Scholar, Advocate, Filmmaker


b. 1986, HK.



Sally A. Nuamah

Short Bio

Sally A. Nuamah completed her Ph.D. in political science at Northwestern University in June 2016. She has held fellowships and faculty positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Princeton University and Duke University. Currently, Dr. Nuamah is a professor (tenure track) at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern university. Her first book, How Girls Achieve, was released by Harvard University Press in April 2019.

Recent Awards

2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship - How the Punishment of Black Women and Girls Affects our Democracy

2019 Clarence Stone Award - American Political Science Association Urban Politics Section

2019 Susan Clarke Young Scholar Award - American Political Science Association Urban Politics Section

2019 Forbes “30 Under 30” in Education

2019 The Chronicle15 Pioneer Award - For Defining What it means to be at Duke University

2018 Advocate Award - African Festival of the Arts/Africa International House 

2018 Global Emerging Leader Award - Global Strategist Association

2016 Under 40 Award in Education- Black Women Organized for Political Action

2016 Nominated Change Maker - White House Council on Women and Girls

2015 Chicago 35 under 35 Leaders Making an Impact - Chicago Scholars

2014 Connecting Cultures Award - Changing Worlds

Long Bio

Sally A. Nuamah is an assistant professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She completed her Ph.D. in political science at Northwestern University, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. While at Northwestern, she became the first Excellence Through Diversity Predoctoral Fellow in political science at the University of Pennsylvania. Upon graduating with her Ph.D., she was named a Values and Public Policy Fellow at Princeton University and a Women and Public Policy Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. Between 2018 and 2019, she worked as an assistant professor at the Sanford School of Social Policy at Duke University.

Professor Nuamah’s research sits at the intersections of race, gender, education policy, and political behavior. In particular, she uses quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the political consequences of public policies across the United States as well as in Ghana and South Africa. Her dissertation, and recently completed book manuscript, examines the political effects of mass public school closure on low-income African Americans. Professor Nuamah’s first book, How Girls Achieve (2019), looks across race and gender and illuminates the unequal costs—school closure, sexual harassment, punishment—that poor black girls in the United States, Ghana and South Africa bear while striving to achieve. It then investigates the specific role of schools to combat these abuses and act as conduits of democratic equity.

Professor Nuamah’s newest research seeks to build on this work by investigating the impacts of black women and girls’ disproportionate experiences with punishment on their participation in American democracy. In the future, she plans to expand this investigation to Ghana and South Africa as well. Her work has been published in academic journals including the American Education Research Journal, the Journal of Urban Affairs and the Urban Affairs Review, and has been featured in popular media including the Washington Post, and TEDx. For this work, she was recently awarded the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, named a Susan Clarke Young Scholar AND Clarence Stone Scholar from the Urban Politic Section of the American Political Science Association.

In addition to her work as a scholar, Professor Nuamah has worked as a workshop mentor at the Grace House for incarcerated women and girls in the United States, as a research associate with the U.S. Agency for International Development in South Africa, and as a gender expert for the United Nations Foundation in Ghana. She is also the founder of the TWII Foundation, an award-winning organization that provides girls with scholarships so they can be first in their families to go to college. Professor Nuamah is the creator of the documentary film HerStory about girls and education in Ghana, which was named “Best Documentary Short” by PBS and is currently distributed by the Discovery Channel. For her broader work, she has received numerous awards including a “Change-Maker” award from the White House Council on Women and Girls, an “Advocate of the Year” award from the African Festival of the Arts, and an “Under 40 Award in Education” from the Black Women Organized for Political Action. Most recently, she was named 2019 “30 under 30” in education by Forbes Magazine.

More About Sally Nuamah

In 2011, Sally Nuamah graduated from GWU a recipient of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, Coca-Cola Scholarship and Princeton University Prize award. Most notably, she was awarded the GW Manatt-Trachtenberg Award, presented to a student who has significantly challenged the social and intellectual conscience of the university, inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity, and named one of two Distinguished Scholars; the highest mark of distinction at the George Washington University. Sally Nuamah is now a Trustee on the George Washington University Board of Trustees. In addition to her work as an academic, Sally is the founder of the TWII Foundation, which provides college scholarship for low income girls to go to and through college.  In addition, she has an award winning documentary on girls and education in Ghana, HerStory, The film is now distributed by Discovery Channel Education. To learn more about her film and other work, visit

View select talks from Sally: 

TEDxChicago = "Clapping with One Hand"

Chicago United CID talk = "Closing the Gap, Widening the Net"

Changing Worlds - "A Dream Deferred"