Dr. Jessie Harper has joined Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) as the inaugural director of inclusion education and the Social Justice Scholars Program. Dr. Harper comes to SP2 after nearly two decades at Penn’s Graduate School of Education (GSE), where she most recently served as assistant dean of faculty affairs and diversity.
Harper propelled many of GSE’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, including assisting and training faculty search committees in conducting inclusive searches, assessing the diversity climate, co-convening the Visiting Scholars of Color lecture series, and co-directing HEARD–The Hub for Equity, Anti-Oppression, Research, and Development.
At SP2, Harper will advance inclusion education across the School and serve as the senior staff leader of the Social Justice Scholars program — a competitive full-tuition scholarship program with the aim of enhancing the SP2’s ongoing commitment to the recruitment and retention of students with a particular interest in and demonstrated capacity for social justice leadership in their field. Harper will join SJSP faculty director Dr. Yoosun Park in leading the program.
Harper has already served with distinction in several roles at SP2, including as the Racism Sequence chair; co-director of The Penn Experience: Racism, Reconciliation and Engagement; and a lecturer in the School. In her new role, she will continue teaching SP2 students, in addition to leading an initiative to advance inclusive curricula within the School.
“I am thrilled that Dr. Harper will continue her impact at Penn in a role at SP2 that focuses on areas she is most passionate about and that are critically important to our community,” says SP2 Dean Sara S. Bachman.
Harper earned her MS from Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences in 2006, an MSEd from GSE in 2010, and her doctorate from GSE in 2011. Her research interests include ex-offender reentry, especially the challenges faced by former prisoners as they reenter the workforce. Her doctoral dissertation explored how those most closely involved in assisting former prisoners to reenter the workforce conceptualize the challenges they face after a period of prisonization.