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  • IRPE Our Team Hero
  • In speaking about the mission of the Institute, Darrick Hamilton, the Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, and the founding director of the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School, noted, "Throughout human history, and in plain sight, racism, sexism, and 'other isms' are strategically used to consolidate economic and political power for some at the expense of others. As a scholar, I have a moral responsibility to contest empirically unsubstantiated rhetoric that situates inequality in ignorance, so-called grit, and personal responsibility of insinuated 'defective people' and instead to craft innovative, informed, and bold scholarly work that empowers people with necessary resources and structures for economic security, dignity, and 'authentic' agency."

    To learn more about the Institute, contact [email protected].

  • Ebonee Ayala

    Ebonee Ayala

    Operations Manager

    Ebonee Ayala

    Ebonee Ayala is the operations manager at Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy. She is an experienced problem solver with operations experience in healthcare, nonprofits, city government, and education. 

    Suparna Bhaskaran

    Suparna Bhaskaran

    Co-Principal Investigator and Project Manager, The Color of Wealth in Chicago; Non-resident Fellow

    Suparna Bhaskaran

    Suparna Bhaskaran is a non-resident fellow at Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School; the project manager and a co-principal Investigator of the Color of Wealth in Chicago Study; and an ethnographer working on intersectional and transdisciplinary approaches to wealth.

    Suparna has taught gender and sexuality studies at Antioch College and Agnes Scott College and she is currently teaching at the Ohio State University. She was a policy researcher with projects related to the Detroit water crisis in the aftermath of municipal bankruptcy and in the Just Public Finance Program at the Othering and Belonging Institute (University of California, Berkeley). She also served as a health policy researcher in Ohio Governor Strickland’s administration. Suparna organizes with community groups in the Midwest that work on immigrant and refugee rights, popular education, and transnational and multi-issue politics. 

    Suparna's publications include “Flattening the Curve or Flattening Life?  Everyday Life is a Constant Struggle; COVID-19 Just Makes It Worse,” Economic and Political Weekly (2021); “Remembering Latina Feminist Philosopher Maria Lugones,” Sinister Wisdom (forthcoming, 2021); Public Health & Wealth in Post-Bankruptcy Detroit (2017); Pinklining: How Wall Street’s Predatory Products Pillage Women’s Wealth, Opportunities, and Futures (2016); and Made in India: Decolonization, Queer Sexualities, Transnational Projects (2004). Suparna has a BA in Sociology and a PhD in Anthropology.

    Ofronama Biu

    Ofronama Biu

    Research Assistant

    Ofronama Biu

    Ofronama Biu is a research assistant at the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy. She recently received a PhD in Public and Urban Policy from the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment at The New School. Ofronama’s research focuses on racial and gender stratification and labor market outcomes. She is also a research manager for worker education and workforce development at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.

    Dr. Grieve Chelwa

    Grieve Chelwa

    Inaugural Post-Doctoral Fellow, Inclusive Economic Rights

    Dr. Grieve Chelwa

    Grieve Chelwa is the Inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School, where he leads the institute's work on inclusive economic rights. Before joining the New School, Grieve was a senior lecturer (assistant professor) in economics at the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business and before that was the Inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for African Studies at Harvard University. He was previously a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of the Witwatersrand. Grieve holds a BA in Economics from the University of Zambia and advanced degrees in economics, including a PhD, from the University of Cape Town. Before taking up a career in academia, Grieve was a banker with Citi and completed postings in Congo (DR), Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.

    Maria-Elena Grant

    Maria-Elena Grant

    Associate Program Director

    Maria-Elena Grant

    Maria-Elena Grant is the associate program director at the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. She implements plans and programs to fulfill grant requirements and advance the mission, agenda, and priorities of the Institute, both within the university and externally. Maria-Elena has worked for 14 years at the New School and is an accomplished activist and musician. 

    A British-born child of Jamaican parents, Maria-Elena moved with her family to the Bronx in the late 1970s. In the 1980s, Maria-Elena co-founded Blues, a social networking group for lesbians, the first of its kind in the borough. After moving to Brooklyn in 1993 with her partner, filmmaker Cyrille Phipps, Maria-Elena joined the POC Steering Committee, a group of organizations of LGBT people of color working to achieve better visibility within the community. Maria-Elena was also a founding mother of the Audre Lorde Project and an early member of the Unity Fellowship Church in Brooklyn. For 31 years, Maria-Elena has been part of the Lavender Light Gospel Choir, which she has led as chairperson for more than two decades. She also serves as vice president of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, an organization that represents more than 40,000 singers worldwide.  

    In 2007, Maria-Elena joined the New School community as operations manager in the Marketing and Communication department. While a full-time employee, Maria-Elena earned a Bachelor of Science with Honors at The New School. She was chosen by her peers to serve as co-chair of The New School’s Staff Senate. 

    Avi Green

    Avi Green

    Director of Strategy

    Avi Green

    For 25 years, Avi Green has worked to build organizations, support rising leaders, strengthen democracy, and advance justice. He joined the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School as the director of Strategy in early 2021.

