Center for Youth and Communities

Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

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    Alexandra Piñeros Shields, Ph.D.'07

    Alexandra has worked in the field of immigration services and advocacy for the past 20 years with numerous organizations including the Irish Immigration Center (Boston), Centro Presente (Somerville), Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services (Boston) and the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN - Washington, D.C.). Her research and advocacy has centered around building cross-racial cross-national immigrant solidarity and political power to address the challenges to democracy and human rights created by economic globalization. To this end, she has developed political and economic literacy programs for immigrants to empower themselves and their communities.

    Alexandra brings expertise in a full-range of applied research and evaluation strategies that emphasize participatory models of engaging. Her community-based research and evaluation experience has been gained through participation in the design and implementation of practical, policy-oriented projects.  In 2008-2009, she was on the research team to develop state-level immigrant integration policies for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s New Americans Agenda.  Previously, she was on the research team of a national evaluation of best practices in youth civic engagement programs (with Carmen Sirianni) funded by the Pew Charitable Trust and a mapping project of current research on immigrant access to social services and immigrant children’s health outcomes (with Jeffrey Prottas).   

    Growing out of her years of non-profit management experience in the fields of social, educational, and legal services for immigrants, Alexandra has established democratic governance models that promote the participation of program participants in all aspects of management including program development, program evaluation, budget development, and hiring. Designing and implementing feminist popular education curricula for immigrant women utilizing the pedagogical models developed by Paolo Freire; bell hooks; The Highlander School; and Mary Belenky, Lynne Bond, and Jacqueline Weinstock, Alexandra has facilitated program participants’ ongoing critical analysis of social service delivery, public benefits, k – 12 education, immigration policy, and globalization and created safe affirming spaces where cross-racial and cross-national community problem solving occurred in the areas of children’s education and housing.

    Alexandra has taught in the U.S., the Soviet Union, and China. Alexandra also lectures widely at universities and nonprofit organizations on immigration policy. Her courses include:

     Courses Taught:

    • Introduction to Political Science – Wentworth Institute of Technology
    • Global Studies Senior Thesis Capstone – Providence College
    • Introduction to Global Studies - Providence College
    • History of Social Welfare – Providence College
    • Non-Profit Organizational Service Delivery - Providence College
    • Introduction to Service in Democratic Communities - Providence College
    • Economic Inequality in the U.S. – Brandeis University

    In 2007, she earned a Ph.D. in Social Policy from the Heller School, Brandeis University where her dissertation, Building Immigrant Political Power Through Participatory Democratic Co-Construction of Knowledge, employed participatory action research methods to study factors promoting or discouraging cross-racial and cross-national immigrant organizing, in the Boston area, to change immigration laws.


    Ph.D. - Social Policy - Heller School, Brandeis University

    B.A. – Theology/Philosophy – University of Scranton

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