Dr. Richard Lofton

Principal Investigator

Dr. Emily Clark

Researcher and Project Coordinator

Dr. Rebeca Gamez

Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Gwendolyn Y. Purifoye

Researcher

Larry C. Simmons Jr.

Director of Community Engagement

Dantavious Hicks

Researcher

Zyrashae Smith

Researcher

Meet the members of the Nobody Asked Me campaign.

Dr. Richard Lofton

Richard Lofton, Jr.,  PhD, is an assistant professor of education at the Center for Social Organization of Schools and Johns Hopkins University School of Education, is co-principal investigator for the national evaluation of the Student Success Mentor Initiative, which is funded by the Arnold Foundation. The initiative aims to reduce chronic absenteeism, develop caring relationships within schools and increase successful outcomes for students. His research explores the Black habitus of African American students and parents and the impact of concentrated poverty on homes, schools and communities.

His research examines the importance of uncovering systemic inequalities, illuminating agency and developing meaningful relationships with students and their parents for academic success.

In 2015, during a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, Dr. Lofton went into some of the most marginalized and under-resourced communities in Baltimore to begin building relationships and providing support, with the intention of lending his talents and expertise to the organizations and people on the ground working to create change, while developing a strategy of promise for youth and families of color.

As an extension of his ongoing work and after the 2019 Schools, Prison, and Concentrated Poverty Symposium at the JHU School of Education, organized by Dr. Lofton and his team, he is now setting out to reconnect with Baltimore’s youth and their parents through his “Nobody Asked Me” campaign. By centering the voices and experiences of young people and their families, through virtual interviews, this project seeks to learn more about the everyday interactions and experiences of Baltimore City’s young people and their families.

Dr. Lofton holds a B.A. in Communications from San Jose State University, a M.S. in Communications from University of Utah, a MPhil from the Teachers College at Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from the Teachers College at Columbia University.

Visit Dr. Lofton’s bio and project at the Everyone Graduates Center:  http://new.every1graduates.org/richard-lofton-jr/

Dr. Emily Clark

Dr. Emily Clark earned her PhD in Social Psychology from Miami University. Since joining the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education in 2014, her work has focused generally on evaluation of school improvement efforts. She has contributed to research on topics including the effects of the My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors Initiative on student attendance, the effects of restorative practices on reducing disciplinary disparities and building school community, and the effects of teacher professional development on student engagement and student-teacher relationships.

Dr. Rebeca Gamez

Dr. Rebeca Gamez is an Adjunct Instructor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, where she recently obtained her Ph.D. Her research interests include relational and comparative race and ethnicity, space and place, immigration, and educational inequality, with a focus on how minoritized youth (Latinxs, Afro-Latinxs, and African Americans), navigate their schooling, learning, and identities. As an interdisciplinary educational scholar, her research lies at the intersection of cultural sociology, anthropology, and critical race and ethnic studies. The increased immigration of Black and non-Black People of Color to the United States over the past half-century demands a rethinking of longstanding approaches to understanding racial integration and immigrant incorporation in educational settings. While existing frameworks often tackle these issues separately, her research explores the interplay of race, immigration, and educational inequality. Her dissertation, Learning Ethnoracial Difference, Division, and Unity: Schools and the Scripting of Boundaries in the ‘New Latinx South,’ is the recipient of the American Educational Research Association Minority Dissertation Fellowship. Prior to her doctoral work, Rebeca was a middle school literacy teacher in Trenton, New Jersey. She also has extensive experience in grassroots community organizing around financial justice, immigrant right, and educational equity work. 

Dantavious Hicks

Dantavious Hicks is a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University’s Counseling and Human Development Program. He has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Africana Studies minor) from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In Spring of 2020 Dantavious earned the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Student Excellence Award for his research, service and scholarship. Hicks’s research focuses on counselors’ ability to broach or discuss the contextual dimensions of race, ethnicity, and culture during the counseling process. His other research interests include multicultural orientation, social justice, anti-racism in counselor education, and identity development.

Dr. Gwendolyn Y. Purifoye

Dr. Gwendolyn Y. Purifoye an associate professor in sociology at North Park University. Her research centers on social interactions in urban public places. Much of her research focuses on the materiality of public transit systems and the disparities that are built into these systems and the impact on people’s everyday lives and social interactions. This research has led her to also interrogate how urban inequalities are reproduced and maintained through public transportation. Some of this work has been published in different issues of City & Community and Mobilities journals. Her most recent research explores how Black men and women are put in harm’s way – in the form of raced and gendered surveillance, social aggression, social shunning, and workplace hazards- in and around public transportation hubs and parks in Chicago & Washington, D.C.

Larry C. Simmons Jr.

A West Baltimore native, Larry C. Simmons Jr. is deeply committed to improving the health, wellness and economic vibrancy of Baltimore’s neighborhoods.  He has devoted his professional life to serving communities across the city. As a natural advocate, Larry is known for his ability to expose injustice, while holding himself and others accountable to create alternative solutions. 

As a connector, he easily navigates through often siloed city initiatives, bridging gaps and often bringing non-traditional stakeholders and leaders, together into partnership.  He is a valued and respected community leader, using his influence and reach to advance community engagement and advocacy for those who need it most.

With 20 plus years of experience in directing youth and community development programs, community organizing, coordinating city-wide services and program initiatives, Larry always has a constant and consistent presence in the city. Larry has dedicated his career to the young people of Baltimore and believes that the future of our community depends on the success of our children.

Zyrashae Smith

Zyrashae Smith is a PhD student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education studying college access for minoritized and low-income students. Stemming from her own experiences as a first-generation college student and college access advisor in Baltimore City Public Schools, she examines how institutional structures perpetuate educational inequities by serving as barriers to postsecondary access and enrollment for underrepresented, college-aspiring students. Along with her doctoral studies, Zyrashae serves as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC). She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Morgan State University and a Master of Science in Educational Studies with a graduate certificate in Urban Education from the Johns Hopkins University School of Education.