Ruby Mendenhall

Associate Professor


Ruby Mendenhall is an Associate Professor in Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, and Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She is also an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.  In 2004, Mendenhall received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy program from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  For her dissertation, Black Women in Gautreaux’s Housing Desegregation Program: The Role of Neighborhoods and Networks in Economic Independence, she used administrative welfare and employment data, census information, and in-depth interviews to examine the long-run effects of placement neighborhood conditions/resources on economic independence. 


Mendenhall, R. Bowman, P. and Zhang, L. 2013. Single Black Mothers Role Strain and Adaptation across the Life Course. Journal of African American Studies 17:74-98.

Lewis, J. A., Mendenhall, R., Harwood, S., and Hunt, M.B. Coping with Racial Microaggressions among Black Women. 2013. Journal of African American Studies 17:51-73.

Harwood, S.A, Huntt, M.B., Mendenhall, R., and Lewis, J. Racial Microaggressions in the Residence Halls: Experiences of Students of Color at a Predominantly White University. 2012. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education 5(3): 159-173.

Mendenhall, R., Edin, K., Crowley, S. Sykes, J., Tach, L., Kling, J., and Kriz, K. 2012. The Role of Earned Income Tax Credit in the Budgets of Low-Income Families. Social Service Review 86(3): 367-400.

DeLuca, S., Duncan, G. Keels, M. and Mendenhall, R. 2011. The Notable and the Null: Using Mixed Methods to Understand the Diverse Impacts of Residential Mobility Programs. In Maarten Van Ham (Ed.), Neighborhood Effects: New Perspectives (pp. 195-223). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

Mendenhall, R. 2010. The Political Economy of Black Housing: From the Housing Crisis of the Great Migrations to the Subprime Mortgage Crisis. The Black Scholar 40 (1):20-37.

DeLuca, S., Duncan, G.J., Mendenhall, R., and Keels, M. 2010. Gautreaux Mothers and their Children: An Update. Housing Policy Debate 20 (1): 7-25.

Mendenhall, R. 2009. Families in the Gautreaux Housing Mobility Program: Perceptions and Responses to the U.S. Political Economy. The Review of Black Political Economy 36 (3/4): 197-226.

Mendenhall, R., Kalil, A., Spindel, L.J., and Hart, C. 2008. Job Loss at Mid-life: Managers and Executive Face the “New Risk Economy.” Social Forces 87 (1): 185-210.

Mendenhall, R., Duncan, G.J., and DeLuca, S. A. 2006. Neighborhood Resources, Racial Segregation, and Economic Mobility: Results from the Gautreaux Program. Social Science Research 35: 892-923.

Keels, M., Duncan, G.J., DeLuca, S., Mendenhall, R., & Rosenbaum, J.E.  2005. Fifteen Years Later: Can Residential Mobility Programs Provide A Permanent Escape from Neighborhood Segregation, Crime, and Poverty? Demography 42 (1): 51-73.


Research Description

Mendenhall research focuses on issues of social inequality over the life course and the role of public policy and individuals’ agency in facilitating social and economic mobility.  She uses quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze administrative welfare and employment data, census data, in-depth interviews, and focus group data.  Her multi-site research study, Investing in Enduring Resources using the Earned Income Tax Credit, examines how low- to moderate-income families use their EITC for social and economic mobility in Champaign and Boston.  She also does research on the Gautreaux Assisted Housing Program in Chicago, which is one of the nation’s largest desegregation programs.

Additional Campus Affiliations

Associate Professor, Sociology
Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning
Associate Professor, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
Associate Professor, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)
Associate Professor, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
Assistant Dean for Diversity and Democratization of Health Innovation, Carle Illinois College of Medicine

Recent Publications

Brown, N. M., Mendenhall, R., Black, M., Vanmoer, M. W., Flynn, K., McKee, M., ... Zhai, C. (2019). In Search of Zora/When Metadata Isn’t Enough: Rescuing the Experiences of Black Women Through Statistical Modeling. Journal of Library Metadata.

Kramer, K., Andrade, F. C. D., Greenlee, A. J., Mendenhall, R., Bellisle, D., & Lemons Blanks, R. (2019). Periodic Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Payment, Financial Stress and Wellbeing: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 40(3), 511-523.

Lewis, J. A., Mendenhall, R., Ojiemwen, A., Thomas, M., Riopelle, C., Harwood, S. A., & Browne Huntt, M. (2019). Racial Microaggressions and Sense of Belonging at a Historically White University. American Behavioral Scientist.

Yeo, H. J. T., Mendenhall, R., Harwood, S. A., & Huntt, M. B. (2019). Asian international student and asian American student: Mistaken identity and racial microaggressions. Journal of International Students, 9(1), 39-65.

Harwood, S. A., Mendenhall, R., Lee, S. S., Riopelle, C., & Huntt, M. B. (2018). Everyday Racism in Integrated Spaces: Mapping the Experiences of Students of Color at a Diversifying Predominantly White Institution. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(5), 1245-1259.

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