• About the Institute

    Organizing Knowledge to Challenge Inequality


The UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy advances research and scholarship concerned with displacement and dispossession in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the world. Working in alliance with social movements and communities on the frontlines of struggle, the Institute seeks to abolish structures of inequality.


In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote that “the function of the university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools, or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization.”  For Du Bois, the problem of the 20th century was “the problem of the color-line.” It is knowledge of the color-line, and action against it, that formed his life’s work, both in the university and in the world.

Drawing inspiration from Du Bois and other Black radical and postcolonial thinkers, the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy aims to understand and transform the divides and dispossessions, the color-lines, of the 21st century. At a time of unprecedented income inequality in the United States, we join the growing effort for rigorous analysis of the processes through which such inequality has been produced, that recognizes the corrosive effects of the warehousing of wealth and power on civic life, and that seeks to undo such inequality through new frameworks of redistribution and democratic politics.

In such work, we think across North and South. Instead of the United States as the intellectual pivot of our work, we forge lines of inquiry that take serious notice of the postcolonial world, notably democracies shaped by the claims and demands of poor majorities. Drawing on ideas and practices produced in the unequal cities of India, Brazil, and South Africa, we return to the North Atlantic to examine and dismantle economic austerity and entrenched segregation.

Our research, theory, and pedagogy are produced in the context of resurgent right-wing nationalism, both in the United States and in many other parts of the world. In the age of Trumpism, we have renewed our commitment to challenge white racial domination and build Black and Brown power.

The University of California is an especially propitious home for our institute. Like liberal democracy itself, the public university at once bears the promise of inclusion and manifests the persistence of exclusion.  The public university has an intimate relationship with the “real life” of which Du Bois wrote, and we believe that this intimacy generates a responsibility for public affairs and an impulse to educate a next generation for whom citizenry is not an enclave of privilege but rather shared and collective existence amidst difference.


Ananya Roy

Founding Faculty Director

Email: ananya@luskin.ucla.edu
Twitter: @ananyaUCLA

Hannah Appel

Associate Faculty Director

Email: happel@ucla.edu

Kian Goh

Associate Faculty Director

Email: kiangoh@ucla.edu
Twitter: @kiangoh

Amanda Darouie


Email: amanda.n.darouie@gmail.com

Amanda Darouie a community member living in so-called Echo Park. She organizes to build bridges between housed and unhoused neighbors in order to alleviate the precarity of living outside. Inspired to interrogate the systems that perpetuate scarcity and resist the power of money over life, she created Echo Park Mutual Aid to support those most affected by the volatility of gentrification.

Alex Ferrer

Graduate Student Researcher

Email: asferrer19@gmail.com
Dept: Geography

Alexander Ferrer is a planner and researcher at Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, a tenant-advocacy organization in Los Angeles. He holds a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at UCLA.

Terra Graziani


Email: terragraziani@gmail.com
Twitter: @_holleration

Terra Graziani is a researcher and tenant organizer based in Brooklyn, New York whose work focuses on property and personhood. She helps run the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), a digital storytelling collective documenting dispossession and resistance in solidarity with gentrifying communities through research, oral history, and data work, and she founded the Los Angeles chapter. She is currently a doctoral student at CUNY Geography and teaches in Parsons Urban Ecologies Master’s program. Terra earned her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA and her Bachelor’s degree in Social and Cultural Geography at UC Berkeley.

Marisa Lemorande

Deputy Director

Email: mlemorande@luskin.ucla.edu

Marisa Lemorande is Deputy Director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy. Marisa brings to the Institute many years of experience working with nonprofit, community, and cultural organizations concerned with social justice. By building robust alliances and developing effective communications and fundraising strategies, Marisa has shown leadership and creativity in supporting activists, artists, and scholars, both in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California. A graduate of UCLA, Marisa has served as Program Manager of the UCLA Center for Culture and Health. In this capacity, she managed large federally funded projects, including one of the most diverse and successful programs the NIH has supported over a 25-year grant cycle. Most recently, Marisa held the position of Director of Alumni Relations and Social Media for the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. In this role, she implemented a dramatic expansion of the school’s alumni networks and led the most successful crowdfunding campaign in UCLA’s history. Marisa joins the Institute with a sharp analysis of socio-spatial inequality and a passion for community outreach, public scholarship, and policy advocacy.

