Hometown: Evanston, Illinois
Educational and professional background:
I received a BA in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1995 and an MPP from the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago in 2002. Before entering graduate school, I worked as a church-based community organizer focusing on housing and criminal justice issues. I also served as a political organizer most notably for then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama.
How did you get into your field of research?
I left community organizing for graduate school to study the so-called “prison-industrial complex” in hopes of dismantling this behemoth of racial and economic oppression.
What attracted you to UW-Madison?
The outstanding faculty.
What was your first visit to campus like?
My first visit to campus was 10 years ago during the Rural Sociological Society annual meetings. I enjoyed the lake views.
What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with?
Improved critical thinking.
Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.
My research deals with how punishment causes and is caused by racial and economic stratification. By furthering our understanding of these systems of oppression my work research can hopefully help improve the lives of the most vulnerable from poor rural whites, to urban blacks, to immigrants housed in detention.
What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?
There are counterintuitive racial effects across systems of punishment.
I am retired basketball player and community organizer but I contemplating a comeback in both (or neither).