Institute for Economic and Racial Equity

IERE Racial Equity Fellows and Interns

2021 IERE Racial Equity Fellows

This summer, IERE welcomed its inaugural class of Racial Equity Fellows. Ofa Liz Ejaife, Joanna Taylor, and Jarvis Williams will be joining the IERE team this summer to continue their research. The 2021 IERE PhD Racial Equity Fellowship was open to current Heller PhDs in the Economic and Racial Equity concentration who successfully defended their dissertation proposals and whose work focuses on achieving racial equity. The Fellows and their dissertation projects are:

Ofa Ejaife, PhD student and Racial Equity Fellow

Ofa Liz Ejaife

Stratification Economics and Health: Examining Employment Capital as a Social and Political Determinant of the Black-White Health Disparities

Ofa Ejaife is a doctoral candidate in the Economic and Racial Equity concentration at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Her research primarily focuses on the psychosocial issues of racism, sexism, and social justice, and on forms of structural, direct, and symbolic racism and sexism endemic to U.S. society, through an intersectionality framework. Ofa has a BA in Psychology and an MA in Community Psychology, both from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. With interdisciplinary trainingutilizing critical qualitative and quantitative methodsher research is committed to understanding and alleviating various forms of subjugation influencing social realities. Ofa has been involved in various community-based projects including: financial empowerment; credit building initiatives; racial equity in child savings accounts; evaluation of a best-practice gang and youth violence reduction program in four cities in Massachusetts; and providing resources to develop, implement, and sustain policies for programs aimed at promoting housing stability. Currently, her dissertation examines how non-income employment-based wealth building resources are connected to racial stratification and the Black-White health gap.
Joanna Taylor, PhD student and Racial Equity Fellow

Joanna Taylor

Pathways Into and Out of Confinement: A Life-Course Study of Girls and School Discipline

Joanna Taylor received her Master’s in Education through the Boston Teacher Residency program and a BA in History from Swarthmore College. She taught high school and was a youth worker in Boston for over eight years. Her research interests are in the school-to-prison pipeline, with a focus on reducing racial disparities in discipline. Joanna’s dissertation focuses on the long-term consequences of being suspended for young women, following them into early adulthood. With the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights, she published two reports on the state of school discipline in Massachusetts following a 2014 change to the laws governing suspension and expulsions. In addition, Joanna co-authored two articles with Tatjana Meschede examining wealth accumulation for Black and white families with college degrees in the United States.
Jarvis Williams, PhD Student and IERE Racial Equity Fellow

Jarvis Williams

Wrongfully Convicted? The Challenge of Official Recognition

Jarvis Williams is a doctoral candidate in the Economic and Racial Equity concentration at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. His area of concern revolves around the concept of citizenship and the social fruits that fall from its conceptual tree. As a seminary-trained and ordained Christian minister, Jarvis has attempted to merge his ongoing quest for the Beloved Community by identifying and analyzing our collective concern for specific populations haunted by the stain of social stigma. His overarching thesis suggests that systemic failure is best recognized by analyzing socially stigmatized populations that expose the fragility, and sometimes hypocrisy, of our collective institutional values of truth and justice. With years of ministerial service within marginalized communities, Jarvis is convinced that true transformation must be coupled with an unflinching investigation into the moral sensibilities of some of our most fundamental institutions. To explore his overarching thesis, Jarvis is asking a very simple question in his dissertation. What happens to wrongfully convicted exonerees after they are released from prison? Equally of interest, what should happen to these newly released citizens? Many states have attempted to address this question through statutory compensation policies. Jarvis will investigate this policy option and assess whether or not it produces the fundamental social fruits of citizenship. By interviewing wrongfully convicted exonerees, Jarvis hopes to learn how the policy of statutory compensation actually impacts the lives of these newly released citizens. As an African American male and descendant of enslaved people in the U.S. with years of research and lived experience, Jarvis sees the concept of citizenship as an elusive ideal when applied to socially stigmatized populations. Indeed, the ongoing challenge for Jarvis is to continue participating as a citizen and demonstrating concern for the socially stigmatized citizens, which proves to be a radical notion within the U.S. Undoubtedly, Jarvis wonders if his own citizenship status will ever be authentically recognized. Nevertheless, his dissertation is a reminder to the socially stigmatized populations within our society, sometimes the socially stigmatized must lead the way in recognizing the socially stigmatized.

2021 IERE Interns

IERE also expanded its internship this summer, welcoming five Heller MPP candidates in the Economic and Racial Equity concentration. Interns are making valuable contributions to IERE’s research portfolio and gaining invaluable real-world research skills, including qualitative analysis, drafting interview protocols, academic writing, project management, and more. Our 2021 IERE Summer Fellows are:

Gerrit Boldt, MPP'22, IERE Intern

Gerrit Boldt, MPP‘22

MassUp/HEAL Winchendon

Ali Carney, MPP‘22

Pathways and Payoffs for Attainment Equity: A Racial Equity Analysis of Student Debt Burden and Postsecondary Education Pathways

Audrey Herrmann, MPP'22, IERE Intern

Audrey Herrmann, MPP‘22

HOPE Institute

Vandita Wilson, MPP'22, IERE Intern

Vandita Wilson, MBA, MPP‘22

Modeling Discriminatory Debt

Amelia Youngstrom, MPP'22, IERE Intern

Amelia Youngstrom, MPP‘22

Oak Foundation/Women’s Lunch Place Evaluation