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:


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: or 

Phone: 901-416-5623

Twitter: @SCSSuptRay

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

Last updated August 17, 2020

Neena Chaudhry

Neena K. Chaudhry is Director of Education and Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, where she works to promote the rights of women and girls at school. She places a particular emphasis on improving outcomes for girls at risk for dropout, including girls of color, pregnant and parenting students, girls who experience harassment, are excessively disciplined, or attend schools where the climate is not conducive to learning.

Ms. Chaudhry participates in administrative and legislative advocacy, litigation and public education to protect the rights of women and girls to be free from sex discrimination in school, with a particular focus on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Neena Chaudhry photo
Director of Education and Senior Counsel, National Women’s Law Center

Location: Washington, DC

Contact Information:
Phone: (202) 588-5180

As Heard On SSAIS: “Sexual Harassment and Title IX: Why We Should Care”

Muhammad Khalifa

Muhammad Khalifa is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University.  He has worked as a public school teacher and administrator in Detroit.

His research examines how urban school leaders enact culturally relevant leadership practices—which are leadership behaviors that most optimally help marginalized students in school and their communities.  More specifically, he looks at how school leaders can promote inclusive school environments, how they can effectively engage parents and neighborhood community contexts, and how they can confront racism in their own school buildings.

Khalifa has been published in the Teachers College Record, Educational Administration Quarterly, Urban Review, Urban Education, the Journal of Negro Education, and the Journal of School Leadership.  He is coeditor of the forthcoming “Rage, Love & Transcendence in the Emergence of Social Justice Scholars: Becoming Critical in Diverse Social Spaces” and “Handbook on Urban Educational Leadership.”

Khalifa has been engaged in school leadership reform in African and Asian countries.  Notably, he has developed the Nation’s first online equity audit equity audits to address achievement gaps and discipline gaps in school.  This online equity audit is currently being used to analyze and address inequity in U.S. schools.

Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, Michigan State University

Areas of Expertise:  Education, Race, Culture, Leadership Practices, School Leadership

Location: East Lansing/Ann Arbor, MI

Contact Information:
Phone: (734) 904-3458


Heard on WAMC:

The Academic Minute


Cecilia Rouse

Update [03/05/2021]: Cecilia Rouse has been confirmed to chair the Council of Economic Advisors.

Cecilia Rouse is an American economist and dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Joe Biden nominated Rouse to be chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Previously, she was the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs at Princeton University. She previously served as a member of President Obama’s three-person Council of Economic Advisers, providing analysis and advice on economic policy issues.

Rouse’s work focuses mostly labor economics, particularly in education. A well-known scholar, she has written numerous papers on topics such as the economic benefits of attending community college, sex discrimination in symphony orchestras and the effect of student-loan debt on career choices of college graduates.

Rouse has been featured in a number of media outlets, including Slate and Fox and has appeared on PBS’s Need to Know and The Takeaway with John Hockenberry.

Professor of Economics, Princeton University

Areas of Expertise: Economics of Education, Public Policy, Economic Policy, Labor Economics, Domestic and International Poverty

Location: Princeton, NJ

Contact Information:

Phone: 609-258-4800

Executive Assistant to the Dean Heather Evans
Phone: 609-258-3143

Heard on The Takewaway:

Long-Term Unemployment Difficult to Change

Featured on PBS:

Need To Know: Cecilia Rouse on the dropout rate

Added November 2017. Last updated February 2021.

Eve Ewing

Eve L. Ewing is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago. Her current research is focused on racism, social inequality, urban policy, and the impact these forces have on American public schools and the lives of young people.

Ewing is also a fellow at the Center for Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago and a Civic Media Fellow at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. She co-directs Crescendo Literary, a partnership that develops community-engaged arts events and education resources. She’s also an essayist and poet. Her first collection of poetry, essays, and visual art, Electric Arches, was published in September 2017. You can find her pieces in many different outlets including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post.


Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar and Fellow at Center for Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Areas of Expertise: Racism, Social Inequality and Urban Policy in Public School Systems, Sociology of Education

Contact Information:

Twitter: @eveewing

Kenneth Fernandez

Kenneth Fernandez is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies at Elon University. He is an expert in fields of survey methods, education, crime, immigration, and local economic development policy. Fernandez is the director of the Elon University Poll– a survey research center in North Carolina. His research has been published in several academic journals such as Survey Practice, Journal of American Planning Association and Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Fernandez has weighed in on political stories on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

ken fernandez
JULY 24, 2012 – Ken Fernandez (left), director of the Elon Poll, and Jason Husser, assistant director. Both are political science professors. (photo by Kim Walker)

Assistant Professor of Political Science & Policy Studies at Elon University 

Areas of expertise: Survey Methods, Crime, Education, Immigration and Local Economic Development Policy

Location: Elon, North Carolina

Contact Information :


Phone: 336-278-6438 (Office)

702-218-7958  (Cell)

Twitter: @ElonFernandez 

Heard on NPR’s All Things Considered : Dems Capitalize On Advantage With Hispanic Voters 

Eugenia Cheng

Dr. Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician and pianist based in Chicago.  Dr. Cheng is currently the Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is tenured in Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is an expert in mathematics who focuses on ending “math-phobia” through innovative teaching methods. Cheng is a popular YouTube personality, producing videos that aim to demonstrate that math can be fun. In 2015, she wrote a book, “How to Bake Pi” that explains mathematics through food.  She is also a concert pianist and the founder of Liederstube, a Not For Profit organization in Chicago dedicated to bringing classical music to a wider audience.

Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Areas of Interest: Mathematics, Innovative Undergraduate Teaching Methods, Concert Piano

Contact Information:

Personal Website (contact form):

Twitter: @DrEugeniaCheng

Last updated September 14, 2020

Donna Ford, Ph.D.

Donna Y. Ford is a Professor of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. She teaches in the university’s Department of Special Education as well as its Department of Teaching and Learning. Her research/writing focuses on multicultural/urban education of minority children and youth and practices of recruiting and retaining students of color in gifted and Advanced Placement programs.

She is the author of several books and more than 200 publications and co-founded the Scholar Identity Institute for Black Males at Vanderbilt. In 2014 she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Literature Instruction in recognition of publication of her book, Recruiting and Retaining Culturally Different Students in Gifted Education.

 Professor of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Areas of Expertise: Education, special education, youth of color, multicultural classroom practices, African-American identity, African-American family involvement, recruiting and retaining students of color in gifted education

Contact Information


Phone: (615) 322-4460

Twitter: @donnayford

Constance Iloh

Constance Iloh is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of California, Irvine. Her research focuses on underrepresented groups in higher education. In 2016, she was featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. She works in Irvine, California.

Her research has been funded by the ECMC Foundation.


Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of California, Irvine

Location: Irvine, California.

Contact Information: 


Phone: 240-461-3898

Listen to Constance Iloh here: