Originally from Seattle, Emma Peyton Williams studied Gender Sexuality and Feminist Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College. Her studies focused primarily on critical race theory, whiteness, queer theory, surveillance, prisons, policing, critical social work studies, families, and motherhood, and ultimately culminated in her Honors Thesis "Dreaming of Abolitionist Futures, Reconceptualizing Child Welfare: Keeping Kids Safe in the Age of Abolition," which was ultimately awarded Highest Honors.
Throughout high school and college, Emma worked as a peer sex educator in schools, health clinics, and churches. During breaks from school, she interned for the good folks at the NW Network and became a Research and Policy Consultant for the National LGBTQ Institute on Intimate Partner Violence, where she worked until summer 2021. While studying away in Chicago, she started coordinating research for an offshoot of what was formerly the Chicago chapter of Black and Pink, as they worked to compile a report about the conditions of civil commitment in Illinois and worked as a project manager for the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project, supporting incarcerated students as they pursued Bachelor’s degrees. In Chicago, Emma found the abolitionist community that she now calls home.
Since graduating, Emma has returned to Chicago, and extended her consulting services to the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the upEND Movement, the University of Iowa Labor Center, and the Prison Policy Initiative. She still coordinates research for what is now known as the Inside Illinois Civil Commitment project. In December 2021, Emma joined Cabrini Green Legal Aid's Policy and Advocacy team, where she works on prison reentry policy issues in Illinois. Emma looks forward to continuing to use her research and writing skills, teaching background, advocacy, and community organizing experience in both grassroots and professional settings, supporting community responses to violence that are not reliant on the state.