Institute of Urban Policy

Staff Bios

Kevin Cokley, PhD | Director
Dr. Cokley is a counseling psychologist and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Black Psychology. His research and teaching can be broadly categorized in the area of African American psychology. His research foci have included examining (1) the psychological and environmental factors that impact African American student achievement, (2) the influence of racial and ethnic identity, and (3) correlations of mental health including perceived discrimination, religiosity, and spirituality, and most recently the impostor phenomenon. Using social science research, personal anecdotes, and references to popular culture, his current book project debunks the myth of Black anti-intellectualism.

Holly W. Collins, BA | Multimedia Communications Specialist
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).

Richa Gupta, MPH | Research Associate
Gupta is an epidemiologist with research interests in health disparities, specifically how health outcomes and access to health care are impacted by gender, race, and ethnicity. She's passionate about data and enjoys translating complex data into evidence that can support policy and program development. She previously conducted policy analysis on the Texas Medicaid program as a data analyst at the Legislative Budget Board. Gupta received her MPH in epidemiology with a specialization in biostatistics from Columbia University.

Shavonne Henderson, JD | Assistant Director of Policy Research
Henderson provides legal perspective and analysis on IUPRA's policy reports and briefs. She also serves to connect IUPRA with community members and policymakers. She conducts research, speaks, and lectures about race and the law and their intersection with policy. Her interests include the application of critical race theory to the law, reproductive justice, and health outcomes for Black women. Henderson has varied legal experience that includes private practice for national law firms and higher education. Licensed in Texas, Henderson holds her Juris Doctor from The University of Texas School of Law. She received a Bachelor of Arts in the Plan II Honors Program and a Bachelors of Arts in Government from The University of Texas at Austin.

Desireé M. Ledet, MA | Grants and Contracts Specialist
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.

Lauren Lluveras, JD | Postdoctoral Fellow
Lluveras previously was an equity and inclusion specialist at the Office for Minority Health Engagement and Statistics, and clerked for Texas Advocacy Project, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, and the Center for Legal and Social Justice at St. Mary's University, School of Law. Lluveras holds a Juris Doctor from St. Mary's University and a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University.

Naomi Reed, PhD | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Reed’s research explores the relationship between White racial epistemologies, the curricular representations of Blackness and Whiteness in Texas education, and the political behaviors of upper-class White suburban residents. Her current projects cover education policy and critical race theory as she aims to impact textbook reform and the racial regulations shaping admissibility in policy writing more broadly. She previously served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Reed received her PhD in Social Anthropology and African Diaspora Studies at The University of Texas at Austin in 2013.

kihana miraya ross, PhD | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. ross' program of research draws on critical ethnographic and participatory design methodologies to examine the multiplicity of ways that antiblackness is lived by Black students in what she calls, the afterlife of school segregation, a framework that centers the ways in which despite the end of legal segregation of schooling, Black students remain systematically dehumanized and positioned as uneducable. Critically, her work also explores how Black educators and students collectively imagine and resist antiblackness, and racialization processes more generally.

Michele Rountree, PhD | Associate Director
Dr. Michele A. Rountree is a recognized health researcher in the improvement of health equity outcomes of marginalized populations in the areas of research, policy, and advocacy. Her research focuses singularly and at the nexus of experiences related to HIV/AIDS, intimate partner violence, mental health, substance abuse, and the social determinants of health.

Kae'lyn Thompson | Senior Administrative Associate
Thompson 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.


  • Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis

    University of Texas at Austin
    210 W. 24th Street
    Mailcode E3600
    Austin, Texas, 78712
    512-471-3645