Alexandra Pineros-Shields

Visiting Associate Professor of the Practice

Alexandra  Pineros-Shields's photo


Office: Heller-Brown Building 358
Phone: 781-736-8680
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; Police Accountability and Racial Justice, 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

Visiting Associate Professor of the Practice


Dr. Alexandra Piñeros Shields is a Visiting Associate Professor of the Practice of Racial Equity. 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 marginalized individuals. Her model of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging 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. Currently, Dr. Piñeros Shields served as Chair of the Board of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. She also serves on the Board of the ACLU of Massachusetts and Philanthropy Massachusetts.

Prior to joining the Heller faculty, Dr. Piñeros Shields was the 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 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 immigrant sanctuary policies in four cities; the institutionalization of implicit bias trainings for the entire police department in Lynn, MA; and the development of an unarmed crises response team to respond to mental health emergencies instead of police, also in Lynn. 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 impact 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.

Dr. Piñeros Shields lectures widely and has taught at Providence College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Endicott College, as well as in the former Soviet Union and in China. She has also 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.

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 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 of Directors - ACLU of Massachusetts (2021)
  • Chair of the Board of Directors – Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center (2021)
  • Board Member - Philanthropy Massachusetts (2020)
  • Registrar - Board of Registrars for Elections, City of Salem, MA (2020)
  • Board Member – Wisdom Council – Faith in Action National Network (2018)
  • Board Member - Episcopal City Mission Foundation (2017 - 2020)
  • 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)


  • Alexandra Piñeros Shields. "'Midwife for Power’: Towards a Mujerista / Womanist Model of Community Organizing." Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement Vol. 14. No. 2 (2021): 1-16.
  • Pineros-Shields, Alexandra. Our Voices, Our Futures: The Voices of Immigrant Communities - A National Participatory Action Research Project. Washington, D.C. LA RED / Faith in Action National Network: 2020.
  • 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.