Dr. Kerith Conron Named New Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at The Williams Institute

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LOS ANGELES —Through an extensive nationwide search, Dr. Kerith Conron has been named the Williams Institute’s new Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director. As the Blachford-Cooper Research Director, she will oversee new and ongoing research projects informing an array of issues affecting the LGBT community.  
 
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law has been an influential source of LGBT research for over fifteen years.  The Williams Institute has authored dozens of public policy studies and law review articles, filed amicus briefs in key court cases, provided expert testimony at legislative hearings, been widely cited in the national media, and trained thousands of lawyers, judges and members of the public.
 
The Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director position, which leads the social science research work for the Williams Institute, was made possible by leadership gifts totaling nearly $3 million by Norman Blachford and Peter Cooper, Roberta Conroy, and Chuck Williams.

“The Williams Institute has had a major impact on the health and well-being of LGBT people, from legal scholarship that advances civil rights to demographic analyses that put LGBT communities on the map,” says Dr. Conron.  “I am honored to join this incredible group of scholars and to contribute to the Institute’s rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Dr. Conron brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new position.  Most recently, she was a Research Scientist with the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health at the Fenway Institute in Boston. She has done post-doctoral research at the Harvard School of Public Health and was an Associate Research Scientist at the Institute on Urban Health Research at Northeastern University.  Her publications appear in the American Journal of Public Health, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, and Psychological Medicine. While at the Fenway Institute, she co-directed the Summer Institute in LGBT Population Health Research, training over 60 scholars on LGBT population health research.  She earned her doctorate from the Harvard School of Public Health and MPH from the Boston University School of Public Health.
 
Dr. Conron is committed to conducting research to address the landscape of adversity and opportunity facing the most marginalized LGBT communities.  For example, she published the first probability study of transgender health in the United States and she has conducted community-based participatory research with LGBT youth of color and their families funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

She also has been instrumental to increasing the quantity and quality of data we have about LGBT people.  She joined other Williams Institute scholars on the groundbreaking Sexual Minority Assessment Research Team (SMART) and the Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GENIUSS) to develop best practices for adding sexual orientation and gender identity measures to population-based surveys. Her work laid the foundation for including gender identity measures on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System  (BRFSS) system, one of the nation’s premier health survey systems.
 
Dr. Conron has also worked to ensure her research informs law and policy.  She has been active in the LGBT health movement for over 15 years — serving on the first Steering Committee of the National Coalition for LGBT Health and as the first coordinator of the Office of LGBT Health for the City of Boston. In addition, she has given dozens of talks on LGBT issues, including to government agencies and working groups, and testified about her research at all major legislative hearings on LGBT rights in Massachusetts.  Her expertise and commentary have been featured by major media outlets including the New York Times, the Associated Press and National Public Radio.  

“Dr. Conron is a perfect fit for the Williams Institute,” says Williams Institute Executive Director Brad Sears.  “Her expertise will complement our current projects and her leadership will help broaden and expand our research portfolio for the future.”

Dr. Conron will begin on September 1, 2016.
 

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The Williams Institute, a think tank on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research with real-world relevance.