Jacob Longaker (Director)

Jacob R. Longaker, Ph.D. (he/ele) is a teacher-scholar-activist with a passion for harnessing community organizing, advocacy, and critical pedagogy in pursuit of social justice.

Jacob's research and teaching explore strategies for transforming our organizations and institutions into more representative, equitable, and inclusive spaces for historically underrepresented and underserved groups.  In his work, Jacob has collaborated for over a decade with Brazilian LGB & travestis, mulheres transexuais, e homens trans movements, leveraging an intersectional lens that centers racialized and classed citizenships within institutional innovations of democratization.

Jacob's published work appears in  Politics, Groups, and Identities, Transgender Rights & Politics (University of Michigan Press), and LGBT Politics and Policy (Oxford University Press) and has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays Program.

Prior to joining Illinois, Jacob stewarded The Evergreen State College's first campus climate survey to completion and implemented evidence-based strategies for cultural change through co-curricular programming, trainings and workshops.  Jacob served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Reed College (2021) and Bates College (2016-2020) where he taught courses on Latin American social movements, institutions, and public policy. Jacob has organized scholarly exchange and off-campus study opportunities in Brazil.

Jacob holds a Ph.D. in Political Science (2016), Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (2013), M.A. in Political Science (2013), and B.A. cum laude in Political Science and International Studies (2009) from the University of Kansas.  Jacob studied International Relations and Social Sciences at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo in 2007-8. 

Teryl Brewster (Specialist in Education) holds a Bachelor degree in Sociology with a minor in Computer Science and Religious studies and a Masters in Sociology, both from Western Illinois University. Her professional experience includes eight years of working with underrepresented minority students at the University of Illinois in the area of advocacy and mentoring. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a focus in evaluating retention and transition programs for minority students at predominately White institutions. Starting her college career as a first generation, low income non-traditional college student, Teryl has a strong interest in improving the climate of higher education institutions. Teryl oversees the I-Journey Workshops on Request and the Social Justice Educators.

Chris McConkey (Office Support Specialist) holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois  Urbana-Champaign.  After working in the community mental health field for over 20 years, she is happy to return to the Illinois campus, providing office support for Diversity & Social Justice Education.

Elizabeth Moscoso Anderson (Graduate Assistant - OMSA/OIIR, Diversity & Social Justice Education) holds a Bachelor of Science with a minor in Psychology from UW-La Crosse and a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois.  She spent the last few years practicing as a School Social Worker in Champaign, and is currently working toward a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction for Secondary Education - English.  Elizabeth's missioin is to become an engaging, effective, and equitable teacher in a secondary or university setting who empowers young people to grow in their personal development and advance their skills to create positive change.

Michelle Naese (Program Coordinator) holds a Bachelor degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She was a peer educator throughout her undergraduate years and has participated in a majority of our programs as both student and staff member. Since graduating in 2015, she has worked on a few research projects in the Psychology department and joined our staff full-time in August 2021.