Location: Bowdoin / Coastal Studies Center / Symposia & Events / The New Politics of Parenthood / Speaker Biographies

Coastal Studies Center

Speaker Biographies

June Carbone
June Carbone is the Edward A. Smith/Missouri Chair of Law, the Constitution and Society at UMKC. She previously servedJune Carbone as associate dean for professional development and presidential professor of ethics and the common good at Santa Clara University School of Law. June Carbone is co-author with Naomi Cahn of 'Red Families v Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture (Oxford 2010).

Professor Carbone received her J.D. from the Yale Law School, and her A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Professor Carbone writes extensively about the legal issues surrounding marriage, divorce and family obligations, especially within the context of the recent revolutions in biotechnology. Her book From Partners to Parents: The Second Revolution in Family Law was published by Columbia University Press in 2000. She has co-authored the third edition of Family Law (Aspen, 2005) with Leslie Harris and the late Lee Teitelbaum.

She teaches property, family law, assisted reproduction and bioethics, and has previously taught contracts, remedies, financial institutions, civil procedure and feminist jurisprudence.

Brian Duff
Ted AmesBrian Duff is the 2011-2012 Coastal Studies Scholar at Bowdoin College. He is an associate professor of Political Science at University of New England on leave this year.  Brian is the author of The Parent as Citizen: A Democratic Dilemma (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), as well as numerous articles. Brian’s research focuses on a variety of concepts such as: family and politics, the role that ideas about children plays in politics, politics of race and ethnicity, patriotism, American elections, public opinion, and  political theory. His book The Parent as Citizen explores how ideas about parenthood have influenced the development of the concept of citizenship in modern democracies.

Professor Duff continues to do research regarding ideas about family and parenthood in American politics.  He does this through the critical examination of public policy, engagements with political theory, and public opinion data on how ideas about parenthood and children affect political attitudes and behavior. He also has an ongoing project examining new ways to understand who votes and who does not in America. 

Laurel Elder
Ted AmesLaurel Elder is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Hartwick College. Her research focuses on American political parties, race, ethnicity and gender, and congressional politics. She is the co-author with Steven Greene of The Politics of Parenthood Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family (forthcoming Sept. 2012, SUNY Press).  The book traces rising emphasis on parenthood in contemporary American politics. Elder’s research and the subject of her forthcoming book look at the political impact of having and raising children, and how this becomes a politically defining experience that shapes the political attitudes of Americans on a range of important policy issues.

Click here to see some of the articles written by Laurel Elder.

Kennan Ferguson
Ted AmesKennan Ferguson is a political theorist and an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Ferguson is the author of All in the Family (Forthcoming May 2012, Duke University Press). In this book, Ferguson reconsiders the family in its varied forms, as an exemplar of democratic politics, and suggests that real rather than idealized family dynamics can help us to better understand and navigate political conflict. Western political philosophers since Plato have used the family as a model for harmonious political and social relations, yet it is still a contentious domain for shared interests and common values. The family is often the scene of intense interpersonal conflict and disagreement.

By closely observing the attachments that arise in families despite profound disagreements and incommensurabilities, Ferguson argues in All in the Family that we can imagine a political engagement that accommodates radical differences without sacrificing community. After examining how the concept of the family has been deployed and misused in political philosophy, Ferguson turns to the ways in which families actually operate: the macropolitical significance of family coping strategies such as silence and the impact that disability and caregiving have on conceptions of spatiality, sameness, and disparity. He also considers the emotional attachment between humans and their pets as an acknowledgement that compassion and community can exist even under conditions of profound differences.

Jesús Gerena
Ted AmesJesús Gerena is the Executive Director of the Family Independence Initiative in Boston (FII-Boston), a National organization that believes we can impact poverty if we shift the responsibility for change to those who experience poverty.

He has over 15 years’ experience in working with urban youth and as a community organizer.
Gerena is a member and Co-Chair of the English for New Bostonians Oversight Committee, and serves as a board member for the New England Grassroots Environment Fund and the Boston Foundation for Architecture.


Jill Greenlee
Ted AmesJill Greenlee is Assistant Professor of Politics at Brandies University. Her current scholarship investigates the relationships between major life cycle events, such as becoming a parent, and the political attitudes and behaviors of ordinary citizens. More broadly, she is interested in how individuals change politically as they move through the life course. Professor Greenlee teaches courses in American Politics, Women and Politics, Political Behavior, and Research Methods.

Click here to watch video to hear her thoughts on the 2008 general election.


Jonathan Hoffman
Jonathan Hoffman is Director of Research for Baltimore City Schools. He is currently writing a book on urban schools and the Baltimore school system. 

Paul Tough
Ted AmesPaul Tough is the author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America. He has written extensively about education, child development, poverty, and politics, including cover stories in the New York Times Magazine on character education, the achievement gap, and the Harlem Children’s Zone. His new book, How Children Succeed: Rethinking Character and Intelligence will be published in September 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He has worked as an editor at the New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Magazine and as a reporter and producer for the public-radio program “This American Life." He was the founding editor of Open Letters, an online magazine. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Slate, GQ, Esquire, and Geist, and on the op-ed page of the New York Times. He lives with his wife and son in New York. 

Maureen Waller
Ted AmesMaureen Waller is an Associate Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. She has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University. Maureen Waller's research has provided insight into the situations of men and women at the forefront of the transformation that has occurred in American families. In particular, it has documented how unmarried parents in low-income communities understand the meaning of fatherhood and marriage in their lives and how their interpretations guide decisions about parenting and intimate unions. This work has also considered how social policies addressing family change may conflict with parents’ ideas and experiences.

Waller is the author of My Baby’s Father (Cornell University Press) which drew on intensive interviews with unmarried men and women with children receiving welfare to examine how they understood the decision to have a child outside of marriage, how they defined unmarried fathers’ obligation to their children, how they negotiated paternal involvement and support, and how these practices interacted with mandatory welfare and child support regulations.  Among other things, this research showed that unmarried parents' ideas about paternal responsibility, their informal systems of paternal recognition and support, and their often dire economic circumstances conflicted with key assumptions and regulations of child support policy.