Institute of Urban Policy

IUPRA Staff

Kevin Cokley, PhD, DirectorKevin Cokley, PhD | Director
kcokley@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-4672 | GWB 4.106
Dr. Cokley is a Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and holds the Oscar and Anne Mauzy Regents Professorship for Educational Research and Development in the College of Education. He is a Fellow of the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers, and a member of the UT Academy of Distinguished Teachers. His research can be broadly categorized in the area of African American psychology, with a focus on racial and ethnic identity and understanding the psychological and environmental factors that impact African American students’ academic achievement. He is author of the 2014 book “The Myth of Black Anti-Intellectualism” that challenges the notion that African American students are anti-intellectual. He has written several Op-Eds in major media outlets on topics such as Blacks’ rational mistrust of police, the aftermath of Ferguson, police and race relations, racism and White supremacy, the use of school vouchers, and racial disparities in school discipline. His research has been recognized in media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, and Inside Higher Education.

Danielle Wright, PhD, Associate DirectorDanielle C. H. Wright, PhD | Associate Director
d.wright@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-4728 | GWB 4.108
Dr. Danielle C. H. Wright is the Associate Director for the Institute. Dr. Wright oversees all policy, research and strategic planning for the center and has over twenty years of experience in higher education, community engagement, and strategic consulting. Dr. Wright served as higher education administrator at New York University, The University of Texas at Austin, and as faculty at The University of Texas at Austin and The New School, NY, where she taught courses on policy, critical lines of inquiry and qualitative research methods. Dr. Wright’s areas of expertise include higher education and community engagement. Her research areas cover critical inquiry, race and identity, social cultural analysis, critical policy analysis, and P-20 education.

Tracie Lowe, PhD, Postdoctoral FellowTracie A. Lowe, PhD | Assistant Director of Assessment
tlowe@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-6094 | GWB 4.110
Dr. Tracie A. Lowe is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin for IUPRA. Her research focuses on the experiences of Black students in higher education with a particular focus on Black women graduate students. Additionally, her research interests include issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. Tracie holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from The University of Texas at Austin; a master's degree in educational administration and bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies both from Texas A&M university.

Ricardo Lowe, MS, Research AssociateRicardo Lowe, Jr., MS | Research Associate
ricardo.lowe@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-4551 | GWB 4.114
Ricardo Lowe, Jr. is a Research Associate for IUPRA and Doctoral Student in Applied Demography at UT San Antonio. He served five years as a federal statistician and is well-versed in statistical application and quantitative methods. His research interests are broad, but typically involve suburbanization, maternal health, and education. Ricardo also is a trained sociologist, and holds membership with the Association of Black Sociologists (ABS), along with two nationally renowned Honor Societies – Alpha Kappa Delta and Alpha Chi.

Annika Olson, MA, MPP, Policy CoordinatorAnnika Olson, MA, MPP | Assistant Director of Policy Research
annika.olson@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-4225 | GWB 4.116
Annika Olson is passionate about using research and legislative analysis to inform policies that impact the lives of vulnerable members of our community. At IUPRA, she serves as the liaison to the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, community members, and policy makers at all levels. She received a dual Master’s degree in Psychology and Public Policy at Georgetown University and her Bachelors in Psychology from the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst.  Annika previously served as an AmeriCorps member with at-risk youth in rural New Mexico and Austin, Texas.

Mikkel Leveriza, MBA, Grants & Contracts SpecialistMikkel Leveriza, MBA | Grants and Contracts Specialist
mikkel.leveriza@austin.utexas.edu 
Mikkel Leveriza is a Grants and Contacts Specialist for IUPRA. He is an experienced higher education professional and previously worked at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His areas of expertise include grants and contracts management, program administration, and higher education finance. Mikkel has a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from St. Edward's University.


Interns & Research Assistants

Rudjy Ponceja, MEd
rjponceja@gmail.com
Rudjy Ponceja graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a M.Ed. in Counselor Education, specializing in Higher Education, and a B.S. in Applied Learning and Development, specializing in Youth and Community Studies. Having previous research experience with social psychological issues that Asian Americans face, he is passionate in advocating for mental health and breaking down the stigma within the Asian American community. His research interests include the relationship between mental health, specifically depression/anxiety, and identity development within marginalized communities.

Stephanie Asper, BA
stephanie.asper@austin.utexas.edu
Stephanie Asper is a master’s degree student in Educational Policy and Planning within the College of Education at UT Austin. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include mental health treatment and access, as well as wellness and prevention programming for students in PK-20 educational environments.

Amy Musgrave Brown, MBA
amylmbrown@gmail.com
Amy Musgrave Brown has over 20 years of experience in strategy, product management, business development and sales with many companies including 3M, Dell Technologies, Polycom, and several others in Texas, New York, Singapore, and Shanghai. Amy has her BBA in Finance and MBA from UT Austin. She is currently in UT 's College of Education EPP Master's program and looks forward to exploring impactful policy change in pursuit of equity through an education lens. Her research interests include school finance and opportunity hoarding.

Nabeeha Engineer
nabeehaengineer@utexas.edu
Nabeeha Engineer is a third-year undergraduate student studying Public Health with a certificate in Children and Society. Her research interests include health disparities among marginalized populations and the relationship between the quality of childhood education and future health outcomes. Her undergraduate research has focused on adolescent- experienced racial discrimination, racial identity, and depressive symptoms among Black fathers.

Meghan Nguyen
megxhan@utexas.edu
Meghan Nguyen is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying sociology, journalism and African and African Diaspora Studies with a certificate in Human Rights/Social Justice. Her research interests include media, digital studies and technology, surveillance and displacement (esp. gentrification) and abolition/policing. Passionate about community organizing/activism, technology, storytelling and social justice, she envisions her academic trajectory as a quest to understand, empower and uplift marginalized voices and to examine the systems that seek to ignore and silence them.

Meera Sam
meerasam18@gmail.com
Meera is a third-year Government and Sociology major with a minor in Arabic. She is specifically interested in analyzing intersectional resistance efforts in the global south to develop broader ideas about effective protest strategies and frameworks for liberation. Her ultimate goal is to empower marginalized communities by creating accessible resources, amplifying narratives, and developing comprehensive policy approaches.

Alison Villasana
alisonvillasana@gmail.com
Alison Villasana (she/they) is pursuing majors in Urban Studies, Black Studies and Mexican American & Latina/o Studies. Their research interests focus on issues relating to urban spaces and social justice, more specifically, the nuances of gentrification and the displacement of marginalized individuals. With the mentorship of Dr. Miriam Solis, Alison is currently studying the role of policing within gentrification in Austin. She intends to attain her PhD in Urban Studies and Planning and to produce scholarship based on the racial legacies embedded within urban development. Ultimately Alison hopes that her work will reform modern planning practices and lay the foundation towards creating more equitable urban spaces.