Cathy Cohen, Principal Investigator/ Founder

Cathy J. Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science and former Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. She has served as the Deputy Provost for Graduate Education and is the Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. Cohen is the author of two books: Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (Oxford University Press 2010) and The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press 1999), and co-editor with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (New York University 1997).

Cathy’s work has been published in numerous journals and edited volumes including the American Political Science Review, GLQ, NOMOS, and Social Text. Her general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African-American politics, women and politics, lesbian and gay politics, and social movements. She is also the founder and Director of the Black Youth Project.

Matthew Fowler, Postdoctoral Scholar

Matthew Fowler is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Indiana University in August 2017. His research examines the politics of race and ethnicity, political polarization, and ideology in American politics. He has published articles in PS: Political Science & Politics, American Review of Politics, and Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies.

Margaret Brower, Graduate Research Assistant

Margaret Brower is a PhD student studying American and Comparative politics at the University of Chicago. She is also a UChicago Urban fellow. She has a Master of Arts degree in higher education and public policy from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and education from Colgate University. Prior to joining the program at the University of Chicago, she led a series of qualitative and qualitative research projects at the the National Forum for Higher Education and the Public Good and the Institute for Higher Education and Democracy (IDHE) focused on urban challenges, participatory action, policy feedback, immigration, college student voting, and youth political development. At the University of Chicago, as a student and as a researcher for GenForward, she focuses on the political socialization of young people, especially youth of color, and the ways in which urban settings contextualize and shape this experience.

Bianca DiGiovanni, Graduate Research Assistant

Bianca DiGiovanni is a PhD student of Political Science at the University of Chicago.  Bianca’s interests include Race and Ethnic Politics, topics of incarceration, and game theoretic models.  She is currently is focusing on models of plea-bargaining incorporating race and bail reform. Bianca received her BSE in Environmental Engineering from Princeton University.

For the GenForward Survey, Bianca works with the team on the production and analysis of our bimonthly surveys.

Jordie Davies, Graduate Research Assistant

Jordie Davies is a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, studying American political behavior. She is a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the GenForward Survey of Millennials.

Jordie’s research interests include Black politics, social movements, political participation, and political communication. Specifically, she focuses on the influence of social movements and new media on political attitudes and participation. For GenForward, Davies does work on the Movement for Black Lives and on the politics of racial redress (with Jenn Jackson and David Knight), considering millennial understandings of structural racism and potential forms of justice.

Davies received a BA in Political Science from Emory University, in Atlanta, GA, with a minor in Educational Studies.

David J. Knight, Graduate Research Assistant

David J. Knight is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Before coming to Chicago, David was a certified high school teacher in San Francisco and Boston. This experience teaching and working in urban communities profoundly informs his research. David is particularly interested in demographic change, urban politics, intergroup coalition building, and the political lives of urban young people. A native of the New Orleans area, David received his AB in history from Dartmouth, trained as a teacher at Stanford, and began his research career as a master’s student at Harvard.

Terri Smith, Pre-Doctoral Scholar | Director of Data Liberation Project

Terri Smith is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. She is also an APSA Minority Fellow. Terri received a BA in Political Science from Louisiana State University where she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar.

Her research interests include Black politics, gender and sexuality, and social movements. Terri currently studies Black Queer Feminism — a political praxis within radical Black-led social movements — and the dynamics of power that exist within movement work and community organizing. In particular, she is interested in how Black Queer Feminist politics of care and accountability shape activist’s interaction with the state.

Prior to attending the University of Chicago, Terri was a scholar-activist who conducted research and community-based activism surrounding racial attitudes and state-sanctioned violence against Black and Brown communities. For GenForward, Terri is a pre-doctoral scholar for public-facing data and serves as the director of the Data Liberation project.  Here, she bridges connections between the academy and activist communities by managing and conducting webinars, panel discussions, and seminars that think with community organizers about how they might operationalize GenForward data. The Data Liberation project seeks to prevent the use of data from being siloed within the academy and also to promote the use of data as a tool within liberation-focused movement work.

