August 16, 2021

On Sept. 16, the School of Social Work welcomes three new assistant professors—Abril N. Harris, Kristian Jones and Maya Williams—to its community of scholars, researchers and teachers.

In her research, Abril N. Harris addresses racial inequalities, especially those experienced by Black communities. She focuses on the manifestations of structural violence endemic within American institutions and the role of socialization in normalizing structural violence in marginalized communities. She has a particular interest in exploring the processes used by Black, Indigenous and people of color as they navigate and respond to a systematically oppressive society.

Harris received her PhD in 2021 from Boston College, after earning a master’s degree in social work from California State University Long Beach. In 2018, she received the Elaine Pinderhughes Diversity Fellowship from Boston College School of Social Work, an award given each year to an outstanding African American doctoral student.

Kristian Jones joined the School of Social Work after relocating from Austin, Texas, where he received his PhD in social work at the University of Texas. His research examines how youth mentoring can be used to promote positive outcomes for Black youth, examining how community-based interventions, such as mentoring, can meet the unique needs of vulnerable youth, helping to prevent detrimental outcomes and enhance positive youth development. His research is grounded in his passion for equity and inclusion, specifically as it relates to marginalized youth.

In addition to his research and teaching experience, Jones worked as a behavioral health counselor and a foster care counselor. He received his master’s of education in counseling from Boston University. 

Maya Williams received her PhD in social work in 2021 from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research is centered around racial identity, social equity and policy reform for African American and Afro-Latin communities.  She has a deep commitment to marginalized communities, studying the ramifications of skin-tone bias and discrimination in African American lives. Her research emphasizes intersectionality by exploring the impact of “colorism” on race and gender on pre-adolescent girls in American society.

Williams received her master’s degree in social work from University of Texas at Austin.