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Luisa S. Deprez

David Brian Robertson Excellence in Leadership Award, Scholars Strategy Network; Professor Emerita of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies, and Faculty Affiliate at the Muskie School of Public Policy, University of Southern Maine, Portland

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About Luisa

Dr. Deprez’s commitment is to social justice, equality and equity.  With a focus on social policy, her work unearths the politics of policy-making as well as the impact of ideology and public opinion on policy exposing the resultant social, economic, and personal consequences. Scholarship concentrated on welfare policy focuses on both its restrictive nature and its corresponding impact and effect on recipients, most particularly single-mothers pursuing post- secondary education. The power of higher education in sustaining privilege and its resultant impact on thwarting access to low-income parents emerges in these investigations.  After a 40- year career in academia, Dr. Deprez lends her knowledge and expertise to work with non-profit organizations, government agencies, and state legislatures while continuing to be an active contributor to state and national policy discussions and debates that focus on vulnerable populations.


No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Opinion: "Stop Trying to Understand Trump Voters as if They Are Aliens," Luisa S. Deprez (with Ryan LaRochelle), The Atlantic, March 12, 2024.
Opinion: "Fears Grow Over Future of Social Infrastructure in a Second Trump Term," Luisa S. Deprez (with Ryan LaRochelle), Common Dreams, March 11, 2024.
Opinion: "Federal COVID Funding Will Reach All of Us," Luisa S. Deprez (with Lisa S. Miller),, November 30, 2021.
Opinion: "Desideratum: Heading Off the Prospects of a Dark and Tumultuous Future," Luisa S. Deprez (with John Dorrer), Common Dreams, October 13, 2020.
Opinion: "Donald Trump’s Assault on the Social Safety Net," Luisa S. Deprez (with Ryan LaRochelle), Washington Monthly, February 7, 2020.
Opinion: "Supporting Parental Education Can End Generational Poverty," Luisa S. Deprez (with Lisa Dodson), Portland Press Herald, February 19, 2018.
Opinion: "No Savings, No Retirement, No Relief: The Plight of so Many Low-Wage Workers," Luisa S. Deprez (with Mary Gatta), Bangor Daily News, December 19, 2017.
Quoted by Editorial Board in "Violence Has Declined in America, but Increased Fire Power Makes Shootings More Deadly," Bangor Daily News, October 5, 2017.
Opinion: "Maine’s Welfare Policies Have Taken a Turn, with Dire Consequences for Kids," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, March 8, 2016.
Opinion: "Same Bills, One-Third of the Income: A Maine Husband’s Death and the Loss of 3 Income Sources," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, November 28, 2014.
Opinion: "Young Women Voters Need More Than the Right to Choose," Luisa S. Deprez (with Randy Albelda and Avi Green), Talking Points Memo Café, November 11, 2014.
Opinion: "A Rough Ride for Mainers over the Next Four Years of LePage," Luisa S. Deprez (with John Dorrer), Bangor Daily News, November 11, 2014.
Opinion: "'A Lot of Fears': A Richmond Woman’s Health Problems and 3 Months without Coverage," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, October 24, 2014.
Opinion: "Congratulations, Graduate! And Now about Repaying Your Debt," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, June 27, 2014.
Opinion: "A Maine Family's Struggle to Beat Back Welfare Fraud Allegations," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, May 2, 2014.
Opinion: "How a Milo Man is Raising Grandson after the Death of Wife, Loss of Income," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, March 28, 2014.
Opinion: "First a Parent, Then a Scholar: How This Maine Woman Finally Completed College," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, February 21, 2014.
Opinion: "No, Kristof, Academics aren't Cloistered Like 'Medieval Monks'," Luisa S. Deprez (with Amy Fried), Talking Points Memo, February 17, 2014.
Opinion: "Going Back to College at 50, and Why It's a Dream Come True," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, January 24, 2014.
Opinion: "Could Your Family Live on $1.40 per Meal?," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, December 27, 2013.
Opinion: "Without Medicaid, What Will Happen to this Portland Man?," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra Butler), Bangor Daily News, November 29, 2013.
Opinion: "Signals from the Labor Market: Is Anybody Listening?," Luisa S. Deprez (with John Dorrer), Bangor Daily News, August 20, 2013.
Opinion: "Investing in Maine's Future: The Case for the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra S. Butler and John Dorrer), Bangor Daily News, February 26, 2013.
Opinion: "Join the Union Club: It's a Good Bargain," Luisa S. Deprez (with John Dorrer), Bangor Daily News, December 25, 2012.
Opinion: "Romney-Ryan Budget Would Hurt Mainers, Economy," Luisa S. Deprez, Bangor Daily News, October 16, 2012.
Quoted by in "Paul Ryan's Relatives Didn't Live Past 60, Why Should Yours?," The Huffington Post, August 11, 2012.
Opinion: "Paycheck Fairness Act Would Help Women and Their Families," Luisa S. Deprez, Bangor Daily News, June 13, 2012.
Opinion: "Maine Voices: Report Critical of State Welfare Policy Offered Jumbled Analysis," Luisa S. Deprez, Portland Press Herald, September 16, 2010.
Opinion: "The Power of Higher Education in the Lives of Low-Income Families," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra S. Butler), Bangor Daily News, October 9, 2007.
Opinion: "State Does Well with Higher-Ed Support," Luisa S. Deprez (with Sandra S. Butler), Portland Press Herald, August 31, 2006.
Opinion: "Humanity Suffers When Victims’ Cries Ignored," Luisa S. Deprez, Portland Press Herald, March 25, 2000.


