Skip to main content
U-M Poverty Solutions Logo U-M Poverty Solutions Logo

Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan

Joan and Sanford Weill hall
Suite 5100
735 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091

Poverty Narrative Series

This series of discussions explores the ways academics and journalists can promote more in-depth, impactful, and solutions-oriented coverage of poverty-related issues. The first series explored why it’s so important to get the poverty narrative right — from exploring new storytelling strategies to translating complex research for deeper public engagement. The second was dedicated to a deeper understanding of the connections between structural racism and poverty.

Watch the series below.

 

 

The Poverty Narrative | A Midwest Perspective: Promoting in-depth, impactful, and solutions-oriented media coverage

June 2020

Re-thinking the Poverty Narrative

Income inequality in the U.S. hit a record high in 2019, and the coronavirus pandemic has put new strains on our country’s social safety net. More than ever, poverty is a factor on every beat in the newsroom – whether you’re covering city hall, national politics, education, or business and development. This session will cover why it’s so important to get the poverty narrative right, the intersection of race and poverty, and strategies for impactful reporting that centers the experiences of people with low incomes.

RECAP: Re-thinking the Poverty Narrative: Journalists, academics should highlight who benefits from inequality

Darrick Hamilton
Darrick HamiltonExecutive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University
Darrick Hamilton is a pioneer and internationally recognized scholar in the field of stratification economics, which fuses social science methods to examine the causes, consequences and remedies of racial, gender, ethnic, tribal, nativity, etc. inequality in education, economic and health outcomes. This work involves crafting and implementing innovative routes and policies that break down social hierarchy, empower people, and move society towards greater equity, inclusion, and civic participation. Professor Hamilton’s scholarship and practice aligns closely with the work and objectives of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs and Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. In addition to serving as Kirwan’s executive director, Professor Hamilton holds a primary faculty appointment in the Glenn College of Public Affairs, with courtesy appointments in the departments of economics and sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Sarah Alvarez

Sarah AlvarezFounder and executive editor of Outlier Media
Sarah Alvarez started her career in civil rights law in New York, but is much happier as a journalist than she ever was as a lawyer. Before founding Outlier Media, she worked as a senior producer and reporter at Michigan Radio, the statewide NPR affiliate. In that role, she covered issues important to low-income families, child welfare and disability. Her work has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, The Center for Investigative Reporting, Bridge Magazine, The Detroit News, and The New York Times. Sarah believes journalism is a service and should be responsive to the needs of all people. She developed Outlier’s model after years of trying to figure out how journalists could do a better job filling information gaps and increasing accountability to low-income news consumers. She launched Outlier in 2016, during her year as John S. Knight (JSK) Fellow at Stanford University. She lives in northwest Detroit.

Bill Nichols

Bill NicholsDirector of Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
Bill Nichols is a vice president at Freedman Consulting, LLC, where he uses his significant experience in journalism to advise clients on innovative and proven strategies for success. Freedman Consulting and The Hatcher Group manage Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, which was selected to be one of the 2019 participants in the Media Transformation Challenge at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center. Mr. Nichols joined the firm after a 35-year career in journalism, most recently as the founding managing editor of POLITICO. He brings decades of experience in covering Washington and national politics and a successful track record guiding two innovative media startups: the launch of POLITICO in 2007 and POLITICO Europe in 2015.
Before joining POLITICO, where he served as managing editor from 2007-2012 and editor-at-large from 2012-2015, Mr. Nichols spent more than 20 years at USA Today. He covered the Clinton White House from 1993-1999, the State Department from 1999-2004 and was a senior correspondent in the newspaper’s Washington bureau. As a reporter and editor, Mr. Nichols covered eight presidential campaigns, 16 national conventions and traveled to more than three dozen countries. Mr. Nichols has been a frequent speaker on the media’s digital transformation both nationally and internationally and has been part of the Bosch Foundation’s Journalism Program for German and American Journalists since 2010. Mr. Nichols was a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes in 2009 and chaired the National Reporting jury in 2010. He also is a past secretary/treasurer of the Executive Committee of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press. He graduated from Indiana University.

Zoe Greenberg

Reporter at The Boston Globe
Zoe Greenberg is a general assignment reporter for The Boston Globe, which she joined in 2019. Previously she worked as a researcher at The New York Times and as an investigative reporter at Rewire News. She has covered #MeToo scandals, women’s healthcare in prison, the booming blood plasma industry, and a fiery court battle over an herbalist brew.

H. Luke Shaefer

Luke ShaeferDirector of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan
Luke Shaefer is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan. He serves as the inaugural director of Poverty Solutions, an interdisciplinary, presidential initiative at U-M that seeks to partner communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty.
Shaefer’s research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals in the fields of public policy, social work, public health, health services research, and history, and his work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Census Bureau among other sources. He has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and has advised a number of the nation’s largest human service providers. His work has been cited in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Atlantic, and Los Angeles Times, among other media outlets, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace and CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. His book with Kathryn Edin, “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism among other awards. Shaefer also acts as a special counselor to the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He received his B.A. in politics from Oberlin College and A.M. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.

How to Tell a Story with Data

As we’ve seen with the coronavirus pandemic, effective integration of data in storytelling can have negative and positive consequences. In this panel we’ll learn about data visualization and how to pair analytics with compelling narrative storytelling.

RECAP: How to tell a story with data and solutions journalism

Emily Badger

Emily Badger

Reporter for The Upshot from the New York Times
Emily Badger writes about cities and urban policy for The Upshot from the Washington bureau. She’s particularly interested in housing, transportation and inequality — and how they’re all connected. She joined the Times in 2016 from The Washington Post.

Scott Levin

Scott Levin

Data journalist at MLive
Scott Levin has been a journalist for more than 20 years, with stops at the Indianapolis Star, Anchorage Daily News, a collection of newspapers in North Carolina, and currently, MLive.com. Additionally, with the advent of the internet and online news in the late ‘90s, Scott moved to San Francisco to participate in a content-driven start-up company, for what would be the only period of his career not involved in newspapers. In 2012, Scott moved from his role as online editor for the Anchorage Daily News in Anchorage, Alaska, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a job at MLive.com, where he now reports and creates interactive content with a focus on data to tell stories. For MLive.com Scott has made more than 2,000 interactive maps and databases for a variety of stories. Scott lives in Vicksburg, Michigan, a tiny village just south of Kalamazoo with his wife Veronica and son Whitman.

H. Luke Shaefer

Luke ShaeferDirector of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan
Luke Shaefer is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan. He serves as the inaugural director of Poverty Solutions, an interdisciplinary, presidential initiative at U-M that seeks to partner communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty.
Shaefer’s research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals in the fields of public policy, social work, public health, health services research, and history, and his work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Census Bureau among other sources. He has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and has advised a number of the nation’s largest human service providers. His work has been cited in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Atlantic, and Los Angeles Times, among other media outlets, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace and CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. His book with Kathryn Edin, “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism among other awards. Shaefer also acts as a special counselor to the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He received his B.A. in politics from Oberlin College and A.M. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.

Solutions Journalism Workshop

Impactful reporting does more than just identify problems – it identifies how people are responding to problems and evaluates which solutions are truly effective. Solutions Journalism Network will share strategies journalists can use to produce compelling coverage of responses to social problems across the U.S. and discuss the role of academic research in identifying which solutions work.

RECAP: How to tell a story with data and solutions journalism

Sarah Gustavus

Sarah GustavusEconomic mobility manager for Solutions Journalism Network
Sarah Gustavus came to the Solutions Journalism Network after more than a decade in public radio and television. She’s passionate about collaborative journalism and has led projects that included print, radio and online partners. Before joining SJN, she was a senior multimedia producer at New Mexico PBS and produced stories for the State of Change and Small Towns, Big Change collaborative projects that used solutions reporting to examine resilience in rural communities. Sarah also has extensive experience covering Indigenous issues and was previously the executive producer of national programs at Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, a Native American-owned company. In 2017, as a national fellow with the Center for Reporting on Health, she worked with National Native News to produce the multimedia series “Reconnecting With A Healthy Lifestyle.” Sarah lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky

Jean Friedman-RudovskyCo-executive director of Resolve Philly
Jean Friedman-Rudovsky is a Philadelphia native and is passionate about journalism’s vital role in creating a fair and just society. She founded Resolve Philadelphia in 2018, with the hope that sustained collaborative and solutions-oriented reporting will help bring about a more engaged, informed, and inspired city. During 2017, she was the project editor of The Reentry Project, Resolve’s pilot initiative, which focused on the challenges of–and solutions to–prisoner reentry. Prior to that, Jean was an award-winning freelance journalist, spending more than a decade reporting from the Global South and specializing in longform investigative and solutions pieces. She’s a Vice Magazine contributing editor and has been published in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Bloomberg Businessweek, among others.

