Esther Hernández-Medina

Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies
With Pomona Since: 2018
  • Expertise


    Professor Hernández-Medina is a feminist academic, public policy expert and activist from the Dominican Republic, with a particular interest in how historically marginalized groups such as women, racial, ethnic and sexual minorities are able (if at all) to change and influence public policy in their favor. She has done research on this topic in Mexico, Brazil and her own country by looking at citizen participation in urban policies in São Paulo and Mexico City, the history of and recent achievements by the Dominican feminist movement, and the participatory budgeting model in the Dominican Republic and São Paulo.

    For her classes, Hernández-Medina draws on her research background as well as her extensive public policy experience in the Dominican Republic. She has taught courses at Harvard University and Brown University, and at the Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC), and the Pontifical Catholic University Mother and Teacher (PUCMM) in the Dominican Republic. Her academic work has been published in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Caribbean Studies, Berkeley Journal of Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies,andEstudios Sociales.

    As an activist, she is the co-founder of the Tertulia Feminista Magaly Pineda, along with Yildalina Tatem Brache in the Dominican Republic. Named after the most important contemporary feminist leader in the country and one of the most renown ones in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Tertulia aims to provide a safe space for women of all ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations to debate and learn about both historical and contemporary issues from a feminist perspective. More recently, young feminists have created similar spaces following the Tertulia model in different parts of the country: Tertulia Feminista del Sur in Barahona, Tertulia Feminista Petronila Gómez in Santiago, and Aquelarre RD in Bonao.

    In her role as a public policy expert, she has recently worked as a consultant for the National Migration Institute, the Association of Municipal Districts, the Women’s Ministry, and the National Procurement Office in the Dominican Republic. In the last two of these projects, she used her gender and development expertise to elaborate the chapter on women’s economic autonomy of the National Plan for Gender Equity 2019-2030, and to identify the best practices associated with the process of increasing women’s participation in the Dominican procurement system along with fellow feminist economist Consuelo Cruz Almánzar.

    Hernández-Medina is also a member of the international theatre group Ay Ombe Theater directed by Dominicanyork performer and writer Josefina Báez. She is part of the team behind the group’s most recent project: the graphic novel “Carmen,” a version of the famous novel and opera of the same name published in April 2020. “Carmen” reinterprets the story of the heroine in Prosper Mérimée’s novel and Georges Bizet’s opera by locating it in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The graphic novel is part of the multidisciplinary artistic project “Levente Visual” based on Báez’s novel “Levente No. Yolayorkdominicanyork.” The team of the project includes Báez who created the concept, directed the project, and wrote the texts; Pilar Espinal as the performer who plays Carmen; award-winning visual artists Carmen Inés Bencosme and Kutty Reyes; and Esther Hernández-Medina who wrote the epilogue of this unique work of art.

    At Pomona, Hernández-Medina was a visiting lecturer at the History Department during spring semester 2019. During that time she taught History 032: Latin America Since Independence and History 132: Political Protest & Social Movements in Latin America. As a visiting assistant professor at the Sociology Department she has taught Sociology 154: Sociological Theory I, Sociology 051: Introduction to Sociology, and the elective course Sociology 189B Gender and Development in Latin America.

    Areas of Expertise

    • Latin America and the Caribbean
    • Dominican Republic
    • Latin American Social Movements
    • Dominican Feminist Movement
    • Democracy and Citizen Participation in Public Policy
    • Gender and Development
    • Development, Globalization, and Global Cities
    • Public Policy and Strategic Planning
  • Work


    Hernández-Medina, Esther. (forthcoming). “Strengthening the Presidency: The Establishment and Evolution of the Presidential Center in the Dominican Republic 1996-2019” in Jorge Lanzaro (ed.) Presidential Centers in Latin America. The Take-off of Presidential Studies in Latin America. Palgrave Macmillan Series on Public Organizations

    Hernández-Medina, Esther. 2018. “El ‘derecho a una vida completa’: Notas Incompletas sobre el Movimiento Feminista Dominicano” [The ‘Right to a Complete Life:’ Incomplete Notes about the Dominican Feminist Movement]. Estudios Sociales Vol. XLI, No. 157. Septiembre-Diciembre 2018

    Hernández Medina, Esther y Yildalina Tatem Brache. 2017. “Magaly Pineda, Una Mujer Adelantada a su Tiempo” [Magaly Pineda, a Woman Ahead of Her Time]. Revista Ecos, Órgano del Instituto de Historia de la Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Vol. XXIV, No. 14. Enero-Junio 2017

    Hernández-Medina, Iluminada Esther. 2014. Urban Regime Change and Citizen Participation in Urban Policies: Conflict, Collaboration, and Corporatism in Mexico City (Doctoral dissertation). Brown University, Sociology Department

    Hernández Medina, Esther. 2013. “El Funcionamiento del Alto Gobierno en República Dominicana” [Functioning of the Executive Branch Coordinating Institutions in the Dominican Republic] en Nuria Cunill Grau (coord.) Fortalecimiento del Alto Gobierno para el Diseño, Conducción y Evaluación de Políticas Públicas. Caracas: Centro Latinoamericano de Administración para el Desarrollo (CLAD)

    Hernández-Medina, Esther. 2010. “Social Inclusion through Participation: The Case of the Participatory Budgeting in São Paulo.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 34(3): 512-532

    Hernández-Medina, Esther. 2007. “Globalizing Participation: ‘Exporting’ the Participatory Budgeting Model from Brazil to the Dominican Republic” Berkeley Journal of Sociology 51: 69-118

    Itzigsohn, José; Carlos Dore Cabral; Esther Hernández Medina; Obed Vásquez. 1999. “Mapping Dominican transnationalism: narrow and broad transnational practices” Ethnic and Racial Studies 22(2): 316-39, March 1999

  • Education


    Ph.D. in Sociology, Brown University
    Providence, Rhode Island

    Master in Public Policy, Harvard University
    Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Master in Gender and Development, Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC)
    Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

    B.A. in Economics, Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC)
    Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Year Award/Honor
    2017 Outstanding Alumna Award at the Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC) awarded for work as a feminist scholar, activist and public sector reformer in the Dominican Republic on behalf of women and other disadvantaged groups. Social Sciences Area, INTEC, November
    2005 "Alden Speare Jr. Memorial Award" to the most distinguished M.A. thesis from the Sociology Department during academic year 2004/2005. Sociology Department, Brown University, May
    2002/2003 Taiwanese Government Scholarship awarded for completing the Master in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
    2001/2002 Inter-American Development Bank/Government of Japan Scholarship awarded for completing the Master in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
    1994/1995 Network of Women’s NGOs Scholarship awarded for the Master in Gender and Development at the Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
    1990/1993 “Young National Talent” Award and Scholarship awarded by the Outstanding Students Program at the Santo Domingo Institute of Technology (INTEC), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic