My research centers the voices of marginalized and disenfranchised communities as the co-creators of equitable solutions and collective resilience. By incorporating both qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as innovative data dissemination strategies, this body of work sits at the intersection of media, policy, research, and practice.
This portfolio summarizes the methods and findings from a sample of my research projects.
Storytelling and Perspective-Taking with Police and Urban Youth
For my doctoral dissertation, I designed a longitudinal, randomized trial with aims to improve empathy and trust between police and urban youth in Alameda County, CA. The community-based participatory research study, called “The Trade Project,” tested a novel 90-minute workshop grounded in restorative practices, storytelling, and perspective-taking against a standard police-youth dialogue session. Highlights of research findings:
- Statistically significantly steeper decreases in social prejudice in storytelling group
- Storytelling group increased institutional trust
- Storytelling group improved policing satisfaction
- Storytelling group had more equitable ad trusting conversations
Key skills & analysis methods included coalition building, mixed effects regression models, descriptive statistics, thematic analysis, and Foucauldian discourse analysis.
Digital Storytelling with Boston Fathers
In 2016, as a Fellow for the Emerging Leaders Program at the Vital Village Network for Community Engagement, I led a two-day digital storytelling workshop with Boston fathers with past substance use and incarceration experiences. As a Digital Storytelling Facilitator trained by the StoryCenter, I supported the fathers as they conceived, wrote, and revised their personal stories. I also helped each of them create 3-5-minute videos. Later, I produced a summary compilation video. Key skills used for this project included group facilitation, survey research design, video production, and staff supervision.
Storytelling as a Tool to Dismantle Colorism and Skin-Lightening Practices
The $10 billion skin-lightening product industry is a source of controversy within communities who face colorism – prejudicial treatment of same-race people based on skin color and other physical traits. In 2017, the Harvard Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders hired me as a research consultant to help develop a teaching case about the role narrative might play in responding to the public health risks associated with skin-lightening, which include cancer, depression, and skin discoloration. After conducting a literature review on innovative storytelling methods and interviewing experts, I helped publish “Coloring the Narrative,” which was designed as a free teaching resource that can help instructors facilitate dialogues about the issue with their students. Key skills used for this project included cross-sector collaboration, literature review, data translation, curriculum design, writing, and editing. I led workshops on the case in Boston, MA and Kingston, Jamaica.
Confronting HIV stigma through Social Media Campaigns
A 2014 Kaiser Foundation Family survey found 3 in 4 young Black MSM hadn’t spoken about HIV or other STIs that year, despite their 1 in 2 risk of becoming infected. The Foundation centered narrative in its public health response. As a research consultant for the Foundation, I authored a summary report on the #SpeakOutHIV social media campaign, which trained and empowered young gay and bisexual men to build HIV awareness social media platforms. I led in-depth interviews with 57 #SpeakOUTHIV campaign ambassadors, conducted a thematic analysis of their interview data, and wrote a summary report that was circulated to Foundation staff, funders, and institutional allies. Key skills used for this project included descriptive statistics, in-depth interviews, qualitative analysis, data management, data translation, literature review research, writing, and editing.
Minority Stress among MSM in South Africa
For my master’s thesis research at Emory University, I conducted a qualitative research study with 22 men who have sex with men (MSM) in rural and urban areas of South Africa, an understudied population that face great discrimination and stigma, despite federal legal protections. I found that most participants experienced minority stress, which affected their sexual relationships and coping strategies. Findings were published in the Journal of Homosexuality in 2014. Key skills used for this project included participant recruitment, research study design, thematic analysis, in-depth interviews, research writing, and community coalition building.