Lauren Slagter

Lauren SlagterCommunications Specialist, Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan
Lauren Slagter is a communications specialist at Poverty Solutions, sharing the impact of the initiative’s research with members of the media and the public. Previously, Slagter spent eight years as a daily news reporter, primarily covering education and housing at MLive, Kokomo Tribune in Indiana, and Big Rapids Pioneer. Her work examined how Michigan’s school choice policy and school funding model contributes to inequity, the impact of poverty on students’ learning, how the housing voucher system contributes to segregation in Washtenaw County, and other issues related to poverty. Slagter’s reporting received numerous awards from the Associated Press, Michigan Press Association, and Hoosier State Press Association. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University.

Understanding Disadvantage in Rural, Urban, and Suburban Places

Disadvantage takes different forms in different places, and context is important when reporting on challenges facing a community and potential solutions. This panel will discuss how poverty plays out in rural, urban, and suburban places.

RECAP: Understanding Disadvantage in Rural, Urban, and Suburban Places

David Jesse

David Jesse

Higher education reporter for the Detroit Free Press
David Jesse has covered higher education in Michigan for more than a decade. He spent a summer in rural Michigan reporting on higher education deserts. He’s written extensively on sexual assault on college campuses, higher education finance and college access. He was recently named as a 2020-21 Spencer Fellow in Education Reporting at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. The Education Writers Association named him the top education reporter in the nation in 2018.

Glennon Sweeney

Glennon SweeneySenior research associate at Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University
Glennon Sweeney is a senior research associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in the Community Assessment and Metropolitan Change unit. She joined Kirwan in 2011 and in 2014 began leading the Institute’s food justice work. Her work focuses on issues related to food security and access, metropolitan neighborhood change, housing, civic engagement, equity and the intersection of jurisdictional fragmentation and social service delivery. A member of the Franklin County Local Food Council and the Worthington Community Relations Commission, Glennon holds a bachelor’s in geography and political science, a master’s in city and regional planning, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in city and regional planning.

Roshanak Mehdipanah

Roshanak MehdipanahAssistant professor at University of Michigan
Roshanak Mehdipanah is an assistant professor in the department of health behavior and health education in U-M’s School of Public Health. She has led several projects on housing and health including health evaluations of housing policies on affordability and discrimination in the U.S. Prior to joining the faculty in health behavior and health education, Dr. Mehdipanah was an investigator with the SOPHIE project (Evaluating the Impact of Structural Policies on Health Inequalities) funded by the European Union. Within this project, she led a four-year evaluation of an urban renewal policy and its effects on the health and health inequalities in some of Barcelona’s neighborhoods. Dr. Mehdipanah’s current research portfolio focuses on aspects of urban health including urban renewal, planning, housing and gentrification. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain and her master’s of science from the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo in Canada. She specializes in innovative research methods including realist evaluations and concept mapping to develop conceptual frameworks linking complex interventions to health.

Lynette Clemetson

Lynette ClemetsonDirector of Wallace House at the University of Michigan.
Lynette Clemetson ’10 is the Charles R. Eisendrath Director of Wallace House, home of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists at the University of Michigan. She is a Knight-Wallace alum and came to the university from National Public Radio where she was Senior Director of Strategy and Content Initiatives, guiding projects across broadcast, digital and events. Lynette spent several years as a magazine and newspaper reporter before moving into media strategy and leadership. In addition to her work as a domestic correspondent for The New York Times and Newsweek magazine, she was also an Asia correspondent for Newsweek based in Hong Kong. A former Director of Content Strategy at Pew Center on the States, she was also founding managing editor of the website TheRoot.com. Lynette has a passionate interest in sustaining journalism in a variety of forms and supporting journalists in the pursuit of their craft.

H. Luke Shaefer

Luke ShaeferDirector of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan
Luke Shaefer is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan. He serves as the inaugural director of Poverty Solutions, an interdisciplinary, presidential initiative at U-M that seeks to partner communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty.
Shaefer’s research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals in the fields of public policy, social work, public health, health services research, and history, and his work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Census Bureau among other sources. He has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and has advised a number of the nation’s largest human service providers. His work has been cited in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Atlantic, and Los Angeles Times, among other media outlets, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace and CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. His book with Kathryn Edin, “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism among other awards. Shaefer also acts as a special counselor to the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He received his B.A. in politics from Oberlin College and A.M. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.