Kristy Lovich

Community Programs & Research Manager

Email: klovich@luskin.ucla.edu
Twitter: @kristylovich

Kristy Lovich brings experience from over twenty years of service to Los Angeles’ beloved communities, across the fields of education, community and cultural organizing, the arts, and in support of neighbors experiencing the traumatic impacts of houselessness. Guided by principles of mutual aid, popular education, and transformative justice, she has spent the last ten years especially focused on the socio-political landscape within which the address of homelessness exists, refining models of outreach and creating systems of care. Working within both community driven initiatives and public agencies, Kristy has garnered a vivid education in the housing and homeless service system and exposure to the intricate and punitive networks of political power that effectively create, commodify, and criminalize homelessness. She combines these experiences with other formative confrontations with institutional power, all of which have shaped her practice as a cultural organizer and scholar. Kristy centers her work on an ethic of radical cultural stewardship, an approach to cultural work which centers the needs of inter-related communities and the well-being of those experiencing acute harm, producing maneuvers within the cultural field that prioritize trauma informed care, responsibility for historical inheritances, and our collective survival. She aims her labor directly at the abolition of white supremacy and settler-colonial projects in the Americas and beyond. Kristy holds a Bachelor of Fine Art from Art Center College of Design and a Master of Fine Art from University of California Irvine.

AnMarie R. Mendoza

Graduate Student Researcher

Email: annie520@ucla.edu
Dept: Urban Planning

AnMarie R. Mendoza was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley and identifies with both the original people (Gabrieleno-Tongva)  and the distinctive working-class communities of the area. AnMarie has a Bachelors degree in Political Science and a Masters in American Indian Studies from UCLA. Generations of her family have witnessed, endured and contributed to the molding of Los Angeles (Occupied Tongva territory) and it is for this reason she continues her academic study in Urban Planning. She is creator and director of the “Aqueduct Between Us,” a docuseries about water in Los Angeles from an indigenous perspective.

Joel Montano

Data Analyst

Email: jxmontano@gmail.com
Twitter: @jxmontano

Joel Montano graduated from UCLA’s MURP program in 2020, whose capstone project focused on predatory landlord behavior and evictions in Los Angeles. As a recipient of UCLA’s Luskin Leadership Internship Awards Program, he worked with Liberty Hill Foundation in the summer of 2019 to support the passage of a permanent rent control ordinance for Unincorporated Los Angeles County. Prior to UCLA, Joel worked as the Affordable Housing Tenant Outreach Organizer for eight and a half years with the Coalition for Economic Survival—a non-profit tenant’s rights organization based in Los Angeles. He organized with tenants residing in HUD Project-based Section-8 and rent control housing to empower and develop their leadership skills to fight back against poor habitability conditions, inadequate management services, and displacement.

Carla Orendorff


Email: metamujer@gmail.com

Carla Orendorff is a community-based researcher and organizer from the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. She believes in the power of neighborhoods.

Jed Parriott


Email: jdeforis@gmail.com

Jed Parriott is an artist and community organizer living in Los Angeles. As a member of Street Watch LA, the Los Angeles Community Action Network, Democratic Socialists of America, LA Tenants Union, and NOlympics, Jed has organized to bring unhoused and housed tenants together in solidarity against systems of criminalization and displacement, and to build power in the fight for housing as a human right.

Annie Powers

Graduate Student Researcher

Email: anniepowers@ucla.edu
Dept: History

Annie Powers is a tenant organizer and historian whose work focuses on political movements of poor and unhoused communities. Annie organizes with housed and especially unhoused tenants as a member Union de Vecinos, the Eastside Local of the LA Tenants Union. They are a Research Coordinator at the Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy and a doctoral student in the History Department. Their study of unhoused tenants’ struggles emerges from and acts in solidarity with those same movements today.

William Sens, Jr.


Email: alphonsocallsen@gmail.com

William Sens, Jr. is an artist and a community organizer living in Los Angeles, California. He has spent six cumulative years living on the streets, volunteering as an activist for Unhoused Tenants Against Carceral Housing, Street Watch LA, Echo Park Rising, Food Not Bombs, and Earth First.

