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Photo of Yang-Clayton, Kathleen

Kathleen Yang-Clayton, PhD

Clinical Associate Professor

Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Public Policy, Management and Analytics


Building & Room:



400 S Peoria Street, 2109 AEH, MC 278

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Short Bio

Dr. Kathleen Yang-Clayton - joined the faculty in the Department of Public Administration, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2017 after extensive experience in legislative advocacy and voter education, engagement and mobilization. Prior to joining UIC, she led voting rights and voter mobilization work for Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Chicago where she helped to pass landmark legislation expanding voting rights and strengthening election systems in Illinois. She is a Research Fellow at the Great Cities Institute and a member of several national initiatives that integrate public administration and racial equity together from the Kettering Foundation, National League of Cities and the International City/County Management Association. Her current work focuses on the operationalization of racial equity practices inside of large public organizations that increase the public's trust in government and improves government performance, especially but not exclusively in historically marginalized communities. She was appointed associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at her college in 2021.

Long Bio

Dr. Kathleen Yang-Clayton brings extensive legislative, advocacy, organizing and applied research experience to her clinical professor position in the Department of Public Administration, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She is also a Research Fellow at the Great Cities Institute. Her most recently funded work was on the Illinois 2020 Census, providing training and applied data analysis to over 350 nonprofits, public agencies (libraries, public health systems) and local municipalities to increase self-response rate numbers in Hard to Count communities. Her current work on democratic systems issues focuses on voting rights, redistricting, and racial equity. She also is leading two major racial equity projects for the Forest Preserves of Cook County and the City of Evanston that focus on the internal environment of public organizations and how to operationalize racial equity practices to improve government performance and impact. She was appointed associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at her college in 2021.

She is Director of Civic Partnerships, having previously been Director of Undergraduate Studies (2017-2020) and increasing enrollment of public policy majors from 15 to 95 students. Through funded applied research projects, Dr. Yang-Clayton strives to provide paid policy opportunities to first-generation undergraduates and graduates. Her extensive background in nonprofit advocacy, management and leadership informs her teaching approach in her classes such as Nonprofits and Civil Society (PPOL230) and Individual Action and Democratic Citizenship (PPOL100). Her current focus is on incorporating racial equity principles and practices into her MPA course on Management and Leadership in Public Organizations: Racial Equity Practices (PA468). This course provides graduate students with direct training from practitioners in the field who work on racial equity impact analysis, participatory budgeting, citizens assemblies and equity-centered design for democracy.


Dr. Yang-Clayton is a member of several national initiatives sponsored by the Kettering Foundation, International City/County Management Association and the National League of Cities such as the inaugural Leadership Institute on Race, Equity, and Inclusion and learning exchanges on public administration and democratic practice. Her experience in social and racial justice campaigns includes immigrant and voting rights issues, with a current focus on expanding the use of racial equity policy analysis across a range of sectors and issue areas. Her cross-movement work on voting rights resulted in the passage of landmark legislation in Illinois that expanded access to underserved communities through Same Day Registration. She has given presentations and participated on panels related to voting rights, redistricting and racial equity at numerous conferences and meetings.  She is a co-founder of a racial equity leadership development organization, sits on several boards and associations, is the faculty adviser for UIC’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute and recipient of civic engagement research awards for UIC faculty by the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement at UIC.

Dr. Yang-Clayton received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. She also holds a M.S. in Natural Resource and Agricultural Economics from the University of Arizona and has worked as an agricultural economist for the World Bank in Sub-Saharan Africa.  She has served on numerous committees and commissions  such as the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Institute for Translational Medicine at the University of Chicago and is a 2014 Edgar Fellow. When not thinking about policy and political reform, Kathleen loves tabletop and role-playing games and is both thrilled and saddened that someone else beat her to developing a redistricting-based tabletop game called Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering. She is currently working on a LARP-based voting rights game where an intrepid band of voters needs to defeat the recent slew of voting rights restrictions in order to cast their ballot.

Major areas of academic interest: voting rights, Census and redistricting, urban education governance, racial equity impact analysis, immigrant integration programs and reform, Asian American politics and identity

Selected Grants

City of Evanston, IL, Operationalizing Racial Equity Inside City Operations, Principal Investigator, $50,000 award, FY21

Illinois Department of Human Services, IL, Census 2020 Technical Assistance Project, Co-Principal Investigator, $870,000 total award/$419,000 direct, Co-Principal Investigator, FY21 renewal award, $255,000

Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, Faculty Research Award, Creating Census Ambassadors for UIC Census Engagement, Co-Principal Investigator, $20,000 award

The Forest Preserves of Cook County, Training for the Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Cook County, IL, Principal Investigator, $14,000 award FY19 , Principal Investigator, $41,000 award FY20

City of Evanston, IL, Racial Equity Impact Analysis in the Delivery of Social Services, Principal Investigator, $5,000 award

Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, Faculty Research Award, “Representative Democracy and Local School Council Races in Chicago: Does School Governance Improve with Elected Local School Councils?”, Principal Investigator, $20,000 award

W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Midwest Research Collaboratory, Principal Investigator, $260,000 award

Chicago Community Trust, Capacity Building Grant for Advancing Justice, Principal Investigator, $65,000

McCormick Foundation, AAPI in Democracy Project, Principal Investigator, $40,000

Joyce Foundation, AAPI and Voter Modernization in IL, Principal Investigator, $300,000 (multiple year grant)

Service to Community

Board member, City Bureau, 2018 to 2020

Board member, CHANGE IL, 2018-2020

Board member, Center for New Democratic Practices, 2018 to present


PhD in Sociology - The University of Chicago
M.S. in Natural Resource and Agricultural Economics - The University of Arizona

Professional Memberships

Member, American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), current|
Member, Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), current
Member, Public Administration Theory Network, current
Member, Chicago Civic Collaboratory, 2018
Member, Edgar Fellow, 2014

Selected Presentations

"Addressing COVID-19: Fostering Equity In and Out of the Classroom" Webinar, Co-Sponsored by the American Society for Public Administration and NASPAA. June 4, 2020.

Dismantling White Supremacy in Public Service Organizations and Society.” Webinar, American Society for Public Administration. June 17, 2020

Racial Equity From Agency wide Initiatives to Social Service Programs.” Webinar, University of Illinois Extension Local Government Education Series. July 16, 2020.

2018. Interview, Channel 2 CBS Chicago, March 28, 2018, “The Question of Citizenship and the Census

2018. Panel organizer, Midwest Public Administration Conference, May 29, 2018, “Racial Equity Impact Analyses in Chicago: Lessons from Schools and Transportation projects”

2017. Speaker, Deliberative Democracy Consortium’s Research and Practitioner Meeting, October 20, 2017, UIC, “The promise of deliberative democracy in school governance in Chicago”

2016. WGN-CLTV Interview on voting rights - August 2016

Research Currently in Progress

Utilizing Inclusion to Improve Policy Outcomes: The Intersection between Racial Equity Impact Analysis and Public Administration

The Limits of Representative Democracy in Micro-level Administrative and Policy Spheres: The case of Local School Councils in Chicago Public Schools