"Universal Basic Income Roundtable," (with Michael W. Howard, Daniel S. Soucier, Dave Canarie, Phillip Harvey, Georg Arndt, Karl Widerquist, and Almaz Zelleke), The University of Maine, November 2019.

Discusses how the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center invited local, regional, and international experts on universal basic income (UBI) to participate in a new feature: Maine Policy Perspectives.

"Poverty and Low-income and Poor Women in Maine," U.S. District Court Civil Action: Julia Jenkins, et al, Plaintiffs, v. R. Christopher Almy, et al, Defendants. On Behalf of the ACLU-Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, 2018.

Documents the status of poverty among Maine women and verifies the risks to which they are exposed as a result of a recent law restricting their access to abortion. At issue is an ACLU case which challenges the requirement that abortions be performed only by a physician, not advanced practice registered nurses who would be able to perform abortions if it wasn’t for this law. In a rural state like Maine with limited physician access, low-income and poor women face considerable consequences to their health and economic well-being as well as to that of their families by the restrictive nature of this law.

"Teaching for Well-Being: Pedagogical Strategies for Meaning, Value, Relevance, and Justice" (with Diane Wood), in Universities and Human Development. A Sustainable Imaginary for the XXI Century, edited by Alejandra Boni and Melanie Walker (Routledge Press, 2012).
Explores the development of deliberative democratic classrooms that emphasize human capability and freedom, using insights from movements for democratic education, critical pedagogy, and feminist pedagogy.
"Women, Welfare and Workforce Development: An Agenda for the 21st Century" (with Mary Gatta), in A U.S. Skills System for the 21st Century: Innovations in Workforce Education and Development, edited by David Finegold, Mary Gatta, Hal Saltzman, and Susan Schurman (Labor and Employment Relations Association, 2010), 261-284.
Shows how women, particularly those heading single-parent households, have been disadvantaged by workforce and welfare politics, and considers how they can develop the skills needed to be competitive in 21st-century occupational positions.
"Investing in Human Capital in Difficult Economic Times: Maine’s Competitive Skills Scholarship Program" (with Sandra S. Butler, John Dorrer, and Auta Main). Maine Policy Review 19, no. 1 (2010): 58-69.
Evaluates Maine’s Competitive Skills Scholarship Program, an innovative higher education program for unemployed low-income people that prepares them for new jobs in high-demand sectors.
"The Parents as Scholars Program: A Maine Success Story" (with Sandra S. Butler). Maine Policy Review 17, no. 1 (2008): 40-53.
Looks at how women who enrolled in Maine’s unique Parents as Scholars program are faring, documenting how access to postsecondary education has led to increased feelings of personal independence, better and more stable jobs, increased pay, better relationships with children, and greater community engagement.
"Women’s Lives and Poverty: Developing a Framework for Real Reform for Welfare" (with Mary Gatta). Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 35, no. 3 (2008): 21-48.
Examines single mother-headed households and the extent to which they have been significantly disadvantaged by workforce and welfare policy.
"Shut Out: Low-Income Women and Higher Education in Post Welfare America" (with Valerie Polakow, Sandra S. Butler, and Peggy Kahn) (SUNY Press, 2004).
Portrays the economic, educational, and everyday struggles that single mothers confront as they deal with a welfare-to-work regime that usually denies access to higher education and obstructs aspirations to exit poverty and attain family self-sufficiency.