Community Engaged Researcher

Jennifer has experience with conducting community-engaged research including program evaluations, and policy informing investigations. As a Graduate Research Fellow at the Center for Urban Research and Learning, she has collaborated and published on many policy relevant projects including but not limited to: community organizing, affordable housing, felony deferred prosecution, youth re-entry, and school responses to student survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Sociology in Action

Dissertation

“Hear Us, See Us!”

“'Hear Us, See Us!': How Mothers of Color Transform Family and Community Relationships through Grassroots Collective Action” 

  • This study documents the local grassroots organizing of women whose work is often erased from studies of national social movements, whose intersecting gender, race, class, and immigrant identities are seldom supported by traditional models of contestation that ignore or devalue their family lives and contexts, and whose collective action produces intimate social effects that are erroneously deemed peripheral instead of integral to their mobilization. Specifically, my dissertation sheds light on three overlapping processes within the cross-community organizing of materially poor African American and Latina mothers and grandmothers in Chicago. First, is how collective action and family life reciprocally shape each other. Second, is how groups that are often divided come together to organize collectively around children and family-centered goals. And third, is how the co-production of collective action and family life, along with the bridging of differences among leaders affect social relationships.


  • Through 47 in-depth interviews with leaders affiliated with a Chicago-based organization, Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), and 15-months of participant observations of family-focused collective action through COFI, one of my main discoveries is that collective action has the propensity to transform family and cross-community relationships. In my study, these transformations were achieved, in part, through meaningful organizing symbols, guided race-conscious nudges, and the practice of restorative kinship—all of which were intricately produced through an understudied family-focused model of community organizing. It is my hope that findings influence social movement research, practice, and policy to uplift instead of ignore the family lives and intersecting identities of participants of collective action. Doing so will bring us one step closer to hearing, seeing, and appreciating the hidden figures of our time, whose local resistance is meaningful beyond the explicit goals of organizations.

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Kelly Moore (Director), Dr. Peter Rosenblatt, and 

Dr. Edward Flores (UC Merced)