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Ruby Mendenhall

Ruby Mendenhall

Primary Affiliation: Kathryn Lee Baynes Dallenbach Professorship in Liberal Arts and Sciences | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Skill Highlights

Kathryn Lee Baynes Dallenbach Professorship in Liberal Arts and Sciences | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Policy Expertise

Earned Income Tax Credit
Housing
Urban and Regional Planning
Medicalization of Poverty
Diversity Equity and Inclusion
Racial Microaggressions

Experience & Background

Ruby Mendenhall
About
Experience & Background

Ruby Mendenhall is a Professor of Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, Gender and Women’s Studies and Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology; Women and Gender in Global Perspectives; the Cline Center for Advance Social Research; Epstein Health Law and Policy Program; Family Law and Policy Program; the Institute of Government and Public Affairs; and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Mendenhall is the Associate Dean for Diversity and Democratization of Health Innovation at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

Mendenhall’s research examines how living in racially segregated neighborhoods with high levels of violence affects Black mothers’ mental and physical health using surveys, interviews, crime statistics, police records, data from 911 calls, art, wearable sensors and genomic analysis. She also examines Black mother’s resiliency and spirituality. She examines the role of the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) in social mobility, health outcomes, and the medicalization of poverty. She is interested in how families use their EITC to secure affordable and safe housing. She studies the effects of racial microaggressions on the health and sense of belonging of students of color who are on predominantly white campuses. She also employs big data to recover Black women’s lost history, using topic modeling and data visualization to examine over 800,000 documents from 1740 to 2014. She is currently directing the STEM Illinois Nobel Project, funded by NSF, which provides unprecedented access to computer science and other STEM fields. The Nobel project is also a pathway program to medicine. The Nobel Scholars will be trained to become high school youth Community Health Workers and Citizen Scientists.

Professional Positions

Early Head Start Program, Chicago, IL. 

Infant Specialist Team Supervisor of The Ounce of Prevention Fund, 1996 – 1998. 

Supervised home visitors who worked with teenage mothers in the Robert Taylor public housing community to increase their self-sufficiency (through education and employment), and to improve their children’s developmental outcomes.  Evaluated children suspected of having developmental delays.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund, Chicago, IL. 

Public Policy Fellow for the Kids Public Education and Policy Project, 1994 – 1996. 

Provided technical assistance to Chicago communities as they planned for and implemented the federally funded Family Centered Services Initiative.  Participated in legislative work and advocacy around welfare reform and early childhood education.  Researched community initiatives and programs for children and families; identified service gaps and recommended possible improvements.  Participated in the development of an Early Head Start proposal and co-chaired a grant writing team.

Cool County Children’s Hospital, Chicago, IL. 

Occupational Therapist (Staff member, Supervisor, and Consultant), 1986 – 1993.

Managed the pediatric occupational therapy unit.  Provided training on child development and evaluations. Conducted developmental assessments on children using the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities, Gesell Developmental Appraisal, Denver Screening Test, and Reflex Evaluation. Chaired interdisciplinary teams, which developed comprehensive treatment plans for premature infants and children.  Provided therapy to children, birth to 18 years of age with various disabilities: cerebral palsy, prematurity, autism, failure to thrive, meningitis, spinal cord injury, blunt head trauma, Shaken Baby syndrome, and Down syndrome (trisomy 21).

Education

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; Ph.D. in Human Development & Social Policy, 2004.

Dissertation: Black Women in Gautreaux’s Housing Desegregation Program: The Role of Neighborhoods and Networks in Economic Independence.  Dissertation Committee: Greg Duncan (Chair), Carol Lee, Marjorie Faulstic Orellana, and Phillip Bowman. Reader: James Rosenbaum

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy, Chicago, IL; M.P.P with Honors, 1994.

University of Illinois, Health Science Center, Chicago, IL; B.S. Occupational Therapy, 1986.

Recent Publications

IGPA’s Ruby Mendenhall Discusses the Toll Gun Violence in the U.S. Has on Black Mothers
IGPA’s Ruby Mendenhall Discusses the Toll Gun Violence in the U.S. Has on Black Mothers

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