Institute for Urban and Minority Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Columbia University

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RSVP for a Special Guest Lecture with Dr. Shirley Steinberg

IUME is excited to announce that Dr. Shirley Steinberg, Research Professor of Youth Studies at the University of Calgary and Consulting Professor and Director of the Institute of Youth and Community Research at the University of the West of Scotland, will be speaking at Teachers College! Dr. Steinberg has published countless books on youth culture, and her upcoming talk is entitled "Islamic Youth as Political Pawns: Critically Deconstructing Fear and Media.

To RSVP for Dr. Steinberg's lecture, please click here.

IUME Director Ernest Morrell's NCTE Presidential Address Published

IUME Director Ernest Morrell's 2014 NCTE Presidential Address has just been published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Morrell served as NCTE President from 2013-2014, and at this year's annual conference in Boston, he gave the annual President Address as a capstone to the conference. Congratulations once again for completing his Presidential year at NCTE and leading--and inspiring--tens of thousands of English teachers nationwide!

Click here
to read the recently published speech on the NCTE website and click here to watch a recorded video of his speech on the IUME YouTube channel.

Learn More About IUME's Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI) Project

 IUME was excited to announce the launch of the Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI) Project in spring, 2012. Since then, we have partnered with dynamic elementary and middle school teachers from Harlem and Brooklyn in an effort to collaboratively work toward finding increased pedagogical methods for students. The LTI Project is led by Dr. Jodene Morrell of Teachers College. We have grown in number and ideas each year, received competitive research grants, presented at Teachers College and state, national, and international conferences, and written for publication.

Check out our LTI page for more information and check out the biographies of the Teacher Fellows here!

Welcome to our newest IUME Postdoctoral and Faculty Fellows!

We are excited to welcome our newest group of accomplished and innovative IUME Fellows who will be working with us this year. Our IUME Faculty Fellows include Dr. Brian Lozenski, from Metropolitan State University, and Deron Wallace, from the University of Cambridge. In addition, Teachers College's Minority Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Monique Lane, from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), will also be be a part of IUME research this year.

Learn more about them on our Faculty Fellow page and Postdoctoral Fellow page.

Learn More about the Youth Historians in Harlem Program!

The Youth Historians in Harlem (YHH) project, sponsored by IUME, is a new critical approach to teaching history in urban schools in Harlem, focusing on empowering minority youth through their own cultural experiences, involving students in the practice of "doing" history through guided projects, programs, and participatory action research. YHH seeks to increase students' interest in history through innovative and engaging pedagogical approaches that help them become historians, researching the rich historical past of ‘their’ Harlem community. While YHIH seeks to advance the historical knowledge of education in Harlem, above all, our project seeks to make history relevant to urban students and help increase academic achievement. To learn more about this exciting project, visit the official website here.

Subscribe to our IUME YouTube Channel!

Have you visited the official IUME YouTube page recently? Want to learn more about IUME? Make sure to stop by our YouTube page here and watch a few of our videos and subscribe!. Not only do we keep a collection of IUME events and Colloquia, but our video team prepares short clips on critical research. The most recent Beyond Bullying presentation is now available, as is our December Colloquium and other great clips that should be shared!

In our increasingly digital and mutlimodal era, we believe strongly in collaborative educational content, so make sure to check back often and subscribe to your channel.


About Us > People & Leadership

People & Leadership

  • Director

    Ernest Morrell

    Ernest morrellERNEST MORRELL is the Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) and Professor of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has also been elected as the incoming Vice-President of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and will assume the presidency of this 50,000-member organization in 2013. For nearly twenty years Dr. Morrell’s research has focused on drawing upon youth’s interest in popular culture and participatory media technologies to increase motivation and to promote academic literacy development, civic engagement and college access. He is also recognized nationally for developing powerful models of teaching and learning in classrooms and non-school environments and for engaging youth and communities in the project of educational reform. Professor Morrell has written more than 50 articles that have appeared in journals such as Teachers College Record, the Journal of Teacher Education, Reading Research Quarterly, English Education, the English Journal, the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Action in Teacher Education, and the Annual Yearbook of the National Reading Conference. He has written numerous book chapters and four books including The Art of Critical Pedagogy: Possibilities for Moving from Theory to Practice in Urban Schools (with Jeff Duncan-Andrade) and Critical Literacy and Urban Youth: Pedagogies of Access, Dissent, and Liberation. He is a sought after speaker by universities, school districts, professional organizations, and private foundations. Morrell has also received several commendations for his teaching including being recognized five times by Who’s Who Among America’s High School teachers and receiving UCLA’s Department of Education’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Morrell received his Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of California, Berkeley and was the recipient of the Outstanding Dissertation award.

