Our community-based participatory research institute has been incubated and launched under the co-leadership of  Deon Haywood, Executive Director of Women With A Vision, Inc., and Dr. Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

Our founding research team includes:

Shaquita Borden, Director

Shaquita Borden, MPH, is a PhD student in Health Education and Health Promotion at University of Alabama at Birmingham. She comes to her doctoral studies through ten years of community-based health work with women and LGBTQ communities in the South, and currently serves as Women With A Vision’s Director of Research and Evaluation. Born and raised in New Orleans, Shaquita is passionate about working to improve the health of the city’s residents using a participatory approach to understand the structural drivers of women’s health disparities. She earned her M.P.H. from Louisiana State University’s School of Public Health and her B.A. Dillard University. In 2013, Shaquita was awarded the Billy R. Cox Endowed Scholarship in recognition of her work on public health issues for the gay, lesbian, bi and trans-gender populations.

Laura McTighe, Associate Director

Laura McTighe, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Dartmouth Society of Fellows. She comes to her comes to her scholarship through twenty years of grassroots organizing to end state violence and advance community healing. By using interdisciplinary and community-based methods, she centers the often-hidden histories, practices, and geographies of struggle in America’s zones of abandonment, and asks how visions for living otherwise become actionable. Her dissertation, “This Day, We Use Our Energy for Revolution,” is a collaborative ethnography of activist persistence, which she conceptualized, researched, and wrote alongside the leaders of Women With A Vision. She is the co-founder of the Institute for Community Justice, and currently organizes Religion and Incarceration. Her writing is included in Beyond Walls and Cages: Bridging Immigrant Justice and Anti-Prison Organizing in the United States (2012), the International Journal for Law and Psychiatry (2011), Islam and AIDS: Between Scorn, Pity and Justice (2009), and many community justice publications.

Melinda Chateauvert, Associate Director
Melinda Chateauvert, PhD, is a writer, historian and activist with three decades of experience in movements for gender equality, sexual freedom and civil rights advocacy. Working with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Dr. Chateauvert has served as an expert witness in class action litigation challenging race discrimination in higher education and public contracting, as well as documenting racial bias in death penalty cases. Her 1997 monograph documenting the work of African American women in organizing the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first international black trade union in the AFL-CIO, remains the standard for labor historians. Her recent book, Sex Workers Unite: A history of the movement from Stonewall to SlutWalk, traces the vital activism of sex workers at the fringes of gay liberation, AIDS activism, labor organizing and the long struggle against police violence and criminalization.

We are also joined by:

Ashley Bernal, Researcher

Ashley Bernal is a Ph.D. student in Public and Urban Policy at The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs. Her research interests include various ways middle-class black women experience citizenship by examining the disparity of impact of socio-structural policies in various institutions. Prior to her doctoral studies, Ashley served as the Gender-based Violence Program Coordinator for Women with a Vision, LLC, where she created a culturally specific program to better service African-American and LBTQ domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking survivors of the greater New Orleans metropolitan area. Currently, she is an Adjunct Professor at the City University of New York’s York College, teaching courses in the Sociology of Race & Ethnicity, the Sociology of Gender, and Social Stratification. Ultimately, Ashley plans to utilize her research to provide data-driven policy recommendations to positively impact the social, economic, and political representation of black women.