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Leadership & Staff

Mikyung Baek

Mikyung Baek

Research & Technical Associate



Mikyung works as a Research and Technical Associate for the institute. She develops and maintains the institute’s web sites, assists with technical issues and supports with the institute’s research in the areas of education and technology. She worked as a network manager for six years in South Korea before coming to the U.S. She received her Ph. D. in Educational Technology and M.A. in Foreign and Second Language Education, both from The Ohio State University, in 2005 and 1999. In 1990, she earned her B.S. in Computer Science and Statistics from South Korea.

Research Interests: Digital Inequality, Technology for Social Inclusion with emphasis on educational opportunity

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 stands along side an applied research institution and leads a dynamic communications unit to affect change in the communities The Institute works in.  With deep interest in social justice and through many communications mediums, 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 Bachelors degree in 2007. He has written several articles for the Huffington Post around mass incarceration, first nations’ missing and murdered women and girls, the earthquake in Haiti, and human trafficking. Currently, Jamaal is directing 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

Barbara Carter

Assistant to the Director/Office Manager



Barbara previously worked for Franklin County Jobs and Family Services in the finance department. She is an avid reader and loves spending time with her grandchildren and watching movies in her spare time.

Kwame ChristianKwame Christian

Legal Analyst

Kwame is a Research Associate at the Kirwan Institute. His work focuses on health disparities and the social and political structures that create and maintain them.

Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Kwame earned his law degree from The Ohio State Moritz College of Law where he focused on alternative dispute resolution and criminal law. He also earned a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. Kwame has a B.A. from The Ohio State University in Psychology with minors in Multidisciplinary Foundations of Law in Society and in Spanish. Kwame has had a variety of work and academic experiences that have greatly enriched his perspective, and significantly increased his efficacy as an advocate.

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 has over 10 years experience in graphic design and web design, including over 4 years experience in WordPress site development and maintenance. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, 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 area of focus is 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 an 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 is a Research Associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and has been on staff with the Institute since 2009. He works in the Opportunity Communities Program on issues related to affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and regional equity policy, and has managed many of the Institute’s opportunity mapping initiatives. He has worked with partners around the country, including community organizations in Florida, Ohio and New York as well as with Sustainable Communities Initiative grantees in Mississippi, Texas, Connecticut, and Washington. Prior to working for the Kirwan Institute, Matt was a regional planner with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission in Dayton, Ohio where his work focused on land use policy, transportation planning, and regional development. He has also worked in planning departments at the local government level in Kettering and Piqua, Ohio where he assisted with neighborhood research, development planning, and zoning code enforcement. Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban Affairs and a minor in African American Studies from Wright State University, and is nearing completion of a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University.

Research Interests: Regionalism, history of urbanization, the relationship between physical and social environments, neighborhood revitalization, GIS.

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.

Charles Noble

Legal Policy Analyst

Charles is a Legal Policy Analyst at the Kirwan Institute. His work focuses on local and national civil rights issues, fair housing policy, and issues surrounding equitable access to credit.  In addition, Charles has worked closely with Kirwan’s partners on framing and influencing the rhetoric surrounding the affirmative action case before The United States Supreme Court, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. 
Prior to joining Kirwan, Charles earned a J.D. from OSU, a masters degree in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Maryland at College Park, as well as a B.A. from OSU. Charles has had a variety of work and academic experiences that have greatly enriched his perspective, and  significantly increased his effectiveness as an advocate.


Research Interests: civil rights, fair housing, structural barriers affecting access to credit, systems science, frame analysis, Middle Eastern geopolitics, and the effects of marginalization on underserved populations.

David Norris

David Norris

Senior Researcher

David manages the Kirwan Institute’s Opportunity Mapping projects. Prior to joining Kirwan, David worked as 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, experience 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.

profileJillian Olinger

Research Associate II

Jillian was recently promoted to Research Associate 2 and Project Manager for the Opportunity Communities Program at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University. She is a committed community advocate whose work has allowed her to travel around the country and work with systems leaders and residents alike seeking to make positive transformations in their communities. Jillian specializes in research relating to equity in housing finance policy, civic engagement, community development, and regional sustainability. She has researched and co-written thirty publications in her time at Kirwan.

She has traveled all over the country to work with community and advocacy groups around issues ranging from community engagement, community development, and fair housing and fair credit reform. She has also done work relating to health and healthcare, youth development, and education. She is currently very interested in the socio-demographic and economic changes facing our nation and communities and the policy implications of these changes. She is passionate in advocating that our federal policy making and our community development decisions reflect these changes and strive to ensure that opportunity and all that engenders remains available to everyone in our communities.

Jillian has undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Economics, with Minors in Cultures and Communities and Urban Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; graduate degrees in City and Regional Planning, and in Public Policy and Management from the Ohio State University.

Jason Reece

Director of Research

Jason is the director of research for the Kirwan Institute, directing the Institute’s multimillion dollar annual research portfolio. He acts as an advisor and capacity builder to foundations, non-profits, community organizations and government agencies on issues related to community development, social equity in planning, civic engagement, GIS, and health equity. Jason was formerly the director of the Opportunity Communities Program at the Kirwan Institute and co-developed the opportunity mapping methodology with john a. powell,  a methodology which has been adopted or utilized by more than dozens of non-profit, public sector and philanthropic partners and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Jason’s professional experience includes organizational management, program administration, project management, program development, grant writing, strategic planning, research & policy consultation.

