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Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee, PhD aka “Dr. J”

Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Science, UNC Greensboro, Centering Black Voices Research Lab and In All Ways Human, Founding Director and Project Lead

For over 10 years, Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee’s community engaged program of research has examined the marginalized trauma and grief of Black boys and men resulting from the health disparities of violent injury and homicide.

Rooted in East Baltimore and growing in Greensboro, Dr. Smith Lee’s research works to understand how losing loved ones to homicide shapes the health, well-being, development, resilience, and family relationships of Black males and their social networks. She is committed to supporting Black boys, men, and families as they heal and navigate the legacies of white supremacy, systemic racism, and race-based structural violence in their daily lives, neighborhoods, and communities. The In All Ways Human narrative change campaign is responsive to this need.

Dr. Smith Lee’s interdisciplinary research has been published in top tier journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, and the Journal of Black Psychology, presented at national scientific meetings and invited talks, and featured in national news outlets such as The Washington Post, CNN, and NPR. At UNC Greensboro, she is the Founder and Director of the Centering Black Voices research lab (@CenterBLKVoices) whose mission is to affirm humanity, prevent violence, and promote healing in the lives of Black boys, men, and families through research and action.

In 2020, her project “Disrupting Dehumanizing Narratives of Black Men” was selected as 1 of 28 winners from a pool of over 1,200 applicants of the 2020 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge Competition: Voices for Economic Opportunity. This Grand Challenge Award together with a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Production Fund grant have supported the development and launch of the In All Ways Human storytelling and narrative change campaign.

Prior to her appointment at UNC Greensboro, Dr. Smith Lee completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health (CRECH) at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, served as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and practiced individual, couple, and family therapy in Maryland. She graduated Salutatorian at Hampton University where she completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology (BA) as a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Career Opportunities in Research scholar, and her graduate work in Marriage and Family Therapy (MS) and Family Science (PhD) at the University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health.

During the 2020 pandemic and at the genesis of this Gates Grand Challenge Award, Jocelyn received her highest promotion and most sacred title: Mom. She and her beloved husband C.J. Lee are the proud parents of Cypress Rose. Cypress has been working on In All Ways Human her entire existence and she is her Mama-Scholar’s biggest WHY!

Jocelyn is a proud native of Norristown, PA. Having personally lost loved ones to gun violence, Dr. J is deeply committed to this healing work.