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The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity is an interdisciplinary engaged research institute at The Ohio State University established in May 2003.  It was named for former university president William E. “Brit” Kirwan in recognition of his efforts to champion diversity at OSU.

Our goal is to connect individuals and communities with opportunities needed for thriving by educating the public, building the capacity of allied social justice organizations, and investing in efforts that support equity and inclusion. Here at the Kirwan Institute we do this through research, engagement, and communication.

Our mission is simple: we work to create a just and inclusive society where all people and communities have opportunity to succeed.


Structural Racialization

A structural/systems approach is used to investigate the causes and consequences of racial hierarchy and disparity and to develop policy solutions.

Race in Cognition

Refers to how implicit and explicit mental processes – that are both altered by and contribute to racial inequities – affect individuals’ decisions, behaviors, and lived experiences.

Opportunity Mapping

Opportunity mapping is a research tool used to understand the dynamics of “opportunity” within metropolitan areas. The purpose of opportunity mapping is to illustrate where opportunity rich communities exist (and assess who has access to these communities) and to understand what needs to be remedied in opportunity poor communities.

Social Determinants of Health

The social determinants of health approach is distinguished by a broad focus on the economic, social, political, and psychological determinants of population health.

Civic Engagement

Describes the practices, principles and socioeconomic conditions that comprise the environment in which people interact with their community and come together to make and implement community decisions that provide justice and opportunity for all community members.

The Kirwan Institute supports racially equitable policy and capacity building through its Opportunity Communities Model. This research model brings an intersectional analysis to focus areas such as housing, education, jobs, transportation, health, and criminal justice. We are particularly interested in how Structural Racialization and Race in Cognition create and sustain barriers to opportunity. Our framework for engagement and capacity building around these sources of inequity include:

  • Policy, Law and Civil Rights Research
  • Opportunity Mapping
  • Communications, Field Building and Engagement

Our Opportunity Communities Model advocates for equitable investment in all people and neighborhoods to improve the health of entire regions.

Learn more about our research model, initiatives, and view all of our research reports and briefs.

The Kirwan Institute plays a critical role as a trusted convener, collaborator, and strategic partner to many organizational and community advocates. Strategic partnerships and collaboration are a priority, enabling us to expand the reach of our research through the diverse work of our partners. We frequently share information and assist in strategy development.

View Kirwan in the news.

The Institute creates original research and reports to share with our partners, grassroots activists, researchers, community leaders, and policy-makers. Our staff regularly attends conferences and meetings to share our research and exchange ideas. We engage with news media and credible blogs about the Institute’s findings and implications of our research. The Institute uses multimedia and social media platforms to communicate our research, implications of our research, and perspective in diverse ways.

View Kirwan articles  and media releases.


Latest Annual Report


You Can Help Make An Impact – Give to Kirwan Today


Help us to create opportunity in our communities


The Kirwan Institute is locally and nationally engaged in marginalized communities to expand opportunity for all,  focused in areas such as employment, health, education, criminal justice, and housing.

We collaborate with organizations to think creatively and critically about race and ethnicity and their connection to issues affecting opportunity.  Our projects are integrated with sound research, strategic communication, and advocacy. You can support The Kirwan Institute today. Your investment in our mission will help to “create a just and inclusive society where all people and communities have opportunity to succeed.”

For more information, please contact Dinessa Solomon, Executive Director of Foundation Relations at solomon.189@osu.edu.

How to Give

There are two ways to give to the Kirwan Institute:


To make a donation by credit card:

1. Go to Ohio State’s secure server.

2. Select your desired gift amount

3. Select the ‘‘Search’’ tab next to ‘‘I want to support.’’

4. In Search box, type ‘‘Kirwan Institute’’ and select ‘‘The Kirwan Institute Fund’’ as your preferred recipient.

5. Fill in the ‘‘My Information’’ form

6. In the ‘‘Special Instructions’’ box, please type: Donation for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.


To make a donation by check:

1. Please make check payable to: The Ohio State University Foundation

2. Send to: Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, 33 W 11th Avenue, Room 115 Columbus, OH 43201


Thank you!!

Strategic partnerships and collaboration are a priority.

Our PartnersView All Partners

We have deep gratitude for all our funders, partners, and supporters.

TestimonialsView All Testimonials

Kirwan’s Opportunity Maps as the Backbone to Regional Planning

But, what I really wanted to express was my excitement and appreciation for the work you have done on the opportunity maps. They are coming together great and they finally make sense to the working group. After the meeting several people were discussing how they have never seen the coast in this light. It presents a regional perspective and, even though more refinement is necessary, it will generate much more discussion among the working group and beyond, and should be the backbone to the regional planning we hope to achieve.

Elaine G. Wilkinson Executive Director, Gulf Regional Planning Commission

Diligent Work

Here are the remaining maps for the regions in the FHFA’s auction, thanks to diligent work from the Kirwan Institute GIS staff.

Philip Tegeler President/Executive Director, PRRAC

Kirwan Presentation Informs and Energizes

Once again, your willingness to provide your presentation twice is going to [be] beneficial for some of the additional registrants of the summit… So many people just do not know, with information from the summit, including your session, they will leave informed and energized, we hope.

Vivian Jackson Anderson, M.A., LSLP


Mikyung Baek

Research Associate



Mikyung, Research Associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, works in the Opportunity Communities Program. She joined the Institute in 2005 and has been involved in various projects, particularly those related to children and youth. One of her recent accomplishments at the Institute includes her involvement in Diversitydatakids.org project, for which she worked extensively on mapping child opportunity index for 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Technology and an M.A. in Foreign and Second Language Education, both from The Ohio State University, and an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Statistics from Pusan National University, South Korea.


Research Interests: Indicators of opportunity for children and youth and their life experiences, spatial (GIS) analysis of opportunity, food (in)security and health equity, and their relationship with neighborhood conditions.

Joshua BatesJoshua Bates

Social Policy Analyst


Joshua Bates is Social Policy Analyst at the Kirwan Institute for the study of Race and Ethnicity. His research is focused on urban poverty, juvenile justice issues, community trauma, and program evaluation. Furthermore, Joshua works as Outreach Coordinator for I Am My Brother’s Keeper (IAMBK). Within this capacity, he both presents nationally on IAMBK and builds relationships with other programs that engage with youth of color. Joshua works diligently to change lives on the national, local, and individual level.

Jamaal Bell

Director of Strategic Communications



Jamaal serves as the director of strategic communications for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University.  Jamaal leads a dynamic communications unit to affect change in the communities in which The Institute works.  With deep interest in social justice and through many communications media, he contributes in the effort of creating a just and inclusive society where all people and communities have opportunity to succeed.

Jamaal is a former seminarian and attended Ball State University and studied Public Relations and Journalism and earned a Bachelor’s degree in 2007. He has written several articles for the Huffington Post on mass incarceration, First Nations’ missing and murdered women and girls, the earthquake in Haiti, and human trafficking.

In 2017, Jamaal directed the documentary Free to Ride that won “Best Documentary” at the 2017 DC Independent Film Festival. In 2013, Jamaal directed a motion picture commemorating the 50th year anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s A Letter from Birmingham Jail, starring more than 30 of Columbus, Ohio’s community leaders.

Jamaal’s core expertise includes strategic communications planning, social media, media relations, new media and graphic design.

Articles published in the Huffington Post:

$10 Million Not Enough To Restore Justice and Dignity for Indigenous Women in Canada

Senator Sherrod Brown, Don’t Fear the Opposition — Support the DREAM Act

Mass Incarceration: A Destroyer of People of Color and Their Communities

Race and Human Trafficking in the U.S.: Unclear but Undeniable

Social Media Activism: Adding to the Haitian Narrative

Kelly Capatosto

Research Associate



Kelly Capatosto is a full-time research associate working to expand the Kirwan Institute’s Race and Cognition work on education, criminal justice, and trauma. Kelly joined Kirwan in August 2014 as a graduate research associate. During this period, Kelly specialized in applying research on implicit racial bias to inform education policy and practice. Much of her work addressed issues of school discipline, disability, and racialized trauma. Her most recent reports can be found on the implicit bias and school discipline website.

Beyond education, Kelly has written several inter-disciplinary reports linking implicit bias insights to other domains, including co-authoring the annual literature review, the State of the Science. Kelly’s research interests include exploring how race influences outcomes in the following domains: social cognition, education, mental and emotional health, and behavioral economics. In addition to her research, Kelly presents implicit-bias findings to select academic audiences.

Kelly received her Masters of Public Administration at Ohio State’s Glenn College of Public Affairs in 2016. Additionally, Kelly has earned a M.A. in school psychology and a B.A. in psychology from Ohio State University.

In her spare time, Kelly enjoys participating in small-scale community wellness initiatives and directs a volunteer program that develops community gardens and addresses food security issues in Columbus.

Sharon L. Davies

Executive Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity, Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Michael E. Moritz College
of Law, The Ohio State University.

Professor Davies was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and a Notes and Comments Editor of the Columbia Law Review while in law school at Columbia University. After graduation she worked for Steptoe and Johnson in Washington, D.C. and Lord, Day & Lord Barrett Smith in New York City.  Professor Davies served for five years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.  She joined the law faculty at Ohio State University in 1995, was awarded tenure in 1999, promoted to Full Professor in 2002, and awarded a named professorship in 2003.

Professor Davies teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure (Police Practices), Race and the Criminal Law, Civil Rights Law, and Evidence. Professor Davies’ primary research focus is in the area of criminal justice and race. Her articles and other writings have been published in some of the nation’s leading law journals including the Michigan Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, the Southern California Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, and Law and Contemporary Problems.  In 2010, Oxford University Press published Davies’s narrative nonfiction account of a 1921 murder trial in Birmingham, Alabama, titled Rising Road, A True Tale of Love, Race and Religion in America, for which the Mayor of Birmingham awarded her a “Key to the City.”


jason-duffieldJason Duffield

Web/Visual Communications Specialist



Jason is the Web/Visual Communications Specialist for the Kirwan Institute. He joined Kirwan in 2013 and has over 13 years experience in graphic design and web design, including over seven years experience in WordPress site development and maintenance. Prior to joining Kirwan, Mr. Duffield worked as the Graphic Design Specialist at West Virginia State University where he helped create a comprehensive rebranding campaign.

Jason earned his Associate in Specialized Technology, Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA.

Dwight “Kip” Holley

Research Associate 



Kip Holley is a Research Associate at the Kirwan Institute, working in the Opportunity Communities Program where his primary areas of focus are community engagement, social capital and civic leadership. During his time at the Kirwan Institute, Kip has worked on a wide variety of projects and reports, including a profile of Central Ohio neighborhoods for the Community Development Collaborative of Columbus that was used to inform the Central Ohio Neighborhood Summit, as well as a report on community engagement capacity for the community of White Center, WA for the White Center Community Development Association.

In addition, Kip has worked on a myriad of mapping and civic engagement projects as part of Kirwan’s work with HUD Sustainable Community Initiative grantee communities. Currently, Kip is working with a collection of civic engagement fellows in Detroit to help craft a civic engagement framework that empowers minority and low-income residents and helps bring equity to the city’s reshaping process, and continues to work to assist communities in the Sustainable Community Initiative with community engagement and mapping assistance. Kip Holley is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University, having received a B.S in City and Regional Planning from the Knowlton School of Architecture. He also holds an A.S. in Geographic Information Systems from Columbus State Community College.

Matthew Martin

Senior Researcher



Matt’s work at the Kirwan Institute focuses on housing and transportation policy, neighborhood revitalization, and the history behind regional inequality. He produced the Institute’s award-winning documentary, Free to Ride, and has conducted community assessments with partners around the country to help them understand spatial patterns of vulnerability and how to make their communities more sustainable by improving access to opportunity for their most marginalized members.

Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Matt was a regional planner with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission in Dayton, where he worked on land use policy, transportation planning, and regional development. He has also worked in local planning departments in Kettering and Piqua, where he assisted with development planning and zoning code enforcement.

Matt holds a B.S. in Urban Affairs and a minor in African American Studies from Wright State University, as well as a Master’s in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University.

Tara McCoy

Fiscal & Human Resources Manager 



Tara works as the fiscal and human resources associate for the Institute. She was the first member of the Kirwan staff, hired in April of 2003, and originally was hired as the Executive Director’s assistant, along with handling the fiscal and human resources side of the Institute. As the Institute has grown, Tara’s focus has shifted totally to the administrative side of the Institute. Prior to working for the Kirwan Institute, Tara worked with the Department of Psychology at The Ohio State University for three years within grant project management and departmental human resources management. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from The Ohio State University in 1998.

David NorrisDavid Norris

Senior Researcher



David Norris manages the Kirwan Institute’s Health Equity Mapping projects. Prior to joining Kirwan, David was a researcher at Community Research Partners, where he provided GIS support to numerous projects and managed CRP’s DataSource neighborhood data access website. He also has over 10 years’ experience in child advocacy and policy support with KidsOhio.org and Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio and, prior to that, as a workshop instructor and journal editor with the American Chemical Society. David holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management from The Glenn School at The Ohio State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology from Ohio University.


Jillian Olinger

Research Associate II



Jillian serves as a Public Policy and Planning Analyst and Project Manager for the Opportunity Communities Program at the Kirwan Institute. Jillian specializes in research relating to equity in housing, civic engagement, community development, and regional sustainability. Her portfolio also includes work relating to health and healthcare, youth development, and education. Jillian’s work has allowed her to travel around the country assisting systems leaders and residents alike seeking to make positive transformations in their communities.

Jillian’s current research interests focus on the demographic and economic changes facing our nation and communities, and the policy implications of these changes—advocating that our federal policy—making and our community development decisions reflect these changes and strive to ensure that opportunity remains available to everyone in our communities.

Jillian graduated from The Ohio State University in 2009 with a Masters in City & Regional Planning, and a Masters in Public Policy & Management.

Christy Rogers, PhD

Director, Strategic Initiatives & Development

(614) 292-7012


Dr. Rogers has served The Kirwan Institute since 2004. She has provided Institute leadership on a number of Ohio State interdisciplinary collaborations, including “Mapping the Food Environment” and “Meeting the Challenges of an Aging Population with Success. She is the editor, with john a. powell, of Where Credit is Due: Bringing Equity to Credit and Housing After the Market Meltdown. Dr. Rogers authored Kirwan Institute responses to requests for public comment on PMI Draft Eligibility Requirements, the FHFA Strategic Plan 2015-2019, Enterprise Housing Goals, and HMDA/Regulation C. She is a long-time researcher on housing finance policy, including co-authorship of Making the Mortgage Market Work for America’s Families.

Christy has volunteered at the United Way of Central Ohio as a member of the HOME Impact Council, and has been a visiting studio lecturer at the Knowlton School of Architecture. Prior to joining Kirwan, she worked in RS/GIS technology, municipal planning and litigation support in Chicago. Christy has an undergraduate degree in English from Carleton College, a graduate degree in English from Ohio University, a professional degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA) from the Harvard Design School, and a PhD in Geography from The Ohio State University. She participated in the Staff Leadership Series Training at The Women’s Place, OSU (2013 – 2014) and the Opportunity Agenda Communications Fellow Training, New York, NY (2011).

Review Christy’s CV.

Research interests: housing policy, housing finance, and community development; food access and (in)security; interdisciplinary applied research; equitable civic engagement and leadership development.

Cheryl StaatsCheryl Staats

Senior Researcher



Cheryl joined the staff of the Kirwan Institute in October of 2007.  Much of her current work focuses on implicit racial/ethnic bias.  She is a co-author of the State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review, an extensive document that synthesizes a broad range of scholarly literature on how unconscious racial associations influence human decision-making and outcomes.  Kirwan’s annual State of the Science publication highlights how cognitive forces that shape individual behavior without our awareness can contribute to societal inequities. Cheryl has also worked on a range of other projects, including alliance-building and intergroup relations.

Cheryl is a graduate of the University of Dayton with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Spanish.  She completed a Masters of Arts degree in 2007 in the OSU Department of Sociology.

maurice-stevensMaurice Stevens

Senior Faculty Research Advisor


Maurice Stevens is Senior Faculty Research Advisor for the Kirwan Institute. He is also a Professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University and an adjunct faculty member for the Pacifica Graduate Institute in the department of Depth Psychology’s Community, Liberation, and Eco-Psychology Program. Stevens received his B.A. in Religion and Anthropology from Princeton University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the interdisciplinary History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Dr. Stevens’ research interests include the formation and representation of identity in and through visual culture and political performance, critical trauma theory, popular cultural performance, theories of affect and embodiment, and American, ethnic, and gender studies. His first book is titled Troubling Beginnings: Trans(per)forming African-American History and Identity, and he is currently working on a second book called Catastrophe’s Glow: A Critical Trauma Theory for Chaotic Times.

Dr. Stevens brings expertise in designing interdisciplinary and engaged research methodologies, participatory leadership models, and community-driven social justice informed research.

Kyle StricklandKyle Strickland

Senior Legal Analyst


Kyle Strickland is the Senior Legal Analyst at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity. His work focuses on local and national civil rights issues, criminal justice reform, fair housing policy, and equitable access to education. In addition, Kyle assists in project development for the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in Columbus, which provides educational and community opportunities for boys and young men of color.

Prior to joining Kirwan, Kyle earned his law degree from Harvard Law School, where he served as Student Body President. Kyle, a native of Columbus, earned his B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University.

Glennon Sweeney

Research Associate



Glennon is a research associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Glennon joined Kirwan in 2011 and in 2014 began leading the Institute’s food justice work. Her work focuses on issues related to food security and access, poverty, housing, civic engagement, and equity. A member of the Franklin County Local Food Council and the Worthington Community Relations Commission, Glennon holds a Master’s in city and regional planning, a Bachelor’s in geography and political science, and is currently working on her Ph.D. is city and regional planning.  Glennon’s research interests include metropolitan neighborhood change, suburban poverty, food justice, principled civic engagement, and the intersection jurisdictional fragmentation of social service delivery.

Lena Tenney

Researcher and Facilitation Specialist



Lena Tenney joined the Race & Cognition Program at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in 2016. As a Researcher and Facilitation Specialist, she works collaboratively to conduct research on and facilitate workshops, presentations, and trainings about implicit bias and structural racism. A trained intergroup dialogue facilitator, Lena is interested in continually identifying and implementing strategies that encourage active engagement with topics that are often considered difficult to discuss.

The creator of an award-winning interactive presentation titled, “The Power of Words: Using Inclusive Language,” Lena has facilitated and co-facilitated the program more than 30 times in order to reach over 1,000 participants. In addition, she is a founding member of two grassroots community activist groups that have sought to ensure legal protections for and institutional inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals at the municipal and campus levels. Coalition-building with student activism collectives dedicated to advocating for students of color and students with disabilities has been central to her activism. This work has included writing published opinion pieces addressing anti-indigenous rhetoric and societal structures.

Lena graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Masters of Education and a Masters of Public Administration. She also holds a Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies and History from OU.

Ashley Wilson

Ashley Wilson

Program Manager – Outreach and Engagement



As the Outreach and Engagement Manager for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ashley utilizes strategic planning, project management and sustainable relationship-building to effectively advance the missions of the Institute, as well as key university and community stakeholders. As the co-director of I Am My Brother’s Keeper, Ashley develops and directs the program’s central components to ensure IAMBK is fulfilling its mission to provide opportunity and support to boys of color residing on the South Side of the city. Ashley has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism (specialization in Public Relations) from Bowling Green State University, and is currently undertaking post-graduate study at The Ohio State University.


Robin A. Wright

Researcher and Facilitation Specialist

(614) 247-6329


Robin A. Wright is a Researcher and Facilitation Specialist within the Race & Cognition Program at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. In this role, Robin works to expand our understanding of the ways in which unconscious cognitive forces influence our behavior and contribute to racial disparities in our society. She has facilitated trainings with dozens of institutions across the country including educators, police officials, court personnel, health care providers, social workers, and more.  Additionally, Robin is the co-author of the most recent editions of the State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review — a comprehensive review detailing the real-world implications of implicit racial bias.

Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Robin worked with non-profit grassroots organizations and policy institutes at all municipal levels for the expansion of opportunity, racial justice, and inclusive policy-making. She attained her Master’s in Public Administration from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University as well as a B.A. in Pan-African Studies from Kent State University.