Meeting Black Girls on the Moon

About Lauren C. Mims

Lauren Mims is a doctoral candidate in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science program at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. Lauren obtained a B.A. in English and Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2012 and a M.A. in Child Development with a concentration in Clinical Developmental Health from Tufts University in 2014. Lauren's work investigates how social environments (e.g. schools, media, extracurricular programs) influence how Black girls learn, interact, and define their identities in early adolescence. In addition to her dissertation work, she has  had the opportunity to study and conduct research with Dr. Joanna Lee Williams on a project exploring the benefits of racial and ethnic diversity in schools, what gets in the way of realizing those benefits – and what we can all do to move forward.

Lauren was formerly Assistant Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans during the Obama Administration, where she focused her efforts on student programming, strategic planning and management of projects and priorities including, but not limited to, centering youth voice, supporting federal interagency relationships, the development of research-based publications and handbooks for students, managing the Initiative social media accounts, and engaging with stakeholders through multi-media platforms. 

She was a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls, the U.S. Department of Education Policy Committee, the U.S. Department of Education Socioeconomic Diversity Working Group, as well as a member of First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Working Group. Lauren developed and hosted events such as the AfAmWomenLead Student Summit to Support Black Girls, a summit to support African American students with disabilities, and reading parties for low-income youth to share resources, foster creativity and nurture a love of learning.

As a PhD student, Lauren is interested in how race and ethnicity affect psychosocial and academic outcomes in youth, particularly among African American adolescent girls. She was a graduate instructor of "Race, Ethnicity and Diversity in Youth Development" at the University of Virginia. Her current research project " Meeting Black Girls on the Moon" employs a qualitative approach to elevate the unique experiences of Black girls in contemporary public schools and identify cultural & institutional factors that support success among Black girls. In seeking to better understand the lived experiences of black girls in schools, the study aims to supplant narratives of failure with narratives of success amidst challenges, as well as highlighting opportunities for educators and policymakers to better support their socio-emotional wellbeing.