Persistent Poverty in the South Project

Project Partners

  • Dr. Braden Leap
  • Dr. Ashley Vancil-Leap

ReginaBakerDr. Regina S. Baker

University of Pennsylvania
Phone: 215-898-7990
Email: regbaker@sas.upenn.edu

Dr. Regina S. Baker is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department and a Research Associate at the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University ('15) and also has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Georgia ('09). Her research interests include poverty and inequality, social stratification, children and the family, work/employment, and policy. Her current research focuses on poverty and place in the context of the American South. Specifically, she examines the higher poverty in the South relative to the Non-South, poverty variation between the Deep South and the Peripheral South, and the relationship between historical Southern race regimes and contemporary poverty patterns. Her other current research examines socio-economic mobility and access to resources among low-income mothers of children with disabilities. Her research has been supported by the American Sociological Association, the Ford Foundation, and the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. Regina is originally from Savannah, GA.
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Dr. Tracy BurkettDr. Tracy Burkett

College of Charleston
Phone: 843.953.7143
Email: burkettt@cofc.edu

Tracy Burkett is a Professor of Sociology and Interim Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the College of Charleston. During her tenure as director of the undergraduate Environmental Studies program, she founded the college's student farm at Dixie Plantation to provide an educational platform where students and the broader community could learn about food inequities, the environmental impacts of agribusiness, and the local food movement. Her recent research has focused on community networks that are centered on sustainable farming and food equality.

Dr. Barbara Combs

Dr. Barbara Combs

Clark Atlanta University
Phone: 662.915.7421
Email: bcombs@cau.edu

Barbara Harris Combs is an associate professor sociology and criminal justice at Clark Atlanta University. She received her PhD in sociology with a concentration in race and urban studies from Georgia State University in 2010. Additionally, she holds a BA and masters in English from Xavier University (in Cincinnati) and a law degree from the Ohio State University College of Law. Her research centers on the significance of place (i.e., what role do places certain play in the development and maintenance of both social practices and historical change).

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Dr. Kirsten DellingerDr. Kirsten Dellinger

University of Mississippi
Phone: 662.915.7323
Email: kdelling@olemiss.edu

Kirsten Dellinger is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Mississippi. She received her B.A. degree in psychology at Rollins College and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research and teaching interests include gender, sexuality, workplace culture, and qualitative methods. She has published articles on workplace culture and sexual harassment, workplace dress norms, the construction of masculinities in organizations, and the dynamics of gay friendly workplaces in journals such as American Review of Sociology, Sociological Spectrum, Gender & Society, Gender Issues, Sexuality Research and Social Policy and Social Problems. In 2010 she co-edited a book with Christine L. Williams entitled Gender and Sexuality in the Workplace (Emerald). She has also published work on the methodological implications of diaster research in the context of Hurricaine Katrina.

Kirsten has been actively involved in campus and national organizations that promote gender equality including the University of Mississippi's Sarah Isom Center for Women/Gender Studies and the Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Women, Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS), and the American Sociological Association's Committee on the Status of Women. She recently served on the executive committee for the Southern Sociological Society and is a currently a member of the Publications Committee. She has served as an editorial board member for the academic journals Gender & Society and Social Problems.

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Dr. Amy Donley

Dr. Amy Donley

University of Central Florida
Phone: 407.823.1357
Email: Amy.Donley@ucf.edu

Amy M. Donley, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Associate Director of the Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on social inequalities, specifically food insecurity, poverty, and homelessness. She has written extensively on homelessness in the South specifically how homeless men navigate gentrifying environments and contend with the criminal justice system. Her current research examines the health impacts of food insecurity on individuals' physical and mental health.

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JohnGreen

Dr. John J. Green

University of Mississippi
Phone: 662.915.7295
Email: greenjj1@gmail.com

John J. Green, PhD, is Director of the Center for Population Studies and Professor of Sociology at The University of Mississippi. He also serves as Affiliated Faculty with the School of Law. Before joining the UM faculty in 2011, he served in several capacities at Delta State University (2002-2011).