Pamela Stephens

Graduate Student Researcher

Email: pstephens@ucla.edu
Dept: Urban Planning

Pamela Stephens is a doctoral candidate in the department of Urban Planning at UCLA and a Graduate Student Researcher with the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy. Along with supporting the Housing Justice in Unequal Cities network, her research with the Institute focuses on different mechanisms of housing precarity and their roles in advancing processes of racial banishment.

Pamela’s scholarship explores the entanglements of urban planning practice and the production and elimination of black space. Specifically, her dissertation project tracks the ways that redevelopment projects in post-rebellion Watts were instrumental in reshaping Black Los Angeles, both materially and politically.

She holds a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA and a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Leonardo Vilchis-Zarate

Graduate Student Researcher

Email: lvilchiszarate@ucla.edu
Dept: Chicana/o & Central American Studies

Leonardo Vilchis-Zarate is a tenant organizer and researcher. He is interested in the role of the autonomous tenant’s movement within the conjuncture of dominance by the landholding political class and the state and nonprofit sector’s inutility. His research looks at the legacy of late 20th century neoliberalism, namely the demolition of public housing, and its relationship to the present crisis for housed and unhoused tenants. He is a PhD student in the Chicana, Chicano, and Central American Studies Program and an organizer with Union de Vecinos, the Eastside Local of the Los Angeles Tenants Union.

Angela Wu

Web Assistant

Email: anwu7@g.ucla.edu

Angela is a UCLA graduate who majored in Computer Science. She works on maintaining and updating the Institute on Inequality and Democracy’s websites. She has an interest in UX/UI design and SEO principles.


Laura S. Abrams

Social Welfare

Leisy J. Abrego

Chicana/o and Central American Studies

Randall Akee

Public Policy

Amada Armenta

Urban Planning

César J. Ayala


Bryonn Bain

African American Studies & World Arts and Cultures/Dance

Gary L. Blasi


Dana Cuff

Architecture/Urban Design & Urban Planning

Sharon Dolovich


Caroline Ford


Dan Froot

World Arts and Cultures/Dance

Fanna Gamal


Leah Zeidler-Ordaz


Martin Gilens

Public Policy & Political Science & Social Welfare

Felipe Gonçalves


Akhil Gupta


Cheryl I. Harris

Law & African American Studies

Juan Herrera


Chris Herring


Jasmine D. Hill

Public Policy & Sociology

Ian W. Holloway

Social Welfare

Grace Kyungwon Hong

Gender Studies & Asian American Studies

Gaye Theresa Johnson

Chicana/o and Central American Studies

Kelly Kay


Robin D.G. Kelley


Vinay Lal


Helga Leitner


Michael C. Lens

Urban Planning & Public Policy

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

Urban Planning

Michael Manville

Urban Planning

Kyle T. Mays

African American Studies & American Indian Studies & History

Cecilia Menjívar


Paavo Monkkonen

Urban Planning & Public Policy

Victor Narro

UCLA Labor Center & Law

Paul Ong

Center for Neighborhood Knowledge

Tejas Parasher

Political Science

Sunita Patel


Amy Ritterbusch

Social Welfare

Peter Sellars

World Arts and Culture/Dance

Eric Sheppard


Daniel G. Solórzano


Marike Splint

Theater, Film and Television

Shalom Staub

UCLA Center for Community Learning

Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld

Public Policy

Renee Tajima-Peña

Asian American Studies

Chris Tilly

Urban Planning

Karen Umemoto

Asian American Studies & Urban Planning

Marques Vestal

Urban Planning

Alicia Virani


Tria Blu Wakpa

World Arts and Cultures/Dance

Edward T. Walker


Lee Ann S. Wang

Asian American Studies & Social Welfare

Emily Weisburst

Public Policy

Laura Wray-Lake

Social Welfare

Wesley Yin

Public Policy

David K. Yoo

Asian American Studies & History

Noah D. Zatz


Maite Zubiaurre

European Languages and Transcultural Studies & Spanish and Portuguese


Images featured on this website have been generously provided by: Brittany Bravo, Steven Chun, City of Vancouver Archives, Debt Collective, Filomena Cruz, Les Dunseith, Justin Gaar, Angela Garcia, Roberto Gudiño, La Hidra Cooperativa, Aaron Julian, Stan Paul, Right to Remain Collective, UCLA Library Special Collections, Taymaz Valley, Talesha Wilson


The UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

Click on the linked words to hear the pronunciation for the Tongva-language words.