Fellows and Visiting Scholars at PERE

  • 2014 PERE/CSII Visiting Scholars: Prof. Richard McGahey and Davide Gnes

  • PERE Social Justice Research Fellows (SJRF): Huibin Amee Chew and Adam Liszkiewicz

Professor Richard McGahey, PERE Visiting Scholar 2014

by Julia Kelson

In the summer of 2014, PERE welcomed visiting scholar Rick McGahey to our team. Rick joined us from The New School, where he serves as Director of the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management Program and Professor of Professional Practice in Public Policy and Economics at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy.

A respected scholar of economic development, Rick has experience in both the public and private sectors, including time at the Ford Foundation and many years spent in local, state and federal government positions.  He served as Economic Policy Advisor to Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and as Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Clinton Administration.  He earned a PhD in Economics from the New School for Social Research and has taught at New York University, John Jay College and the George Washington University.

Research Interests and Project Description

Rick loves to watch big ideas turn into effective policies. Joining PERE for the summer, he came to dig deep into how ideas for promoting equitable growth in American cities have panned out – what’s gone right, what’s gone wrong, and what lessons other cities can learn moving forward.

During his time here, Rick conducted interviews and on the ground research to learn about strategies and policies implemented in Los Angeles – a city he calls a leader and innovator in the movement for equitable growth. His research examines labor standards, the minimum wage and other ways to raise incomes, and economic development and environmental innovations spearheaded by organizations like LAANE and SCOPE.

Along with L.A., Rick will also conduct research in New York City and Detroit. He chose to focus on these cities because they have very different labor markets, organizing cultures, and histories of progressive social change.

 “Ultimately,” he says, “I hope to develop a framework for figuring out what organizations and cities can accomplish on their own, and when they need policy – at the regional, state or federal level –to step in and help.”

He is also examining cases where nonprofits and organizing groups that don’t usually work together—such as labor, environmental, and community development groups-- have formed alliances, and how those alliances have aided equitable growth.

Rick’s research will culminate in a book for Columbia University Press that helps other cities forge their own paths toward pairing equity with economic growth.  In New York, he is working with the New York Central Labor Council on policy ideas to create more jobs with equity that also improve environmental sustainability. His hope is that this will help open wider channels of discussion between policy makers and progressive economists.

During his time in Los Angeles, Rick has been particularly excited to learn about programs that turn powerful ideas into practical policy – such as the city’s new garbage and recycling initiative – and to talk to the people who have worked to bridge this divide. He is eager to bring what he has learned here in L.A. back to New York City in the fall, where he will return to his posts at The New School.


Davide Gnes, PERE/CSII Visiting Scholar 2014

by Julia Kelson

In June 2014, PERE/CSII welcomed visiting scholar Davide Gnes to our research team. Hailing from the Netherlands, Davide is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research (AISSR) and a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher within the INTEGRIM Initial Training Network.

Davide has spent time all over the world, having earned a Masters’ Degree from the University of Pavia, Italy and worked with NGOs in countries including Spain, Jordan, and Denmark. He has studied social mobilization within immigrant communities extensively and holds a second Masters degree in International Migration and Social Cohesion.

Research Interests and Project Description

Davide came to Los Angeles to take a closer look at the region's rich history of immigrant rights activism. After interviews with people involved in immigrant rights organizations and extensive research on archival material, he is now developing a project entitled “Migration, Citizenship and Labor”. His work examines the L.A. Immigrant Rights Movement and focuses specifically on how social interaction shapes mobilization and its meanings and practices.

“What I am interested in,” he says, “is why and how the development of individual and inter-organizational networks can facilitate or hamper the diffusion of new ideas, practices and framings across the multi-organizational field.”

To answer his research questions, Davide also studied a variety of campaigns within L.A.’s immigrant community over the last 20 years. These included those run by market workers, parking attendants, and day laborers, as well as efforts around driver’s licenses for undocumented Californians and comprehensive immigration reform.

Broadly, he hopes this work will allow him to do an in-depth comparison of the immigrant rights movement in L.A. with those in Europe. Davide has returned to the Netherlands for the time being but plans to return to USC this fall to continue his research.

Huibin Amee Chew, PERE Social Justice Research Fellow (SJRF) 2013-2014

Huibin Amee Chew is a 5th-year Ph.D. student in American Studies & Ethnicity.  Her dissertation research focuses on why and how it matters for poor people’s movements to make gendered violence visible – and to address gendered interpersonal violence both within movements and the communities they organize.

Research Project Description

Focus Groups of Workplace Sexual Harassment with the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance

Key Project Goals

  1. Summarize existing reports on how sexual harassment effects low-wage immigrant workers, and what can be done legally or organizing-wise;
  2. Begin discussions with KIWA members on the issue and find out how they experience these issues within the industries they work, attitudes and thoughts about the severity of the problem, their goals and visions, suggestions for how to respond;)
  3. Lay the groundwork for even more exploration, before strategizing how or whether the issue could be incorporated into KIWA's workplace justice campaigning.

Key Project Impacts

  • Started discussions with members. 
  • Inspiring reflections about what they want to see.
  • An upcoming memo to KIWA and workshop curriculum that incorporates examples and issues from the focus groups, to take the discussion with members further.


"I've loved this opportunity to build with a collaborative partner in a more far-visioning way.  Rather than just deliverable an output of information or research results... being able to work collaboratively and strategically with them.  I'm really glad to have the opportunity to do research with creative methods that lend to movement-building, rather than information extraction." - Amee Chew



Adam (A. J. Patrick) Liszkiewicz, PERE Social Justice Research Fellow (SJRF) 2013-2014

Adam (A. J. Patrick) Liszkiewicz is a PhD student in the Integrated Media Arts and Practice Program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He is also media artist and designer of socially conscious games (such as the "Tenants in Action" App) with Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE).

Research Interests

Game Studies & Design, Media Activism, Digital & Experimental Literature, Political Philosophy


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