Tawanna Dillahunt

MLK Fellow

Tawanna Dillahunt is presently an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information (UMSI) where she also holds an appointment with the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department. Dr. Dillahunt’s contributions to scholarship span over 25 years and include publications, products, and patents.

Tawanna’s work in equitable and inclusive computing identifies technological opportunities to address and alleviate employment challenges faced by marginalized people, and she has designed and implemented digital tools aimed at addressing these challenges. She has systematically investigated the needs of marginalized job seekers, co-designed tools with them to address these needs, and conducted original research with these platforms. She is well-known for her empowering research approaches and her mindful and longstanding relationships with non-profit organizations.

At MIT, Tawanna will build on her NSF EAGER and NSF Smart and Connected Communities (SCC) grants based in Detroit to extend two threads of her work. One thread is about stimulating community economic engagement with technology. These efforts build technical capacity among entrepreneurs using digital platforms, centering the agency of workers and the voices of community members. The other research project is about community-based processes to elicit values and imagine alternative economies through design fiction. The goal is to imagine new models for employment, economic development, and growth to support the future of “community” within Detroit neighborhoods. The approach involves educating marginalized communities about technologies including robotics, blockchain, and artificial intelligence and how they are transforming the nature of work. She is especially interested in using this time to focus on approaches to technology-focused Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and informing how computing disciplines can better engage with minoritized communities.