RAND Conversations

As part of the work of the RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy, RAND is inviting researchers, practitioners, and policy makers 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.

Vernice Miller-Travis

May 19, 2021

Vernice Miller-Travis

Future of Environmental Justice

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.

Manjusha P. Kulkarni

March 23, 2021

Manjusha P. Kulkarni

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

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. Manju'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.

March 11, 2021

Joseph P. Gone

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

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.

Sonia Pérez

September 24, 2020

Sonia Pérez

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

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.

Roger A. Mitchell

September 2, 2020

Roger A. Mitchell

Structural Racism as a Social Determinant of Health

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.