Safiya Jafari Simmons, Public Relations Consultant

SJS Consultants CEO and Founder Safiya Jafari Simmons has nearly 20 years of experience in communications, PR and media relations strategy and management. In her role as public relations consultant to GenForward, Safiya works to publicly elevate GenForward’s survey findings through securing earned media coverage.

A former adjunct professor in PR and public affairs at Howard University, Safiya’s had the honor of being the spokeswoman and publicist for a number of high-profile clients, including members of Congress, other elected officials, and nonprofit thought leaders. An author, a connector, strategist and public speaker, she has a heart for working with people and organizations who are mission-focused and purpose-passionate.

Jonathan Lykes, Director of Partnerships and Programs

Jonathan Lykes is a Black queer artist, activist and academic. His interdisciplinary approach to art, activism and anti-oppression work, merges policy change, artistic expression and activism. Combining these forms of social transformation—and harnessing their synergy—Jonathan works to create awareness, promote personal healing, surmount institutional barriers and generate systemic change. Jonathan’s current position as Founder/Executive Director of Liberation House situates him to merge his multidisciplinary artistic background with public policy reform, community engagement and systems change work to teach liberation praxis by pushing the revolutionary edge of radical transformative movement work. Lykes is also a founding member of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), a movement of young adults using a Black Queer Feminist lens to advocate for community and institutional change. Jonathan is also the curator of BYP100’s freedom song and chant album, The Black Joy Experience, helping to teach holistic energy through the Black radical tradition. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, where he also received his master’s degree from the School for Social Service Administration.

Patricia Posey, Research Consultant

Patricia Posey received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019 and a double BA in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Florida in 2013. Prior to joining the Political Science Department at the University of Chicago, Posey was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research examines the relationship between American political economy and race, with a focus on the links among capitalism, urban space, technology, and political behavior. She is developing a manuscript that examines the effects of different banking and loan institutions on the political attitudes and political participation of marginalized communities. Posey is particularly interested in the effects of check cashing institutions, pay-day loan companies, pawn shops, and the like on the attitudes of poor, black, and brown communities toward the state.

Jon Rogowski, Research Consultant

Jon Rogowski is an assistant professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University. His work focuses broadly on American politics, with specific research and teaching interests in electoral politics and American political institutions. Jon is coauthor (with William Howell and Saul Jackman) of The Wartime President: Executive Influence and the Nationalizing Politics of Threat. His work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals including the American Political Science Review and the American Journal of Political Science. His current research projects focus on executive branch politics and the presidency in the contemporary and historical periods. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, Jon was an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis.

Jon has received the E.E. Schattschneider Award and the William H. Riker Award from the American Political Science Association. In 2014, Jon was recognized by Washington University in St. Louis as the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year.

Urvi Kumbhat, Research Assistant/ Web Coordinator

Urvi Kumbhat graduated from the University of Chicago with degrees in English and Creative Writing. She is a writer, poet, and editor, and her academic interests include critical race theory, post-colonial literature, sex workers’ rights, and girlhood studies.

Urvi manages GenForward’s website and social media, and assists with other writing, communication, and administrative duties. She grew up in Calcutta, India.

Dominique Janvier, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Dominique Janvier is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago studying Public Policy and French. Originally from Durham, North Carolina, Dominique grew up with an interest in community engagement, volunteerism, and social development.

Before joining the GenForward team, she worked as a Policy Research Assistant for the Chicago-based education policy and advocacy non-profit, Advance Illinois. In this role, she conducted data analysis that identified achievement gaps within Illinois’ education system. Most recently, Dominique worked as a Research Assistant at the Thirty Million Words Center for Learning + Public Health at The University of Chicago. At GenForward, Dominique is composing a Youth Voter Memo. This memo will serve to supplement current GenForward data with background information that further illustrates the significance of young adults’ attitudes and opinions.

Laura Chen, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Laura Chen is a second year at the University of Chicago. She is a former Milgrom Education Impact Fellow planning to major in Public Policy and Biology. Before coming to Chicago, she went to school in Taipei, Taiwan. Laura currently assists with data visualization, memos, and more for GenForward.