Through my experience working for and with marginalized groups, I have learned that research and policy change must go hand-in-hand in order to improve the integration and social mobility of those communities and their families. I was drawn to Urban’s commitment to conduct research that addresses racial and structural inequities and provides timely actionable recommendations to decisionmakers that can promote policy changes.
Diana Guelespe is a senior research associate in the Income and Benefits Policy Center and a member of Urban’s inaugural 2022–24 Equity Scholars Program. She is a sociologist with over 20 years of experience working with immigrant and refugee communities at the local, state, and national levels.
Before joining Urban, she conducted policy analysis for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in the US.
Guelespe’s previous academic work includes serving as the assistant director of the Consortium on Race, Gender and Ethnicity at the University of Maryland. She also served as a fellow at the Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola University Chicago, where she formed part of the research team that evaluated the City of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness, one of the first homelessness intervention strategies of its magnitude initiated by a major US city.
Her qualitative research on mixed-status immigrant families and their daily challenge of driving without licenses led to subsequent changes in state and local policies to improve access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants in Illinois and Washington, DC. It has also served as a resource to community groups in other states seeking similar policy changes.
Guelespe received her BA in anthropology and MA in political science from Northeastern Illinois University, and a PhD in sociology from Loyola University Chicago.
She is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
Urban experts are permitted and empowered to work and affiliate with outside organizations, whether serving on boards, volunteering their time, or providing advice and counsel. And Urban welcomes visiting scholars, nonresident or affiliated fellows who work for other organizations. These outside affiliations enrich our perspectives and our learning environment. We also require all paid and unpaid experts to disclose their affiliations to Urban leadership and follow rules governing their engagement to ensure transparency for audiences and independence of experts.