2018 Student Collaborators

Molly Bailey is a current doctoral student in Family Social Science in the Couples and Family Therapy track at the University of Minnesota. She is also a Marriage and Family Therapist and works closely with families involved in the criminal justice system at a residential treatment facility for people struggling with chemical dependency. Her clinical work includes running a parenting group for fathers–all of whom have been incarcerated–in addition to individual, couples and family therapy. Molly’s research agenda focuses on reducing mental health disparities for underserved populations who have experienced traumatic stress. Specifically, her current work explores the intersection of traumatic stress, parental incarceration and addiction in the reproduction of childhood disadvantage.

Caity Curry joined CIC’s research team as a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Minnesota. Her research explores the intra-institutional and inter-institutional policies and practices within the criminal justice system that reproduce systematic racial and class inequalities. More broadly, her research interests encompass the sociology of punishment and social control, including the causes and consequences of mass incarceration and mass supervision. With CIC, Caity spent over a year investigating barriers faced by children who wish to visit their incarcerated parents. She also has contacted programs throughout the country that provide transportation to children who wish to visit their parents in prison with the goal of expanding transportation options for children in Minnesota.

Margaret Hinson is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in International and Legal Studies at Macalester College. After a semester abroad in Senegal, Margaret is more passionate than ever about pursuing direct and sustainable change that improves people’s lives. A talk with Minnesota Prison Doula Project sparked Margaret’s interest in the ways the incarceration system harms members of our community and particularly children, and she looks forward to learning about and creating policy changes that will benefit Minnesotan families by better protecting the parental rights of incarcerated people through her work with CIC. Margaret hopes to one day become a lawyer to defend the rights of immigrant children, a population that often fails to receive any rights within the detention and deportation system.

Maryam Mesgari-Houshyar will begin her second year of studies toward a Masters degree in  Social Work at the University of Minnesota, specializing in Clinical Mental Health. Maryam previously received another MA in Theatre and Performance Studies at University of Maryland, as a part of which she conducted ethnographic research on using theatre as a medium for empowering disempowered and underrepresented youth. Maryam is a firm believer in interdependency of an individual’s healing and well-being, and social determinants one is situated in. As an immigrant herself, Maryam is passionate to work in the field of refugee mental well-being with the goal of enhancing the quality and relevance of current therapeutic approaches to meet the unique, and yet diverse, needs of refugee population in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Allison Mrakovich is a third-year student and Robina Public Interest Scholar at the University of Minnesota Law School. She is passionate about issues in migration, immigration law, and trends in status and resource allocation among different socioeconomic groups. Her undergraduate thesis on the degradation of Rohingya citizenship status in Myanmar was awarded the Robert F. Spencer Prize by the University of Minnesota’s Department of Anthropology. Allison’s previous experience includes assisting the Michigan Attorney General’s Office of the Special Counsel with both civil and criminal cases pertaining to the Flint Water Crisis and interning at the Refugee and Immigrant Program at The Advocates for Human Rights. As a summer intern, Allison will investigate how CIC can expand its model of providing training and resources to lawyers and judges to support alternatives to detention for parents in immigration proceedings.

Chelli Riddiough is a writer and editor from Madison, Wisconsin. She received a College of Liberal Arts Fellowship from the University of Minnesota, where she is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction. Before returning to the Midwest, she lived in Western Massachusetts and graduated cum laude from Williams College with a BA in Philosophy. Her fiction often explores ethics, free will, and narrative conceptions of the self. Her short stories have been published in ESOPUS Magazine, a multidisciplinary creative publication, and The First Line, a literary journal. Chelli believes that writing can enrich any child’s life, but is particularly crucial for children who feel their voices are not heard. This summer, she plans to develop a writing program for children whose parents are incarcerated or detained in relation to immigration proceedings.

AshLee Smith is a PhD Candidate at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota specializing in domestic public policy. She received her BA in Anthropology from Louisiana State University. She is the recipient of the Diversity of Views and Experience (DOVE) fellowship at the University of Minnesota and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP). Her goal is to pursue a research career whether that be in academia, at a think tank, or with a government organization. As a result of her life experiences, she is passionate about studying public policy and applying her research to the real world surrounding the lives of the vulnerable in the U.S. Her research interests focus on social policy at the federal and state level, poverty, inequality, and the intersection between policy design, civic participation, and race. Her dissertation topic looks at how the criminal justice and child welfare systems combine to impact the lives of poor women and women of color.

Consultant and Former CIC Intern

Damir S. Utržan, Ph.D., LMFT is a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, Department of Pediatrics, at the University of Minnesota Medical School. His scholarly agenda is on advancing evidenced-based research practices and policies. Dr. Utržan is licensed marriage and family therapist; in addition to, a board-approved clinical supervisor in the State of Minnesota. He is a clinical fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and member of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Utržan’s research interests are on the intersection of complex trauma and human rights. He is particularly interested in how domestic policies impact post-resettlement adjustment of asylum-seekers and refugees. Dr. Utržan serves as a research scientist on the Institutional Review Board, Human Research Protection Program, at the University of Minnesota.