top of page

Emily Knaphus-Soran, PhD

I am a sociologist by training and was drawn to evaluation through my desire to support on-the-ground efforts that address the social problems illuminated by sociological research. I have been conducting equity-focused research and evaluation for over a decade, beginning with my graduate studies which centered on the persistence of mass incarceration and its inter-generational social-psychological impacts. My graduate training equipped me with the tools to conduct rigorous quantitative and qualitative applied research and evaluation. I earned my PhD in sociology from the University of Washington in 2017 with a minor in social statistics and a graduate certificate in socio-legal studies.
I have worked as an evaluator for over ten years, both in my role at the University of Washington Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity (UW CERSE) and as an independent consultant. I have managed the evaluation of several NSF-funded programs that include efforts both within single institutions and across multiple institutions. I have also conducted evaluations of programs designed as alternatives to arrest and incarceration and contributed to evaluation-capacity building with a ten-site cohort of efforts to build alternatives to criminal-legal response to behaviors stemming from unmet behavioral health needs.

To learn more about my professional experience, please see my curriculum vitae.

As a middle-class cisgender white woman, I bring certain perspectives and assumptions to my work toward dismantling systemic racism and other forms of oppression. It is important to acknowledge the ways that these perspectives, shaped by both my background and my social identities, influence my perception of the root causes, consequences, and strategies for addressing inequity. My race and gender have afforded me the ability to enter and move through spaces without being perceived as a threat. My class has afforded me access to social capital and high-quality formal education, and the privilege of never fearing that I’d lack any of the essentials I need to survive. My upbringing in a liberal family within a politically and culturally conservative region of the country motivated my commitment to social justice but exposed me to a very narrow view of what social justice entails.
My knowledge about systems of oppression and understanding of critical theoretical frameworks for interpreting our social world have expanded through engagement with activism and learning about oppression and social inequality within the context of academia, first at a small women’s college and then at a large research university. However, my perspective lacks knowledge gained from lived experience as a member of a marginalized group. I believe that all intellectual pursuits are value-laden, and I approach my work with the intention to use my positions of privilege to challenge white supremacy and contribute to building a more just world. In doing so, I acknowledge the risk that my own blind spots and persistent biases could surface in my research, and invite continued discussion of research findings and their implications with this in mind.
bottom of page