To guide our work, members of the Gender Justice Initiative research team abide by a shared set of values and priorities. It is through these values that we ground our work with communities. We invite those we work and interact with to adapt and live by these values and shared priorities too. 

  1. We believe survivors.

  2. We reject the lie of white supremacy.

  3. We commit to anti-oppressive work.

  4. We commit to expanding our thinking on how to reach liberation.

  5. Individuals and communities know best what they need.

  6. Individuals and communities are experts in their own lived experiences and are in control of their own narratives.

  7. Individuals and communities are in control of if, what, and how they share pieces of themselves, their histories, and their identities.

  8. Social science is a tool to achieve social justice.

  9. We bear witness.

  10. Gender-based violence is a form of structural violence that results from and serves to maintain oppression. We can end gender-based violence. We can achieve liberation.

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Principal Investigator

Jessica Shaw, Ph.D., is a community psychologist, with specializations in evaluation, and organizational change and development. Her research focuses on improving within and between system responses to sexual assault by relying on community partnerships to facilitate empirically-informed, sustainable change. Her work has been funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, National Institute of Justice, and the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. She has been invited to present her research at the White House and has served as a subject matter expert on several national committees focused on improving system responses to sexual assault. Prior to joining the Community and Prevention Research program in the Psychology Department at UIC, Dr. Shaw was an assistant professor in the Boston College School of Social Work, and a visiting fellow with the National Institute of Justice.

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Graduate Research Assistant

Caroline Bailey is a doctoral student in the Community Prevention and Research Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to coming to UIC, Caroline graduated from Boston College School of Social Work and is a clinically trained social worker. While in the program, Caroline will work under Dr. Jessica Shaw, who has also been Caroline's mentor and employer for the past three years. Caroline's previous work includes being a Research Coordinator at UIC, a counselor at a domestic violence community agency, and a social work advocate and consultant in an Immigration Legal Clinic. Caroline is passionate about issues surrounding gender-based violence and social justice and believes that social change should be rooted in feminist and abolitionist principles and ideologies. Her research interests include community responses to survivors of sexual and domestic violence and hopes to continue engaging in research that can influence policy and practice.


Graduate Research Assistant

Anastasiya completed her undergraduate studies at Dominican University and is a first year doctoral student in the Community and Prevention Research program at UIC. Before joining the program, Anastasiya completed an internship in Washington, D.C., where she worked with a restorative justice organization and the court system to help convert prison sentences to community service for offenders from marginalized groups. She is passionate about using research to uplift marginalized voices who suffer from structural oppression and violence. Anastasiya is excited to join Dr. Shaw’s team and use research to improve the way systems respond to gender-based violence. Her main goals are to empower those who are neglected by systemic power structures and create more resources for them to have equal opportunities for success.

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Graduate Research Assistant

Abril Harris is a fourth year doctoral student at the Boston College School of Social Work. Her research focuses on the utility of oppressive ideologies and beliefs in the legitimization of structural violence (police brutality, sexual violence) against marginalized communities and persons. More specifically, Abril is interested in the processes of meaning making and the development of anti-oppressive strategies among BIPOC populations in managing the effects of systemic oppression. Currently she is investigating the manifestations of internalized oppression in how survivors make meaning of their assault and how that meaning influences subsequent help-seeking decisions. Abril is currently working on two research projects, with one looking at system responses to adolescent sexual assault, led by Dr. Jessica Shaw; and Abril is the Co-Investigator on a study that seeks to learn about the experiences of BIPOC social work students at a predominantly white institution. Abril is a strong proponent of social justice research that works with communities to create lasting impact.

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Graduate Research Assistant

Maya is a doctoral student in the Community and Prevention Research program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She first joined the GJI team in 2019 as an undergraduate research assistant while completing her Bachelor's degree in Applied Psychology. Prior to entering the doctoral program, she completed a yearlong post-bac teaching fellowship program where she continued her work as a research assistant and served as a teaching assistant for UIC's psychology department. Maya has past experience as a Sexual Assault Community Education Intern in a local rape crisis center and has completed her 40hr rape crisis intervention training. In the doctoral program she aims to continue research with sexual assault survivors, center queer and trans survivor experiences, and use research to impact and dismantle oppressive systems.

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Graduate Research Assistant

Mandi completed her Bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of Georgia and her Master's degree in Applied Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. She also completed two graduate certificates in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Applied Behavior Analysis. She is now a first-year doctoral student in the Community and Prevention Research program at UIC working under Dr. Jessica Shaw. She has worked on a few different research projects involving Latin-American asylum seekers, refugees, and creating a diversity training where she honed her passion for helping marginalized communities through researching and creating change together. Specifically, she is passionate about utilizing research on rape culture and its relationship with the justice system to help create improvements for survivors within the Latinx community. Mandi is eager to join the team and work with Dr. Shaw to conduct research with the community to help survivors and foster a more equitable society overall.



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Alexandra Burrell is a recent alumna at UIC with a Bachelor’s in English. She is currently taking a gap year to work full-time and save up money for law school as well as study for the LSAT. She plans to attend law school in the future in hopes of becoming a lawyer who aids survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. 


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