Luskin Summit Focuses on Advancing Gender Equality Through Sports

An April 1 Luskin Summit webinar focused on how sport can be used to engage boys and young men alongside girls to advance gender justice. “Sport for development is the use of sports for other outcomes related to education, learning, health, peace and financial empowerment,” said Jeff DeCelles, technical director of curriculum and training of the nonprofit Grassroots Soccer. Public Policy Professor Manisha Shah, director of UCLA’s Global Lab for Research in Action, partnered with Grassroots Soccer to conduct a study across Tanzania with the goal of improving the sexual health of females. In addition to female intervention programs in 150 communities, 50 locales were randomly chosen to also have the Grassroots Soccer intervention for young boys and men. In those locales, girls reported lower rates of intimate partner violence while boys reported improved attitudes about reproductive and sexual health outcomes. In the second half of the webinar, Adelphi University Associate Professor Meredith Whitley and Julia Menefield Lankford, director of operations of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation of America, spoke about sport development for adolescents in the United States. Lankford’s work supports sports development programs and aims to improve the lives of youth and unite communities. “A safe, stable climate that supports adults and young people in developing trusting relationships is critical,” Whitley noted. She highlighted the importance of listening to what participants are sharing about what they like, then designing curriculums that work best for them. The webinar was moderated by Stephen Commins, associate director of Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin. Board of Advisors member Stephen Cheung offered a closing statement and call to action.

Luskin Summit: Closing Sessions

Luskin Summit 2022 will wrap up at the Centennial Ballroom of the Luskin Conference Center on the UCLA campus.


Zev Yaroslavsky, a former elected official and current UCLA professor, will unveil the results of his seventh annual poll of Los Angeles County residents on their satisfaction with their lives across nine categories. ABC7 news anchor Phillip Palmer will moderate.


Luskin Summit 2022 will close with an in-person discussion featuring Gray Davis and Pete Wilson, former governors of California, led by UCLA’s Jim Newton. They will explore topics such as the economy and jobs, environmental issues, public safety and more.

Remote access: Those who cannot attend in person will be able to participate virtually at



9:15 a.m. | Event Check-in and Breakfast

9:45 a.m. | Session 1: Quality of Life Index

11:00 a.m. | Session 2: State of California

12:00 p.m. | Event concludes


Public Transportation: Blue Bus and Metro

Ride-hailing Zones: Uber/Lyft designated locations available, for nearby locations and map visit


Self-parking is available underneath the Luskin Conference Center and in UCLA Parking Structure 8, Level 4, directly across the street from the center. There is a convenient pedestrian walkway/bridge connecting Parking Structure 8 (on Level 3) to the Luskin Conference Center property. Please note that there is a fee to park in either location.

Global Mini-Summit: Gender Equality Through Sport

LUSKIN SUMMIT 2022: Research in Action

This is the last of three sessions being organized by Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin as a Global Mini-Summit in cooperation with the UCLA International Institute to focus on policy issues from an international perspective.


Reimagining Gender Equality Through Sport

Sport is known to improve physical and mental health, promote well-being, and advance economic and societal goals. Sport for Development (S4D) is the use of sport to achieve these objectives at the individual, community, national and international levels, and the power of sport to address gender inequality has gained recent recognition. This online session led by professor Manisha Shah of the Global Lab for Research in Action at UCLA Luskin will feature conversations and a brief Q&A about both the global landscape of S4D and its implications for the United States. Panelists will discuss emerging research that demonstrates how sport can be used to advance gender justice around the world, offering lessons not only relevant to practitioners and policymakers, but also to parents, teachers and even adolescents themselves.

Faculty Hosts


  • Jeff DeCelles, technical director, Curriculum & Training, Grassroot Soccer
  • Julia Menefield Lankford, director of operations, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation of America
  • Meredith Whitley, associate professor, co-editor, Adelphi University & Journal of Sport for Development


  • Stephen Cheung, LAEDC chief operating officer & president World Trade Center LA; Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation & LA World Trade Center

Also in the Luskin Summit

April 22: Presentation by Zev Yaroslavsky of the Luskin School about the results of the seventh annual Quality of Life Index.


  • Details about participants in the various panel discussions are being released as sessions draw near and will also be posted on the Summit registration page.
  • All events will allow for remote access. Any in-person presentations that occur will be planned in full accordance with the latest UCLA and Los Angeles County COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
  • Visit the LUSKIN SUMMIT LANDING PAGE for more information on future Summit sessions.

