Black Researchers Collective

Taking Research to the Streets

The Black Researchers Collective was founded in December 2019. The mission of the Black Researchers Collective is to train and equip communities with the research tools necessary to be more civically engaged and policy informed.

Building the capacity of changemaking Black women.

Black Researchers Collective

Taking Research to the Streets

The Black Researchers Collective was founded in December 2019. The mission of the Black Researchers Collective is to train and equip communities with the research tools necessary to be more civically engaged and policy informed.

Building the capacity of changemaking Black women.

Research for the Culture

We are unapologetically fierce Black women who understand the power of research and impact of data on our everyday lives. As a result, it is our desire to build a pipeline of Black women leveraging research with their empirical experiences to better support their communities. We are highly invested in strengthening the knowledge and skill set of this demographic…for the culture.

Our core beliefs and values help us stay grounded in the work.

  • We believe in giving people control of their own narratives
  • We believe in leveraging our history and empirical experience to inform and address societal challenges
  • We believe in building collective power with the tools we’ve learned along our journeys
  • We believe in community-directed research
  • We believe in owning data and research that directly impact our communities so that we might be more informed about how to effectively inform and influence policy

Research for the Culture

We are unapologetically fierce Black women who understand the power of research and impact of data on our everyday lives. As a result, it is our desire to build a pipeline of Black women leveraging research with their empirical experiences to better support their communities. We are highly invested in strengthening the knowledge and skill set of this demographic…for the culture.

Our core beliefs and values help us stay grounded in the work.

  • We believe in giving people control of their own narratives
  • We believe in leveraging our history and empirical experience to inform and address societal challenges
  • We believe in building collective power with the tools we’ve learned along our journeys
  • We believe in community-directed research
  • We believe in owning data and research that directly impact our communities so that we might be more informed about how to effectively inform and influence policy

Get to know us

Meet Our Team

Glenance Green

Glenance Green

Co-Founder

Glenance is a researcher, artivist, storyteller, community organizer, and content creator who uses various art forms as tools of healing and liberation for systemic change. With 14 years of research experience and 15 years in the non-profit sector, Glenance has been keenly focused on institutionalizing racial equity at the state and local level. Focused on enhancing her practice, Glenance was a 2019 Racial Equity Fellow for Chicago United for Equity and a 2020 Fellow for New Leaders Council. She serves on the Advisory Council on Equity for the City of Chicago, the Board of Directors for Kuumba Lynx, and is the Youth Engagement Committee Chair for the Ellis Park Advisory Council in the Chicago community of Bronzeville. Green holds both a BA and MA in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University, respectively, and is currently in pursuit of her PhD in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Shari Runner

Shari Runner

Co-Founder

Shari is a native Chicagoan whose national reputation has been cemented because of her insistence on elevating topics of inclusion, race, and equity. Her professional acumen includes leading the strategic planning, development, programming and community outreach for the Chicago Urban League, one of the largest of the 68 affiliates of the National Urban League. During her tenure at the League, Runner relaunched the Research and Policy Center. Under her lead, the Center was heavily involved in statewide efforts to reform the school funding formula, called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate policing practice in Chicago, joined a ground-breaking lawsuit with other community organization plaintiffs to develop a Police Consent Decree with the City of Chicago, and developed its innovative Race and Equity Initiative. Runner has more than 25 years of experience in operations and financial management. She has also worked as an entrepreneur, management consultant, and community advocate. Runner holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Melissa Brown-Sims

Melissa Brown-Sims

Founding Member

Melissa is the Co-Founder of the #BlackTechFuture Research Institute. She has more than 15 years of experience conducting research nationally and managing projects and budgets of $2 million. As an experienced researcher, Melissa has spent time conducting in-depth research and co-authoring reports focused on understanding the racial inequity within cities such as Chicago’s and Philadelphia. By fostering community-based and community-led research, she is working on breaking down the silos between local black tech innovators, community organizations, educators, and other institutions across multiple cities and neighborhoods. The aim is to help build the capacity of people of color to collect data themselves while also helping them to develop policy recommendations that can ultimately be used to help directly and positively impact their cities and communities. Brown-Sims holds a MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago and a BS in Psychology from Howard University.

Montrischa Essoka

Montrischa Essoka, PhD

Founding Member

Montrischa is a senior researcher at American Institutes for Research with more than 10 years’ experience in educational research and technical assistance. Dr. Essoka specializes in equity in higher education, STEM persistence, as well as the postsecondary pathways and transitions from high school to college of underserved students. ○ Montrischa currently serves as a manager and task lead on several multi-year, large- and small-scale level projects with an average budget of $1.7 million annually. Essoka holds a PhD and EdM in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, a BA in Political Science with a minor in Education from the University of California Irvine, and an AA in Liberal Studies from Contra Costa Community College.

Tiffany McDowell

Tiffany McDowell, PhD

Founding Member

Tiffany is a community psychologist and thought leader committed to identifying and eliminating systems that push people to the margins of society. She understands the multiple ways that our current structures create barriers to wellness. Tiffany serves as Director of the Equity Institute at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, and is co-founder of the Chicagoland Equity Network, where she convened a diverse membership to advance a common equity agenda across Cook County. Tiffany’s passion for social justice and equity drives her approach to ensuring that all voices are valued. Much of her work is focused on building the capacity of organizations, community residents, and other stakeholders to develop strategies and action plans toward equity and inclusion. ○ McDowell holds a PhD from The Ohio State University in Human Development and Family Science, specializing in couple and family therapy. She also received a MS in Child and Family Studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a BS in Psychology from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Helen Muhisani

Helen Muhisani

Founding Member

Helen has more than fifteen years of experience in data analysis and reporting, with a focus on postsecondary outcomes and indicators of college and career readiness. Muhisani is an experienced project director and task lead. Her work is mostly qualitative, focused on protocol development, data collection, research synthesis, report writing, and providing technical assistance to clients to increase their capacity to conduct their own research. ○ Helen holds a MS in Urban Planning and Policy with a specialization in Community Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BS in Marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tiffany McDowell

Christerralyn Brown, PhD

Member

Christerralyn (aka Chrissy) is a technical assistance consultant whose expertise lies in special education and providing intensive intervention supports. Chrissy provides professional development and coaching to educators implementing a culturally sustainable integrated MTSS framework and intensive interventions for students of color to produce effective positive outcomes. Chrissy has honed her skills of engaging with stakeholders and building relationships to garner expected outcomes to impact student growth and currently serves as the project manager and lead content developer for multiple state projects focusing on developing training modules for developing high quality Individualized Education Programs. Brown holds a PhD in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a MA in Multi-Categorical Special Education from Governors State University, and a BS in Communication Disorders from St. Xavier University.