Our Staff

Amanda E. Lewis


Email: Amanda E. Lewis

Amanda Lewis, Director Amanda Lewis is Associate Professor of African American Studies & Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her research focuses on how race shapes educational opportunities and how our ideas about race get negotiated in everyday life. She is the author of Race in the Schoolyard: Negotiating the Color-line in Classrooms and Communities. She is also the co-editor (with Maria Krysan) of The Changing Terrain of Race and Ethnicity, and co-author (with Mark Chesler and Jim Crowfoot) of Challenging Racism in Higher Education: Promoting Justice. Her latest book (with John Diamond) is Despite the Best Intentions: Why racial inequality persists in good schools. Her research has appeared in a number of academic venues including Sociological Theory, American Educational Research Journal, American Behavioral Scientist, Race and Society, DuBois Review and Anthropology and Education Quarterly.

Email: Iván Arenas

Ivan ArenasIván Arenas is a Mexican-American anthropologist, architect, artist, activist, and most importantly
a parent. When he has his fieldwork shoes on he focuses on the production of emergent political subjectivities and alternative political imaginaries through practices of struggle in urban settings.
Before joining IRRPP, Dr. Arenas worked with UIC’s Social Justice Initiative where he curated two yearlong exhibits that mobilized and extended his research on the intersection between protest practices, social transformation, and aesthetics. Interested in connecting faculty, students, and the community,
Dr. Arenas seeks to create research and programming that enable not just greater understanding but mobilizes towards collective action. He received his PhD in Anthropology in 2011 from the University of California, Berkeley. 



Ryan Viloria

Office Manager

Email: Ryan Viloria

Ryan ViloriaRyan Viloria earned his Master of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May 2012 with a research focus on Asian American literature. His scholarship examines gay/bisexual protagonists and divisions of history and memory in Filipino American novels. Most recently he presented his work at Northwestern University's Queertopia! 2012 academic conference.


Viloria previously worked as the graduate assistant for the UIC Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Asian Americans, briefly served as Managing Editor for UIC's graduate journal Packingtown Review, and has contributed entries for New World Encyclopedia. He is also the Social Chair for i2i: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago, a community organization that celebrates and affirms Asian and Pacific Islanders who identify as LGBTQ. Viloria's general policy interests and activism revolve around minorities in culture, social welfare, and representation in media and government.

Delaina Washington

Research Assistant

Email: Delaina Washington

Delaina WashingtonDelaina Washington is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Mathematics Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She investigates what successful mathematics classrooms look like for African American children and how to use African American children’s history and experiences to inform instruction and research.


Washington received her master’s degree from Northwestern University in Learning Sciences with particular emphasis on the design of learning environments.





Deana G. Lewis

Research Assistant

Email: Deana G. Lewis

Deana G. LewisDeana G. Lewis is a graduate student in the Educational Policy Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her research interests include Black girlhood studies, the school to prison nexus, and youth incarceration. More specifically, Deana is interested in Black girls’ experiences within the school to prison nexus and how their experiences have been left out of discourses about youth incarceration in general. Deana teaches and facilitates group discussions that engage race, gender, sexuality, and education for high-school and college students. Her professional and academic careers have focused on youth education and youth empowerment. Currently, Deana is a Research Assistant with the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP) at UIC, where she is working on a report called the “State of Racial Justice in Chicago”.


Outside of school and work, Deana is a member of Love & Protect, a self-defense committee dedicated to supporting those who identify as women and gender non-conforming persons of color who are criminalized or harmed by state and interpersonal violence. She is also a founding member of Black on Both Sides, whose mission is to highlight the voices and experiences of Black foster youth while launching a direct action organizing campaigns to address root causes of the foster care to prison pipeline.


Deana holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in Educational Policy Studies from Stanford University. An accomplished public speaker, Deana has never met a microphone she didn’t like.


Laura Landers Yunga

Marketing Assistant

Email: Laura Landers Yunga

Laura LandersLaura Landers Yunga is a doctoral student in the Sociology Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her research interests include the intersections of neoliberal globalization, race, and gender. Her dissertation research concerns the ways in which neoliberal globalization and fair trade are connected. Laura loves teaching and is currently a graduate student instructor at UIC and an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University. She has most recently taught classes on immigrant experiences and social statistics. Laura also works as the Marketing Assistant for IRRPP. In her spare time, Laura knits, crochets, and spends time with her family.


Laura holds a B.A. in Sociology from Missouri State University and an M.A. in Sociology from UIC.



Korynna Pepin

Office Assistant

Email: Korynna Pepin

Korynna Pepin Korynna Pepin is in her second year as an Undergraduate student at UIC. She is majoring in Rehabilitation Sciences with a minor in Disability and Human Development, then plans to enter the Master’s program for Occupational Therapy. In her time at being UIC, she has contributed to the founding of a CHAARG (Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions to Recreate Girls) Chapter on campus. She serves as one of the Co-Event Coordinators for CHAARG, a volunteer for the UIC Disability Resource Center, and a Health Educator for Peer Health Exchange.


Aside from school, Korynna loves to travel and embark on new experiences. Her favorite quote to live by is “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” She participates in obstacle races and enjoys dancing and spending time with family and friends.



Silvia Becerra

Program Coordinator

Silvia BecerraSilvia Becerra is the Program Coordinator at UIC’s Urban Transportation Center and plays a crucial role of Human Resources Specialist at IRRPP.











Vanessa SmithVanessa Smith is the Associate Director for Business and Finance for UIC’s Urban Transportation Center and provides essential accounting support to IRRPP.