Shah Outlines Consequences of Prohibiting Sex Work

Public Policy Professor Manisha Shah joined the Then & Now podcast to discuss the long history of policy approaches to sex work, including prohibition and regulation. “For many years, prostitution was a part of normal life, which is why we call it the oldest profession,” she said on the podcast, which is hosted by the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. With the appearance of syphilis in the 1500s in Europe, prostitution became associated with sexually transmitted diseases. “Today, prohibition is the norm,” said Shah, who directs the Global Lab for Research in Action. Sex work is prohibited in all U.S. states, with the exception of a few counties in Nevada that allow regulated sex work. Shah explained that a growing body of research highlights the negative impacts of prohibition, including increased spread of sexually transmitted infections, increased violence against women, less trust of police and less empowerment of female sex workers.

Endowed Chair Awarded in Honor of Former Dean Gilliam New chair in social justice will benefit the research of Manisha Shah, a professor whose global policy focus includes child health and intimate partner violence

By Les Dunseith

The Luskin School of Public Affairs presented its newest endowed chair to Professor Manisha Shah on Nov. 9 with the chair’s namesake, former Dean Frank Gilliam, and its benefactors, Meyer and Renee Luskin, in attendance.

The Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Chair in Social Justice, which was created by the Luskins as part of their naming gift to the Luskin School in 2011, will provide financial support for Shah’s research throughout a five-year term as holder of the chair. She is a professor of public policy who joined the UCLA Luskin faculty in 2013.

Gilliam’s long tenure at UCLA as a professor and then dean ended in 2015 when he became the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He said it is an honor to have his name attached to an award focusing on social justice.

“I am extremely humbled and honored that the Luskins have created an endowed professorship in my name,” Gilliam told an audience of about 75 invited guests who assembled on the festively redecorated third-floor rooftop of the Public Affairs Building.

The social justice focus of the endowment was particularly meaningful for Gilliam. “These are issues I’ve spent my entire professional and personal life working on and I continue to do so today,” he said.

As the holder of the endowed chair, Shah said she plans to further her attempts to understand the barriers that prevent women and girls around the world from living their best lives, an issue that led her to found the Global Lab for Research in Action at UCLA in 2019.

“What do we do at the lab? Through a gender lens, we focus on hard-to-reach populations, understudied populations, and we look at groups like adolescents and sex workers and low-income women. We study critical issues related to child health and intimate partner violence and sexual health,” Shah said during her remarks. “Ultimately, the idea is that we’d like to shift public conversation and eventually shift some of the social norms.”

Gilliam, who first hired Shah to join the faculty at UCLA, expressed pride and excitement that she had been chosen as the inaugural holder of the chair in his name.

“She is a remarkable person, a remarkable intellect,” Gilliam said. “Her work is so important. It spans disciplines like economics and public policy and really social welfare, quite frankly. She focuses on the most understudied topics and the most overlooked populations. … This is big stuff.”

Current Dean Gary Segura noted the pivotal role that Gilliam played in bringing social justice to the forefront during his time as dean, shaping the sometimes-disparate disciplines within the Luskin School into a unifying vision.

“Frank Gilliam, perhaps more than any single other leader in the School’s history, shaped the social justice mission and identity of the Luskin School of Public Affairs,” Segura said.

In his remarks, Meyer Luskin said his observations of Gilliam’s leadership and priorities helped lead him toward making the $50 million naming gift to the Luskin School a decade earlier.

“I saw dedication, courage, morality and ethics, empathy, much resourcefulness, strength and kindness, intelligence, hard-working, visionary, loyalty, a great sense of humor, and a man most devotedly committed to justice and equality,” he said.

Segura thanked the Luskins for their foresight and generosity in endowing the new chair, plus three other previously awarded chairs benefitting professors at UCLA Luskin.

Gilliam said their selflessness is well-represented among people associated with the professions of social work, public affairs and urban planning that are taught at the Luskin School.

“The people who work in your area often go unnoticed. They don’t do it for the fame, they don’t do it for the fortune,” he said. “This is hard work, it’s complicated work. It’s real work … on the ground, dealing with real-world policy problems that affect the society.”

Gilliam surveyed the crowd of family, friends and former colleagues who had gathered to celebrate Shah and recognize an endowment that will forever carry his name. Ultimately, said the former professor, dean and current chancellor, it’s about passion for the cause, the mission, embodied for Gilliam in the words spoken by Meyer Luskin when they first met:

“My goal in life is to make the world a better place.”

View additional photos:

Gilliam Endowed Chair

Shah on COVID-19 Vaccination Incentives That Backfire

Media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Marketplace and San Francisco Chronicle reported on research co-authored by Public Policy Professor Manisha Shah that found that incentive programs — including the offer of money — have little impact on COVID-19 vaccination rates. The researchers randomly offered study participants, all members of the Medicaid program in Contra Costa County, various incentives: public health messages, vaccination appointments and either $10 or $50. Vaccination rates did not rise, and in some cases the offer of cash may have made some vaccine-hesitant people more distrustful. Shah, director of the Global Lab for Research in Action at UCLA Luskin, told the Chronicle that the financial incentive may have sent a negative signal, leading participants to think, “ ‘If I should trust the vaccine and get it, why do you have to pay me for it?’ ” The findings by the research team from UCLA, USC and Contra Costa’s Health Services agency were published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.