  • Assistant Director

    Veronica Holly

    Veronica hollyVERONICA HOLLY, is the Assistant Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME), Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Syracuse University and her M.A. in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently a doctoral student in the Organization and Leadership Department at Teachers College. Her research interests include school/community partnerships, positive youth development, parent involvement, and school governance.   Ms. Holly's professional background bridges New York City's politics, community and education. She was an Assistant to Governor Mario Cuomo's Advisory Committee for Black Affairs; and served as a Program Analyst for the New York State Division for Youth. Prior to joining IUME, Ms. Holly served as Research Coordinator for the National Center for Children and Families, at Teachers College, where she coordinated its national child and family policy summer fellowship program for graduate students, entitled "Putting Children First." She has directed and developed academic enrichment and out-of-school-time programs for youth; provided technical assistance and evaluation to community-based organizations; served as manager for a successful District Leader political campaign; and serves as a consultant and proposal writer for education initiatives. She has organized numerous community and charitable events and chaired the New Democratic Club's Education Committee in Harlem.   Ms. Holly has presented at numerous conferences and events, most notably, Keynote Address for the Robert Bowne Foundation Fellows Annual Luncheon, of which she was a Fellow, and the CEJJESS Institute’s Annual Graduates Awards Ceremony in 2008, and an encore address in 2009. She’s currently on leave from Upper Manhattan Rotary, International. Ms. Holly is an avid tennis player, and a homeowner in Harlem.

  • Graduate Research Fellows

    Cati V. de los Ríos

    Cati V. de los Rios is a PhD student and instructor in the Program of English Education. Her research interests include Chicana/o-Latina/o young peoples' multilingual and multiliterate repertoires, immigration & curriculum studies, emergent bilingual learners, translanguaging pedagogical practices, sociocultural theories of learning, Chicana feminist and critical pedagogies, youth activism, and high school Ethnic Studies. She received her B.A. in Chicana/o Studies and Spanish Literature from Loyola Marymount University, an M.A. in Theological Studies &  Secondary Education from Harvard University, and an Ed.M. in Curriculum & Teaching from Teachers College. A previous Spanish, ESL, and Ethnic Studies Teacher, she created and implemented one of the first College Preparatory “Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies” high school courses and programs in Southern California which she taught in for many years. Her work included the bridging of her classroom with local Day Labor Centers and college Ethnic Studies courses through local university partnerships to produce action research projects, Social Justice Posadas for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and K-12 Raza Studies Encuentros. She also was previously an Adult ESL teacher in both East Los Angeles and Boston for several years. Cati has supervised TESOL M.A. candidates through the Teaching Residency @ Teachers College Program and is a current Core Leader of New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) and a national representative for the Teacher Activist Groups (TAG). Her dissertation has been funded by prestigious fellowships from Teachers College, Columbia University's Office of the Provost and Vice Dean, The Institute for Urban and Minority Education, The Research Foundation of National Council of Teachers of English, and the AAHHE/Ford Foundation. Her writing has been published in Race and Social Problems, Studying Teacher Education, The Urban Review, Journal of Latinos and Education, and has a book chapter co-authored with Dr. Ernest Morrell in Dr. Pedro Noguera's forthcoming edited volume.

    Jennifer Johnson

    JEN JOHNSON is an educator, community organizer, and social entrepreneur. She is a doctoral student in English Education at Teachers College and she currently holds two fellowships, one with IUME and one with the Hip Hop Education Center at New York University where she received her Masters of Arts in Media, Culture and Communication.  Her work is dedicated to the economic, political, cultural, and social empowerment of young leaders through debate education and Hip-Hop culture. She is a former high school and college debater who has coached debate for thirteen years.  Since 2001, she has directed two non-profits and Urban Debate Leagues in seven school districts. She has taught debate institutes at numerous colleges and universities, and has partnered with dozens of public schools, social justice organizations, Hip-Hop artists, and community leaders from around the country. She was formally the executive director of the Seattle Debate Foundation, a 501(c)(3) social justice organization committed to the critical literacy and empowerment of urban youth through debate education. Her groundbreaking work in Hip Hop debate education received national and international acclaim including recognition in Newsweek Magazine and Zip Radio in Japan, and her work has been modeled cities around the United States.  In 2008 she was named a finalist for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King County Executive Awards for Excellence in Hip Hop and in 2009 she was a finalist for the NYU Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship. Her forthcoming curriculum will be published in the Hip-Hop Education Guidebook Volume II. Jen received her BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley where she found her passion for urban debate education, critical and culturally relevant pedagogy, and critical literacy. She currently brings her passion and commitment to the education and empowerment of young leaders by coaching Hip-Hop debate in Brooklyn. Her ultimate goal is to expand these opportunities to young people and educators around the globe. She believes that through the power of debate and Hip-Hop we can connect, build, create, and envision a world with endless possibilities.

