Leadership and Staff

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Stephen Small
small [at] berkeley.edu

Stephen SmallStephen Small is Director of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues and Professor of African American Studies. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology at UC Berkeley, where he was a graduate student trainee in what is now ISSI’s Graduate Fellows Program. His teaching focuses primarily on African Americans in the post-Civil Rights period, but he necessarily makes comparisons with earlier periods and with other racial and ethnic groups in the contemporary period. His current research is organized around the social scientific analysis of contemporary racial formations and addresses links between historical structures and contemporary manifestations of racial formations in the United States and elsewhere in the African Diaspora. Axes of stratification shaped by gender, gender/race intersections, and by class and nation are central to his work. His publications include numerous journal articles and chapters in edited volumes. He is co-editor of Global Mixed RaceNew Perspectives on Slavery and Colonialism in the Caribbean, and Black Europe and the African Diaspora. His most recent book, 20 Questions and Answers on Black Europe, was published January, 2018. His next book is tentatively entitled: “Inside the Shadows of the Big House: 21st Century Antebellum Slave Cabins and Heritage Tourism in Louisiana”, to be published in 2022.  He is currently co-writing a book (with Dr. Kwame Nimako) on Public History, Museums and Slavery in England and the Netherlands.


Associate Director

Deborah Freedman Lustig
dlustig [at] berkeley.edu

Deborah Freedman LustigDeborah Freedman Lustig is a cultural anthropologist whose research has focused on gender and education in the United States and Kenya, where she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2004-5. Lustig earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan. Her articles about teenage mothers have been published in the journals Anthropology and Education Quarterly and Childhood and in the edited volume Childhood, Youth, and Social Work in Transformation:  Implications for Policy and Practice (Columbia University Press, 2009). Her recent research on risk and violence among young adults coming of age in Oakland, California has been published in Children and Youth Services Review and in the edited volume Education and the Risk Society: Theories, Discourse, and Risk Identities in Education Contexts (Sense Publishers 2012) and is available here. From 2006-2011 Lustig coordinated the research and training activities of the Center on Culture, Immigration, and Youth Violence Prevention, a project of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. In addition to helping direct the overall research mission of the Institute, she is the Academic Coordinator for the ISSI research centers, as well one of the Co-Directors of the Graduate Fellows Program.  To read more about Dr. Lustig click here.


Chief Administrative Officer

Maxwell D. Vanderwarker
maxwellvan [at] berkeley.edu

Maxwell Vanderwarker stands in front of a black curtain. He has short brown hair, a thick black beard, and a light gray cardigan over a dark blue polo.

Maxwell Vanderwarker is ISSI’s Chief Administrative Officer. He received his BA in English from UC Berkeley, where he was involved in LGBT+ leadership with Oscar Wilde House. After graduation, he transitioned into Human Resources and finance and worked with a variety of small tech startups in the Bay Area, and at the College of Natural Resources, and previously as ISSI’s Administrative Manager. Most recently, he was the Operations Officer at the UCSF HEAL Initiative, a global health fellowship focused on providing health care to resource-denied communities both in the global south and in the United States. He spends his free time tending to his two feline daughters, Sriracha and Polaris, sewing bags and garments, and spending sacred quiet time with his husband.



Graduate Fellows Program Co-Director

David Minkus
minkus [at] berkeley.edu

David MinkusDavid Minkus has been a Research Associate and Co-Director of the Graduate Fellows Program at the Institute for more than three decades. He is currently engaged in preliminary research on access to employment and training within the informal economies of Latino ethnic enclaves.  Over the past fifteen years he has worked in research, training and consultant positions involved in design and evaluation of programs targeting at-risk youth and their families in school, after school, and community settings. He completed a one-year study of “Best Practices among Youth Serving Programs in Berkeley (2003-04),” for the City of Berkeley.  David is also the principal author (with Michael Omi) of an Evaluation of the Young Entrepreneurs at Haas School of Business’ (YEAH) Program for Bay Area high school students. David has also engaged in extensive research on travel behavior and social impacts of transportation systems within the Bay Area.  He was principal author of a variety of studies of travel behavior patterns and barriers to use of public transportation.  These include studies of the impacts of BART on Bay Area lifestyles and social institutions; the Golden Gate Park Users Transportation Surveys; and the San Francisco Downtown Shoppers Survey.  He was also principal author of the market feasibility study for the MUNI Market Street Historic Railcars.

Senior Researcher

Robin Marsh
robinmarsh [at] berkeley.edu

Robin MarshRobin Marsh joined ISSI in 2014 as a Senior Researcher. She is a socio-economist with over 25 years of experience in international agriculture and rural development.  Marsh received her PhD from the Food Research Institute, Stanford University.  She subsequently worked for the World Vegetable Center on socio-economic and nutritional benefits of home/community gardening, and for the Food and Agriculture Organization on local institution strengthening for food security and sustainable rural livelihoods.  Marsh joined UC Berkeley in 2000 as Academic Coordinator of the Center for Sustainable Resource Development and Co-Director of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program (2000-2013).  She has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources since 2003, teaching in the field of Population, Environment & Development, and is Affiliate Faculty with The Blum Center for Developing Economies. Robin Marsh is a founding leader of the The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program (MCFSP) at UC Berkeley, a major partnership to provide high-achieving, economically disadvantaged youth from sub-Saharan Africa the opportunity for quality university education and leadership development.  Since 2013, Marsh is lead researcher on the multi-university study, "Career and Life Trajectories of African Alumni of International Universities".  The collaborative study will produce findings relevant for current MCF Scholars and for enhanced understanding of the diverse outcomes and impacts of an international education.  Marsh is currently the Academic Partner with the Global Fund for Women's Initiative: Rural Women Striding Forward, working with the sub-Saharan African team to develop robust research tools and disseminate findings to policy-makers.  She is also a fellow with the non-profit organization EcoAgriculture Partners, and associated global initiative, Landscapes for People, Food and Nature. She is co-author of the article, "Diversified Farming Systems: Impacts and Adaptive Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States, Norway and China" - a brief summary of the article is available here.


Student Assistants

Tiffany Wong, Communications Assistant

Michelle Ekwueme, Events Assistant

Amrita Vinjamury

Advisory Committee

Jane Mauldon (Chair), Associate Professor of Public Policy, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley

Michael Burawoy, Professor of Sociology

Patricia Baquedano-López, Associate Professor of Education

Jovan Scott Lewis, Associate Professor of Geography

Lok Siu, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies

In addition to the Advisory Board, ISSI relies on the Faculty Leadership Council, listed here.


Photos of Deborah Lustig by Keegan Houser

Institute for the Study of Societal Issues
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