IDRA Fellows

The IDRA Education Policy Fellows Program‘s next class began in October 2022 for the Texas and Georgia legislative sessions in 2023. The IDRA fellowship program is generously supported by iThe William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. The program’s inaugural cycle in Texas operated in 2020-21 and in Georgia in 2021-22. The IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows program was established in 2013 by IDRA to honor the memory of IDRA founder, Dr. José Angel Cárdenas.

Jonathan Peraza Campos, M.S.

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Georgia Emergent Bilingual and Immigrant Student Education

Jonathan Peraza Campos (he/him/él) received his undergraduate degree in 2018 from Emory University. He completed his master’s degree in social foundations of education at Georgia State University in 2021.

Jonathan studies and organizes around the links between racism, imperialism, immigration, militarism, incarceration, policing and education, especially in the U.S. South and the Central American diaspora. He has been involved in campaigns for racial, immigrant, and educational justice and abolitionist causes in metro-Atlanta and beyond. As an educational consultant and an abolitionist educator-organizer, much of his work has focused on creating curriculum and infrastructure for Latino studies and abolitionist teaching. He is invested in teaching Latino and immigrant youth about their histories, writers, thinkers, knowledge and movements through an asset-based Latinx Studies and ethnic studies approach. Culturally sustaining, bilingual/multilingual and liberatory education are at the heart of the work he does.

His favorite foods are pupusas, pizza, lo mein, mangos, and maracuyá. Books, swimming pools, and the dance floor are his friends. And he feels spiritually connected to mountains and forest.

Steve Kemgang

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas College Access and Success 

Steve Kemgang is a graduate of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in French with a minor in educational psychology. He served in several leadership positions on campus and in the surrounding community where he developed a passion for advancing educational equity and health care access throughout his service with various organizations, such as Communities in Schools and Habitat for Humanity.

After undergrad, Kemgang taught English to underserved and low-income minority students in the East Austin community. As an educator, he established a space for his students to analyze identity through the readings of Chicano/Latino and Black literature in order to assist them in linking literature and their own experiences in crafting their personal narratives.

Subsequently, he earned a bachelor of science degree in human biology at Northwestern Health Sciences University and completed a research fellowship in the emergency department of the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Throughout his term, he assisted several underserved and marginalized patients from the surrounding communities navigate their healthcare journeys.

This past year, he has been serving as a lead advisor at Breakthrough in Austin, where he has been instrumental in working with students who will be first-generation college graduates. His research interests lie at the intersection of education and health equity.

Diana Long

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Fair Funding for Strong Public Schools

Diana Long grew up on the West Side of San Antonio and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is a proud Edgewood ISD alumna and first-generation college student. Diana is pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Trinity University in San Antonio, where she served in several leadership positions on campus. During her undergraduate career, she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and worked alongside well-renowned scholars in the field of education and educational leadership. Her inquisitiveness and general concern for inequitable education motivated her to design and publish a thesis that highlighted the processes in which the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated inequities in education, specifically in low-income districts in San Antonio.

Most recently, Diana was selected as a Summer 2022 Graduate Archer Fellow. As an Archer Fellow, she served as a research intern at Excelencia in Education, a national not-for-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., working to accelerate higher education success for Latino students. In this role, she completed a comprehensive data verification project to craft recommendations that utilize data to inform practices that intentionally serve Latino students in institutions of higher education.

Diana’s personal background and research experiences in the areas of Latino education and school finance motivated her to pursue a career in education policy. Diana hopes to use her IDRA fellowship experience to learn and grow as an educational advocate in a professional setting and make a positive impact in the public education system for generations to come.

Dr. David Martínez

IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow

Dr. Martínez is a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies at the College of Education of the University of South Carolina. He is a critical school finance policy scholar connecting policy knowledge and praxis through multi-method inquiry. Dr. Martínez seeks to understand how school finance policy impacts funding availability and spending in low-income, ethnically and linguistically diverse, minoritized communities. Dr. Martínez holds a doctorate in educational policy and evaluation, economics of education and school finance from Arizona State University.

During the fellowship, Dr. Martínez will analyze South Carolina school finance priorities in high proportion Latino districts during COVID-19. Using a multi-method design incorporating longitudinal district-level funding analysis to guide in-depth interviews with a broad, statewide and stratified sample of educational leaders in South Carolina, his research will seek to understand if high-proportion Latino districts have the necessary resources to provide a salient program of instruction to their Latino students during the unprecedented and ongoing health crisis.

Dr. Vanessa Sansone 

IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow

IDRA has named University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) assistant professor Dr. Vanessa A. Sansone and University of South Carolina assistant professor Dr. Davíd G. Martínez as 2022 IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows.

Dr. Sansone is an assistant professor of higher education in UTSA’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Her research interests focus on understanding college affordability, Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), and power structures and governance on the trajectories, experiences and opportunities of historically underserved students. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership with an emphasis in higher education from UTSA.

As a fellow, Dr. Sansone will conduct a comparative case study analysis of CARES Act spending patterns among selected HSIs within Texas. Centering decision-making in uncertain times within a resource dependency framing, she will synthesize the educational policy funding context in which selected public HSIs were operating pre-pandemic to understand how they spent federal emergency relief aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study will inform understandings about future state and federal financial investments for HSIs, HSI revenue and expenditure trends, and federal relief aid spending among HSIs.

Alisha “Tuff” Tuff

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Texas Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Alisha Tuff is from the southside of Chicago. She attended Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology with a minor in psychology. She is a second-year master’s student in the educational policy and planning program at the University of Texas at Austin. During her time at UT, Tuff mentored at Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) where she worked with young men at the Austin Alternative Learning Center. She has interned for the Children’s Defense Fund Texas where she taught youth how to advocate for themselves and prepared testimony promoting an honest social studies education that represents all students.

Tuff is interested in the school-to-prison pipeline, pushout of Black and Latino students in school, and ensuring every student feels welcome in the classroom. She wishes to change the narrative that Black and Latino students are “at risk.” She believes there is value in every student and that to have a good learning environment we must embrace the backgrounds of all students and have respect for their community.

Her main hope in education advocacy is to uplift those who have been left behind and who have only been seen with a deficit mindset.

Ruth Youn

IDRA Education Policy Fellow – Georgia Culturally-Sustaining Schools

Ruth M. Youn is a native Texan, second-generation Chinese-Taiwanese American, writer and activist in Atlanta. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international affairs at Florida State University. Ruth’s previous studies in French, Spanish and Arabic led her to pursue a five-year stint as an educator in South Korea. During her time there, she experienced the significant impact of simultaneously feeling a sense of belonging (as a person who visibly appears East Asian) and of isolation (as a non-Korean and an emergent Korean-language learner) in a new country. Ruth’s experiences compelled her to deeply reflect upon her own journey in the U.S. public school system as a daughter of immigrants.

Her years abroad also heightened her awareness of the struggles and inequities that present-day students encounter within public education. In response, Youn became a founding member of the grassroots organization, Asian American Voices for Education (AAVEd), that advocates for comprehensive U.S. history to be standardized in Georgia K-12 schools. She is now looking forward to expanding her knowledge and experience to state-level work through her fellowship at IDRA.

Except where otherwise noted, content produced by IDRA fellows during their fellowship is licensed under Creative Commons (CC-BY). This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.