Staff Profiles


Barbara RansbyBarbara Ransby


Professor Barbara Ransby is an historian, writer and longtime community activist. She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her M.A. and Ph.D in History from the University of Michigan. Barbara Ransby is currently a Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies (director, 2008-2013), and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where she directs the campus-wide Social Justice Initiative. She previously served as Interim Vice Provost for Planning and Programs (2011 -2012). Her highly acclaimed biography, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision received eight national awards and recognitions. Professor Ransby is also winner of the prestigious Catherine Prelinger Prize for her contributions to women’s history. Her most recent book is Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson (Yale University Press, 2013).

Ransby has also published in numerous scholarly and popular publications and lectures widely. She serves on the editorial boards of The Black Commentator, (an online journal); the London-based journal, Race and Class; the Justice, Power and Politics Book Series at University of North Carolina Press; and the Scholar’s Advisory Committee of Ms. Magazine, as well as the National Advisory Board of “Imagining America”. In the summer of 2012 she became the second Editor in Chief of SOULS, a critical journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society published quarterly since 1999. In addition to her scholarship, Professor Ransby is a public historian who works with many community based and activist organizations.


Emily WilliamsEmily Williams

Associate Director

Emily holds a B.A. in Psychology from Beloit College and an M.A. in Women's and Gender Studies from DePaul University. She has a professional background in education and community-based program development. Her research interests include interpersonal experiences of racism and the interplay between systemic injustice and internalized oppression. In addition to her role with the Social Justice Initiative, Emily is the outreach coordinator for the Chicago Girl Talk Collective and is a contributing editor with the Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce.



CharlotteCharlotte Jackson

Business manager

Charlotte Jackson, Assistant to the Director. Charlotte received a B.A. in History from University of Illinois Chicago. Having assisted with the West Side Women in Action project several years ago, Charlotte is interested in examining the legacy of Chicago’s west side Lawndale Community in the aftermath of the King Riots of 1968. After a long leave, Charlotte will return to working on a M.S. in Library and Information Science at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, concentrating in Community Informatics.  



Photo of Marco RocMarco Roc

Graduate Assistant

Marco Durce Roc received his B.A. in Sociology and African American Studies from Temple University and his M.A. in Sociology from University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is currently a doctoral student. His dissertation project critically explores how community-police partnerships address community violence. He is also currently part of a research team that focuses on the experiences of youth who trade sex. His research interests also include anti-Black racism, social control, and state violence. In addition to his role with the Social Justice Initiative, he has also been active on campus. He was member of the Student Advisory Group on the DSTP Committee, has been an assistant for IRRPP’s writing accountability group program, and a Black History Month Planning Committee member. He is currently president of Mojo’s Pen, which is a student organization that hosts open mics and gives artistic expression to the African Diasporic experience. He is also a member of the Illinois Campaign to End the New Jim Crow.


Ann Meredith WoottonAnn Meredith Wootton

Graduate Assistant

Ann-Meredith holds an A.M. in Social Work in Community Schools from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation from the School for International Training.  She has a background in youth development, transformative justice, and arts-based trauma healing.  Her research interests include liberatory alternative education programs in New Orleans, LA, fighting back against the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.  In addition to her role with the Social Justice Initiative, Ann-Meredith is currently a facilitator with LuchArte and is a PhD candidate in Policy Studies in Urban Education at UIC.  


Martin MaciasMartin Macias

Graduate Assistant

Martin Xavi Macias is a 4th year Urban and Public Affairs student where he chairs the Community Development Committee for Students in Urban/Public Affairs (SUPA) at UIC. Martin is also part of the national leadership for United Students Against Sweatshops, a national student movement-building student and worker power on campuses and in cities across the globe. He has a background in multi-issue community organizing, facilitation, media justice projects, community journalism initiatives and youth media work. 


DaisyDaisy Zamora

Graduate Assistant

Daisy Yessenia Zamora Centeno received her B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Latin American & Latino Studies. She was born and raised in Chicago. She is now a grad school student in the College of Education, Youth Development program at UIC. She was a founding board member of the Chicago Freedom School and Women and Girls Collective Action Network/Females United for Action ( Daisy co-taught a course on Black and Latino Unity for Freedom Fellows at the CFS. As part of the WGCAN she developed a media justice tool kit for non for profits. WGCAN testified at the FCC and launched a campaign to bring down La Ley's 107.9 pegaditas sexist and not culturally sensitive billboards (

She is most currently working on making films with her partner about LGBTQ issues. Daisy is interested in Queer Latina Health.


Aja D. Reynolds

Graduate Assistant

Aja D. Reynolds, is an educator/community organizer in various spaces throughout Chicago, IL. She has experience collaborating with youth and adults in CPS, as well as, well-known organizations that serve diverse groups of youth. Before coming to Chicago, she served as College Adviser and Co-teacher in an urban public school in Pennsylvania. She earned her masters’ of education degree at the University of Illinois- Chicago in Youth Development, which she spent much of her studies on researching how to effectively engage Black youth in activism and advocating for better educational institutions. She has conducted qualitative research at UIC on a study about African- American fathers involvement with their children. Most importantly, she is committed to resolving issues of social justice and youth voice.