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: Michelle Boyd

Michelle BoydMichelle Boyd is currently on leave from IRRPP for 2015.

Michelle Boyd is an Associate Professor in the African American studies and Political Science departments at UIC. An urban ethnographer known for her research on the politics of racial identity, Dr. Boyd has received many honors including Best Paper awards from the Urban Affairs Association and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. Most recently, her book Jim Crow Nostalgia: Reconstructing Race in Bronzeville won the 2009 Best Book Award in the Construction of Equality and Inequality from the American Political Science Association. Boyd's current projects explore how ethnographic research methods, narrative nonfiction writing, and audio documentary can be combined to deepen public understanding, empathy, and critical consciousness about racial injustice. In 2011, she co-founded the Narrative Nonfiction Working Group, a network of UIC faculty, staff, and graduate students using creative writing techniques to influence public conversations about social inequality.


She is also completing, with photographer Liz Thomson, a multimedia documentary project called Meet the Budget Cuts, which examines the experiences of public university employees who were fired because of state budget cuts. Most recently, she has begun collaborating with Erica Meiners on I Don’t Recall, an audio soundscape exploring Chicago police officers’ and elected officials’ use of torture to interrogate, prosecute, sentence, and execute black men and women. Along with Francesca Gaiba, she runs the UIC WriteOut! Writing Retreat for graduate students studying race and ethnicity.

Email: Iván Arenas

Ryan ViloriaIván 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.





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.