UCI Black Thriving Initiative

Inclusive Excellence Term Chairs Biographies

2021 Cohort

About the inaugural theme: Black Thriving

The theme for the inaugural cohort of Inclusive Excellence Term Chairs is Black Thriving. This theme aligns with the UCI Black Thriving Initiative (BTI). Developed in response to the national reckoning about anti-Black racism, this initiative recognizes and responds to anti-Blackness as an existential threat to our society. As a university-wide response, BTI mobilizes the campus community to confront anti-Blackness, advance understanding about the Black experience and drivers of wellbeing and link the future of UCI to Black people and the success of Black communities.

Biographical Sketches of the Inaugural Inclusive Excellence Term Chairs


Tonya Williams Bradford

is an associate professor of marketing in the Paul Merage School of Business. Her research program examines consumption rituals through gift and market economies and the communities in which these rituals occur, specifically examining how consumer movements may influence organizational practices.  She theorizes about the dynamics of consumption rituals and how they shape and reflect community, and her project on “Advancing Black Thriving in Marketing at the Merage School” will use case study to pose marketing questions that organizations face when responding to consumer activism as they address anti-Black racism. Prior to her academic career at UCI, Professor Bradford spent 17 years in domestic and international markets including positions as general manager at S1 Corporation in Atlanta, and principal at Gemini Consulting (now Cap Gemini), Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., among others. She and Professor Kevin Bradford were the first African American tenured faculty members at the Merage School and they recently endowed the first Bradford Fellows Scholarship to support students who are active in the Black Management Association or UCI’s Black Thriving Initiative.

Kaaryn Gustafson

is a professor of law and a director of the Center on Law, Equality and Race in the School of Law. She is a nationally recognized scholar on race, poverty, and the law through her interdisciplinary explorations about the role of law in inequality, as means to remedy or reinforce inequalities. Her research over the last decade has focused on the expanding administrative overlap between the welfare and criminal justice systems, as well as experiences of those individuals and families in the systems. In her direction of CLEAR, she promotes greater racial equality through research, education and advocacy. Her project on “Centering California in the History of Racism and Resistance: Black Leaders and Socio-legal Change” will include multi-year research, documentation, analyses, and publishing about the forgotten or invisible histories associated with California’s complex legacy of racial and ethnic inequality, history of colonialism, and complex and ever-changing dynamics of racial inequality.

Jessica Millward

is an associate professor of history and core faculty in the Department of African American Studies. During her three-year term as an Inclusive Excellence Chair on Black Thriving, she will continue her decades long commitment to making Black women visible – their lives, their unique challenges, their contributions at UCI, their knowledge production, their leadership roles in history, and their abilities to hide in plain sight. Professor Millward’s project is titled, “Leveraging the Mission, Documenting the Invisible: Archives of Slavery, Black Digital Humanities, and Black Feminist Theory as a Prescription for Black Thriving at UCI.” Her approach includes focusing on research, teaching and service through Black Feminist Theory. She will promote research on slavery and its afterlife related to her research on Black women and intimate violence after the US Civil War. She also will work with faculty to revive the crucially important UCI Ghana project in conjunction with her work on African women in the slave dungeons of West Africa.  Second, she will continue to train future faculty in digital humanities via her UC-HBCU Project, Activist Studio West and her work as a co-host of the Historians on Housewives podcast. Third, she will increase attention to Black Feminist intellectual knowledge by hosting reading groups and colloquia on campus.

Davin Phoenix

is an associate professor of political science in the School of Social Sciences.  As an Inclusive Excellence Term Chair, he will create the Consortium on Power and Identity (CPI), a cross-campus research lab of faculty and graduate students whose research highlights the sociopolitical, economic, legal and health-related significance of Blackness, and identity more broadly. Consisting of workshops, working group meetings, informal rap sessions, a visiting lecture series, and funding opportunities for interdisciplinary projects proposed by UCI faculty and students, Professor Phoenix will aim for the CPI to enhance the mentorship and professional development of UCI’s Black graduate students and junior faculty, facilitate collaborations and publishing among faculty and students, and provide a national showcase for the cutting edge work on Blackness coming out of UCI. He also will collect data on how CPI affiliates’ perceptions of racial climate
and sense of belonging within their home departments affect their research productivity, in an effort to produce scholarship that highlights effective campus or school-level interventions to enhance retention and success of Black faculty and students.

Bryan Sykes

is an associate professor and Chancellor’s Fellow in the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society in the School of Social Ecology.  His
research interests focus on the intersection of demography and criminology, broadly defined, with particular interests in fertility,
health, mass imprisonment, social inequality, and research methodology.  His work explores the myriad ways in which the criminal justice system
has impacted social life in America and he uses quantitative and mixed methods to test and explore the sociological and demographic theories
about population distribution, social control, and crime among disadvantaged men, women and children.  His term chair project on
“Racial Reckonings: Engaging and Mitigating Anti-Black Racism through Inclusive Excellence Research, Teaching, Service and Public Commentary”
will educate the public and policymakers on issues about anti-Black racism, while recruiting and training the next generation of
underrepresented and diverse scholars on the causes and consequences of racial inequality in the criminal legal system.