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Demetri L. Morgan, Ph.D.


Demetri (he/him/his) is an Associate Professor in the Higher Education Program at Loyola University ChicagoThe Diverse Democracy and Higher Education Project is the outgrowth of Demetri's deep belief in the necessity of cultivating quality and equitable educational experiences for all students in postsecondary education spaces. Equitable and quality educational experiences are some of the only ways to encourage social responsibility and democratic engagement that can transform political and social norms into their full potential of liberation and justice. Yet, equitable and quality experiences oriented towards democratic engagement don't just happen. This reality must be dreamed of, cultivated, nurtured, and institutionalized with thoughtful policies and defended with sound educational practices.


To this end, Demetri collaboratively leads a number of studies in support of realizing this vision including: a series of studies on student political engagement and activism, serving as Co-Principal Investigator on the ILSPRA project, and a founding member of the Critical Higher Education Governance Collaborative (CHEGC).

Demetri enjoys living in Chicago with his wife and daughter. He is an avid fan of the Florida Gators and Miami Heat, a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and an active member at NewStory Church Chicago. Demetri earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has an M.S. Ed. in higher education and student affairs from Indiana University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida. In 2019 Demetri was selected as a Next Generation Fellow of the Place-Based Justice Network and in 2021, Demetri was recognized by ACPA College Student Educators International as an Emerging Scholar.


Norma López, Ph.D.


Norma López (she/her/ella) is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago. She was previously a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University, as well as a full-time instructor in the higher education administration program at Northern Illinois University for a year and a half. Prior to entering the doctoral program, Norma worked for over 20 years in higher education, ranging from admissions and orientation at Williams College to residential life and academic advising at the University of Chicago. She received a B.A. in history from Williams College, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago. While in college, she studied abroad in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and during her time at Loyola, attended the Rome program.

Norma’s research agenda is focused on how power manifests in higher education and how the development of a critical consciousness can advance equity and inclusion while navigating and dismantling that power. She serves as a Bottom Line Chicago board member and hopes to continue to have an impact on the college trajectories of Chicago students through this work.   

Norma grew up in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and enjoys living near her extended family with her husband, two teenage kids, their dog, and cat. She loves to cook and run, usually on temperate fall days but will also run through Chicago’s humid summers and frigid winters.

Jonathan J. Okstad, MBA, MEd


Kendrick B. Davis,  Ph.D.

  • @Kbdavisphd

Kendrick (he/him/his) is the Chief Research Officer at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Race and Equity Center and Associate Professor of Research in the Rossier School of Education. Kendrick is also CEO of KBD Consulting LLC., an educational consulting firm focused on equity-minded research, professional development, and policy analysis. Kendrick serves as senior research personnel and educational research manager for the ILSPRA project


Prior to his appointments at USC, Kendrick worked as the Vice President of Policy Research at the Campaign for College Opportunity. In 2018, Kendrick was awarded a nationally-recognized American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Fellowship where he served as an education policy advisor for United States Senator Kamala D. Harris in Washington, DC. His responsibilities included writing legislation and advising in the areas of workforce and K-12, postsecondary, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. 


Before arriving in DC, Kendrick served as the Director of STEM for the city of Philadelphia under Mayors Michael Nutter and Jim Kenney. In that position, he coordinated citywide efforts in STEM education, youth workforce development, and poverty reduction strategies. Additionally, he advised the mayor and cabinet on STEM policy and programs with statewide and national exposure, and served as the city's liaison to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP).


Kendrick earned his Ph.D. in higher education, and his master's degrees in both robotics and law from the University of Pennsylvania; his bachelor's degree is in mechanical engineering is from Temple University. In 2021, Kendrick was recognized by Diverse Issues in Higher Education as an Emerging Scholar.

Check out a recent Policy in Practice discussion featuring Dr. Davis - Link


Jonathan J. Okstad, PhD, MBA is Manager of Research Administration at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. In this role he leads a team in the Basic Science Administration supporting faculty research in grant seeking, sponsored programs administration, research policy and strategy, and fostering a scholarly research community.

He has extensive research, teaching, and administrative experience having served in various higher education roles within academic affairs, advancement, alumni relations, and student activities. Previously, he led an NGO in the United States and Central America with a mission to support children and families with housing, education, and medical assistance.​

Dr. Okstad's research interests center around equitable and inclusive learning environments, university finance and governance, organizational theory, and underrepresented populations and communities in higher education.

Dr. Okstad earned his PhD in Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago, MBA in Strategic Management at St. Catherine University, MEd in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota School of Social Work, and a BS in Sociology from North Dakota State University. He is a certified professional project manager.

Meet the Research Team

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Tori Callais, M.A. 

  • @ToriCallais

Tori Callais (She/Her/Hers) is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Higher Education program at Loyola University Chicago and works in support of a number of projects with Dr. Morgan. Prior to enrolling at Loyola, Tori worked as a practitioner in the areas of orientation, first year experience, college access, and state government.

Her research interests include critical whiteness studies, organizational change, and the intersection of whiteness and gender in higher education.

Tori received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Louisiana State University with a major in liberal arts- concentration women and gender studies and minors in sociology and social work. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Higher Education Administration from Louisiana State University.

Outside of her studies, Tori can be found playing with her dog, singing in the Chicago Community Chorus, rooting for the LSU Tigers, or spending time with family and friends.

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Maria Acevedo


Maria (she/her/hers) is a third-year PhD student in Physics at the Duke University. She is also working on a project to refine the measures of redshifting supernovae. Her other passions include minority representation in STEM and social awareness.

When not focusing on academics, she enjoys knitting, playing with her dog, and watching shuttle launches from the Space Coast.


Johnnie Campbell, M.Ed.


Johnnie L. Campbell, Jr., (he/him/his) is a fourth-year doctoral student in Loyola University Chicago‘s Higher Education PhD program. Johnnie identifies as a Black, first-generation college student from the south side of Chicago, IL. Johnnie joins the team as a Graduate Research Associate and will serve in various capacities on the ILSPRA project and on Dr. Demetri Morgan’s research team.

As an emerging Critical Researcher, Johnnie’s research agenda seeks to interrogate, challenge and dismantle systems and structures which historically and presently seek to impede the personal, social and academic advancement of racially and ethnically minoritized populations. Johnnie approaches these efforts through the following research interests: Black men’s college experiences, Deficit Thinking, College Student Access, Diversity Leadership in Higher Education and Education Policy. Johnnie also embarks on his dissertation journey this school year.

Johnnie holds a BA in Organizational and Interpersonal Communication from Western Illinois University and a Master of Education in Higher Education - Student Affairs from Iowa State University of Science & Technology. Professionally, Johnnie has worked as a higher education professional in various capacities such as Admissions, Academic Advising, Sorority & Fraternity Engagement, First-Year Orientation and Early Outreach Programs. Johnnie has also taught coursework to undergraduate students on DEI issues and academic learning and development. Johnnie is a speaker and facilitator, offering training and consultation around DEI and Social Justice Education. Outside of academia, Johnnie loves spending time with family and friends, watching sports and the creative/performing arts.


Dre Parker, M.S.

Dre Parker (he, him, his) is a 2nd-year PhD student in the Higher Education program at Loyola University Chicago and is the newest member of the research team. Dre’s research interests are DEI, social stratification, and social justice.

As a two-time graduate of Southern Illinois University, Dre earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and M.S. Ed in Higher Education. He has worked at various top tier institutions of higher education, serving as a student affairs practitioner in leadership roles such as residence life, student activities, orientation, advising, and student conduct.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, traveling, and embarking on new adventures.

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