Meet The Scholars: Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray

Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray is PhD Student in social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a member of Health Policy Research Scholars Cohort 2021.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your research interests are. 

I am married, with a 23 month old and I am a practicing attorney and the Executive Director of a not for profit law firm. I am a 3rd year PhD student in the field of social work and my research interest are health equity in domestic relations courts and upstream approached to preventing domestic relations court involvement for low income families and using artificial intelligence to advance research and interventions in this area.

What’s the story behind why you’re doing what you’re doing?  

Having worked in the courts for more than ten years, I have seen how low income and minority families particularly Black men and women are treated by judges, clerks, security, admin and lawyers. This undercurrent of classism. racism, sexism and elitism is determining to the health and well-being of these families not just their legal issues. Unfortunately, there is little attention given to domestic relations courts by researchers and public health scientist even though a lot of families experience domestic relations court every year and it can and does have a negative impact on their health and well-being. Additionally, families often come to you as a lawyer long after their case has moved into a state of crisis. This makes it much more difficult to assist them. A prevention approach would increase opportunities for families to realize legal issues earlier and get help earlier.

Tell us about a project you are currently working on that you are excited about.

I am currently using the Fragile Families data set to try and predict court involvement using artificial intelligence.

For people unfamiliar with your research area, what is one piece of information you think is important for them to know?  

Domestic relations court involves divorce, custody, child support, and often includes child abuse and neglect and domestic violence as well as law adjacent issues such as homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment and mental health issues because these issues can be co-occurring.

Who is a researcher you admire and why? 

There is this book Artificial Intelligence and Social Work that I really really enjoyed and it’s the only one on the topic. In any case I appreciate the two editors of the book Eric Rice and Milind Tambe because it merges my own interest and gives great examples of what this looks like and this transdisciplinary approach is still very rare in the field of social work but it is also where my research interest are.

How do you think HPRS will complement your doctoral training?

HPRS is helping me understand how policy works and ways to address policy issues in domestic relations. HPRS also provides a great community of peers to brainstorm with and track through the trenches of a PhD program with as well as great mentors. HPRS also opens up opportunities, for teaching, publishing, presenting and learning that I would not otherwise have.

What part(s) of HPRS excite you the most?

Opportunities to learn, engaging with peers, learning about strengths and improving writing skills.

In the RWJF HPRS program we will work with you to help you think further about using your research to develop policy. If you could use your research to change any policy, what policy would it be?  

I would like to see some specialty courts in domestic relations courts in Chicago

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you choose to go and why?

I enjoy history and always have, and would love to go to China and see everything.

Read Chlece’s bio.


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