Where Public Policy Meets Real Life

Coronavirus relief efforts have launched a new tangle of public policies dictating who receives aid and when and how that aid is delivered. In this panel, veteran journalists will share their experiences cutting through the wonky world of public policy to uncover the real-world impact of policymakers’ decisions and the role academics can play in helping the public understand these issues.

RECAP: Public Policy Meets Real Life

Melissa Sanchez

Melissa SanchezReporter at ProPublica Illinois
Melissa Sanchez is a reporter at ProPublica Illinois who is focused on immigrants and low-wage workers. Her work here examining Chicago’s punitive ticketing and debt collection system helped prompt major city reforms, including the end of driver’s license suspensions for unpaid parking tickets and debt relief. She previously reported on topics ranging from education to absentee ballot fraud for The Chicago Reporter, Catalyst Chicago, el Nuevo Herald in Miami and the Yakima (Washington) Herald-Republic. She lives in a 1926 brick bungalow on Chicago’s Northwest Side with her husband, their toddler son, and two cats.

Jonathan Cohn

Jonathan Cohn

Senior national correspondent of HuffPost
Jonathan Cohn, Senior National Correspondent at HuffPost, writes about politics and policy with a focus on social welfare. He is also the author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis — and the People Who Pay the Price.” Jonathan worked previously at the New Republic and American Prospect, and has written for the Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, and Self. His journalism has won awards from the Sidney Hillman Foundation, the Association of Health Care Journalists, World Hunger Year, and the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Christine MacDonald

Christine MacDonaldInvestigative / data reporter at The Detroit News
Christine MacDonald is an investigative reporter at The Detroit News with a concentration on data and computer-assisted reporting. Her work has saved Detroit homeowners thousands of dollars by forcing the city to retool its broken tax assessment system and prompted crackdowns on landlords abusing the tax foreclosure auctions for profit. In her 17 years at The Detroit News, Christine also covered city hall and education. She previously worked for the Lansing State Journal and Jackson Citizen Patriot / MLive. She has a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Elisabeth Gerber

Elizabeth GerberAssociate Dean for Research and Policy Engagement, University of Michigan
Elisabeth R. Gerber is the associate dean for research and policy engagement and the Jack L. Walker, Jr. Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School, with a courtesy appointment in the U-M Department of Political Science. Her current research focuses on regionalism and intergovernmental cooperation, sustainable development, urban climate adaptation, transportation policy, community and economic development, local fiscal capacity, and local political accountability. She is the author of The Populist Paradox: Interest Group Influence and the Promise of Direct Legislation (1999), co-author of Stealing the Initiative: How State Government Responds to Direct Democracy (2000), and co-editor of Voting at the Political Fault Line: California’s Experiment with the Blanket Primary (2001) and Michigan at the Millennium (2003). She recently completed a five-year term as vice-chair of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. She received her PhD in political science from the University of Michigan.

Using Personal Stories for Systemic Change

Sharing the personal stories of people directly affected by poverty can be a powerful way to raise awareness of an issue and spur action. Speakers will share strategies for identifying people whose personal experiences illustrate broader issues and how to share their stories in a way that contributes to systemic change.

RECAP: Using Personal Stories for Systemic Change

Marisol Bello

Marisol BelloDirector of Communications for the Community Change and Community Change Action
Marisol Bello is the director of communications for the Community Change and Community Change Action. Prior to her joining the Center, she was a journalist for 23 years, working in newsrooms from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to Detroit and Washington, D.C. She was most recently a national reporter for USA Today, where she spent eight years covering high-profile events such as the recession of the late 2000s and its impact on American families; the death of Nelson Mandela and the future of South Africa without him and the deadly earthquake in Haiti that left an already poverty-stricken nation even further devastated. Her stories focused on the lives of Americans like her immigrant family, who worked hard and still struggled to make ends meet. Her passion to tell those stories continues at the Center.

Marisa Kwiatkowski

Marisa Kwiatkowski

Investigative reporter at USA Today
Marisa Kwiatkowski is an investigative reporter for USA Today. She handles investigations relating to social services and welfare issues, including child abuse and neglect, poverty, elder abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence and access to mental health services.

