The Hope Center is Growing!

The Hope Center celebrates its 2nd anniversary and welcomes 5 new teammates!

The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice today is celebrating its second anniversary of supporting student-ready colleges and universities with the announcement of strategic organizational growth, five new teammates, and a new home within the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

The Hope Center is redefining what it means to be a student-ready college through action research, technical assistance, policy, and advocacy to help #RealCollege students succeed. A focus on students’ basic needs for food, housing, transportation, childcare, and mental health supports has never been more critical, as millions of students and their families struggle to survive the ongoing pandemic. 

Recognizing the challenges and work ahead, we are in the midst of rapid and strategic organizational growth in the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. Today, we celebrate five incredible individuals, review our current organizational chart to see where we are now and what we have in store for the next year.  

DEIRDRE CHILDRESS HOPKINS is The Hope Center’s new Director of Communications. She is the former Director of Public Relations for Visit Philadelphia, the region’s official travel and tourism agency where she served the Latinx, African American, LGBTQ and Canadian tourism markets.  Prior to that role, she was the Strategic Communications Manager for the $1.3 billion Pennsylvania Convention Center where she was responsible for public relations, internal and external communications and supported marketing, advertising, and sales efforts.
Serving as the 2020-21 Chair of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, Deirdre also is the first person of color to serve as its president in its 75 years. She was also Co-Chair of the 2018 Diversity Committee of the Public Relations Society of America, Philadelphia chapter.
Deirdre is a former journalist at The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Daily News, United Press International, and the Syracuse Post-Standard and she interned at The Los Angeles Times. Deirdre held national office as the 2014 and 2015 Convention and Career Fair Program Chair for the National Association of Black Journalists, and as its 2009-11 Vice President-Print and its 2007-09 National Secretary. In Philadelphia, her community volunteerism includes the 2016 Philadelphia DNC’s Communications Working Group,  the 2015 Communications and Marketing Committee for the World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit in Philadelphia, and the social media team for the Pennsylvania Conference for Women.

JAPBIR GILL is the Hope Center’s newest Senior Research Associate. Previously, he was a Harvard University Strategic Data Fellow with the Orleans Parish School Board in New Orleans, LA, where he conducted extensive research into the equitable allocation of resources across the district. Prior to that fellowship, Japbir was the Director of Program Evaluation and Quality Assurance at Project HOME.  He previously held positions at Godiva Chocolatier, AOL TimeWarner, and General Electric where he worked in international strategy, marketing analysis, and risk due diligence. Japbir earned degrees in Economics and Finance from Michigan State University, an MBA with concentrations in Strategic Management and Healthcare Administration from Villanova University, and an MSEd with a concentration in Quantitative Methods from the University of Pennsylvania.

DENISHA HOBBS is The Hope Center’s latest addition to the Policy & Advocacy team, serving as a Policy Analyst. Her career has focused on advocating for public policy issues surrounding health care and education on all levels of government. Her previous role included working as a Policy and Research Intern with the National Summer Learning Association. Denisha has also worked in higher education as an Academic Coach at the University of Baltimore. There, she provided students with the necessary tools and resources to become academically and professionally successful. Denisha holds a B.S. in Gerontology from Towson University and is completing her MPA in Healthcare Policy and Administration at the University of Baltimore. She is a North Philadelphia native and a first-generation college graduate.

JENNIFER KING joins The Hope Center as a Practitioner-Researcher, expanding the Institutional Transformation team with a focus on supporting universities’ basic needs security efforts. In her prior work, Jennifer progressively developed her skills to build and maintain relationships, provide face-to-face and remote technical assistance and training, and facilitate strategic planning at the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health. This comes as a product of her experiences in spearheading a community health needs assessment of Cleveland, Ohio’s largest neighborhood and aiding in the launch of Kent State University’s institution-wide health initiative. She continues her service to the field of higher education as an adjunct professor at Kent State University and a member of the College of Public Health’s External Advisory Committee. Jennifer received both her Bachelor’s (Kent State University) and Master’s (Bowling Green State University) degrees in Nutrition before returning to Kent to earn her PhD in Public Health with an investigational emphasis in food insecurity experiences among college students.

TENESHIA WASHINGTON is The Hope Center’s first Center Coordinator, lending critical support to our Sustainability team. She previously worked as Research Coordinator for PhD Doctoral Programs at Temple’s Fox School of Business. Teneshia also held a position as the Senior Administrative Manager for the Strategic Management Department, also Fox. Before joining Temple, Teneshia served as Administrative Manager to several nonprofits both local to Philadelphia and national, including Physicians for Social Responsibility, The Friends Center Corporation, and others.


We are thrilled to welcome all of our new teammates and invite you to learn more about them in our upcoming newsletters!