Guttman UMOC Students and Faculty Contribute to Social Justice Work in New Jersey



February 18, 2021 | Academics, Faculty, United Men of Color (UMOC), Urban Studies

Along with Guttman students and United Men of Color (UMOC) members Miguel Tejeda and Amari Dawkins, Urban Studies faculty Dr. Marcus Allen and Dr. Mary Gatta were selected as an evaluation team to review the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s Youth Justice Toolkit: A Community-Led Restorative Justice Approach. They spent July 2020 connected virtually, evaluating materials, collaborating with NJISJ staff, and writing a comprehensive review with recommendations, which was incorporated into the final toolkit. The resulting compilation of resources and practices is designed to inform restorative justice hubs throughout New Jersey on how “to remove young people from an unhealthy prison environment and successfully reintegrate them into their communities.” It will also prompt “communities to create community-based public safety systems that divert young people away from the criminal justice system in the first place, based on restorative and transformative justice practices and a trauma-informed approach​.”

Working on the Youth Justice Toolkit with Guttman UMOC students, Drs. Allen and Gatta brought their expertise and experiences to a premier non-profit social justice organization and impacted a pilot community program that has the potential to reframe youth justice. This initiative aligns with Guttman’s institutional goals regarding student and faculty engagement in communities and social justice. At the same time, it provides an employment opportunity and access to new networks in the social justice arena for student participants. The team has since been invited to do a webinar on Guttman UMOC and other youth-led work for NJISJ staff and partners.

Dr. Allen joined the faculty of Guttman Community College in 2013, rising to Full Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies in August 2016. He served as the Urban Studies Program Coordinator from 2014 to 2016, administering program operations and representing the program’s interests to internal and external partners. Since 2015, Dr. Allen has been the committed Program Director of Guttman’s United Men of Color (UMOC), part of the CUNY Black Male Initiative funded by the New York City Council. Previously, Dr. Allen was the Program Coordinator of both the African, African American, Diaspora Studies Program and the South Africa and Botswana Study Abroad Program at Wheaton College. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Race and PolicyJournal of Black Studies, and The American Review of Politics, among others, and he has presented at numerous conferences in his areas of expertise. Dr. Allen earned his Bachelor of Arts degree as a double-major in Political Science and Philosophy, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Before coming to Guttman in August 2015, Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Mary Gatta served as a Senior Scholar at Wider Opportunities for Women in Washington DC; Director of Gender and Workforce Policy at the Center for Women and Work; and Assistant Professor of Labor Studies at Rutgers University. She has served on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s Labor and Workforce Development Transition Team and headed a series of evaluation of workforce and education programs for agencies including the US Department of Labor. In addition, Dr. Gatta is a leader in research related to job quality, such as workplace flexibility for low-wage workers, workforce development programs, and nontraditional job training for women. Her latest book, Gentrification Down the Shore, co-authored with fellow Guttman faculty Dr. Molly Vollman Makris, was recently released by Rutgers University Press. Dr. Gatta is the sole author of several other books, including Waiting on Retirement: Aging and Economic Insecurity in Low Wage WorkAll I Want Is a Job! Unemployed Women Navigating the Public Workforce SystemNot Just Getting By: The New Era of Flexible Workforce Development; and Juggling Food and Feelings: Emotional Balance in the Workplace. Dr. Gatta was also the editor of A US Skills System for the 21st Century: Innovations in Workforce Education and Development and has published numerous academic articles, policy papers and op-eds.