Marsha Jones

Marsha Jones is a grassroots organizer and health educator, as well as the co-founder and executive director of The Afiya Center, the only reproductive justice organization in North Texas founded and directed by Black women. Her expertise lies in reproductive justice, health disparities affecting Black women and girls, and the relationship between politics and the American healthcare system.

Jones is also an expert on HIV/AIDS advocacy, with experience in community-based solutions and intersectional justice. She can provide insight on the disproportionate resources and care available to Black patients, and the way activists are organizing for more equitable health and medical treatment for people of color.

Jones has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is a graduate of the Black AIDS Institute’s African American HIV University (Science and Community Mobilizing Fellowship Program) and Tyndale Theology School.

She serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Equal Access Fund and is a member of many national women-focused initiatives to advance gender and racial equity and eliminate health disparities, including the National Women AIDS Coalition.

Jones was also a panelist for “At the Table: A Symposium on Texas Women,” an event hosted by The Texas Tribune, which examined the impacts of politics on various aspects of women’s lives in Texas.

Location: Dallas, TX

Expertise Field: Reproductive justice for Black women, Medicaid expansion, grassroots organizing, health education, women’s rights, racial justice, media and race coverage, intersectional community activism, HIV/AIDS, intersectional justice

Contact information:

Email: info@theafiyacenter.org 

Phone: 972-629-9266

Twitter: @theafiyactr

Listen to Marsha Jones on Her Rules Radio

Last updated November 6, 2020

Jason Hong

Dr. Jason Hong is a professor at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is part of the Human Computer Interaction Institute. Given his expertise in digital misinformation, election security, and the behavioral relationship between humans and computers, he can speak to the science behind detecting false information online, the incentives for creating “fake news,” and the challenges this presents to a fair election.

More broadly, he also is an expert in data collection, digital privacy, and cybersecurity. These concerns have only become more relevant as more people work remotely and the influence of social media has grown. His research has been featured in the New York Times, MIT Tech Review, CNN, Slate and elsewhere. He is also a co-founder of Wombat Security Technologies, which was acquired by Proofpoint in March 2018 for $225m.

Hong has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley and received dual undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Discrete Mathematics from Georgia Institute of Technology.

A trivia fanatic, Hong is a former national Quiz Bowl champion and once served as a lifeline on “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?”

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Expertise Field: Human computer interaction, data collection, cybersecurity, privacy, election security, digital misinformation

Contact information:

Email: jasonh@cs.cmu.edu 

Twitter: @jas0nh0ng

Listen to Jason Hong on WESA:

Last updated October 14, 2020

Philip Higuera

Dr. Philip Higuera is an associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences at the University of Montana where he leads the PaleoEcology and Fire Ecology Lab. As an expert on forestry, wildfires, fire ecology and climate change, he can provide insight on how wildfires have grown in strength with climate change and how forest ecosystems are adapting.

At the PaleoEcology and Fire Ecology Lab, Higuera studies forests across western North America and researches how fire activity has responded to climate change, both in our recent past and throughout history. His work also examines how forest ecosystems have reacted in turn to these drastic changes. In 2018, he was named as a “highly cited scientist” by Clarivate Analytics for papers published over the last decade. 

Higuera has a PhD in Forest Ecology from the University of Washington in Seattle, a Masters in Forest Ecology from University of Washington in Seattle, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Environmental Studies and Geology from Middlebury College.

His work focuses largely on the Rocky Mountains range but extends as far as Alaska.

Location: Missoula, MT

Expertise Field: Forestry, wildfires, fire ecology, climate change

Contact information:

Email: philip.higuera@umontana.edu 

Phone: 406-599-8908

Twitter: @PhilipHiguera

Listen to Philip Higuera on MTPR:

Last updated September 28, 2020

Tony Reames

Dr. Tony G. Reames is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability where he directs the Urban Energy Justice Lab. He’s an expert in energy justice and can provide insight into the racial and economic disparities surrounding access to energy in the United States and how those disparities interface with climate change.

