The co-founders have a decade of experience working together on research and outreach regarding education and civil rights.

One of their first collaborations included the writing of a social science statement submitted by 553 social scientists in the U.S. Supreme Court’s voluntary desegregation case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007). The social science statement was the fifth of its kind to be filed in the history of desegregation cases, with the first submitted in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

Together, they most recently co-edited: School Integration Matters: Research-Based Strategies to Advance Equity (with Megan Hopkins).

Erica Frankenberg
Co-Founder & Director

Erica Frankenberg

Erica is a Professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies in the College of Education at The Pennsylvania State University. Her work has been published in education policy journals, law reviews, and practitioner publications. In addition to her scholarly work, she has helped school districts design diversity policies, and has served as an expert witness in school diversity cases. Prior to becoming a professor, she led the initiative on school integration at the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles.

Her current research projects include:

  • Studying suburban racial change
  • Exploring the policies and politics of voluntary integration programs
  • Understanding how school choice policies affect racial stratification

She has co-authored and co-edited several recent books including:

In her report Segregation at an Early Age, released October 2016, she shared findings about the extent to which preschool students are in racially diverse educational settings.

Her research has been supported by the William T. Grant Foundation, Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and the Spencer Foundation.

Karen Babbs Hollett
Graduate Assistant

Karen Babbs Hollett is a former elementary school teacher, instructional coach, and director at a state department of education. She has an M.Ed. in Elementary Education, is a licensed school principal, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. She studies issues of equity in early childhood education, and is particularly interested in how public preschool policies can be designed and implemented in ways that are antiracist and increase opportunity for traditionally marginalized communities.

Karen has presented her work at academic conferences, and recently received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to study disparities in access to high-quality early childhood education at the state level.

Peter Piazza
Post-Doctoral Scholar

Peter completed his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at Boston College in 2015 and has worked for the last 3 years as a policy researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). His dissertation used qualitative methods to examine democratic engagement in the enactment of a Massachusetts law that limited teacher job protections in the state.

At AIR, he conducted program evaluations related to dropout prevention and state-sponsored school improvement efforts. Motivated by his experiences visiting highly segregated schools as well as his reaction to the Trump election, Peter started a blog called the School Diversity Notebook, where he writes regular posts about news events and recent research related to school integration.

Liliana M. Garces

Liliana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at The University of Texas at Austin and an affiliate faculty at The University of Texas School of Law. Her research has been published in education policy and law journals. In addition to her scholarly work, she has represented civil rights organizations and hundreds of social science researchers as Counsel of Record on four amici curiae (friend-of-the-Court) briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to becoming a faculty member, she worked as a civil rights lawyer and a judicial law clerk in federal district court.

Her research focuses on the dynamics of law and education and her current projects include:

  • Examining access policies for underrepresented populations in higher education
  • Understanding the influence of legal cases and other laws on access and equity efforts
  • Exploring the use of social science research in the legal arena

Liliana is co-editor of Affirmative Action and Racial Equity: Considering the Fisher Case to Forge the Path Ahead (with Uma Jayakumar and Frank Fernandez).

Her research has been supported by the William T. Grant Foundation, the W.E. Upjohn Institute, the Spencer Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.