    Barry Goldenberg

    BARRY GOLDENBERG is currently a Doctoral student in the History and Education program who is humbled to be a part of IUME. Barry is currently Project Director of Youth Historians in Harlem (YHH), an after-school program which seeks to to explore how innovative history experiences and public history at large can be used to both empower and improve the academic literacies of urban youth. This research also asks questions around the intersection of YPAR, agency, and youth agency. (For more information about YHH, please visit Outside of his research pursuits, Barry loves to write, and is the author of The Unknown Architects of Civil Rights and has been published in academic journals such as Urban Education, Voices from the Middle, and Education's Histories. In addition, Barry has been featured on the Harlem World Radio Show, previously served as an Intern for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and has spent time abroad volunteering in Cape Town, South Africa. Barry originally hails from St. Louis, and holds a B.A. in History (highest departmental honors), magna cum laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). You can find his website at

    Sandra Overo

    Sandra Overo is a M.Div. candidate in Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.  Before entering seminary, She worked as a school-based project coordinator for INSIGHTS, a temperament-based intervention research at NYU Steinhardt that examined the effectiveness of a parent/teacher collaborative model at reducing child behavior problems and improving competency. Sandra holds a BA in Sociocultural Anthropology and Psychology from Austin College, a place she credits for integrating her interest in theology and education particularly a deeper meaning of servitude etched in the call for fellowship and community mobilization.  In 2007 Sandra joined the Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and has worked on various projects in the area of university and school-based partnerships including the Harlem AIDS Blanket project and the Children's Aid Society African-American Male Initiative. She was also a graduate assistant on the patterns of child-care subsidy use among low-income families research project at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College.  Aside from her work at IUME, she is an avid runner, swimmer and truly enjoyed her summer as the Assistant Director for Cubs (sport) Camp at Columbia University.

  • Graduate Research Assistants

    Edmund Adjapong
    EDMUNG ADJAPONG is a native of the Bronx, NY, is a New York City Public School science teacher and a student at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Education in Science Education and received a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and minor in Africana Studies from The State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Edmund believes every student has the ability to learn, and does so differently. He also believes that engaging students through urban youth culture, specifically Hip-Hop – despite its unconventional method – is an effective way to educate. Edmund enjoys working with and mentoring youth, especially young men of color. He is the administrator for the Science Genius Program, a program that engages urban students in the sciences through Hip-Hop, and the director of The Science Genius Academy, a program that encourages and prepares students to pursue STEM careers while providing mentoring and support. Following the completion of his masters degree, Edmund plans on continuing education by pursuing his Doctorate of Philosophy in Science Education.

    Cynthia Nayeli Carvajal
    CYNTHIA NAYELI CARVAJAL is a 2nd year MA student in the Sociology and Education program with a policy focus.  She immigrated from Mexico at the age of five and was raised in East L.A., California. Throughout her 12 years of schooling she remained in the United States as an undocumented immigrant. Upon receiving her documentation she attended the University of California, Los Angeles and earned her BA. During her time at UCLA she implemented an intervention research program at a high school in her community, where she provided undocumented high school students with weekly seminars on applying to college. Through this research she sought to understand how Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was impacting undocumented youth and their college trajectory. Cynthia is continuing this research in her MA thesis. She is currently a research assistant under Professor Jodene Morrell, a board member for the Coalition of Latina/o Scholars, and a volunteer for the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC).

    Christina "V" Villarreal

    CHRISTINA "V" VILLARREAL, a proud Bay Area native, has spent the past decade teaching and learning with the beautiful youth of East Oakland, California where she taught 7th & 8th Social Studies at Elmhurst Community Prep, a small school that she co-founded.  She then followed her middle school youth up and around the corner and served as their assistant principal for two years at Castlemont High, where she successfully led the design and implementation of a University of California, A-G approved 9th grade Ethnic Studies course, which is still taken as a requirement by 9th graders.  Villarreal also served as an adjunct lecturer in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University for three years.  She holds a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, an M.A. in Ethnic Studies from SF State and is presently pursuing her Ph.D. in Social Studies Education at Teachers College.  She currently supervises M.A. candidates for initial secondary certification through the Program in Social Studies at Teachers College, and is also an adjunct instructor and field supervisor for the Elementary Social Studies Education program in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Hunter College.  Last year, she served as a Research Assistant for IUME the Literacy Teachers Initiative and presently serves on the Advisory Board on Teacher Education at Teachers College. Her research currently focuses on exploring racial literacy development and enactments of Social Justice frameworks in Social Studies teacher education.

