Faculty Shafiqa Ahmadi

Shafiqa Ahmadi

Shafiqa Ahmadi, JD, is a Professor of Clinical Education at the University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education (Rossier) and the founding Co-Director for the Center for Education, Identity and Social Justice. She is an expert on diversity and legal protection of underrepresented students, including Muslims, bias and hate crimes, and sexual assault survivors. Prior to joining the Rossier faculty, she taught at the Gould School of Law and was a Visiting Researcher at the Center for Urban Education, at Rossier. She has also served as a Research Associate at the Research Institute at Rossier where she worked on a grant awarded by the Department of Education (DOE) designed to prevent and reduce on-campus sexual assault. Prior to joining USC, she worked for the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, where she investigated alleged violations of civil rights and discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, and access to state and state funded services. Professor Ahmadi has produced several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Her most recent publication is an edited book titled, “Islamophobia in Higher Education Combatting Discrimination and Creating Understanding,” published through Stylus publications (publication date 2020).

Professor Ahmadi received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, at Bloomington, Indiana. While in law school and graduate school she focused on Employment Discrimination Law, Corporate International Law, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, and Islamic law (Shari ‘a).


Ange-Marie Alfaro

Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro is Professor and Chair of Gender Studies at the University of Southern California and a globally recognized scholar of intersectionality theory, the world's leading analytical framework for analyzing and resolving inequality. She has written numerous articles and three books on the  intersections of categories of difference like race, gender, class, sexuality and citizenship and their impact on policy: the award-winning The Politics of Disgust and the Public Identity of the “Welfare Queen,” (2004), Solidarity Politics for Millennials: A Guide to Ending the Oppression Olympics (2011) and Intersectionality: An Intellectual History (2016). The applied forms of her research focus on diverse donors in philanthropy, partnerships between funders and nonprofits for social change, and cross-sector training of leaders to implement intersectionality.

In 1993, under the mentorship of NBA Hall of Famer Tom “Satch” Sanders, Hancock Alfaro conducted the original survey research and designed the business model for the Women’s National Basketball Association. The only women’s professional basketball league to succeed in the United States, the WNBA began its 21st season in May 2017. Her recent collaborative work includes service on the Board of the Liberty Hill Foundation and work with both Hispanas Organized for Political Empowerment (HOPE) and the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute (LAAAWPPI). She sits on four boards: the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), Community Partners, LAAWPPI, and Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Political Empowerment (SCOPE-LA).

Her current work includes new research projects on asylum requests for survivors of domestic violence, empirical applications of intersectionality, and the free speech-hate speech debate.


Shaun Harper

Shaun R. Harper is a Provost Professor in the Rossier School of Education and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. He also is the Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership, founder and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center, president of the American Educational Research Association, and a past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Dr. Harper studies racial, gender, and LGBT issues in corporations, law firms, Hollywood production companies, K-12 schools, and universities. He also is an expert on college sports. He has consulted with more than 200 businesses and institutions on strategies related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Additionally, Professor Harper has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and other academic publications. Johns Hopkins University Press is publishing his 13th book, Race Matters in College. His research has been cited in more than 13,000 published studies. More than $15 million in grants from Atlantic Philanthropies and the Lumina, Bill & Melinda Gates, Ford, Kresge, W.K. Kellogg, and Open Society Foundations have funded his research and partnerships.

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and several thousand other news outlets have quoted Dr. Harper and featured his research. He has interviewed on CNN, ESPN, and NPR. He has testified to the U.S. House of Representatives, and presented his research at various White House and U.S. Department of Education convenings. He was appointed to President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper advisory council in 2015, and recognized in Education Week as one of the 10 most influential professors in the field of education in 2017.

LaVonna Lewis

LaVonna Blair Lewis

LaVonna Blair Lewis, Ph.D., MPH, is a Teaching Professor of Public Policy and the Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.   Dr. Lewis joined the USC faculty in 1996 from Rice University where she received her PhD in Political Science.  Dr. Lewis’ areas of research and professional interests consistently focus on cultural competency and health equity, both targeting the health status and health care needs of underrepresented groups.  As such, she feels she has a two-fold mission in life—to make the invisible, visible (if people are blind or unaware of problems for a particular group or in a particular community, you have to find ways to get these problems on their radar screen) and to make people uncomfortable (she believes that if people are always comfortable, they aren’t being challenged or they have quit learning and growing). Her work has appeared in the American Journal of Public Health, Family and Community Health, the American Journal of Health Behavior, Social Science and Medicine, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and other health management and policy journals.  All of the work to date has employed a community based participatory research framework that partners with the relevant stakeholder groups in developing the research questions.

Renée Smith-Maddox

Renée Smith-Maddox

In 2012, Dr. Renée Smith-Maddox joined the University of Southern California (USC) Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. She is a Clinical Teaching Professor and the school’s Diversity Liaison.

As a social work educator, she teaches policy advocacy, capstone, immersion, and social innovation courses, develops curriculum, and designs experiential learning opportunities for the campus-based and online Master of Social Work and Doctor of Social Work programs. In the classroom, she co-creates a learning community that teaches students how to assess and analyze their positionality, actions, and decisions. This learning environment also serves as a social innovation lab for students to create prototypes and test their ideas for solving our most complex social issues.

At the university level, she has served as the chair of the Provost’s Diversity & Inclusion Council and co-chair of the Academic Senate’s Campus Climate Committee.  In this capacity, she worked with faculty, students, and administrators in designing and implementing a campus-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic planning process. Throughout this process she has been a catalyst for reimagining organizational structures and practices that advanced diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She also served as co-chair of USC’s Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Week, a professional development series that has grown into 100 DEI related workshops and training sessions for the USC community.

Her professional and research interests include diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education, homelessness, human trafficking, social change and innovation, effective online teaching, and empowerment initiatives for women and girls.

She holds a Ph.D. in Social Policy and Master’s degree in the Management of Human Services from Brandeis University, Heller School of Social Policy and Management.  She earned her BA degree in psychology at Lincoln University (in PA).