    Before joining the institute’s team, Avi served the Scholars Strategy Network as executive director. He helped build a small program dedicated to increasing the use of research to improve public policy and strengthen democracy into a national organization of more than 1,500 member researchers and 36 chapters with a staff of 12 and a budget of more than $3 million. As an editor, press strategist, and podcaster, he helped professors communicate in venues ranging from the New York Times to The Daily Show. As an advisor and trainer, Avi helped researchers build collaborations with policymakers, advocates, and community leaders in dozens of states.

    As executive director of MassVOTE, a Massachusetts organization that works to reduce racial disparities in voting and civic engagement, Avi helped reduce the racial turnout gap. He also helped build new programs, including the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership. Avi helped support rising leaders, including Ayanna Pressley, now a member of Congress; Sonia Chang-Diaz, now a state senator; and Kim Janey, who recently became the first female and first Black mayor of Boston. In 2011’s redistricting process, Avi helped lead a nonpartisan coalition that resulted in a bipartisan vote for new district maps that doubled the number of majority-minority districts in Massachusetts. He also partnered with Common Cause Massachusetts to help lead the drive behind the Massachusetts Elections Modernization Act of 2014. In addition, he conducted the first election audit in Massachusetts history. For his work Avi was awarded the Kivie Kaplan Humanitarian Award by the Boston Branch of the NAACP.  He also served as the chair of Boston’s Elections Advisory Committee and rewrote the city’s poll worker training manual.

    Avi has served on the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission and the Massachusetts Local Elections District Review Commission. He volunteers on many nonprofit advisory and governance boards, including Next Generation Politics. Avi also observed elections in Northern Ireland and played a small role in the presidential recount in Florida in 2000.

    Darrick Hamilton

    Darrick Hamilton

    Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, and founding Director

    Darrick Hamilton

    Darrick Hamilton is a university professor, Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, and founding director of the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. Darrick examines social stratification and political economy in order to move policy and practice in fundamentally new directions that promote economic inclusion, social equity, and civic engagement. 

    Considered one of the nation’s foremost public intellectuals, Darrick has been profiled in the New York Times, Mother Jones, and the Wall Street Journal. In 2017, he was featured in Politico's50 Ideas Shaping American Politics and the People Behind Them issue. In 2020, Darrick was named a Freedom Scholar by the Marguerite Casey Foundation and the Group Health Foundation. 

    Darrick has been involved in crafting policy proposals that have garnered media attention and inspired legislative proposals at the federal, state, and local levels, including baby bonds, guaranteed income, and a federal job guarantee. In 2020, Darrick served as a member of the economic committee of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force. He has testified before several Senate and House committees, including the Joint Economic Committee and the Senate Banking Committee.  

    Darrick was born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and received a PhD in Economics from the University of North Carolina.

    Melanie Hart

    Melanie Hart

    JD, Senior Legal and Policy Advisor; Senior Vice President for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice and Chief Diversity Officer

    Melanie Hart

     

    As senior vice president for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice and chief diversity officer, Melanie Hart focuses on promoting the strategies, values, and practices of equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice across The New School. Melanie brings to this work a strong connection to the university and extensive experience in social justice-based institutional management and change. Melanie is an alum of the university’s MA program in Public and Urban Policy at the Milano School, where she is presently completing her PhD. She received her JD from the University of Virginia School of Law and practiced law as a corporate and securities attorney before returning to public service in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors and with city agencies. Most recently, she served as the deputy commissioner for Workforce Development at the New York City Department of Small Business Services. Before that, she was the executive vice president of Community Programs and Development at the New York City Housing Authority.

  • Additional Team Members

    Christopher Famighetti, Research Assistant

    Ana Patricia Muñoz, Senior Advisor; Co-Principal Investigator, The Color of Wealth in Chicago; Executive Director of Grupo FARO, Ecuador

    Remembering Michelle Materre (1954–2022)

    It is with great sorrow that we say goodbye to legendary racial justice and feminist filmmaker Michelle Materre, who died, at only age 67, this March 11, following a battle with cancer. She was our inaugural Director of Creative Strategies at The New School's Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy and a beloved longtime member of the New School community.

    Michelle was a highly regarded member of the faculty of media and film studies at The New School since 2001 and the founder or co-founder of important media inclusion initiatives for Black and other underrepresented people, including Creatively Speaking, a robust platform for film producers, and KJM3 Entertainment Group, one of the nation's first Black-focused film production companies.

    During her short but productive service at the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy, Michelle helped form our early and successful media strategy and academic programs linking film, art, and culture to larger issues of race and political economy.

    In her memory, a committee of Institute principals and staff is planning to introduce a Michelle Materre Senior Fellowship program and an allied Lecture Series.

    Michelle's own groundbreaking work has been acknowledged widely across the United States and the world in obituaries published in the New York Times, Philadelphia Tribune, and Amsterdam News, as well as the New School Free Press.

    Michelle was an active board member and supporter of important organizations of progressive women filmmakers, including New York Women in Film and Television and Women Make Movies.

    Above all, Michelle Materre was a remarkable and caring human being, a role model and champion to all of her colleagues and students, and a voice of reason and calm in an otherwise loud and troubled world. She is irreplaceable and will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege to know her.



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