    Moira Pirsch
    MOIRA PIRSCH is a poet, educator, and organizer from Madison, Wisconsin. She reps the Midwest all day and has taught courses and co-facilitated conferences on social justice, spoken word, and hip hop activism for 10 years. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University's Teachers College and acts as a consultant to the Hip Hop Archive and Research Institute at Harvard University. She earned her Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard University where she was the Teaching Fellow for their first course on spoken word and hip hop theater. Before moving to the East Coast, she was the Youth Programs Associate at the MN Spoken Word Association for five years. Her work focuses on the power of spoken word and hip hop to transform, uplift and empower communities. She is an attempted surfer and believes in miracles.

    Moises Lopez
    MOISES LOPEZ's roots start in the town of Real Del Monte Hidalgo Mexico where his Great Grandmother was a Curandera-Translated as a native “Healer” in Spanish. She dedicated her life healing the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual ills of the miners who produced Silver. The Lopez family then relocated to the center of Mexico City where his Mother was born and later immigrated to Stockton, California. Moises’s mother was a migrant farm worker in California where she advocated for farmworkers’ rights in the 1960’s. Moises was later born in Chicago, Illinois where he completed his Bachelors of Science, in Nonprofit Management at DePaul University. During his time at DePaul he interned for American Latino Television as the Marketing representative for Chicago. Moises Lopez was also a scholar participant of the McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Moises relocated to New York City where he earned his Masters of Social Work (MSW) from Columbia University with a concentration in International Social Welfare and Policy. While earning his MSW, Mr. Lopez was a Social Worker for P.S. 59 Technology School in the Bronx, New York. In addition his work toward the completion of the program included working with the Secretary of Culture in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he was researching Hip-Hop Policies and initiatives. Moises is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University where his work focuses on Global Hip-Hop Education, specifically looking at the regions of Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Mr. Lopez will be co-teaching a course in the Spring 2015 at Teachers College, Columbia University- Teaching English in Diverse Soc/Culture. Moises’s research has been funded by The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, University of California Irvine, Committee on Institutional Cooperation Research, University of Illinois, at Chicago, Organization of American States, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship program, Columbia University and Secretary of Culture, Sao Paulo Brazil. Mr. Moises Lopez is currently co-organizing Hip-Hop education events in Lima, Peru, Barretos, Brazil and in the Middle East region of Ramallah & Bethlehem.

    Christina Marie Chaise

    CHRISTINA MARIE CHAISE is a Master’s Candidate in the Sociology & Education program with a concentration in Policy Analysis. Born and raised in New York City and a product of CUNY (Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hunter College), Christina has been an active student organizer and has previously worked for non-profits, such as the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI). During her undergraduate years, she was a student leader and a McNair Scholar, where she researched Hunter College enrollment & retention rates, as well as the implications of No Child Left Behind on urban schools. Her initial research at TC was on CUNY policies and programs that provide an avenue towards financial stability, personal empowerment, and self-determination through higher education. However, her experience at TC has informed another trajectory concerning the framework, language, and treatment of and around students of color, from Pre-K to PhD. Her current research explores critical pedagogy and critical race dialogue in academia, with a particular focus on schools of education that shape the minds of teachers, and vicariously, our youth. She aims to disrupt the current oppressive lexicon and shatter the deficit lens of which our communities of color are discussed and viewed in the field of educational research and policy.  As Diversity Senator of Teachers College Student Senate and a leader in the Coalition of Latina/o Scholars, she is currently working on implementing microaggressions workshops and building a network of mentors for other students of color (including first-generation and low-income). She currently works under Dr. Jodene Morrell for the Literacy Teachers Initiative (LTI), is a project assistant at IUME, and works at the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID) at TC. She believes in the radical act of love and authentic caring as tools for liberation.

    Philip Smith
    PHILLIP A. SMITH is a mid-career, doctoral student on the Education Leadership Ph.D. program, a graduate assistant for Education Leadership, and member of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME), at Teachers College, Columbia University. He was also a member of the conference steering committee for the 6th Annual Diversity in Research and Practice Conference (DiRP), 2015 at TC. Phillip is an international student from London, England, with an extensive background in district and local level education administration and leadership in the UK. His current research and work explores how race/color conscious approaches to education leadership preparation and leadership development inform rethinking and understanding of educational leadership, and global leadership competencies. He is particularly interested in exploring possible links and associations between culturally responsive approaches to mentoring, critical spirituality, and spiritual consciousness, as part of leadership praxis, as described, experienced, and understood by Black male secondary school principals. Phillip has found his affiliation with IUME to be most supportive as he has presented his research and findings at conferences in the United States and internationally.

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