Kristin Seefeldt

Kristin SeefeldtAssociate Director for Educational Programs
As associate faculty director at Poverty Solutions, Kristin Seefeldt oversees educational programs and promotes student engagement, with an emphasis on involving doctoral students in research opportunities. She also is an associate professor of social work and public policy.
Seefeldt’s primary research interests lie in exploring how low-income individuals understand their situations, particularly around issues related to work and economic well-being. Her most recent book, “Abandoned Families: Social Isolation in the 21st Century” examines the ways in which political and economic changes have altered the pathways of opportunity for low-income families. Through in-depth interviews over a six-year period with women in Detroit, Seefeldt charts the increasing social isolation of many low-income workers, particularly African Americans, and analyzes how economic and residential segregation keep them from achieving the American Dream of upward mobility. In addition to numerous journal articles, she also is the author of “Working After Welfare,” which discusses employment and work-family balance challenges among former welfare recipients, and a co-author of “America’s Poor and the Great Recession.”
Seefeldt has a PhD in sociology and public policy and an MPP from the University of Michigan as well as a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.

The Poverty Narrative | Confronting Inequity: Exploring Connections Between Structural Racism and Poverty in the U.S.

March 2021

Telling the Whole Story: Data in Context

Data are the cornerstone of academic research and investigative journalism. But numbers by themselves don’t tell the whole story, and data analysis without historical context can miss as much as it reveals. Panelists will outline their approaches to finding good data sources, putting that data in context, gathering insights from the people behind the numbers, and effectively communicating what data can tell us about structural inequities.

Harley Etienne

Harley Etienne is an associate professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan. He teaches in the areas of urban community development, inner-city revitalization, neighborhood change, urban poverty, and qualitative research issues in planning. Etienne’s research focuses primarily on the intersection of social institutions and their relationship to processes of urban neighborhood change. He is keenly interested in the role that colleges and universities play in contributing to neighborhood-level change and regional economic development. In 2012, he released, Pushing Back the Gates: Neighborhood Perspectives on University-Driven Change in West Philadelphia on Temple University Press. After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, he worked on several projects examining the role of land tenure policy and land rights in the post-earthquake recovery of Port-au-Prince. In 2014, he co-edited a volume, Planning Atlanta which surveys the history, challenges and successes of planning in that city from its earliest beginnings to the present day.

His current projects include quantitative and qualitative studies of the adaptation and survival strategies of community development corporations (CDCs) in Baltimore, Cleveland and Detroit. He is also expanding on his work in West Philadelphia with studies that evaluate the long-term impact of college students on housing affordability and displacement in college and university-adjacent neighborhoods. Prior to pursuing a PhD, Etienne worked in Philadelphia in the public policy and economic development sectors for Greater Philadelphia First (now merged with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce) and the Pennsylvania Economy League and the 21st Century League where he worked on various policy issues including university-industry partnerships, K-12 school reform, health care access, and welfare policy. Before coming to the University of Michigan, Etienne taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the School of City and Regional Planning and the School of Public Policy. He holds a PhD from Cornell University, a master’s in Studies of Law from Yale, a master’s from Temple University, and a bachelor’s from Morehouse College.

Kristin Seefeldt

As associate faculty director at Poverty Solutions, Kristin Seefeldt oversees educational programs and promotes student engagement, with an emphasis on involving doctoral students in research opportunities. She also is an associate professor of social work and public policy.

Seefeldt’s primary research interests lie in exploring how low-income individuals understand their situations, particularly around issues related to work and economic well-being. Her most recent book, “Abandoned Families: Social Isolation in the 21st Century” examines the ways in which political and economic changes have altered the pathways of opportunity for low-income families. Through in-depth interviews over a six-year period with women in Detroit, Seefeldt charts the increasing social isolation of many low-income workers, particularly African Americans, and analyzes how economic and residential segregation keep them from achieving the American Dream of upward mobility. In addition to numerous journal articles, she also is the author of “Working After Welfare,” which discusses employment and work-family balance challenges among former welfare recipients, and a co-author of “America’s Poor and the Great Recession.”

Seefeldt has a PhD in sociology and public policy and an MPP from the University of Michigan as well as a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.

Jonathon Berlin

Jonathon Berlin is the leader of the data visualization team at the Chicago Tribune. He has been an adjunct teacher at Northwestern and Columbia College where he’s taught infographics, data visualization and human-centered web design. Berlin was president of the Society for News Design (SND) in 2012.

His infographics work has been honored by SND, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Print, and the Chicago Headline Club. Before coming to Chicago in 2007, he worked at the San Jose Mercury News, the Rocky Mountain News and The Times of Northwest Indiana. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois’ journalism school.

