spaces and processes for deep meaningful civic participation and democratic decision-making. The frameworks and strategies that she has developed and facilitated have enabled institutions and community groups to collectively co-create and implement practices of shared power and decision-making with oppressed individuals. Her model of diversity, equity, and inclusion has led to significant successes within organizations, across coalitions, as well as in the public sector in the areas of immigration and criminal justice policy reform. Because her model is rooted in civil rights leader Ella Baker’s teaching, “people can think and act for themselves,” Dr. Piñeros Shields sees herself as a midwife for power. She uses lessons from the field to create life-giving pedagogies and practices that she shares with her students.

Dr. Piñeros Shields works as the full-time Executive Director of the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), an interfaith, interracial, and interclass network of 40 congregations whose mission is racial and economic justice. During her tenure as executive director, she has transformed the 40-year-old organization into one which is guided by womanist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist democratic operating principles that center Blacks and Latinos in all levels of organizational decision-making. Through her leadership, ECCO has become a “laboratory for democracy”. By centering people who are most affected by our systems of mass incarceration, ECCO leaders of color created and have lead campaigns that produced impressive policy changes. Most recently those include the establishment of two Sanctuary cities, Salem and Ipswich (MA), and the institutionalization of implicit bias trainings for the entire police department in Lynn, MA. These successes, among many others, based on sharing decision-making power with marginalized people, demonstrate that the experiment in diversity and inclusion, or radical democracy, yields policy solutions not possible without diverse and meaningful participation. The outcome of this work is what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King called the “beloved community.” As such, the result of Dr. Piñeros Shields’ model of diversity, equity, and inclusion is the birth and nurturing of communities where all members, regardless of differences, can exercise their innate power and experience life-giving belonging.

Prior to her teaching and leadership at ECCO, Dr. Piñeros Shields taught at Providence College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Endicott College. She worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Youth and Communities (CYC) at the Heller School where she conducted program evaluations for local and national non-profit organizations and foundations. As a doctoral student, she served as Head Teaching Assistant for three semesters for Prof. Robert Reich’s The Paradox of Wealth and Poverty course and as Research Project Coordinator for the Pew Charitable Trust’s youth civic engagement initiative with Prof. Carmen Sirianni.

Dr. Piñeros Shields has held leadership positions at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Advocacy Coalition and the International Irish Immigrant Center. She has also worked at Centro Presente, Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services, and the Central American Refugee Center in Washington D.C. Dr. Piñeros Shields served on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s design team for the New Americans Agenda, an executive order that produced an immigrant integration policy agenda for Massachusetts. Dr. Piñeros Shields’ dissertation entitled Building Immigrant Political Power Through Participatory Democratic Co-Construction of Knowledge from the Heller School for Social Policy used a participatory action research model with four Latino immigrant leaders to study factors promoting or discouraging cross-racial and cross-national immigrant organizing, in the Boston area, to change immigration laws and policies.

Dr. Piñeros Shields is frequently invited as a plenary speaker and panelist at college and university events and conferences including at Assumption College, Boston College, Boston University School of Theology, Emerson College, Gordon College, Johnson Smith University, Merrimack College, New England School of Law, Salem State University, Smith College, the University of the South, and University of Massachusetts Boston. She has also been invited to speak at public and non-profit events including the PICO National Network Northeast Conference, Boston Ethical Community, Brazilian Women’s Group, Children’s Advocacy Center – Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Essex County Commission on the Status of Women, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, Health and Recovery Institute, House of Seven Gables, Mass Budget & Policy Center Board Training, Mass. Dept. of Mental Retardation, NH Community of Practice on Immigrant Integration, NH Department of Health and Human Services – Division for Children, Youth, and Families, Peace Action Conference, Refugee Immigrant Ministry, Right Question Institute, Women Donors Network, United Nations Association of Boston, as well as at conferences and dozens of churches, synagogues and other faith-based organizations.

Awards and Honors

  • Board Member – Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center (2018)
  • Board Member – Wisdom Council – Faith in Action National Network (2018)
  • Board Member - Episcopal City Mission Foundation (2017)
  • Norma Award – Heller School MPP Program (2017)
  • Solidarity Award – North Shore Labor Council (2017)
  • Board Member - Ayni Institute (2016 - 2018)
  • Recognition for Immigrant Women Organizing – House of Representatives - Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2014)
  • Chair - The Burgess Fund - Episcopal City Mission Foundation (2011 - 2014)
  • Secretary - Board of Directors - Episcopal City Mission Foundation (2011 - 2014)
  • Board Member – MA Jobs With Justice (2008 - 2011)
  • Heller School Ph.D. Commencement Speaker (2007)
  • Barbara Wakefield Fellow (2004)
  • Member – Statewide Diversity Task Force – New Hampshire Department of Social (1998 - 2000)


  • Pineros-Shields, A.. A Mid-Wife for Power: Participatory Strategies for Economic, Racial and Immigrant Justice at the Essex County Community Organization. Boston: Book Project - In progress, 2019.
  • Pineros-Shields, A.. "Time to Cut ICE Funding." The Daily Item, 12/03/2018
  • Pineros-Shields, A.. "Confronting the Sins of Empire: How Should We Celebrate Columbus Day?." The Salem News, 10/10/17
  • Pineros-Shields, A.. "The Argument: Should Salem Become A Sanctuary City?." The Boston Globe, 2/10/17
  • Pineros-Shields, A.. "The Argument: Should State Police, after arresting an immigrant on state criminal charges, detain the suspect at the request of federal immigration officials?." The Boston Globe, 7/22/2016
  • Hughes, D., Curnan, S.; & Piñeros Shields, A.. Unitarian Universalist Association Leap of Faith Pilot Logic Model Report. Center for Youth and Communities, Brandeis University, Waltham. MA 2011.
  • Hughes, D., Moldow, E.,Lanspery, S., J.F. Morgan Associates, & Piñeros Shields, A.. Building Neighborhood Capacities to Support Youth and Families in Good Neighborhoods and Good Schools Initiative. Center for Youth and Communities, Brandeis University, Waltham. MA Report to the Skillman Foundation: 2011.
  • Pineros-Shields, A., Moldow, E., & Hughes, D. Teen Futures Year 2 - Report to the Hyams Foundation. Center for Youth and Communities, Brandeis University, Waltham. MA: 2011.
  • Pineros-Shields, A., Moldow, E.; Hughes, D., & Khera, G.. Teen Futures Year 1 Report to the Hyams Foundation. Center for Youth and Communities, Brandeis University, Waltham. MA 2010.
  • Curnan, S., Kingsley, C. LaCava, L., and Pineros-Shields, A.. Emergency Assistance (EA) Reform in Massachusetts: A Report from Ten Regional Forums. Waltham Center for Youth and Communities, The Heller School, Brandeis University: 2009.
  • Pineros-Shields, A. Building Immigrant Political Power Through Participatory Democratic Co-Construction of Knowledge. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University, 2007.
  • Pineros-Shields, T. and Pineros-Shields, A.. "In-State Tuition - Overview of Legislation and Analysis of Benefits and Costs, Policy Brief prepared for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Advocacy Coalition, 2007.
  • Prottas, J., Pineros-Shields, A., and Post, M.. "Imigration in New England: A Demography Report of the Six New England States, Working Paper - Heller School For Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, 2006.