NORC Launches Center on Equity Research, Appointing Ashani Johnson-Turbes to Lead

CHICAGO, May 18, 2022 – As part of its goal to incorporate, exemplify, and raise awareness around inclusive and equitable research, NORC at the University of Chicago is pleased to launch its new Center on Equity Research. Housed within the Academic Research Centers and led by vice president and Center director, Ashani Johnson-Turbes, Ph.D., the Center on Equity Research will help expand culturally competent and responsive research and partnerships and provide strategic direction for diversity, racial equity, and inclusion (DREI) research activities throughout NORC.

NORC has worked to elevate diverse perspectives in its rigorous social science research since its founding in 1941. The organization conducted some of the first-ever national studies on racial attitudes and opinions in the 1940s and has collected data on aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion over the last eight decades. The Center on Equity Research will build on that tradition, ensuring that inclusive and equitable research extends beyond subject matter and populations studied, embedding it into NORC’s work and services across the entire research cycle and integrating participatory and community-based best practices.

“Establishing a Center on Equity Research is a watershed moment for NORC, one in which we rededicate ourselves to ensuring that issues of racial and ethnic inequality and disparities are addressed in our work and our practices,” said NORC president and CEO Dan Gaylin. “We chose Ashani Johnson-Turbes to lead the Center because of her expertise in health equity, award-winning thought leadership, and her vision to bolster equity research at NORC and beyond.”

The Center will be situated within NORC’s Academic Research Centers to better facilitate partnerships, knowledge sharing, capacity building, and research support across departments, projects, and proposals. “The Center and its team will play a critical strategic role as we work to improve inclusive and equitable research methods, build expertise among staff, and provide thought leadership for the social science and equity-focused research community broadly,” said Michael Reynolds, senior vice president of the ARCs.

Additionally, the new Center will conduct its own research, initiatives, and experiments while collaborating with NORC’s chief diversity officer and the Office of DREI. “We are grateful to have such strong partners to collaborate with as we broaden our understanding of what equity looks like in our research, methods, workforce, practice, and culture at NORC,” added TiShaunda McPherson, chief diversity officer and senior vice president of the Office of Diversity, Racial Equity, and Inclusion.

 Johnson-Turbes formerly worked in NORC’s Public Health department as a principal research scientist and most recently served as the Director of Public Policy Research and Monitoring for the Global Impact Team at the McDonald’s Corporation. Additionally, Johnson-Turbes is Vice President of the Society for Health Communication. In this role, she focuses on member engagement, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the Society’s goals for growth. 

Johnson-Turbes earned both her master’s degree and Ph.D. in public policy and political science from Purdue University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hampton University. She continued her studies at the University of Michigan’s Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research program, and at the University of Chicago through the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Traveling Scholars program.

“I am elated to be welcomed ‘home’ to NORC and look forward to working with researchers to embed inclusive and equitable research, including culturally responsive evaluation, into our DNA,” said Ashani Johnson-Turbes. “Equally exciting is the opportunity to shape this Center with my colleague, expert methodologist and 20-year veteran of NORC’s methodology and quantitative sciences department, Vince Welch.”

Welch holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University Chicago and a bachelor’s in psychology from Cleveland State University. His research interests include questionnaire design, improving online and in-person qualitative research methodology, and the measurement of race and ethnicity.


About NORC at the University of Chicago
NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society.

Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at, (301) 634-9536, or (703) 217-6814 (cell)