Our Team



Associate Professor, University of Chicago's Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

Dr. Epperson has more than 20 years of clinical, administrative, and research experience in behavioral health and criminal legal settings. He has conducted formative process and outcome evaluations of numerous criminal legal system interventions, and developed, implemented, and evaluated interventions for system-involved individuals with serious mental illnesses.

Learn more about Matt

Hannah Lee, LSW, MSW

Hannah Lee, LSW, MSW

Project Coordinator, University of Chicago's Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

Hannah has over a decade of direct service, managerial, and clinical experience, tackling social issues such as housing insecurity, incarceration, access to higher education, and community mental health. She holds a BA and MA in International Development and Social Change from Clark University, and a MSW from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Research Affiliates


Kathryn Bocanegra, A.M., LCSW, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC. She is Senior Advisor to the Attorney General of Illinois providing oversight on crime victim and violence prevention services. Dr. Bocanegra is a former post-doctoral fellow at Loyola University of Chicago’s Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice. She received her PhD in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Her research includes both quantitative and qualitative research on community violence prevention, community corrections, assisting crime victims, and behavioral health services for forensic populations.

Rachel Garthe, MS, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois School of Social Work. She earned a BA in Psychology from North Central College and a MS and PhD in Developmental Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Garthe completed two years of post-doctoral training at the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her research examines the etiology and prevention of youth violence in peer and romantic relationships within high-burden urban communities.


Leon Sawh is an Associate/Scientist in the Division of Health and Environment at Abt Associates. From January 2017 to July 2020, he was Research Manager of the Smart Decarceration Project. Leon has also held positions at several research and policy centers including the VA’s National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission and the Massachusetts Center of Excellence for Specialty Courts. His research interests include diversion programming, community corrections, co-occurring disorders, homelessness and veterans issues.

Sadiq Patel, PhD, MS, MSW, is an NIMH Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard University School of Medicine. He received his PhD in Social Work and MS in Biostatistics from the University of Chicago and MSW from the University of Michigan. His research integrates statistical, geospatial, and data science methods to examine health outcomes and health care policy among underserved populations. 

Sophia Sarantakos, PhD was a social work practitioner for ten years before entering academia. During that time, they developed and directed the first jail diversion program in the state of Louisiana, housed in the New Orleans public defenders office. Dr. Sarantakos’ current research focuses on contributing to the advancement of community-based approaches to harm and need, as well as exploring the future of social change work. They are questioning how the “profession” of social work can directly and effectively connect to the work of large-scale social movements and advance their aims.

Graduate Research Assistants


Samantha Guz is a doctoral student at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include school social work, public education policy and politics, holistic family and adolescent wellbeing, gendered Whiteness, as well as critical feminist research and practice. Her current work is focused on alternative high schools and gendered Whiteness within the profession of social work. 

Constance Hull is a master’s student at the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Her research interests include the effects of criminal legal reform policies, system coordination to deliver a continuum of community-based care, and the criminalization of youth. In addition to her work with SDP, Constance interns at the Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois and works as a policy associate in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. She holds a BA in Psychology and BA in Public Policy from William & Mary.

Alexa Cinque is a first-year master’s student at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Her research interests include leveraging the expertise of community stakeholders through qualitative and participatory methods to transform the criminal legal system through both policy and community-based solutions. Prior to her work with SDP, she was a Research Associate at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office working on policy reform and community engagement.  

Brianna Suslovic is a doctoral student at the Crown Family School, studying legal and forensic social work interventions in U.S. court systems. Prior to starting at University of Chicago, Brianna was a court-based social worker at a public defender’s office and a mental health provider for individuals who were court-involved or on probation/parole. She earned her MSW from Smith College School for Social Work and her AB from Harvard College.

Emily Claypool, A.M., is a doctoral student who is interested in deinstitutionalization, clinical interventions as well as the social life and historical emergence of evidence-based practices and programs. Thinking about power, control and scientific discourse, her research draws from the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS).

Kathryn Frances, LMSW, is a doctoral candidate.  Her research interests include using qualitative methods to explore the social and political intersections between access to housing and criminal justice involvement.