At the Urban Energy Justice Lab, Reames researches fair and equitable access to clean and affordable energy and seeks to understand the production and persistence of spatial, racial, and socioeconomic residential energy disparities. In 2019, he was named to the Grist 50 Fixers list.

Reames has a PhD in public administration from the University of Kansas, a Masters in engineering management from Kansas State University, and a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. 

Reames is also a licensed professional engineer and veteran U.S. Army officer — he served for eight years, reaching the rank of Captain.

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Expertise Field: Energy justice, climate and energy, urban energy, sustainability, civil engineering

Contact information:

Email: treames@umich.edu 

Phone: 734-647-3916

Twitter: @tgreames

Listen to Tony Reames on WEMU:

Last updated September 17, 2020

Dolores Albarracín

Dr. Dolores Albarracín is a professor of psychology, business and medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She’s an expert in social and clinical psychology and can provide insight on how the anti-vaccination movement and the spread of misinformation on social media are affecting the coronavirus pandemic.

At the University of Illinois, Albarracín directs the Social Action Lab and the Health, Social Media and Technology Group, where she studies social cognition and action, communication, misinformation and changes in behaviors and attitudes.

Her work there has focused on COVID-19, substance use, HIV/AIDS and vaccines. Recent publications include a study on the ways anti-vaccination social media posts influence vaccine behavior and her April 2020 research finding that Americans who consume conservative media are more likely to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.

Albarracín has authored five books and 170 journal articles and book chapters and served as the editor-in-chief of Psychological Bulletin from 2014 to 2020. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997, and has been a tenured professor at the University of Florida and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Location: Urbana, IL

Expertise Field: Social and clinical psychology, behavior and attitudes, communication, misinformation and public health

Contact information:

Email: dalbarra@illinois.edu 

Phone: 217-840-2383

Twitter: @socialactionlab

Listen to Dolores Albarracín on Hidden Brain:

Last updated September 8, 2020

Terry Loftis

Terry Loftis is the president and executive director of The Arts Community Alliance, a nonprofit supporting the arts in North Texas through grant making, capacity building and thought leadership. He can provide insight on the struggles cultural institutions are facing during the pandemic as well as what the future holds.

Before joining TACA, Loftis was vice president of the Broadway Strategic Return Fund in New York, which co-produced the Tony Award-winning productions Once on This Island and Hadestown. He also produced the 2017 Broadway run of Bandstand, which won the Tony for Best Choreography and Orchestration.

A Dallas native, Loftis graduated from the city’s Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. He has a 25-year career in marketing and advertising.

Outside of TACA, he serves on the boards of directors for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Black Tie Dinner, Arts District Dallas, and the president’s council of the advisory board of Booker T. Washington High School.

Location: Dallas, TX

Expertise Field: Arts and culture, arts and culture funding, theater, music, museums, nonprofits

Contact information:

Email: Brett@BrettGrayPR.com (media contact)

Phone: 214-557-6233 (media contact)

Twitter: @TerryDLoftis

Listen to Terry Loftis on WFAA:

Last updated September 2, 2020

Ernesto Alvarado

Dr. Ernesto Alvarado is a research associate professor of wildland fire sciences in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. He’s an expert on fire ecology and management and can provide insight on the role climate change plays in wildfires and what we should do to better manage forests.

Alvarado’s research focuses on forests in Alaska and the western and southeast United States, in addition to his international work in Brazil, Mexico and Bolivia. 

Topics of study include fire behavior, biomass assessment, combustion modeling, fire ecology, fire management, prescribed fire, fires and climate change, landscape ecology, smoke emissions, and the impacts of smoke on public health.

He’s also looked into traditional fire use and forest management by indigenous communities

At the University of Washington, Alvarado teaches courses on wildland fire management, fire ecology, and the role of culture and place in natural resource stewardship in the Yakama Nation. He also leads graduate seminars on forest dynamics and disturbances and traditional ecological knowledge and fire use. 

Alvarado is also a member of the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Research Team of the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory in Seattle.

