Institute of Urban Policy

Staff Bios

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 4.104
Dr. Danielle C. H. Wright is the Associate Director for the Institute. She 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 New School, NY, where she taught courses on 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 | Postdoctoral Fellow
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.

Nino Rodriguez, PhD, Research AssociateNino Rodriguez, PhD | Research Associate
nino.rodriguez@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-4637 | GWB 4.130
Dr. Nino Rodriguez is a two-time alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC). Currently, he is a doctoral candidate at UIUC in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership with a concentration in the social and cultural studies of education. Nino’s research agenda focuses on the socialization of Black males’ figured worlds, specifically what it means to be a Black man in America and their pursuit of Black manhood. As a scholar-practitioner, Nino intends to use his research to: (a) shed light on the social institutions that hinder Black males’ ability to free themselves of the racist and patriarchal chains imposed upon them; (b) inform policy makers of the policies used to create and maintain systemic barriers that impede the holistic development of Black males; and (c) develop programs and curriculum that foster safe spaces for Black males to deconstruct and reconstruct their notions of manhood and masculinity.

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.

Desireé Ledet, MA, Grants & Contract SpecialistDesireé M. Ledet, MA | Grants and Contracts Specialist
desiree.ledet@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-4626 | GWB 4.128
Ledet assists IUPRA staff and Black Studies affiliates in identifying and applying for funding opportunities to finance research and educational activities in alignment with the program’s mission. Upon award, she provides advanced contract management support to recipients and ensures compliance with the sponsoring agency’s general terms and conditions. Ledet received her Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a dual Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Spanish at Texas A&M University. She is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, serving in northern Peru from 2005-2008.

Annika Olson, MA, MPP, Policy CoordinatorAnnika Olson, MA, MPP | Policy Coordinator
annika.olson@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-4225 | GWB 4.116
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.  Olson previously served as an AmeriCorps member with at-risk youth in rural New Mexico and Austin, Texas.

Holly Collins, BA, Multimedia Communications SpecialistHolly W. Collins, BA | Multimedia Communications Specialist
holly.collins@austin.utexas.edu | 512-232-5782 | GWB 4.102
Collins is a communications specialist passionate about using storytelling and education to inspire action. At IUPRA, she manages all communications initiatives and strategy through concise writing and careful editing, creative design, and engaging multimedia content. Collins previously worked for CORE Group in Washington, DC, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and Journalism from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is a Certified Knowledge Management Specialist with the Knowledge Management Institute (KMI).

Kae'lyn Bootle, Senior Administrative AssociateKae'lyn Bootle | Senior Administrative Associate
kbootle@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-3645 | GWB 4.108
Bootle provides research and day-to-day assistance to the department as a whole. She brings her experience from a local startup where she helped build the company from the ground up, writing and helping establish policies and procedure in a new branch of the tech industry.

Ramsie, Chief Morale OfficerRamsie Bootle | Chief Morale Officer
GWB 4.108
Arguably the most important member of the team, Ramsie provides daily encouragement and entertainment to the IUPRA office. He enjoys treats, belly rubs, and the occasional afternoon snooze. Come visit Ramsie on the 4th floor of the Gordon-White Building!