The faculty, staff, researchers, and affiliates of the Othering & Belonging Institute work together with multidisciplinary approaches to learn, research, and construct solutions for society's most pressing issues. Our programs and initiatives are all designed to effect transformative change.
News, research reports, presentations, videos, maps, and much more can be found in our Resources section, all of which have been developed to make our work accessible and impactful for all who are working to advance inclusion and belonging.
Yehya Abuzaid is a 2021 graduate from UC Berkeley's Global Studies program. There he pursued an undergraduate honors thesis where he analyzed the motivations, strategies, and consequences of foreign intervention in the country of Yemen. Prior to his thesis, Yehya worked with the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission and the Police Review Commission to research transparency mechanisms for the Berkeley police department and improve civilian oversight. As a summer fellow with the Othering and Belonging Institute, he will be working with the Global Justice Program to research the conditions of climate induced displaced persons and advocate for their recognition as climate refugees
Camille Braswell is a rising undergraduate senior at Loyola University Chicago where she majors in both Environmental Studies and Economics. Her educational pursuits have revolved around public policy research focusing on the intersection of environmental issues and racial inequalities born out of historical policymaking. She has a particular interest in residential segregation and how it exacerbates and reinforces environmental injustices. In the Spring of 2021, Camille worked with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on the Global Food and Agriculture Research team. While at CCGA, she focused on the domestic food policy and the incidence of food insecurity in geopolitical instability. At the Othering and Belonging Institute, she will be working on the Just Public Finance team focusing on the misalignment of federal policy and local and regional needs in food systems and agriculture.
Jordan Brown (she/her or he/him) is a student, poet, writer, and community organizer from Georgia who has made a new home in Washington, DC. Through her academic and activist work, Jordan advocates for disability justice and focuses on making activist spaces more accessible, inclusive, and community-oriented. She is also an apprentice restorative justice practitioner and has extensive experience facilitating workshops around various issues of identity and social justice. This summer, Jordan will be a Strategic Communications fellow, working on the Intersectional Disability Justice Project. In this project, she will be able to utilize her passion for disability justice, interest in media and communications, and love of building community all in one place. Jordan identifies as a Black, queer, disabled, gender non-conforming woman; she is a member of the Georgetown University class of 2021 and will begin an MFA in Creative Writing at American University in the fall
Sabrina Ali Jamal-Eddine
Sabrina Ali Jamal-Eddine (she/her/hers) is an Arab disabled Spoken Word Poet, Registered Nurse, and University Fellow currently pursuing her PhD in Nursing with a focus on Disability Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Sabrina’s research focuses on the use of Spoken Word Poetry as an innovative form of critical narrative pedagogy to educate healthcare students, instructors, and practitioners about identity-based oppression and the consequential identity-based health inequities with a focus on ableism and disability justice. In undergrad, Sabrina double majored in Nursing and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University where she founded a spoken word poetry-hiphop literacy program for incarcerated male youth at a juvenile correctional facility and performed a TEDxTalk spoken word on societally-induced self-hatred of minorities, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. This summer Sabrina will be working with Dr. Denise Herd to examine how media exposure helps shape racial and political differences in perceptions of COVID-19.
Tera Johnson (she/her) is a dual degree Master’s student in City Planning and Landscape Architecture. Using her background as an artist and environmental scientist, Tera seeks to amplify the strengths of people of color, while advocating for healthy and just connections between social and ecological systems. Tera is also co-founder of Two Photon, which uses art to communicate science, raise money and awareness about social issues, and support fellow minorities interested in STEM. At the Othering & Belonging Institute, Tera is working with the California Community Partnerships program under the supervision of Eli Moore, to research policy strategies to prepare Richmond, CA for a just transition away from fossil fuels.
Aaron Kinard is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Education Studies and History. During his time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Aaron’s research examined the racialized experiences of Black students in rural, predominantly white high schools. The research investigated how Black students’ racialized experiences shaped their sense of belonging to their schools and how their racialized experiences shaped their perceptions of Blackness. Beyond the classroom, Aaron worked as a legislative intern for Wisconsin State Representative Shelia Stubbs to fight for Wisconsin's communities of color. In the fall of 2021, he will be enrolling in the Sociology Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia where he hopes to continue his research on race, whiteness, and classism in rural schools and communities. At the Othering and Belonging Institute, he will be working on a residential segregation project with senior fellow Richard Rothstein.