Jennifer Erb-Downward

Jennifer Erb-Downward is a senior research associate at Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, developing new projects and proposals related to family homelessness. She also oversees several other research projects and assists with the analysis and translation of research findings to inform local, state, and federal policy recommendations. Erb-Downward joined Poverty Solutions from the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness in New York, where she was the principal policy analyst for initiatives aimed at bringing awareness to family homelessness and for framing the city’s policy agenda on this issue. She has extensive experience in policy analysis, program implementation, and best practice research around family homelessness, behavioral health, chronic illness, and the reduction of health disparities. She has been involved in the development of novel research programs in mental health and cancer prevention, and she is passionate about addressing child homelessness here in Michigan, where she grew up. Erb-Downward holds a master’s degree in public health from New York University.

The Poverty Narrative: Confronting Inequity in Housing

As temporary eviction moratoriums implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic expire, long-term solutions are needed to ensure people have viable options to maintain affordable, stable housing. Housing, past and present, has been a domain where structural racism has impacted outcomes, through redlining and predatory lending. Panelists will discuss strategies for preventing evictions, maintaining and increasing affordable housing developments, and how to document the impact of housing instability at the local, statewide, and national level.

Margaret Dewar

Margaret Dewar is professor emerita at U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She focuses on how urban planners can address issues facing cities that have experienced substantial population and employment loss. Her research projects investigate remaking cities following abandonment and strengthening deteriorated neighborhoods. Dewar’s recent book is “The City after Abandonment” (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), co-edited with June Manning Thomas. Over the last few years, she has analyzed the challenge of preserving affordable housing where incomes are low, the ways residents and community-based organizations can succeed in saving some neighborhoods from the disinvestment mortgage foreclosures caused, and the slow land use transition from derelict structure through demolition to new green uses that enhance neighborhoods. She is evaluating Detroit programs to sell tax foreclosed houses to their occupants, analyzing why Detroit’s tax foreclosure problem is so hard to solve, and assessing ways to prevent evictions as the pandemic continues. Dewar received a Ph.D. in urban studies and planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master of City Planning from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College.

Afton Branche-Wilson

Afton Branche-Wilson is the assistant director of community initiatives at Poverty Solutions at U-M, where she stewards initiative-wide community engagement activities and conducts research and evaluation projects in Detroit. Previously, she was the community and policy manager at Detroit City Council, where she advanced policy initiatives related to neighborhood beautification and community investment. She also led Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López’s Building Better Blocks program, building the capacity of grassroots leaders in underserved areas to advocate for community change. Before that, she worked at Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy.

Branche-Wilson has earned an MPP from the University of Michigan, where she focused on nonprofit management, community planning, and program evaluation. She also is a passionate advocate for gender equity, serving as a volunteer for an anti-street harassment collective in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the president of Women and Gender in Public Policy while in graduate school. Currently, she is a member of the Women’s Caucus at the New Leaders Council and serves as an Alumni Vice Chair of the Detroit Chapt

Ann Choi

Ann Choi is a senior data reporter at THE CITY, a news website covering New York City. Previously, she was a data and investigative reporter for Newsday and South Florida Sun Sentinel. Her investigations for Newsday on real estate agents’ discriminatory practices against minority buyers and communities on Long Island won a Peabody and George Polk Award in 2020. She has taught at Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, Ohio University and St Joseph’s College. She grew up in South Korea and is a graduate of University of Texas at Austin. She lives in Queens, New York with her husband, son and cat.

Rebecca Labov

Rebecca Labov is a program analyst in the Policy Development and Implementation Division of the Housing and Revitalization Department for the City of Detroit. In this role, she manages strategic initiatives related to multifamily housing, including the preservation of affordable housing and development of strategies for displacement prevention. Most recently, she managed the city’s application for a federal Choice Neighborhoods grant for Greater Corktown, which would support inclusive neighborhood revitalization through key initiatives in areas of housing, community improvements, and supportive services for residents. Prior to her current role, she served as an educator with Detroit Public Schools, developing expertise in teaching, instructional coaching and professional development, and curriculum design. Outside of the classroom, she served as a coach for her schools’ dance team and robotics team and helped launch a community garden with her students. Previously, she worked as an architectural designer of multifamily affordable housing. Her work in diverse fields has been connected and guided by a deep commitment to racial equity and social justice.