John's research and teaching interests include socioeconomic inequality and poverty, health systems, agrifood systems, demography, and community development. He has authored/co-authored published articles for peer-reviewed journals (e.g. Agroforestry Systems, Community Development, Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Journal of Rural Social Sciences, Rural Sociology, Sociological Spectrum), along with book chapters in several edited volumes (e.g. Introduction to Community Development, Sociology of Katrina, The Politics of Globalization, Cultivating Food Justice, Rural America in a Globalizing World).

John's professional achievements have been recognized through the Rural Sociological Society's Award for Excellence in Extension and Public Outreach, and the Community Development Society's Ted K. Bradshaw Outstanding Research Award. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Community Development, a peer-reviewed journal of the Community Development Society (2012-15). John's BA degree in Political Science and MS degree in Sociology are from Mississippi State University, and he obtained the PhD in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His dissertation focused on minority and limited resource farmers' cooperative organizations, analyzing these groups from a social movement perspective.

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Dr. Lyndi Hewitt

Dr. Lyndi Hewitt

University of North Carolina Asheville
Phone: 828.250.3868
Email: lhewitt@unca.edu

Lyndi Hewitt is assistant professor of sociology at UNC Asheville, where she teaches courses on research methodology and methods, social movements, human rights, globalization and development, health and illness, and gender. Her primary research interests are situated at the nexus of social movements, global inequalities, and intersectional approaches to feminist theory and practice.

Lyndi's previous scholarship examined framing and mobilization in U.S. state women's suffrage movements, strategic adaptation among U.S. state women's jury movements, and the utility of the World Social Forum as a space for transnational women's activism. Her research extended existing movement scholarship by integrating structural and cultural factors to explain intramovement frame variation among transnational feminist networks, and documenting how collective action frames are utilized to mitigate intramovement differences.

Her scholarship has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as American Journal of Sociology and Mobilization, Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, and Societies Without Borders. Lyndi's collaborative research with the Global Fund for Women has been cited in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Her current projects include an investigation of the influence of funding on the strategies of women's and feminist SMOs, as well as research on critical pedagogy and the liberal arts. Lyndi was also recently selected to serve as a delegate of Sociologists for Women in Society to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

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Dr. Leslie Hossfeld

Dr. Leslie Hossfeld

Mississippi State University
Phone: 662.325.2495
Email: lhossfeld@soc.msstate.edu

Dr. Leslie Hossfeld is Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology at Mississippi State University. She is trained in Rural Sociology from North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dr. Hossfeld has extensive experience examining rural poverty and economic restructuring and has made two presentation to the United States Congress and one to the North Carolina Legislature on job loss and rural economic decline. Dr. Hossfeld has served as Co-Chair of the American Sociological Association Task Force on Public Sociology, Vice President of Sociologists for Women in Society, President of the Southern Sociological Society, and was appointed to the USDA Rural Growth and Opportunity Strikeforce. Dr. Hossfeld created and is director of The Mississippi Food Insecurity Project (MFIP) (www.mfip.msstate.edu), which examines food access and food insecurity in Mississippi.

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Dr. Walda Katz-Fishman

Dr. Walda Katz-Fishman

Howard University
Phone: 301.367.1079
Email: wkatzfishman@igc.org

Dr. Walda Katz-Fishman is a scholar activist, popular educator and author, professor of sociology at Howard University, and was a founding member and former board chair of Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty & Genocide. She serves on the National Planning Committee of the U.S. Social Forum, the Advisory Board of Wayside Center for Popular Education, and is active in social justice movement organizations, including the League of Revolutionaries for a New America.

