Our Staff

Amanda E. Lewis


Email: Amanda E. Lewis

Amanda Lewis, Director Amanda Lewis is 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. She lectures and consults regularly on issues of educational equity and contemporary forms of racism.

Iván Arenas

Associate Director

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, he worked with UIC’s Social Justice Initiative where he curated two year-long 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. 



Faith Kares

Associate Director

Email: Faith Kares

Faith KaresFaith R. Kares is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in diaspora, race/ethnicity, and urban development processes. She has applied her anthropological training in various contexts, including evaluating the efficacy of California’s juvenile justice system, studying the impact of afterschool programming on minority youth in Chicago, conducting participant-observation research among Asian Americans in San Francisco’s rave scene, and examining the operations and practices of the Chicago Police Department. Dr. Kares’ work raises questions of equity and access, and she is dedicated to making research legible to communities outside of academia. She is interested in developing programming that contributes to an intellectually vibrant environment, and to both supporting and collaborating with faculty and students on research that engages diverse communities and promotes ongoing dialogue and change. She obtained her PhD in anthropology from Northwestern University in 2015, and her BA in cultural anthropology and women’s studies from Mount Holyoke College in 2003.  



Amanda McDonald

Interim Office Manager

Email: Amanda McDonald

Headshot of Amanda McDonald Amanda McDonald is a UIC graduate of both the African American Studies and the Sociology department. Her research is on the ways in which Black undergraduate students access social support services on campus and establish community among their peers. This past summer, she had an amazing time studying abroad in the Dominican Republic.


Recently, Amanda has picked up a habit of watching, what some would call, "gangster films" or crime dramas. One of her favorites is A Bronx Tale.



Email: Eujin Park

Eujin ParkEujin Park is a scholar who focuses on educational equity, race and ethnicity, and immigrant issues. Specifically, her work examines how educational policies and opportunities are shaped by race, class, and other sociopolitical processes, with an emphasis on Asian Americans. Her recent project was an ethnographic investigation of community-based educational spaces in the Chicago-area Korean American community. At IRRPP, she and Dr. Gabriel Rodriguez recently completed a study and report on how teacher-principal trust shaped teacher evaluation processes in Chicago Public Schools. In addition to publishing and presenting her work in multiple academic venues, Dr. Park draws upon her research in her work with Korean American youth in community-based organizations. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018, with a concentration in Social Sciences and a Minor in Qualitative Methods. She also holds an M.A. in Educational Policy Studies from UW-Madison and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Fructoso M. Basaldua Jr.

Research Assistant

Email: Fructoso M. Basaldua Jr.

Fructoso BasalduaFructoso is a graduate student in Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests are Race and Ethnicity, Labor Studies, and Immigration. Fructoso earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Boise State University along with an Ethnic Studies minor and a Mexican-American Studies minor. Fructoso was also a student/mentor in the Intermountain Social Research Group (IMSRL) under Dr. Arthur Scarritt while at Boise State University, which he views as integral to his development as a scholar.





Email: Em Hall

Em HallEm Hall is a graduate student in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research is on the role of nonprofit organizations in public-private partnerships (P3s) in transportation. She is one of 17 recipients nationwide of the presitgious merit-based Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship from the US Department of Transportation. Em Hall has a Masters Degree in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University and a Masters in US History from Indiana University.





Maité Pensado

Office Assistant

Email: Maité Pensado

Headshot of Amanda McDonald Maité is an undergrad at the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in Studio Fine Arts and minoring in Museum and Exhibition Studies. Her love for painting, drawing, photography and ceramics motivates her to pursue a career as an art curator.


Outisde of work, Maite enjoys doing yoga, working on my art projects, meditating and visiting museums.





Kathleen Stauffer

Business Manager

Silvia BecerraKathleen Stauffer, Assistant Dean for Administration in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA), has over 20 years of experience at UIC. She provides human resource and financial expertise for IRRPP.