Meet the Staff

Four professional DSJE staff members smiling with arms around each other

Jacob R. Longaker

(he/el), Ph.D., Director
University YMCA Room 229

Jacob is a teacher-scholar-activist with a passion for harnessing community organizing, advocacy, and critical pedagogy in pursuit of social justice.

Jacob's research and teaching explore strategies for transforming our organizations and institutions into more representative, equitable, and inclusive spaces for historically underrepresented and underserved groups.  In his work, Jacob has collaborated for over a decade with Brazilian LGB & travestis, mulheres transexuais, e homens trans movements, leveraging an intersectional lens that centers racialized and classed citizenships within institutional innovations of democratization.

Jacob's published work appears in  Politics, Groups, and IdentitiesTransgender Rights & Politics (University of Michigan Press), and LGBT Politics and Policy (Oxford University Press) and has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays Program.

Prior to joining Illinois, Jacob stewarded The Evergreen State College's first campus climate survey to completion and implemented evidence-based strategies for cultural change through co-curricular programming, trainings and workshops.  Jacob served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Reed College (2021) and Bates College (2016-2020) where he taught courses on Latin American social movements, institutions, and public policy. Jacob has organized scholarly exchange and off-campus study opportunities in Brazil.

Jacob holds a Ph.D. in Political Science (2016), Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (2013), M.A. in Political Science (2013), and B.A. cum laude in Political Science and International Studies (2009) from the University of Kansas.  Jacob studied International Relations and Social Sciences at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo in 2007-8. 

Teryl Brewster

MA, Assistant Director of Social Justice Leadership
University YMCA, Room 228

Teryl holds a Bachelor degree in Sociology with a minor in Computer Science and Religious studies and a Masters in Sociology, both from Western Illinois University. Her professional experience includes eight years of working with underrepresented minority students at the University of Illinois in the area of advocacy and mentoring. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a focus in evaluating retention and transition programs for minority students at predominately White institutions. Starting her college career as a first generation, low income non-traditional college student, Teryl has a strong interest in improving the climate of higher education institutions. Teryl oversees the I-Journey Workshops on Request and the Social Justice Educators.

Chris McConkey

(she/her/hers), MSW, Office Support Specialist
University YMCA, Room 228

Chris holds a Bachelor and Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois. She has worked for over 20  years in the community mental health field.  She has provided office support for Diversity & Social Justice Education since 2018 and is excited to be a part of the Illinois family once again.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, her dog, Bella Mae, TV/movies/theater, all things related to agriculture, and working outdoors in her pollinator garden (Save the Bees and the Monarch Butterflies!)

Elizabeth Moscoso Anderson

(she/her/hers), MSW, Graduate Assistant
University YMCA, Room 225

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Science with a minor in Psychology from UW-La Crosse and a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois.  She spent the last few years practicing as a School Social Worker in Champaign, and is currently working toward a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction for Secondary Education - English.  Elizabeth's missioin is to become an engaging, effective, and equitable teacher in a secondary or university setting who empowers young people to grow in their personal development and advance their skills to create positive change.

Michelle Naese

(she/her/hers), BS, Assistant Director of Allyship & Solidarity
University YMCA, Room 225

Michelle is a multi-racial first-generation college graduate and native of Chicago, IL.  She came to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in August 2011, where she later received her bachelor's degree in Psychology. She was a peer educator throughout her undergraduate years and participated in I-Connect, LENS, Intergroup Dialogue courses, and the Social Justice Educator Paraprofessional Program.  After graduation, Michelle served as a lab manager and project coordinator on several research projects in the Department of Psychology.  Throughout that time, she was able to assist in leading research focused on racial and cultural identity development, emotional regulation and well-being, and trauma-informed intervention.  Most recently, Michelle worked with Diversity & Social Justice Education on a number of programs and initiatives within the office, gaining valuable experience in coordinating peer education programs on campus. 

She loves cats, board games, and all things true crime.  Michelle is active in our community and volunteers as a Jail Librarian for the Books 2 Prisoners program, an Election Judge, and a suicide prevention Field Advocate.