She was co-recipient of the American Sociological Association 2004 Award for the Public Understanding of Sociology. She is a contributing author and editor of popular education toolkits and books including The United States Social Forum: Perspectives of a Movement, The Roots of Terror, Today's Globalization, and The Critical Classroom; and is author/co-author of numerous chapters and articles on the global capitalist crisis, race, class and gender, and transformative social movements toward socialism.

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Dr. E. Brooke Kelly

Dr. E. Brooke Kelly

University of North Carolina Pembroke
Phone: 910.775.4038
Email: brooke.kelly@uncp.edu

Dr. E. Brooke Kelly is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she has worked with students and community partners on numerous community-based research projects addressing poverty and food insecurity. Since her training at Michigan State University, her research has maintained a focus on social inequalities, work, and family, with a more recent focus on food insecurity. Dr. Kelly has served as chair of the Poverty, Class, and Inequalities Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and as chair of the Southern Sociological Society's committee on Sociological Practice. Dr. Kelly has also served as a fellow and research affiliate of the Rural Policy Research Institute's Rural Poverty Center, which supported her research on rural low-income mothers' efforts to attain and maintain paid employment.

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Dr. Shelley Koch

Dr. Shelley Koch

Emory & Henry College
Phone: 276.944.6195
Email: skoch@ehc.edu

Dr. Shelley L. Koch is assistant professor of sociology at Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA. Her teaching and research interests include gender, food studies, inequality and the environment. Her book, A Theory of Grocery Shopping: Food, Choice, and Conflict begins in the work of grocery shopping to interrogate the food system. She has also published in The American Journal of Economics and Sociology and The Journal of Sustainability Education. Her current research focuses on increasing food access and examining the gendered dimensions of the food system.

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Dr. Bob KonradDr. Thomas R. Konrad

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Phone: 919.244.8659
Email: bob_konrad@unc.edu

Dr. Thomas R (Bob) Konrad is a medical sociologist and professor emeritus in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings Global School of Public Health at UNC-CH. As a fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and a Senior Scientist at the NC Institute on Aging, Dr. Konrad conducted health services research studies involving workforce, organization, and quality of care in primary care, mental health, and long term care settings.

In the last decade he has focused most closely on frontline health care workers employed in settings focused on low income populations, directing the RWJFs national evaluation of Jobs to Careers program. Dr. Konrad is currently the principal in Health Workforce Analytics, a consulting practice focused on data based strategies for health workforce and health care team development. He is particularly interested in working with health care organizations and educational institutions to develop career paths for low income persons to enable them to be employed in their communities in the health and social care sectors.

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Rev. Mac Legerton

Rev. Mac Legerton

Center for Community Action (CCA)

Robeson County, NC
Phone: 910.739.7851
Email: mac_cca@bellsouth.net

Rev. Mac Legerton is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Center For Community Action (CCA) in Robeson County, N.C. where he has worked for 35 years. CCA is a multicultural, community-based, nonprofit organization in Lumberton, N.C that specializes in grassroots empowerment and multi-sector collaboration as the foundations of community development and systems change. He has extensive experience in designing and coordinating poverty reduction programs that combine work on the individual, family, community, institutional, systems, and multi-cultural levels. CCA's Women's Economic Equity (WEE) Project has been recognized as one of three national, model programs that assist low-income women in accessing careers that provide sustainable livelihoods in an average of 4-6 years.

As a result of his three decades of successful rural practice, Rev. Legerton received the 2007 Distinguished Service to Rural Life Award of the Rural Sociological Society and the 2004 Defender of Justice Award for Community Empowerment of the NC Justice Center. Rev. Legerton is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He is a graduate of St. Andrews University and Union Theological Seminary in New York.

