Who We Are
Polis Institute Key Team Members
Bahiyyah Maroon is Chief Executive Officer at Polis Institute. Widely recognized for her contributions to innovation in social good initiatives, Dr. Maroon is a recipient of the United States President’s Volunteer Service Award and has been a National Science Foundation Fellow. In her career, she’s provided research and strategy insights to Intel Corporation, the US Dept. of Justice, US Dept of Education, Harvard University, Columbia University, and the US Dept. of Labor among others. She holds an MA and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz. She is the author of a forthcoming book of essays Black Lives, American Love (Chicago Review Press, 2023). A dedicated public scholar, she is often highlighted in the press for her social science insights (Women’s Health, Bustle, ABC, Healthline). Dr. Maroon is passionate about using scientific insights to create solutions for building a more compassionate and vibrant world benefiting the many.
William A. Jefferson, M.P.A is the Director of Community Projects for the Polis Institute. Influenced by his diverse background in both the public and non-profit sectors as an administrative community manager, investigative analyst, financial examiner, behavioral health case manager and grant writer, he is determined to serve and protect disadvantaged and at-risk populations within the communities he lives and works.
A native of West Palm Beach, Florida, William A. Jefferson, M.P.A earned his Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from Bethune-Cookman University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Central Florida. He has experience in strategic planning, community engagement, financial auditing, fundraising development, DE&I strategies and public speaking. He has worked for the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College, Office of Attorney General for the State of Florida, Office of Financial Regulations and has helped promote the advancement of education and adulthood success with Children’s Home Society of Florida. William believes that the work of Peace and Justice can be achieved one life, experience and conversation at a time.
Dr. Katherine Philp is a dynamic leader, researcher, and community advocate with nearly 20 years of diverse, cross-sector experience in education, public health, and nonprofit leadership. Dr. Philp’s expertise includes mixed-methods research designs, program evaluation, educational psychology, and community-based interventions. She is particularly interested in participatory research and evaluation approaches, and in translational efforts that use and generate theory to inform practice. Dr. Philp has experience leading process, impact, and developmental evaluations for non-profits, education programs, and large-scale, multi-stakeholder collaboratives.
She has spent nearly 9 years working to support community-based organizations in the Parramore community of Orlando, FL, securing over $800,000 in funding for local youth organizations, serving as an advisor for grassroots coalitions, and supporting capacity-building efforts for several local non-profits. She received a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University, a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Doctor of Education from UCF.
Christine Hughes is the Operations & Communications Coordinator at Polis Institute. She ensures that projects are executed on time and within budget for multiple organizations. Her experience includes working with faith-based non-profit organizations and for-profit entities. Christine’s work at Polis Institute is rooted in the belief that regardless of someone’s background or walk of life, every person deserves to be treated with dignity and to be provided with the same opportunities. She is happily married to her husband and is a proud dog mom.