Politics, Power, and the Use of Research Evidence

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Hosted by William T. Grant Foundation, this panel will focus on the intersection of race and the use of research in policy.

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Hosted by the William T. Grant Foundation and the Forum for Youth Investment, this event, Politics, Power, and the Use of Research Evidence will focus on the intersection of race and the use of research in policy. The use of research evidence is a political act and therefore has the potential to reduce or exacerbate inequalities.

Panelists will focus on the use of research evidence in policy and how concepts such as the perceived objective nature of evidence, the positionality of the researcher in policymaking, and the role of power and politics in the use of research evidence are critical to understand as we study how to improve the use of research evidence.

Join us on March 10th, from 2pm to 4pm, ET to learn what happens when we put race at the center of conversations on the use of research evidence!


Justin Parkhurst, London School of Economics and Political Science

Jamila Michener, Cornell University

Apryl Alexander, University of Denver

Sonya Douglass Horsford, Columbia University

Panelist Bios:

Jamila Michener is an Associate professor in the department of Government. Her research focuses on poverty, racial inequality and public policy in the United States. Her recent book, Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism and Unequal Politics (Cambridge University Press) examines how Medicaid--the nation’s public health insurance program for people with low income--affects democratic citizenship. Unpacking how federalism transforms Medicaid beneficiaries’ interpretations of government and structures their participation in politics, Fragmented Democracy assesses American political life from the vantage point(s) of those who are living in or near poverty, (disproportionately) Black or Latino, and reliant on a federated government for vital resources. Michener’s research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Ford Foundation. She received her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago and her undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Prior to working at Cornell, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at the University of Michigan.

Apryl Alexander (she/her) received a B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Tech (2005) and a M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Radford University (2007). She received both an M.S. (2009) and Psy.D. (2012) in Clinical Psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology, with concentrations in forensic psychology and child and family therapy. Dr. Alexander spent 3 years as an Assistant Clinical Professor at Auburn University. She supervised research and clinical work at the Accountability Based Sex Offender Program (ABSOP), an Alabama Department of Youth Services residential treatment program for adolescents adjudicated for illegal sexual behavior. Currently, Dr. Alexander is an Associate Professor at the University of Denver. She primarily teaches in the Master's of Forensic Psychology program in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology and supervises students at the Denver Forensic Institute for Research, Service and Training (Denver FIRST). She serves as Director of Denver FIRST's Outpatient Competency Restoration Program (OCRP), which provides outpatient competency education and restoration for low-risk, court-ordered adult defendants and juveniles. She is also a Faculty Affiliate with the Scrivner Institute for Public Policy. Dr. Alexander's research has been published in leading journals including Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice; Criminal Justice Review; International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology; Child Maltreatment; Journal of Child Sexual Abuse; Journal of Sexual Aggression; and Sexual Abuse.

Sonya Douglass Horsford is Associate Professor of Education Leadership in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research examines the social and political contexts of education reform in the United States with a focus on the politics of race and inequality in K-12 schools. Horsford’s research engages historical, critical, interdisciplinary, and qualitative research methodologies and approaches to explore how the concept of race is conceptualized and understood by education leaders and policymakers and the implications for educational equity and justice in urban and suburban school districts and policy contexts. She is author of Learning in a Burning House: Educational Inequality, Ideology, and (Dis)Integration (Teachers College Press, 2011) and The Politics of Education Policy in an Era of Inequality: Possibilities Toward Democratic Schooling, with Janelle T. Scott and Gary L. Anderson (Routledge, 2019). Professor Horsford is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) at Teachers College and Founding Director of the Black Education Research Collective (BERC), a collaborative of education researchers committed to improving the educational experiences and outcomes of Black children and youth in partnership with policymakers, practitioners, and advocates.

Justin Parkhurst is an Associate Professor of Global Health Policy in the LSE Department of Health Policy. He is co-director of the MSc in Healthy Policy, Planning, and Financing programme, and the current serving Chair of the LSE Global Health Initiative. Dr. Parkhurst’s research interests lie in global health politics and policy, as well as the political nature of evidence use to inform policy decisions. He recently led a 5-year programme of work on Getting Research Into Policy in Health (the GRIP-Health programme) funded by the European Research Council – which has produced a number of outputs and publications (most open access) on the politics and governance of evidence. He is currently leading (jointly with Dr Clare Wenham) a Wellcome Trust supported project on Building the Case for Health Sciences Research in Africa (2018-2020). He was also a co-investigator on the recently completed LINK-Data for Decision Making project - – a DFID-supported programme of work that strengthens the use of data for malaria decision-making in Africa.

Please direct any questions or concerns to Shanell Meredith Harriday at

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