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Sancha Medwinter

Sancha Medwinter

University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Phone: 919.660.5613
Email: sdoxilly@gmail.com

Sancha Medwinter recently successfully defended her dissertation in the Department of Sociology at Duke University. She has accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She won a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for her dissertation field research, titled Race, Class, Poverty, and Social Capital Inequality in Urban Disasters. This research has resulted in a sole-authored article manuscript which received an invitation to "Revise and Resubmit" from the American Journal of Sociology. She has also revised and resubmitted a first-authored article manuscript to Gender and Society (co-authored with Dr. Linda Burton). She was recently designated Alternate status for a Fulbright grant for her proposed Caribbean-based research on the re-integration inequalities among forced return migrants from the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

As a scholar of Social Inequality with an interest in domestic and global social welfare issues, her research and teaching interests include Race, Class, Gender and Citizenship Inequality; Urban Poverty and Social Welfare Policy; Migration Policy, Unauthorized and Deported Migrants; and Environmental Racism & Environmental Justice.


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Dr. Jon Shefner

Dr. Jon Shefner

University of Tennessee Knoxville
Phone: 865.974.7022
Email: jshefner@utk.edu

Dr. Jon Shefner is the Head of Sociology at the University of Tennessee, where he also holds the Betty Lynn Hendrickson Professorship in Social Sciences. Much of Professor Shefner's work focused on Latin American political change, relying mostly on ethnographic study of poor neighborhood mobilization and social movement organizing in Nicaragua, Mexico, and Ecuador. He continues that work with a long-term project on austerity protest in Latin America. His current work focuses on providing context for the wave of austerity that hit the Global North after the financial crisis of 2008. Austerity was applied across the Global South as early as 1973, and failed there long before its disastrous application elsewhere. His work as part of the Persistent Poverty in the South project is directed at growing green jobs in East Tennessee. In that project, Shefner works with a coalition of academic researchers, government officials, nonprofit groups, economic developers, industry leaders and others.

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Tiffany Taylor, Kent State University

Dr. Tiffany Taylor

Kent State University
Phone: 330.672.9474
Email: ttaylo36@kent.edu

Dr. Tiffany Taylor is an associate professor of sociology at Kent State University. In her research, she examines a number of topics related to work and inequality. Her work includes studies of workplace inequality and women's access to management, a comparative case study of the ability of organizations to recruit and retain volunteers, an intersectional analysis of the differences in feeling and expressing of anger, and gender differences in work and family balance.

Additionally over the last eight years, she has published a number of articles and book chapters focused on policy implementation of welfare-to-work programs using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Originating out of her research on welfare programs, she has also been examining how ideologies concerning what constitutes "good" and "bad" mothers are raced, classed, and gendered. She received her PhD in sociology with a certificate in Women's and Gender Studies from North Carolina State University in 2008.

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Dr. Phillip Thomas

Dr. Philip Thomas

Paine College
Phone:706-821-8274 or 706-951-0741
Email: pthomas@paine.edu

Dr. Philip Thomas is a Professor of Sociology at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. He received his PhD in sociology from Emory University (1983) and his M.A. in sociology from Atlanta University (1973). He received both the Diploma in Social Service (D.S.S.) with concentration in Labor Relations (1968) and the B.S. in Biology (1967) from the University of Kerala, India. During his tenure at Paine College, he has served as Coordinator of Sociology Department; Chair of Social Sciences Division; Official Representative (OR) of the College to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR); and as Paine College representative to Alpha Kappa Delta, the national sociology honor society. He has served as the Chair of the Committee on Race and Ethnic Minorities (CREM) of the Southern Sociological Society. Currently he is the President of the Georgia Sociological Association. He has served as a consultant to many organizations and was also an active member of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Race Relations in Augusta, Georgia.

Professor Thomas has presented a number of papers on various topics such as poverty, health and aging at regional and national sociology meetings, and also has presented at international conferences in Mexico, Brazil, Peru and France. He teaches Social Problems, Social Statistics and Senior Research classes.

