Emma Peyton Williams (she/they) grew up in Seattle before heading to Ohio to pursue a Bachelor of Arts at Oberlin College, where she majored in Comparative American Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Her studies focused on critical race theory, whiteness, queer theory, surveillance, prisons/policing, critical social work studies, families, and motherhood.
During her time in undergrad, Emma worked as an HIV Peer Tester on campus, the college advisor to the Oberlin High School Queers and Allies Club, and a sex educator in both the Seattle Public Schools and the Oberlin Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. During breaks from school, she began interning for the good folks at the NW Network of BTLG Survivors of Abuse and became a Research and Policy Consultant for the National LGBTQ Institute on Intimate Partner Violence, where they worked until summer of 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 they now call home.
In the fall of 2019, Emma returned to Oberlin to complete her degree and wrote her Honors Thesis "Dreaming of Abolitionist Futures, Reconceptualizing Child Welfare: Keeping Kids Safe in the Age of Abolition," which was ultimately awarded Highest Honors. Since graduating, Emma has returned to Chicago, extended her consulting services to the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the upEND Movement, the University of Iowa Labor Center, and, presently, the Prison Policy Initiative. In December 2021 Emma joined Cabrini Green Legal Aid's Policy and Advocacy team where they work on prison reentry policy issues in Illinois. Emma looks forward to continuing to use their research skills, teaching background, and community organizing experience in both grassroots and professional settings, supporting community responses to violence that are not reliant on the state.