Location: Seattle, WA

Expertise Field: Forest fire ecology, wildfires, fire management, prescribed fire, smoke emissions, climate change, forestry

Contact information:

Email: alvarado@uw.edu 

Phone: 206-616-6920

Listen to Ernesto Alvarado on KING5 Seattle:

Last updated August 27, 2020

Isabel Araiza

Dr. Isabel Araiza is an associate professor of sociology at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, where she teaches in the Mexican American and women and gender studies programs. She’s an expert on sociology and its intersections with education, social class and inequality. 

Araiza has also spoken up against the university’s plans for in-person classes this fall despite the coronavirus pandemic. Many schools have abandoned plans for in-person instruction this fall due to outbreaks — most notably, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made the rest of the semester entirely online after 130 students tested positive in the first week of classes.

Araiza’s recent research has focused on access to clean water, the political preferences of Latinos, Hispanic serving institutions of higher education in Texas and the community impact of the integration of Corpus Christi Independent School District in the 1970s.

Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Araiza went on to earn her PhD in sociology from Boston College. As a public sociologist actively engaged in her community, Araiza is a founding member of For the Greater Good, a local advocacy organization that pushes for access to clean water and investment in public institutions and infrastructure.

She’s also co-authored several health needs assessments on the community needs and uses of hospitals in the Coastal Bend region of South Texas.

Location: Corpus Christi, TX

Expertise Field: Universities and the coronavirus, sociology, Mexican American studies, women and gender studies, social class, education, inequality 

Contact information:

Email: isabel.araiza@tamucc.edu

Phone (cell): 361-779-3927

Phone (office): 361-825-3936

Listen to Isabel Araiza on KIII:

Last updated August 24, 2020

Dr. Joris M. Ray

Dr. Joris M. Ray is the superintendent of Shelby County Schools in Tennessee and an expert in K-12 education.

Ray grew up in Memphis and attended Shelby County Schools, graduating from Whitehaven High School. He went on to earn his doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from The University of Memphis. 

As superintendent, Ray has focused on combating education inequality with efforts including providing digital devices and internet access for every student, the third grade commitment to improve reading skills, promotion of African American male empowerment and the alternative education program.

Ray worked for the district for more than 23 years as a teacher, principal and in several other administrative roles before he was unanimously elected to serve as superintendent by the Shelby County School Board in April 2019.

Shelby County Schools is the largest district in Tennessee and one of the 25 largest in the United States. It operates over 200 schools educating more than 100,000 students with a $1.5 billion annual budget.

Location: Memphis, TN

Expertise Field: K-12 education, educational leadership and policy studies, school operations and reopening schools during the coronavirus

Contact information:

Email: superintendent@scsk12.org or mediarelations@scsk12.org 

Phone: 901-416-5623

Twitter: @SCSSuptRay

Listen to Joris M. Ray on WBUR’s On Point:

Last updated August 17, 2020

Alannah Hurley

Alannah Hurley has worked extensively in community development and environmental justice and is dedicated to helping make self-determination a reality for Alaska’s indigenous people.

She is the executive director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, a tribally chartered consortium of 15 federally recognized tribes opposed to the Pebble Mine in Alaska, and can provide insight on the environmental and Alaska Native opposition to the project.

The proposed mine has long been controversial due to its location in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery. Opponents say the massive gold and copper complex will likely pollute the bay and harm the salmon runs.

The Obama administration agreed, and blocked the project, but the Trump administration reversed course — last month’s environmental review said it would pose no major harm.

But the project still faces bipartisan opposition, including from the President’s son Donald Trump Jr., so it’s unclear if the Army Corps of Engineers will give the final federal go-ahead.

Hurley is Yup’ik, and was born, raised and currently lives in the Bristol Bay Region. She graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.A. in Native American studies and a minor in political science.

Location: Dillingham, AK

Expertise Field: Alaska Native opposition to the Pebble Mine, environmental conservation and activism

Contact information:

Email: ahurley@utbb.org 

Phone: 907-843-1633 or 907-842-1687

Twitter: @UnitedTribes_BB

Listen to Alannah Hurley testifying at the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure:

Last updated August 13, 2020