Shah, Bau Investigate Lockdown Impact on Female Mental Health

Professor of Public Policy Manisha Shah and Assistant Professor of Public Policy Natalie Bau co-authored an article in Ideas for India about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in India. Researchers conducted a large-scale phone survey across six states in rural north India to better understand how lockdown measures contributed to economic instability, food insecurity, and declines in female mental health and well-being. Bau, Shah and their co-authors found that strict lockdown measures, while necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 infection, contributed to economic and mental distress, especially in low-income settings with limited safety nets. Gender norms and low availability of mental health services made females especially vulnerable. For example, roughly 30% of the female respondents reported that their feelings of depression, exhaustion, anxiety and perception of safety worsened over the course of the pandemic. The authors recommended that policymakers target aid, particularly access to food, to vulnerable households and women.

Shah Co-Authors Report on Disproportionate COVID-19 Risk Among Latinos Local context is a key factor in the level of risk, the study of Medicaid patients in Contra Costa County finds

By Stan Paul

UCLA Luskin Professor of Public Policy Manisha Shah co-authored a study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, that showed Latinos had much higher odds of testing positive for COVID-19 than whites.

The USC-UCLA study, conducted in a Northern California regional medical center with a diverse group of adults enrolled in a county Medicaid managed care plan, also indicated a marked racial disparity in odds of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Researchers noted that, while the coronavirus has disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minorities nationwide, in their California study, infection, hospitalization and death were higher for Latinos, but not Black patients, relative to white patients.

The researchers point out that socioeconomic differences may confound racial and ethnic differences in testing and that “the role of sociodemographic, clinical and neighborhood factors in accounting for racial/ethnic differences in COVID-19 outcomes remains unclear.”

The study included data from more than 84,000 adult Medicaid patients at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. The researchers hypothesized that, because all of the patients had Medicaid, “racial/ethnic disparities in testing and outcomes would narrow when controlling for demographics, comorbidities and ZIP code-level characteristics.”

They also expected that these characteristics would be reduced relative to previous studies, given similar insurance coverage, household income and access to health-care providers. Among their conclusions, the researchers highlighted that racial and ethnic disparities depend on local context, citing studies from other states with differing results.

“The substantially higher risk facing Latinos should be a key consideration in California’s strategies to mitigate disease transmission and harm,” they recommend.

“We learned a lot about testing and hospitalization disparities through this study,” Shah said. “We recently implemented a randomized controlled trial with our Contra Costa County partners to better understand vaccine take-up among the vaccine hesitant.”

Shah said that the research team is testing the role of financial incentives, reducing appointment scheduling frictions, and provider messages on COVID-19 vaccine take-up in this diverse Medicaid managed care population.

“We are excited to share the results from this vaccine take-up study very soon,” Shah said.

Additional authors include Mireille Jacobson, associate professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and senior fellow at the USC Schaeffer School for Health Policy and Economics; Tom Chang, associate professor of finance and business economics at the USC Marshall School of Business; Samir Shah, CEO of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center; and Rajiv Pramanik at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center & Health Centers, Contra Costa Health Service.

Shah Calls for Decriminalization of Sex Work

Global Lab for Research in Action Director Manisha Shah co-authored a Medium article about the unintended consequences of policies meant to protect sex workers. “Sex work is work. And evidence shows that when it is treated as such, everyone benefits,” wrote Shah and Global Lab intern Rachel DuRose. Research shows that decriminalization of sex work leads to a decline in incidents of abuse and rape, sexually transmitted infections and sex trafficking. Shah, a professor of public policy, explained that sex workers “are becoming victims of the very policies meant to protect them,” with increased levels of rape in communities that have banned the purchase of sex as well as increased prevalence of STI symptoms. The authors called on lawmakers and government leaders to decriminalize sex work. “Only when the community and leaders understand that sex work is work, can positive change at the local, federal and international level be achieved,” they concluded. 

Shah Promotes Healthy Behavior Among Adolescents

Public Policy Professor Manisha Shah authored an article in the Conversation about her work to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Tanzania. Adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa experience high rates of HIV infection, unintended teenage pregnancy and intimate partner violence. While many reproductive health programs and services focus exclusively on females, Shah and her team developed a program to encourage adolescent boys and young men to make better choices around their sexual and reproductive health through sports programming. They also focused on empowering adolescent girls and young women to make healthy, informed decisions by using goal-setting exercises. The study found that both the men’s soccer league and the goal-setting activity for women reduced intimate partner violence and increased adolescents’ sense of personal agency to make better choices around sexual relationships. Shah concluded that “offering contraception alone, without focusing on behavior change for females and males, won’t necessarily improve sexual and reproductive health for adolescents.”