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BriannaTurgeonBrianna Turgeon

Kent State University
Email: bturgeon@kent.edu

Brianna Turgeon received her MA from Kent State University in 2014 and is currently working on her doctorate there. Her research interests focus on welfare, mothering, and labor market inequality. She is currently working on a mixed-methods dissertation, which involves qualitative analyses of how welfare-to-work program managers in Ohio account for their decisions and hold clients accountable to various ideologies and a quantitative analysis of the manager- and county-level contexts in which these processes occur. She is also working in collaboration with Tiffany Taylor and Kasey Lansberry to compile data that can help inform work in the Persistent Poverty project. These data will help contextualize local inequalities by connecting workplace inequality, poverty, and welfare-to-work participation.

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Dr. Julia Waity

Dr. Jill Waity

University of North Carolina Wilmington
Phone: 910.962.3660
Email: waityj@uncw.edu

Dr. Jill Waity is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Dr. Waity's research focuses on food insecurity and spatial inequality. She has presented her work at the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the Southern Sociological Society and the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Conference.

Dr. Waity has received funding for her research from Indiana University, where she earned her Ph.D., the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the Southern Rural Development Center

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James Maples

Dr. James N. Maples

Eastern Kentucky University
Phone: 859-622-1389
Email: james.maples@eku.edu

James N. Maples is an assistant professor of sociology at Eastern Kentucky University. He received his PhD from The University of Tennessee in 2012. His most recent work examines rock climbing as a viable source of economic activity in Eastern Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. He is the editor of The Southern Sociologist.    

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Pawlowski

Dr. Tammy Pawloski

Director, FMU Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty
Francis Marion University
Phone: 843-661-1475
Email: tpawloski@fmarion.edu 
Website: http://www.fmucenterofexcellence.org 
 
The mission of the Francis Marion University Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty is to solve problems inherent in schools that serve under-resourced students by developing specialized expertise in those who work there. 

Teachers of children of and in poverty historically have received little, if any, special training to prepare them for their work with under-resourced children.  They have completed the same teacher preparation programs as those who teach in schools that enroll primarily more financially-affluent students.   Conversely, the basic belief underlying this project is that teachers who possess the knowledge and skills needed to teach children of poverty, and teach them well, have the greatest potential for breaking this generations-old cycle.  Grounded in neuroscience and the science of learning, Center practices are focused equally on the importance of building strong relationships and promoting socio-emotional development, coupled with brain-based instructional strategies that, together, yield highest returns in terms of revealing the often-hidden potential of ALL students.

The Center defines the term “Children of Poverty” as young persons who currently live (or have lived a significant period of their childhood) in an environment in which one or more of the resources identified as important for one to develop potential and function effectively in society is unavailable.

A research-based model focused on the specific needs of under-resourced children and proven strategies that lead to success in high poverty schools provides the framework for a menu of opportunities for professional learning for pre-service teacher candidates, graduate education students, and in-service teachers and school leaders.  Through engagement in intensive study, field work, and directed action research, participants are encouraged to operate from a growth mindset, assuming responsibility for raising and leveling the bar for children of and in poverty. 

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Dr. Stephen Sillssills

Director, UNCG Center for Housing and Community Studies (CHCS)

University of North Carolina Greensboro

Phone: 336-334-5295

Email: chcs@uncg.edu

Dr. Stephen J. Sills is an Associate Professor of Sociology and the Director of the UNCG Center for Housing and Community Studies (CHCS). his academic research has focused largely on housing, health, and labor especially pertaining to minorities, immigrants, and low-income communities. In particular he examines how substandard housing, lack of affordable housing, neighborhood conditions, and social policies impact health, well-being, and life-course outcomes for individuals.  Dr. Sills works with a number of community partners often using an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach. He has served as a methodological consultant, evaluator, co-PI, and PI on over 70 grant funded projects including: diabetes prevention in the Arab-American community; development of a market segmentation model for small to medium sized municipalities; and identifying the health impact of housing vacancy on neighborhoods. He is currently working on an RWJF/Reinvestment Fund planning project on the link between pediatric asthma and substandard housing. 

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