Meet Our Researchers: Kehinde Akande

Kehinde AkandeKehinde Akande is a senior policy analyst at Child Trends. She supports Child Trends’ Black Children & Families and Child Poverty research portfolios. Specifically, she assists with dissemination of research products for these and other portfolios of work at Child Trends.

Can you tell us about your primary research interests?

My research interests include poverty alleviation, education, housing, workforce development, wealth inequality, and juvenile justice.

What sparked your interest in these issues?

My experience as a Black child in an immigrant and bilingual household with low incomes—in a gentrifying community in Brooklyn, New York—inspired my passion for serving low-income families through public policy. These seeds started to sprout in college, especially as I sought out more urban studies courses as an economics major and became deeply motivated to make sense of the connection between my studies and my life and community. My interest and knowledge in housing policy continued to grow through my undergrad education; through subsequent work as a legislative and a legal intern; and through reading content on housing affordability, loans, and equity.

I’ve been especially influenced by JPAL’s Evaluating Social Programs course, Pink Cornrows’ Black Policy Lab , Sadie Collective’s annual conference, and the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities’ State Priorities Partnership Impact conference and fellowship. Each has challenged me to measure a program’s impact and understand its role in decision making; to learn from individuals with lived experience about supporting Black people across their various beautiful identities; and to understand the unique role of Black women in economics and how their perspectives can advance equity in this field, both domestically and internationally. Learning about and serving the communities to which I belong has been a consistent thread throughout my career, and I am excited to continue learning and engaging others to meet collective goals that allow families and communities to thrive.

What books or journal articles have most influenced you?

My work has been especially influenced by the following books and journal articles:

  • When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-century America, by Ira Katznelson, taught me the importance of paying close attention to our history. Documents that tell us the context of our past and present can help us analyze current policies and recommend those that advance equity, equality, progress, and well-being inclusive of marginalized communities.
  • Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, by John Lewis, reminds me of the importance of sustaining a long view in the fight toward justice, equality, and equity in America.
  • The Othering & Belonging Institute’s (formerly the Haas Institute) concepts of ‘belonging’ and ‘targeted universalism’ have also been foundational to how I approach my work.
  • Lastly, several works have influenced my perspective on public administrators’ role in applying public service values to create policies that advance goals central to our democracy—values that I apply to my own policy work. These include Douglas S. Massey’s “The Legacy of the 1968 Fair Housing Act” and certain chapters from “Housing Policy in the United States” by Alex Schwartz.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of research?

I love trying different foods, learning about art, and growing plants. I love arts and crafts, and especially love the murals that can be found around the various neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

To wrap up, can you tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself or your family?

I have a twin sister, and my name means “second born of twins” in Yoruba.