Labov holds master’s degrees in urban and regional planning as well as educational leadership and policy from the University of Michigan. She holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

The Poverty Narrative: Confronting Inequity in Education

The COVID-19 pandemic has put America’s public education system to the test. As K-12 schools adapt to online learning and reimagine classroom environments, how can they avoid replicating existing inequities in our education systems? Panelists will discuss how the pandemic exacerbated disparities in access to quality education, potential solutions that could reduce those disparities, and how to connect students’ learning experiences with systemic issues.

Camille Wilson

Camille M. Wilson, Ph.D., is a University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor and Professor of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy at the University of Michigan. She explores the intersections of school-family-community engagement, urban educational reform, and transformative leadership. Dr. Wilson’s work highlights the educational advocacy, activism, and school choices of marginalized families of color and the equity-based efforts of school-based leaders striving to serve those families better. She considers these issues—and their interconnections—from critical, gendered, and culturally relevant perspectives. In addition, she addresses how racial and economic inequality intersect in education and explores ways that youth and families of color impacted by poverty can be politically empowered to challenge systemic education inequity.

Dr. Wilson has published extensively in leading national and international journals, and she is co-editor of the book Advancing Equity and Achievement in America’s Diverse Schools: Inclusive Theories, Policies, and Practices (Routledge). She has presented her work throughout the United States and at many international venues, including as an invited guest lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa and as a visiting professor at the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill in Barbados. Her work and commentary has also been featured in prominent media outlets like the New York Times and Harper’s Bazaar. Additionally, she actively collaborates with youth, family, and community activists in national and regional educational improvement initiatives. In 2020, she founded the University of Michigan School of Education’s CREATE Center. The CREATE Center fosters community-based research on equity, activism, and transformative education.

Matt Barnum

Matt Barnum is Chalkbeat’s national reporter, covering education policy and research. Previously he was a staff writer at The 74, the policy director for Educators for Excellence – New York, and a middle school language arts teacher in Colorado.

Bonnie Billups Jr.

Bonnie Billups, Jr., is the executive director of the Peace Neighborhood Center, a nonprofit in Ann Arbor that provides critical services for children and families. He began his career in supportive services for families and youth at a young age. He first became involved with Peace Neighborhood Center as a child enrolled in the agency’s youth programs back in the early 1970s. Proving himself to be a reliable and mature young man, Billups was hired on as a program assistant at Peace in 1976. He continued in that capacity through 1985, helping the agency expand and establish many long-standing services such as Peace’s Summer Day Camp program in 1982. Billups left the agency in 1985 to travel to California and pursue a career in music. While in the Los Angeles area, he continued to work in the youth development field as a Youth Lead Specialist at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services. In 1991, he returned to Ann Arbor and Peace Neighborhood Center as the agency’s program director, a role he took on to great success for over 15 years. In 2006, he took over for the retiring Rose Martin as Peace Neighborhood Center’s executive director and continues to lead Peace in its role as a pillar of the youth and family service nonprofit community in Washtenaw County. Billups also has continued in his musical career as an instructor at Washtenaw Community College in the School of Music and Performing Arts. Billips is a member of the Ann Arbor Public Schools Blue Ribbon Committee, where he helps to advise the school district on decisions and strategies to provide effective service to at-risk youth. He is also a founding member of the Washtenaw Alliance for Children and Youth, serving on its steering committee and helping to define that collaborative’s role in establishing the best possible safety net for young people in Washtenaw County along with the other member youth development agencies. Billups is proud to have served the youth and families of Washtenaw County for almost 40 years and to lead Peace Neighborhood Center into its fifth decade of its longstanding mission to break the cycle of poverty in our community.

Patrick Cooney

Patrick Cooney is the assistant director of economic mobility at Poverty Solutions at U-M, overseeing the Partnership on Economic Mobility between the University of Michigan and the City of Detroit. In this role, he manages existing projects between U-M and the city and fosters new opportunities to deploy U-M resources to help evaluate, enhance, and inform city initiatives to promote economic mobility and alleviate poverty. Prior to joining Poverty Solutions, Cooney worked as a policy associate at Michigan Future, Inc. (MFI), where he contributed research, policy analysis, and writing to MFI projects focused on influencing state economic and education policies. At MFI, Cooney also managed the college success program for the Michigan Future Schools initiative, which funded and supported new college-prep high schools in Detroit. Cooney taught middle school math at Uncommon Schools in Brooklyn, New York; was a Teach for America corps member in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas; and was an Education Pioneers fellow at Chicago Public Schools. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and history from Boston College and a master’s in public policy from the University of Michigan.

