Celeste Watkins-Hayes


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Professional Title

University Diversity & Social Transformation Professor, Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, Ford School of Public Policy; Professor of Sociology, College of LSA


College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA)
Public Policy


Celeste Watkins-Hayes is a University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, the Jean E. Fairfax Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, and professor of sociology. She is an author and educator widely credited for her research at the intersection of inequality, public policy, and institutions, with a special focus on urban poverty and race, class, and gender studies. Dr. Watkins-Hayes has published two books, numerous articles in journals and edited volumes, and pieces in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Chicago Magazine. She has been widely quoted in the popular press as a national expert on social inequality and HIV/AIDS. The release of her latest book Remaking a Life: How Women Living with HIV/AIDS Confront Inequality (2019, University of California Press) has been covered by The Chicago Tribune, Ms. Magazine, EBONY, Chicago Public Radio, New York Public Radio, Detroit Public Radio, POZ Magazine, PBS Newshour, Chicago Tonight, and several other outlets across the country.

Remaking a Life has won six book awards including: the Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award bestowed by the American Sociological Association Medical Sociology Section, the Distinguished Book Award Section from the ASA Section on Sex and Gender, the Betty and Alfred McClung Lee Book Award from the Association for Humanist Sociology, the Alison Piepmeier Book Prize from the National Women's Studies Association, the Mirra Komarovsky Book Award from Eastern Sociological Society, and the Distinguished Book Award from the ASA Section on Race, Gender, and Class. Watkins-Hayes' first book, The New Welfare Bureaucrats: Entanglements of Race, Class, and Policy Reform, was a Finalist for the 2009 C. Wright Mills Book Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the 2011 Max Weber Book Award from the American Sociological Association. Dr. Watkins-Hayes holds a PhD and MA in sociology from Harvard University and a BA from Spelman College. She served on the board of trustees of Spelman College for over a decade in various leadership roles, leading the search process for the college’s 10th president.

Research Interests

social sciences
qualitative research
community-based research