Rahma R. Mahdi
Rahma R. Mahdi is set to graduate in Fall 2021 as a Regent’s and Chancellor’s Scholar from the University of California, Berkeley, where she majors in Interdisciplinary Studies with minors in Public Policy and Education. As a student researcher, Rahma aims to better situate computer science within the realm of global education and policy, with a specialized emphasis on developing countries in the East African region. Her senior thesis proposes an equity-centered framework for computing education by cross-examining international standards on key areas; digital literacy, computational concepts, and applied pedagogy at the secondary school level. During her undergraduate career, she spent four months abroad in Nairobi, Kenya, where she interned with Kulan Consulting, working on consulting assignments including research, revisions, and staff meetings for the World Bank, UNICEF, and DAI. Locally, she has served as a City of Oakland commissioner for youth-related issues and an Oakland Library Boardmember; both positions spiked her passion and advocacy for educational equity for marginalized students. At the Othering and Belonging Institute, Rahma will be working under Stephen Menendian on Othering and Belonging Background Research.
The daughter of Bangladeshi-Muslim immigrants, Lamisa Mustafa is a recent honors graduate of Southern Methodist University (SMU), where she received bachelor’s degrees in Human Rights, Sociology, and Public Policy. Serving with the SMU Human Rights Program, Lamisa created opportunities for students to advance human rights awareness and activism on campus, in North Texas, and across the United States. An advocate for educational equity, Lamisa interned with the Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools team and co-presented original research on college access attitudes at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education. In 2020, Lamisa served as a Humanity in Action Warsaw Fellow and as a Public Policy & International Affairs Junior Summer Institute Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. At the Othering & Belonging Institute, she will support the Equity Metrics Program’s research on fair housing. Throughout her career, Lamisa aspires to deepen her leadership for community-powered social change.
Sophie Brion Neely
Sophie Brion Neely is a justice-centered playwright, researcher, and educator who recently earned her degree in Ethnicity, Race, & Migration from Yale University. As an undergraduate, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Elm City Echo, an advocacy-oriented literary magazine that develops the work of unhoused community members, and worked as a residential counselor for Professor Allyson Hobbs’s course, “Racial Identity in the American Imagination,” at the Stanford Humanities Institute. Following her time in China under the National Security Language Initiative for Youth and Richard U. Light fellowships, intercultural research in Hong Kong and France sparked Sophie’s interest in linking communities through transnational collaboration. Supported by the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, her undergraduate thesis-play integrated archival research and personal interviews to explore the intergenerational impact of US political and military involvement in the Philippines, launching her current work with Los Angeles-based theater company, Moving Arts. This summer, Sophie will be working on the Toward Belonging – Europe project
Katerine Perez (she/hers) is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Sociology. Her love for Sociology and research stems from her personal experiences as a first-generation student and woman of color. These identities motivated her to complete a Senior Honors Thesis, which investigates Latinx identity formation and boundary work at highly-selective universities. During her undergraduate career, Katerine was also a research assistant at the Shift Project, where she researched the relationship between parents’ precarious work schedules and childhood asthma. Katerine was also a Cal-ADAR (Advancing Diversity in Aging Research) scholar, where she fostered her passion for research and its applications towards social justice issues. Outside of academics, Katerine loves cooking, running, and exploring California. This summer, she will be working on the Civic Engagement and Narrative Change project.
Irene Franco Rubio
Irene Franco Rubio is an holistic activist, writer, and organizer based in Phoenix, Arizona. A young Latinx woman of Guatemalan and Mexican descent, Irene is rooted in community and devoted to the movements for social, racial, and environmental justice. Irene is committed to advocating for BIPOC communities through intersectional movement building, digital community organizing, and writing to uplift historically underrepresented stories and voices. She has a diverse array of professional advocacy experiences ranging from interning for Congresswoman Deb Haaland to organizing for Michelle Obama's nonprofit organization, When We All Vote, among other prestigious advocacy opportunities. This summer, Irene is a fellow working with the Strategic Communications department at the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley.
While currently pursuing her undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California, in her capacity as a writer and public thought leader Irene is a Public Voices Fellow of the Op-Ed Project at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and continues to pursue her work as a Gen Z media professional centering her work at the intersection of activism, media, journalism, and justice as a global citizen & catalyst for change.
Kendall Stephenson is a labor organizer, first year PhD student-worker in the Economics department at Colorado State University, and a Research Assistant at the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI). Kendall is interested in how structural changes in the economy necessitate varying degrees of government responses, particularly at the state and local level, and how these responses affect economic and social wellbeing. For that reason, his primary research interests relate to labor market policy and public finance. Following his MA from the New School for Social Research, Kendall served as an economist for the New York City Council,primarily supporting City budget negotiations. He also staffed the Civil Service and Labor Committee, where he assisted in developing and debating legislation regarding workplace regulations in New York City. Kendall will be working with the Equity Metrics Program (EMP) under the supervision of Stephen Menendian.
The Othering and Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley is a hub of engaged scholars, researchers, strategic communicators, policymakers, and community partners working to advance belonging for all members of society.