Who We Are

Abigail Baim-Lance is a researcher at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute. She is co-PI of an ethnographic study that aims to describe perceptions of, and interactions with,
“quality of care” and “quality improvement” processes by recipients of HIV services at New York Designated AIDS Centers.  She recently completed her Phd in anthropology that analyzed care giving programs
as a response to HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Abigail’s research focuses on the complex of effects emanating from the production of standardized and meaningful social interventions.

Marianne Cooper is a sociologist whose research focuses on the intersection of family life, gender, work, emotions, and inequality. Her current project is an ethnographic study of how fifty families from across the economic spectrum in Silicon Valley “do security”—how they create security and manage insecurity in the face of the drastic rise of income and wealth inequality and the shift of risk away from government and employers and onto the shoulders of individuals and their families (i.e. the shift from pensions to 401(k)s). The project explores class based patterns in what security means to people, how they achieve it, what obstacles (risks) they perceive and encounter, what they worry about in the process, how they manage their worry, and how they do (or don’t) share their worry with their spouses and family members. Her previous research examined how fathers working in the high tech industry balance work and family life. She recently received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. When she isn’t taking care of her new baby, she is revising her dissertation, “Doing Security” in Insecure Times: Class and Family Life in Silicon Valley, into a book. She lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and their daughter.

Kimberly McClain DaCosta is currently a professor of Sociology and Dean of Students at at Harvard University.  She writes and teaches about race, families and, most recently, consumerism.  For much of her life  she’s been interested in why people find it so difficult to love and care for each other across racial boundaries, an issue she explored in her book Making Multiracials: State, Family and Market in the Redrawing of the Color Line (Stanford 2007).  For this blog, she’s interested in writing about those places and spaces where people attempt to bridge social divisions through acts of care.

Sara Plachta Elliott is a currently a Research Associate at the Brandeis University Center for Youth and Communities and Evaluation Fellow at the Skillman Foundation in Detroit, Michigan. She is completing a Ph.D. in Social Policy at Brandeis’ Heller School for Social Policy and Management, focusing on children, youth and family policy. Her dissertation is a participatory case study of the Caregiving Youth Project of Palm Beach County. She is collaborating with a team of young caregivers to examine how the organization provides support and resources to youth who are caregiving for ill, disabled, injured, or aging family members. Her work seeks to integrate research, policy and action to achieve supportive conditions that allow children, youth, families, and communities to thrive.
Áine Uí Ghiollagáin is a parent and carer representative and community activist based in Ireland. Born in the US, and with a background in linguistics and language teaching, she lived and worked in different countries before settling in Conamara. She has one child and has also acted as carer to a disabled member of her extended family. Her focus is on getting policy makers to value care and develop practical supports for families and communities in order to improve outcomes for all involved in unpaid care – and in the case of children, care and education. She is currently Secretary General of Cúram parent and carer NGO, which is part-funded by the Irish Department of Equality. (‘Cúram’ means ‘care’ in Irish: Search Cúram on Facebook.)

Carol Levine is the Director of the Families and Health Care Project at the United Hospital Fund in New York City, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health services research organization. The project is aimed at creating effective partnerships between health care providers and family caregivers, especially around transitions in care settings.  She was the caregiver for my late husband for 17 years after he suffered a traumatic brain injury and was left quadriplegic.  The Fund’s Next Step in Care website (www.nextstepincare.org) has many guides for families and professionals.  She is particularly interested in narrative (fiction and nonfiction) as a way of reaching a deeper level of understanding about caregiving.  She have written for medical and gerontology publications as well as consumer media.  Her earlier work was in bioethics and the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on children and families.  She is co-editor with Tom Murray of The Cultures of Caregiving (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004) and editor of Always On Call: When Illness Turns Families into Caregivers (2nd ed., Vanderbilt University Press).

Cameron Macdonald is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on public-private care transfers. Specifically, her book “Shadow Mothers: Nannies, Au Pairs and the Micropolitics of Mothering” explores a private to public care transfer: how working mothers and childcare providers negotiate the transformation of a normatively ‘private’ form of care to one that involves paid employees. Her current research analyzes the consequences of healthcare offloading to families, a process which shifts responsibility for a professionalized and often highly technical form of care from public institutions to family members.

Joya Misra is a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts. She studies gender, family, employment, and care with a focus on how families balance these issues in different countries, and how this plays out in terms of gender inequality. In particular, she explores how policies supporting work-family balance impact women’s employment, wages, and their families’ risk of poverty.  She also studies care and employment among academics, exploring how faculty – who work very long hours – balance work-family, and also how institutional policies can help support work-family balance in ways that help diversify the academy.

Allison Pugh is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and author of Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children and Consumer Culture (University of California Press, March 2009).  She writes and teaches about culture, care and inequality. Her work focuses on three broad areas: the impact of the marketization of family life on caregiving; children as active social agents; and cultural change and continuity in the way people forge connections. She grew up in New York City, but 12 years in Oakland turned her soul Californian.  She has a spouse and three children.

Susan Sapiro has researched and written on carework related issues, such as a comparative study of parental leave policies in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.  She has also published articles and reviews on carework issues such as work-life and family in the workplace, how nonprofit organizations address staff’s family responsibilities, and mothers’ workforce participation.  Susan spent four years at a New York-based feminist organization creating programs and resources on women’s history, spirituality, philanthropy and community leadership.  She co-developed an educational poster series and resource guide on women’s history (http://jwa.org/historymakers), and created content and bibliographies for www.ritualwell.org (a Webby-nominated lifecycle and holiday website).  She also managed a 75-member feminist scholarship research and discussion group.  In her spare time (before children) she co-created and facilitated an intergenerational giving circle for women and girls, and co-wrote and edited the No Small Change Resource  Guide: http://www.2164.net/PDFnewsletters/NoSmallChange.pdf.

Teresa Swartz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota.  She writes and teaches about families, gender, social class, race and ethnicity, youth and young adulthood, and foster care. She is currently writing about on young adults from diverse backgrounds and their relationships with their parents, particularly with regards to intergenerational giving, connection, and the reproduction of social inequality.  She is also author of Parenting for the State: An Ethnographic Analysis of Non-Profit Foster Care. 2005. New York: Routledge. Teresa grew up in Southern California, and now lives with her husband and two children in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Leonila Vega is a civil rights attorney specializing in elder care and disability rights law. She is the founding Executive director of Direct Care Alliance, an organization that serves as the national advocacy voice for the more than three million direct care workers in the United States.  Born in Mexico, she grew up in rural California, graduated from the University of California, Irvine, and received her JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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