"Radical simply means grasping things at the root."

-Angela Davis



Kristen Hackett is an activist, scholar, and educator working towards decolonized, anti-racist, and just futures. Since 2017, she has supported multiple grassroots groups led by neighbors living in public housing. This includes serving as a steering and executive committee member of the Justice For All Coalition (JFAC), and a member of the Save Section 9 Coalition. Starting in 2021, she also began working with Rockaways Neighbors Helping Neighbors as a research and organizing consultant, and was recently appointed to be Honorary Director by their Board. Through these tenant-led formations, Kristen supported residents living in public housing across New York City organize and educate neighbors about the past, present and future of public housing, strategically consider pathways to housing justice, and work towards securing just futures for all.

In 2024, Kristen also completed her PhD in the environmental psychology program at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her dissertation elaborates the critical and hope-full narratives elicited by tenant-led formations towards unhinging dominant development narratives and imagining just housing futures. This interpretive policy analysis is supplemented by two technical analyses that consider how the state-led plans and financial dealings tangibly alter the rights and risks for residents by expanding public-private partnerships. Also included is a historical analysis that considers the present moment in public housing as part of the longer trajectory of the neoliberalization of housing policy and the outcomes of this half-century transition. From these analyses, Kristen draws conclusions about the relationship between racial capitalism and housing policy, and the active hope and important alternatives guiding the community organizing efforts of directly-impacted people. Additionally, her dissertation introduces the idea of comrade scholarship as a way of thinking about how we can deepen solidarity between people who are directly-impacted by bad policy and those that aren’t. While Kristen completed a traditional dissertation, she is also in the process of creating an online archive of this research that can support tenant-led advocacy and organizing efforts.

This most recent work builds on myriad past experiences that are also worth noting. Previously, Kristen was a a GC Digital Fellow with the GC Digital Initiatives, a student coordinator with OpenCUNY, and a Digital Pedagogy Fellow  with The OpenLab at CityTech (CUNY). These digital technologist roles allowed Kristen to explore her interests in using digital tools and methods for teaching, learning, collaborating and community-building, and laid expanded her understanding of what public and activist scholarship could look like. In addition to these more creative pedagogical pursuits, Kristen served also filled more traditional teaching roles and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on psychology, environmental psychology, urban studies, urban research methods, and social movements at John Jay College (CUNY), Queens College (CUNY) and The New School. Additionally, prior to stepping into community organizing and leadership roles, Kristen held multiple local and national leadership positions in traditional academic settings to which she was elected or appointed. This includes serving as the Chair and Chair-elect of the Graduate Student Committee of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), the program representative and at-large representative for the Doctoral and Graduate Students’ Council (DSC) at The Graduate Center, CUNY and executive committee member of the doctoral program in which she pursued her degree.

Throughout, Kristen has taken up many writing and research projects of varying forms. Her published work includes peer-reviewed research on community land trusts and housing stability in Housing Studies and on participatory budgeting in immigrant communities in New Political Science and as a book chapter in Immigrant Crossroads: Globalization, Incorporation, and Placemaking in Queens, New York. It also includes a blog post in Shelterforce that reframes displacement as a community phenomenon, and one in progress that raises concerns about the emerging discussion social housing and the new ‘public housing’ model being promoted and pursued across multiple state and locales. She has also written multiple opinion pieces on housing and development (justice) in New York for City Limits, East New York News, and Jacobin. Her latest writing project is an international call for papers on “Horizons in the Housing Struggle/Horizontes en la Lucha por la Vivienda” for Metropolitics with fellow activist and scholar Jaime Jover.

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