Pascale Ife WilliamsPhD Student, Civil Society and Community Research


Pascale Ife Williams is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Human Ecology: Civil Society and Community Research program. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2015 from DePaul University with a BA in Community Psychology. Williams has engaged in research as a McNair Scholar, has presented regionally, nationally and internationally, and holds a Certificate of Qualitative Research. An avid knowledge-seeker, organizer, and mother, her interests range from arts activism to the collective identity formation of Black and multiracial communities, healing and safe spaces. Her work extends beyond academia and includes multiple roles in community and arts-based settings.

Education and Relevant Experience

Her first experience with community organizing was as a youth on Chicago’s westside working against urban displacement of black and brown communities, for the advancement of just and quality in-school and supplementary education for low-income youth of color, and raising awareness and advocating for the release of political prisoners. The informal training she received in those spaces grounded her practice and theories as an action-researcher. Since she has worked as an Americorps Vista in the fields of affordable housing and community development, served as an advisory council member on numerous board of directors, and facilitated community-based arts workshops. In 2011, she co-founded Art Forward, a small grassroots not for profit that uses the arts and cultural narratives as a vehicle to engage intergenerational collaboration between residents in communities of color. The project’s emphasis was directed toward process and community building while exploring collective assets and areas of common interest around action. These experiences have informed her areas of inquiry at the graduate and professional level.

Field of Interest

Some questions that fuel her curiosity are: How do culture and the arts enable communities of color to reclaim power, build consciousness and define their collective identity? How does culture build community, strengthen social ties, and inform documenting history? How does politicized or social justice art remain a product for and by communities of color while still advancing an agenda that does not become acculturated by dominant society? How are the arts used to advance political education? What role do women and queer people of color and/or practices operating through a Black queer feminist lens have in arts-based community development and social movements? How do safe spaces and healing fit into the task of organizing for social justice.

She hopes to explore these and other questions through interdisciplinary research and practice in the fields of Community Psychology, Education, Sociology, Human Ecology, Urban Studies and Public Policy. As a compliment to academic scholarship, she continues to root her work on the ground in grassroots community initiatives. She is an active member of the Black Youth Project 100, Chicago chapter and recently joined BYP100’s National Healing Team.

Degree Program

  • Civil Society & Community Research