2023 Plenary Speakers

"Transforming Community and Government with Sociological Imagination" 

How can sociological imagination be applicable and useful to community engagement and local government work? In this plenary presentation, Dr. Esther Hio-Tong Castillo will speak about her own development of sociological thinking and how her sociological imagination has informed her work in community building and local government partnership. She will give examples of how she turned sociological ideas into collective actions on the ground. 
Dr. Castillo is a community builder, storyteller, and advocate working on issues around health equity, mental health, and racial justice across marginalized communities in Philadelphia. Her cross-sector collaborative work with community-based organizations, health agencies, and government departments directly led to a successful COVID-19 vaccine campaign that helped over 5,000 Chinese immigrants with limited English proficiency get vaccinated in Philadelphia. Dr. Castillo is one of the leading voices in speaking against anti-Asian hate in Philadelphia. In 2021, she won the Good Pitch Local Philadelphia competition and used the grant awarded to produce a short documentary "Feeling Asian American" to spread awareness about the persistent but unseen racism faced by Asian Americans. She also co-founded Blasian Solidarity with fellow community organizers and inspired many across the nonprofit and government sectors to collaborate and partner with the local Black and Asian communities. Currently, she serves as the Director of Racial Equity Storytelling and Community Impact at the Office of Community, Empowerment, and Opportunity in the City of Philadelphia, where she leads the integration of racial equity into governmental operations and community engagement.


"Black Feminist Sociology and the Tradition of Intellectual Activism"

Carolette Norwood is professor and department head of sociology and criminology at Howard University. Dr. Norwood is a Black feminist sociologist whose research explores the implications of violence (structural, spatial, and interpersonal) at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and space on reproductive and sexual health injustice for Black women. Dr. Norwood’s funded research on Black women’s economic mobility and reproductive (in)justice in Cincinnati collectively informs her first book project tentatively titled, Jim Crow Geographies: Mapping the Intersections of Poverty, Gender, Race, and Sexuality in Urbane Space. Dr. Norwood’s work also explores the simultaneity and particularities of feminism(s) in the African diaspora within and across geographical and global contexts.
Dr. Norwood earned a PhD in sociology from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and was an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Université de Montreal in African demography. She earned an MA in liberal arts with a concentration in African American studies and BA degrees in sociology and French from Louisiana State University. Dr. Norwood’s work is published in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships, Journal of Black Psychology, The American Journal of Public Health, The American Journal of Health Studies, Journal of Asian and African Studies, Journal of International Women's Studies, Development in Practice, Sociology Compass, Societies, etc.  Her work has been generously funded by the National Institute of Health, Ohio Policy Evaluation Network, Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Fund, and summer 2022, Dr. Norwood was newly named, an Urban Institute and Goldman Sachs funded scholar for the One Million Black Women: Closing the Wealth Gap research project.