He has managed and developed $5 million in grant and contract research since 2007 and has extensive experience working in the non-profit sector and public sector at the city, regional and state level, experience acting as a facilitator. Jason is also an adjunct faculty and lecturer, having taught eleven undergraduate and graduate courses, focused on social equity in planning, at the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University. Jason has published twelve articles in scholarly journals, books and other professional publications and published approximately seventy commissioned reports and research documents. He has been an invited expert speaker for approximately one hundred and twenty five professional or community engagements and a guest lecturer for more than two dozen university courses since 2007.  Jason has assisted community organizations, philanthropic organizations, public agencies and other non-profit or faith based organizations in more than thirty states and is recognized as a national expert in data informed decision making to assist in social justice advocacy, community building and civic engagement.

Prior to working for the Kirwan Institute, Jason was a regional planner for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments working on issues of community/economic development, land use and transportation. He also has worked in rural community and economic development for Ohio State University Extension, where much of his work focused on Ohio’s Appalachian region. Jason has worked for the Ohio Department of Development in the Office of Strategic Research and for a municipal planning agency. He has been active in the field of GIS for sixteen years, including time working as a research assistant managing GIS laboratories at Miami University and as a GIS consultant. Jason was certified AICP by the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2003.

He received a Master’s degree in City and Regional planning from The Ohio State University and studied city planning abroad at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Regional planning from Miami University. Jason is currently completing his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning at The Ohio State University, exploring the role of planning, regional policy and civic engagement in supporting social equity. review Jason’s CV.

Research Interests: Community Development, Neighborhood Revitalization, Housing Policy; Regional equity; GIS

Christy Rogers, PhD

Director of Outreach

(614) 292-7012


Christy has been with the Kirwan Institute since 2004. She is currently overseeing a restructured strategic communications, outreach, and policy team. Christy’s research and practice interests lie in expanding civic engagement among non-traditional leaders and marginalized communities, working with community leaders to develop strategic plans for transformative change, and supporting inclusive neighborhood revitalization, including fair credit and fair housing policy reform in the wake of the subprime lending and foreclosure crisis. Christy was awarded an Opportunity Agenda Communications Fellowship in 2011.

Christy volunteers at the United Way of Central Ohio as a member of the HOME Impact Council, and is a visiting lecturer at the Knowlton School of Architecture every fall. She has presented to the Ohio Planning Conference, the Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference, the Association of American Geographers, and the National Community Land Trust annual conference. Prior to joining Kirwan, she worked for five years in 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.

Review Christy’s CV.

Research interests: equitable community development, housing policy, and poverty & inequality

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 the 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.  The Implicit Bias Review 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, intergroup relations, and racial profiling.

She was a member of the research team that created Intergroup Resources, an online resource center that strengthens intergroup relations for social justice by sharing curricular materials, tools, and insights designed to facilitate bridge building across lines of difference. 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.

Glennon Sweeney

Glennon Sweeney

Research Associate

Glennon is a research associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity working in the Opportunity Communities Program on issues related to food security and access, poverty, civic engagement, and equity. Glennon is a member of the Franklin County Local Food Council and co-chairs the council’s Access Working Group. Glennon holds a master’s in city and regional planning from Ohio State in addition to a bachelor’s degree in geography and political science from the university. Glennon’s research interests include food access and security, jurisdictional fragmentation, governance, power, systems thinking and theory, and city/suburban development/redevelopment.

Ashley Wilson

Ashley Wilson

Communications & Events Coordinator

Ashley serves as the Communications Coordinator at The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, where her focus will be helping to implement and evaluate the strategic plan for communications. Ashley obtained her Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Bowling Green State University in 2011. Since moving to Columbus shortly after, she has held an internship for The Columbus Dispatch Media Group and worked as an Event Marketing Representative for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Graduate Research Associates and Interns

oka-susan-abgese2Oka Agbese

Graduate Research Associate

Oka Agbese is a first year Master’s student of Public Policy and Management at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. She is from Nigeria, where she earned her bachelor of law degree from the University of Abuja. she also received a MAIS – Global Security Studies and Leadership from the University of Texas Pan- American. She is mostly interested in poverty alleviation and sustainable development in less developed countries.

Yumi Choi

Yumi Choi

Graduate Research Associate

Yumi Choi is a phd student in City and Regional Planning Department of OSU and her concentration is housing/neighborhood preference/choice, public housing, and GIS. She had a bachelor and master degree from University of Seoul and worked at Seoul Institute in South Korea. She used to focus on the rights of renters and small business owners in redevelopment districts and tenure choices in metro area. Her thesis is about how the tenure choices had changed by housing types and time reflecting the changes of society and planning policies. She has been working on the dissertation about terrorism (and crime), housing/neighborhood preferences, and the gap between stated and revealed housing/neighborhood preferences.

DSCN1666 - Version 2

Danya Contractor


Danya Contractor is a third-year undergraduate geography student focusing on global, regional, and urban studies.  Her interests include legal geographies, immigration, and the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, disability, gender, and sexual orientation.  She is currently working on the Annie E. Casey Foundation school discipline project.

So Young Lee

So Young Lee

Graduate Research Associate

So-young Lee is a Ph.D student in City and Regional Planning at the Knowlton School of Architecture. She earned her B.A. in urban engineering from Hong-ik University at Korea. She has been working on opportunity mapping project at Kirwan and has a interest in minority and poverty as well as developing countries’ housing issue.