RAND Conversations

As part of the work of the RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy, RAND is inviting researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to share their insights with the RAND community. These internal talks are inspiring RAND staff to think differently about their work, our methods, and our engagement with diverse audiences. Here is a snapshot of recent and upcoming RAND conversations.

Visiting Speakers

A Conversation with RAND Trustee Lionel C. Johnson

September 8, 2021

Lionel C. Johnson

Lionel C. Johnson

RAND Trustee

Lionel C. Johnson is a senior executive with more than three decades of experience in international business, public policy, and sustainable development. He currently serves as president of the Pacific Pension & Investment Institute, a not-for-profit organization that works to facilitate dialogue among North American, Asian, Latin American, and European pension funds, corporations, financial institutions, and endowments. From 2013 to 2014, he was senior vice president at the nonprofit Initiative for Global Development, which works to spur poverty reduction by catalyzing business growth and investment in the developing world. From 2011 to 2013, Lionel worked at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where, in his role as vice president of Turkey, Middle East, and North Africa affairs, he led successful U.S. business delegations to Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. He has also served at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Department of State. In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees of the RAND Corporation, Lionel currently serves on the Board of the National Democratic Institute, the U.S. Global Leadership Institute, and the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. He is a graduate of Rutgers University.

Policing in America

September 9, 2021

Dr Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Dr. Khalil Muhammad’s scholarship examines the broad intersections of racism, economic inequality, criminal justice, policing and democracy in U.S. History. He is co-editor of “Constructing the Carceral State,” a special issue of the Journal of American History, and contributor to a National Research Council study, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences (2014), as well as the award-winning author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America. He is currently co-directing a National Academy of Sciences study on reducing racial inequalities in the criminal justice system. His writing and scholarship have been featured in national print and broadcast media outlets, such as the New Yorker, Washington Post, The Nation, National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Moyers and Company, MSNBC, and the New York Times, which includes his “Sugar” essay for The 1619 Project (pages 70-77). He has appeared in a number of feature-length documentaries, including the recently-released Amend: The Fight for America (2021), the Oscar-nominated 13th (2016) and Slavery by Another Name (2012), and he has been featured on several podcasts and venues to discuss this history of policing. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Khalil graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Economics in 1993 and earned his Ph.D. in U.S. History from Rutgers University.

Combating Racial Disparity in the Juvenile-Justice System

June 30, 2021

Dr Paul Elam

Paul Elam

Michigan Public Health Institute

Paul Elam is the chief strategy officer at the Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI). He is responsible for diversifying the Institute’s portfolio to address cutting edge issues that affect the health and well-being of our society. His deep understanding of youth violence and prevention, crime and justice, and child maltreatment is nationally recognized. He works with several justice-related initiatives, including the Governor’s Committee on Juvenile Justice and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; the Annie E. Casey Foundation Expanding the Bench Initiative and the Michigan Department of Education African-American Young Men of Promise Initiative. Previously, he consulted with the Michigan Coalition for Race Equity in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice, the Michigan Child Welfare Improvement Task Force and the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative. He has published numerous reports on topics ranging from racial imbalances in child welfare and juvenile justice to prisoner reentry. Elam received his Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. in Criminology, Family and Child Ecology, Criminal Justice and Urban Studies from Michigan State University.

Alicia Hitt

Alicia Hitt

Harris County Juvenile Probation Department

Alicia Hitt is a field juvenile probation officer for the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department (the second largest juvenile probation department in the country). Since 2009 she has served as a school-based juvenile probation officer for Houston Independent School District (HISD) at Westside High School. The position resulted from a collaborative effort between the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department and Houston Independent School District to improve probations’ attendance, academic performance, reduce school code of conduct infractions, and improve student support. She is actively involved with efforts to reduce disproportionate minority confinement as a member of a new department working group focused on racial inequities in the system. She also works directly with youth and families as a community advocate. Hitt received her M.A. (criminal justice) and B.A. (communication) from the University of Toledo. She is currently completing a Ph.D. program in criminal justice at Texas Southern University.

Regina Mitchell

Regina Mitchell

Center for Children’s Law and Policy

Regina Mitchell is the director of systems innovation at the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. In this capacity, Regina coordinates and manages the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) and Probation Transformation portfolio and partnership with the Annie E Casey Foundation (AECF) Juvenile Justice Strategy Group (JJSG). With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Mitchell also assists jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and improve racial equity at the arrest and diversion decision points. She is also working with other CCLP staff and South Carolina officials on a major reform of the state’s juvenile justice system.