The Poverty Narrative: Confronting Inequity in Public Health

COVID-19 is infecting and killing a disproportionately large number of Black and Hispanic people in America, which highlights underlying disparities in chronic health conditions and access to health care. Panelists will discuss how racism intersects with public health and strategies for holding public officials accountable to address these health disparities.

Celeste Watkins-Hayes

Celeste Watkins-Hayes is the Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, and professor of sociology at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Department of Sociology. She is an author and educator widely credited for her research at the intersection of inequality, public policy, and institutions, with a special focus on urban poverty and race, class, and gender studies.

Watkins-Hayes has published two books, numerous articles in journals and edited volumes, and pieces in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Chicago Magazine. She has been widely quoted in the popular press as a national expert on social inequality and HIV/AIDS. Her books — Remaking a Life: How Women Living with HIV/AIDS Confront Inequality (2019, University of California Press) and The New Welfare Bureaucrats: Entanglements of Race, Class, and Policy Reform — both won numerous awards and distinctions. Watkins-Hayes holds a PhD and MA in sociology from Harvard University and a BA from Spelman College, where she graduated summa cum laude. She served on the board of trustees of Spelman College for over a decade in various leadership roles, leading the search process for the college’s 10th president. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Kat Stafford

Kat Stafford is a national investigative writer, focused on race and inequity at The Associated Press. She investigates how structural racism has fueled inequity in America through the lens of politics, government health, environmental justice and more. She was elected to a two-year term in 2020 on the Board of Directors for the Investigative Reporters and Editors, the industry’s leading nonprofit organization focused on investigative journalism. She is also the chair of IRE’s Member Services Committee.

An award-winning journalist and Detroit native, Stafford was previously an investigative journalist at the Detroit Free Press and has received several awards for her work. Stafford was part of a two-person reporting team that won Michigan’s Associated Press Media Editors 2019 First Amendment Award, for the Free Press’ “Make Your Date” investigative project. She was named a 2019 Ida B. Wells Investigative Fellow and received the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2017 Young Journalist of the Year Award from the organization’s Detroit Chapter. Stafford was also a 2016 Fellow of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles’ prestigious Journalist Law School. Stafford is the vice president of the SPJ Detroit chapter and is a board member of Eastern Michigan University’s student newspaper, The Eastern Echo. Stafford has also made several television appearances and regularly hosts and moderates events.

Stafford is a leading voice on inclusion, representation and equity and has led or participated in several training sessions and panels, including for the Ida B. Wells Society, Poynter and the Maynard Institute. She’s also participated on international panels and events, including for the U.S. Embassy Paris, France and the Global Investigative Journalism Network.

Debra Furr-Holden

Dr. Debra Furr-Holden is the associate dean for Public Health Integration, C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, and director of the Division of Public Health at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She is also the director of the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions, funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. She is an epidemiologist and classically-trained public health professional with expertise in behavioral health equity and health disparities research. Furr-Holden’s community-based, action-oriented research has been well received by community stakeholders and driven multiple policy interventions to address some of the nation’s greatest public health challenges, especially among racial and ethnic minorities and in racially- and economically-segregated communities. Furr-Holden’s research is grounded in the rubrics of epidemiology and consistent with principles and practices for understanding and intervening on the social determinants of health and health equity.

Among her many awards, she was the recipient of the 2006 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (Office of the White House) and received the 2020 Community-Academic Partnership Award from the Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center. Furr-Holden attended the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (BA Natural Sciences and Public Health, 1996) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (PhD, 1999).

H. Luke Shaefer

H. Luke Shaefer is the founding faculty director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy, and associate dean for research and policy engagement at U-M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Through his role at Poverty Solutions, Shaefer acts as a special counselor on anti-poverty policy to the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Shaefer’s research on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals in the fields of public policy, social work, public health, health services research, and history, and his work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and U.S. Census Bureau among other sources. He has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and has advised a number of the nation’s largest human service providers.

His work has been cited in media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, The Atlantic, and Los Angeles Times, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace and CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. His book with Kathryn Edin, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review, and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism among other awards. He was recently named to an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. Shaefer received his BA in politics from Oberlin College and master’s and PhD from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration.

Continuing the Conversation

While the series will come to an end, the conversation about our nation’s poverty narrative is ongoing. Here are some ways you can stay connected: