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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 Biennial 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

Senior Research Associate



Mikyung, Senior 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.

Kierra Barnett

Graduate Research Assistant


Brittney Butler

Graduate Research Associate






Mrs. Butler is a social epidemiologist with a research interest that focuses on understanding the extent to which structural racism and interpersonal experiences of racial discrimination impact pregnancy complications and outcomes for both mothers and infants. Mrs. Butler is currently a third-year PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology at The Ohio State University’s College of Public Health.  She is also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar, where she receives supplemental training to translate scientific research to inform policy to build a culture of health. Mrs. Butler works  as a graduate research associate at the Kirwan Institute in the Healthy Equity Group. Mrs. Butler obtained her Bachelors degree from the University of Miami (FL.) and her Masters of Public Health from Washington University in St. Louis.

Kelly Capatosto

Senior Research Associate



Kelly Capatosto is a Senior 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.

Tannya Forcone

Graduate Research Assistant

Darrick Hamilton

Executive Director

Dr. Hamilton most recently served as a professor of economics and urban policy in the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment, Schools of Public Engagement and the Department of Economics, the New School for Social Research, and the director of the Milano School’s doctoral program in public and urban policy at The New School in New York, New York. In addition, he served as co-associate director of Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity.

Professor Hamilton is a stratification economist. His research focuses on the causes, consequences and remedies of racial and ethnic inequality in economic and health outcomes, which includes an examination of the intersections of identity, racism, colorism and socioeconomic outcomes. His grants and other funding has included support from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, JP Morgan Chase and, currently, he serves as the co-principal investigator of the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color Project at Duke University.

His academic work is widely published in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and popular media press, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. In addition, his media appearances include Al Jazeera America Cable Network, National Public Radio (NPR), MSNBC, and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

His teaching experience includes a range of core courses, e.g., Economic Analysis and Quantitative Methods, and elective courses, e.g., Racial Economic Disparities: Causes and Consequences and Racial Relations: Comparative International Perspectives.

He is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a national advisory committee member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Policies for Action, Policy and Law Research Program to Build a Culture of Health. He has served on the board of directors and as president of the National Economic Association.

Dr. Hamilton earned a BA in economics from Oberlin College and a PhD in economics from the University of North Carolina.

Dwight “Kip” Holley

Research Associate II and Civic Engagement Specialist 



Kip Holley, Research Associate II and Civic Engagement Specialist, is a researcher and community advocate dedicated to bringing innovative solutions to bear on racial inequalities through a lens of community engagement and social capital. Kip has worked on a variety of civic engagement related projects with partners from areas as diverse as Central Ohio, Detroit, and California’s Central Valley.

Kip has helped to add to the knowledge of the connection between community decision-making and racial equity, contributing on a number of reports and publications. In his publication, The Principles for Equitable and Inclusive Civic Engagement: A Guide to Transformative Change, Kip synthesizes research from domains as diverse as social psychology, political science, and economics to describe how racially charged narratives turn into inequitable policies across a myriad aspects of community life.

Kip has also lead workshops and lectures about civic engagement both with students in academia and with residents in a number of communities and his work has been used to influence communities, institutions, and organizations nationwide.

Kathy LechmanKathy Lechman, Ph.D.

Associate Director
Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity

Kathy is a highly motivated higher education professional with 15+ years of administrative experience with diversity, equity, inclusion, and Affirmative Action, Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights compliance. She is a self-starter that has a vast amount of experience in human resources, training, and organizational development. She has experience working with higher education in addition to youth K-12, community groups, parent groups and corrections professionals in the youth and adult systems.

Specialties: Cultural Intelligence, Diversity and Inclusion, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, Effective Communication

Michael Outrich

Graduate Research Assistant

Karima Samadi

HEAL MAPPS Research and Extension Coordinator

Karima is a public health professional with extensive experience in public health and community nutrition education. She earned her Bachelor degree in Dietetics from the University of Kentucky, and worked in various programs ranging from child obesity prevention to agricultural education. Formerly an EFNEP Program Assistant, she taught limited resource families how to eat healthy on a budget. After earning her Master degree in Public Health from The Ohio State University, she leverages her research and work in food insecurity to influence policy, systems, and environment change through community-based participatory research. Karima is trained in both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and publishes material for both academic and community audiences. Currently she is the Extension and Research Coordinator and helps manage and coordinate three research projects: Food Mapping for Empowerment, Access, and Sustainable Transformation (FEAST), Healthy Eating, Active Living – Mapping Attributes using Photographic Participatory Surveys (HEAL MAPPS), and Voices for Food (a multi-state USDA NIFA grant).

Kyle Strickland

Sr. Legal Analyst & Special Assistant to the Director


Kyle Strickland is the Senior Legal Analyst and Special Assistant to the Director at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity. At Kirwan, Kyle works with the Director and executive leadership team to develop strategies to increase the policy impact of the Institute and build partnerships with community stakeholders. His work focuses on local and national civil rights issues, criminal justice reform, economic justice, and equitable access to education. In addition, Kyle is the Director of My Brother’s Keeper Ohio, a statewide network that helps provide educational and community opportunities for youth 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

Senior Research Associate



Glennon is a senior research associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in the Community Assessment and Metropolitan Change unit. She 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, metropolitan neighborhood change, housing, civic engagement, equity and the intersection of jurisdictional fragmentation and social service delivery. A member of the Franklin County Local Food Council and the Worthington Community Relations Commission, Glennon holds a Bachelor’s in geography and political science, a Master’s in city and regional planning, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in city and regional planning.

Lena Tenney

Coordinator of Public Engagement



Pronouns: they/them/theirs | Honorific: Mx. Tenney

Lena Tenney is Coordinator of Public Engagement for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. They direct the facilitation portfolio of the Race and Cognition Program, which includes traveling around the nation to facilitate trainings about implicit bias, structural racism, and being an active bystander.  Lena is a co-author of the 2017 edition of the Kirwan Institute’s State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review publication and a co-creator of the Kirwan Institute’s Implicit Bias Module Series. Their interests include critical race studies, Whiteness, adult learning, higher education, and public policy.

A trained Intergroup Dialogue facilitator, Lena has a background in inclusive education and coalitional activism work.  They are 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.  Lena previously served on the LGBTQ Student Success Task Force for The Ohio State University and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for TransOhio—a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for transgender individuals and communities.

Lena holds a Masters of Education and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. They also graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies and History from the University of Oklahoma.

Links to Lena’s Work:


Higher Ed Live
Webinar: “Implicit Bias and Inclusive Language”

City of Columbus Women’s Commission
Filmed Session: “Implicit Bias: Aligning Intentions & Outcomes to Achieve Pay Equity”

Vermont Public Radio
Radio Segment: “How Do Vermont Schools Address Racism?”

Kirwan Institute Weekly Forums


Filmed Forum: “Watch Whiteness Work: From Academic Theory to Everyday Reality”

Filmed Panel Discussion: “What Does It Mean to Do Intersectional Work?”

Filmed Session: “Implicit Bias Past, Present, & Future: State of the Science 5th Anniversary Release”

Filmed Session: “Did They Really Just Say That?! Being an Active Bystander”

Filmed Session: “We Just Need to Pee: The Implicit Racial Motivations of Bathroom Bills”

Preshuslee Thompson

Training and Research Specialist

Ashley Wilson

Ashley Wilson

Program Director | Communications and Outreach



As the Communications and Outreach 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.