On the Meaning of Juneteenth: It’s Past and Present Significance

June 17, 2021

Jarvis R. Givens

Jarvis R. Givens

Harvard University

Jarvis R. Givens is an assistant professor of Education and African & African American Studies, and the Suzanne Young Murray assistant professor at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. As an interdisciplinary historian, Givens' research falls at the intersection of the history of American education, 19th and 20th century African American history, and critical theories of race and schooling, and his first book, Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching, was published in 2021 by Harvard University Press. Givens earned his PhD in African American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Racial Trauma: Causes, Effects, and Strategies for Healing

May 24, 2021

Vernice Miller-Travis

Mahogany Hall

Hall Counseling Services

Mahogany Hall is a racial trauma therapist and advocate. She has provided mental services to diverse populations for 18 years. She is the founder of Hall Counseling Services located in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. This mental health practice specializes in treating racial trauma and LGBTQ+ challenges. Hall codeveloped Healing the Whole, a 4-tiered yoga therapy and psychotherapy program designed to treat racial trauma among African-Americans. Hall is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Doctorate of Social Work from the University of Southern California. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Bachelor’s degree(s) in Psychology and African & African American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Hall has traveled throughout the United States assisting children and families for Fairfax County Government, and has also served as a clinician for Fairfax County Public Schools.

Future of Environmental Justice

May 19, 2021

Vernice Miller-Travis

Vernice Miller-Travis

Metropolitan Group

Vernice Miller-Travis is one of the nation’s pioneering and most respected thought leaders on environmental justice and the interplay of civil rights and environmental policy. She has extensive experience working with communities that have undergone economic disinvestment and environmental degradation by facilitating community-based planning and implementing community revitalization and sustainable redevelopment initiatives and projects. Vernice has brought her expertise to a wide range of boards and advisory bodies such as the U.S. EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Environmental Finance Advisory Board, Clean Water Action, Land Loss Prevention Project, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Action Fund, Patuxent Riverkeeper, WeACT for Environmental Justice, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Green Leadership Trust, and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. She is trained in environmental conflict mediation, alternative dispute resolution, and how to navigate longstanding racial, cultural, and economic conflicts.

A Rise in Violence Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Amid COVID-19—What Needs to be Done?

March 23, 2021

Manjusha P. Kulkarni

Manjusha P. Kulkarni

Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, Stop AAPI Hate

Manjusha P. Kulkarni (Manju) is executive director of Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), a coalition of community-based organizations representing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in Los Angeles County. Kulkarni is a lecturer in the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA, and in March 2020, co-founded Stop AAPI Hate, the nation’s leading aggregator of COVID-19-related hate incidents against AAPIs. Kulkarni's work has been featured in publications including the New York Times, CBS News, and CNN, as well as several ethnic media outlets. Kulkarni graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of Law. In 2014, President Obama awarded Kulkarni the White House Champions of Change award for her efforts to improve access to health care for Asian American communities.

The (Post) Colonial Predicament in Community Mental Health Services for American Indians: Explorations in AlterNative Psy-ence

March 11, 2021

Joseph P. Gone

Harvard University

Joseph P. Gone shares his early explorations of depression and problem drinking among Indians on the Fort Belknap Indian reservation in Montana. There he interviewed a middle-aged cultural traditionalist named Traveling Thunder who explained why many community members struggled with substance abuse and associated distress. In his view, the primary problem was that, “We never was happy living like a Whiteman.” This observation captured an explanatory rationale about reservation mental health. Traveling Thunder highlighted history and spirituality in his account of the emergence of reservation behavioral health problems, overtly attributing these forms of disabling distress to processes of Euro-American colonization. Gone is an international expert in the psychology and mental health of American Indians and other Indigenous peoples. A professor at Harvard University, Gone has collaborated with tribal communities for 25 years to critique conventional mental health services and harness traditional culture and spirituality for advancing indigenous well-being. A graduate of Harvard College and the University of Illinois, Gone also trained at Dartmouth College and McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. An enrolled member of the Aaniiih-Gros Ventre tribal nation of Montana, he also served as the chief administrative officer for the Fort Belknap Indian reservation.

Investing in the Latino Community: the Key to America’s Future

September 24, 2020

Sonia Pérez

Sonia Pérez


Sonia M. Pérez is chief operating officer at UnidosUS, a national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. She is responsible for aligning UnidosUS's core work in programs, policy, and affiliate engagement with communications and fundraising efforts to advance the organization's mission to create opportunities for Latinos. Pérez has conducted and published research on Latino social policy and demographic issues, guided the development of key programs, and has provided nonprofit management support to Hispanic community-based organizations on the United States mainland and in Puerto Rico. Prior to her roles at UnidosUS, Pérez directed a program for public housing residents in Puerto Rico and worked for Citi Community Affairs and at CIGNA Retirement Services. She holds a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in English and American literature from Brown University. She is currently a member of the Coca-Cola Hispanic Advisory Council.

Structural Racism as a Social Determinant of Health

September 2, 2020

Roger A. Mitchell

Roger A. Mitchell

Chief Medical Examiner, District of Columbia

Roger A. Mitchell, Jr. is a forensic pathologist who has served as the chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia since 2014. He is one of only four black chief medical examiners in major cites in the United States. Mitchell is an expert in violence as a public health issue and has been bringing attention to the issue of firearm violence in the African American Community for more than a decade. He serves as Chair of the Task Force on Gun Violence for the National Medical Association,and co-authored a position paper on The Violence Epidemic in the African American Community for the Journal of the National Medical Association, published in 2017.