Sara is the Founder & Senior Advisor of TransformEd.
Previously, Sara was the Executive Director of TransformEd. She set TransformEd’s strategy, built internal capacity, fundraised, built new partnerships, and nurtured collaborative relationships with leading researchers and practitioners. Sara led TransformEd’s work to support school systems serving over 1M students across 20+ states and authored more than a dozen publications and toolkits that translate research into actionable guidance and strategies for K-12 educators.
Before founding TransformEd, Sara was a Senior Associate in the Parthenon Group’s Education Practice. In that role, she served as a strategic advisor to leading national foundations, large K-12 school districts, and state departments of education on the design and rollout of large-scale education reform efforts. Sara earned an A.B. in Government from Harvard University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Tufts University and the Institute for Nonprofit Practice.
Bavu is a Lead Partner at Transforming Education, where he collaborates with school and system leaders across the country to promote whole child development.
In the past decade, Bavu Blakes has emerged as a trusted mind and voice who helps leaders across the U.S. support and sustain movement from the language of educational equity to the labor of educational equity. He designs and delivers professional learning opportunities for teachers, principals, district leadership, as well as non-profit and community organizations. The antithesis of a sit-and-get lecturer, Bavu is celebrated for incorporating theatrical, musical, and lyrical elements into learning facilitation. Blakes has worked directly with clients as large as Los Angeles Unified School District and AViD, but also collaborates with community groups and guest lectures in college courses. Bavu obtained his Bachelor of Journalism and his Master of Education degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Also an award-winning musician whose studio collaborators include multiple Grammy-winning producers, Blakes’ academic research has been presented at prestigious national conferences (AERA, LRA, NCTE) for several years. Accordingly, Austin, Texas, mayor Steve Adler proclaimed April 23, 2015, as Bavu Blakes Day to a capacity crowd at City Hall.
Yalitza LaFontaine Delgado
Yalitza LaFontaine Delgado is the Director of Operations at Transforming Education, where she manages and oversees the daily operations of the organization – from grant writing, to finances, to workplace culture and more.
Edith Yalitza LaFontaine Delgado (Yalitza) completed her undergraduate work at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN where she taught middle school English utilizing equity focused classroom practices. She moved to Huntsville, AL in 2005 and completed her MA from University of Alabama in Huntsville where she worked as a lecturer for the Intensive Language and Culture department and led teacher development activities centered around second language learners. After her tenure in academia, Ms. LaFontaine Delgado worked as a community organizer for the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice then as Director of Operations for AshaKiran, Inc. She is a community activist and advocate fighting towards social justice and racial equity who speaks in a variety of spaces on a variety of social topics including anti-racism, cultural competency, gender issues, language access, and immigrant rights. Yalitza is the mother of three adult children and has one beautiful granddaughter who is “her favorite person.”
Rebecca is a Lead Partner at Transforming Education, where she collaborates with school and system leaders across the country to promote whole child development.
Rebecca is an educator with fifteen years of experience. Starting as a classroom teacher, her commitment to supporting all students, educators, and working diligently to serve as many as possible led her to multiple roles in public and charter schools, including: Student Support Services Coordinator, Instructional Specialist, Curriculum Writer, and Assistant Principal. In addition, Rebecca founded her own instructional coaching company where she consulted with large school districts to help enhance their impact on student learning. She also trains teachers in the art and science of becoming empathic listeners while better understanding their own attachment style through her work with FuelEd. Rebecca obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas A&M University and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Houston. She is certified in elementary and special education and has a Texas principal license.
Adrienne is a Lead Partner at Transforming Education, where she collaborates with school and system leaders across the country to promote whole child development.
She has over 15 years of experience working with, educators, administrators, children, parents, and caregivers. In her previous role, she provided coaching, training, and technical assistance to professionals in child-serving organizations to create, implement, support, and sustain trauma-responsive practices. Adrienne is a lifelong learner who loves to teach and connect with others. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Tennessee State University, a Master’s degree in Organizational Development from Walden University, and a Doctorate in Social Work from The University of Southern California.
Max Margolius is the Director of Research & Learning at Transforming Education, where he serves as a bridge between research and practice to ensure that all of our work is infused with and informed by research on whole child development and the science of learning.
Max Margolius has spent the past fifteen years serving young people and the adults who care for them in a variety of in-school, out-of-school, and research-based contexts. Prior to joining TransformEd Dr. Margolius served as Director of Research with America’s Promise Alliance where he led and supported applied research projects focused on supporting young people’s development across school, out of school, and work settings. Previously he served as community school director and as a middle school English teacher in Brooklyn, NY where he coordinated school wide restorative practices and comprehensive student support systems. He began his career and continues working in wilderness and residential settings. He received his Ph.D. from Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University, M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania, certificate of educational leadership from High Tech High Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. in English from Skidmore College.
alicia nance, PhD., is a Senior Partner at Transforming Education, where she works in partnership with state and system leaders across the country to support whole child development.
alicia is a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, and the wildest dreams of her ancestors. She is a somatic abolitionist, memory worker, storyteller, racial justice and liberation strategist, anti-racist educator, cultural organiser, critical lover, and disrupter. Anti-racist and culturally sustaining holistic education, student and community voice, and the healthy racial identity development of learners and educators have always been at the centre of alicia’s 24+ years of work in education. Her work focuses on making spaces worthy of communities at the margin – expansive and joyful Black liberation and sovereignty through earth-, birth-, spirit-, and youth- work as a herbalist, doula, farmer, facilitator and coach.
alicia specialises in co-creating liberatory spaces in schools and communities by focusing on our relationship to land, space and place through community organising and sustaining, responsive, healing-centred decolonised pedagogies and practices. With professional experience in a wide range of PS-20 educational settings, alicia has served as a school leader; instructional coach; department and grade level chair; Special Education Coordinator; program manager; and classroom teacher focusing on culturally sustaining and responsive literacy and numeracy, and exceptional and culturally and linguistically diverse learners.
alicia holds advanced degrees and certificates from Louisiana State University, The George Washington University, and Georgetown University in Curriculum and Instruction, English, Africana Studies, Special Education, Women’s and Gender Studies, Curriculum Theory, Ethnic and Cultural Studies, and Educational Leadership and Management. She has been a Soul Fire Farm BIPoC FIRE facilitator, Farm School Program for Visiting Schools Fellow, Deeper Learning Equity Fellow, High Tech High Graduate School of Education New Schools Creation Fellow, Foster America Fellow, and 4.0 Schools Wave 4 Tiny Fellow.
Sarah is a Lead Partner at Transforming Education, where she collaborates with school and system leaders across the country to promote whole child development.
Sarah started working as a school social worker 20 years ago in Detroit Public Schools. She has since made her way home to Austin, TX where she has worked alongside educators, administrators, parents and students for healing and equity in public schools. Sarah believes that schools belong to everyone and we all have a needed role in creating a community that nurtures us all. Her work has ranged from in school case management for students PK-12th, Family Preservation Services, community organizing for high school redesign, and development for innovative school based programming for students who have been historically marginalized by our institutions. The past eight years, Sarah has worked as a Social Emotional Learning Specialist co-designing plans to weave antiracist whole child education into the school day and crafting professional learning for transformative SEL. Her favorite place to be is the Zone of Proximal Development with others. She is a proud mother of a 7th grader and wife of a potter/professional counselor. Sarah holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Texas and a Masters in Social Work in Community Organizing and Social Systems from the University of Michigan.
Angela M. Ward, PhD is the Chief Program Officer at Transforming Education. In this role, she is responsible for designing inclusive, antiracist programming that supports school systems to effect systemic change fostering equitable whole child development.
Dr. Ward draws from her 25 years of experience in education to help ensure that each student is supported by a robust set of systems and practices that nurture their agency and self-efficacy. Using an inquiry stance Dr. Ward also builds internal capacity and collaboratively leads a high-performing team focused on inclusiveness.
Dr. Ward is a mother, wife, and internationally recognized, award winning antiracist educator. She brings over a decade of experience of foundational equity work in Austin Independent School District, where she managed the district’s efforts on Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness and restorative practices. Dr. Ward’s own research focuses on the implications of the multiple relationships of education to culture, power, and society. Her work addresses issues of bias, bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and racism to eliminate disproportionality and disparities across systems. Dr. Ward is a strong advocate for liberating workplaces and school spaces focused toward issues of equity, inclusiveness, and relationship building. Dr. Ward holds a BA in Criminal Justice from Saint Edward’s University, M. Ed. in Educational Administration from Texas State, and PhD in Curriculum & Instruction, focused in Cultural Studies from the University of Texas, Austin.
Board of Directors
The TransformEd Board of Directors supports the work of the organization and provides mission-based leadership and strategic governance to ensure that the organization achieves its mission in a prudent, sustainable, and ethical way.
Danielle Gonzales is the Executive Director of New Mexico First & Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education.
Danielle was born and raised in New Mexico and comes to New Mexico First with over 20 years of experience working on education policy and management. Her most recent position was with The Aspen Institute where she served as Managing Director, convening education and policy leaders across lines of difference to improve outcomes for students. Previously, she worked as a Senior Program Officer for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focused on K-12 and post-secondary policy. She also held several positions at the Pew Charitable Trusts where she was recognized as national expert on pre-K policy and advocacy, particularly related to pre-K governance, and English learners. Among Danielle’s very first work experiences was working as an intern for the late U.S. Senator Pete V. Domenici.
Danielle achieved her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish Language and Literature from The George Washington University, where she was a Harry S. Truman Scholar, and her Master of Education from the University of Notre Dame.
Danielle serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for Transforming Education and was recently elected to serve on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education.
Danielle enjoys hiking, running, and spending time with her family.
John Maycock is the Co-Founder and former president of the Achievement Network (ANet).
John Maycock is an educational consultant, focused on advising CEOs in the K-12 and Higher Education space around strategy, growth and strategic partnerships to maximize scale and impact and equity. John has spent almost 30 years in the education space. He co-founded and served as the President of the Achievement Network, a national non-profit, for almost 15 years. John transitioned to the ANet Board in 2016 to help grow another national non-profit, UnboundEd, focused on spreading high quality open source curricular materials and training to disrupt inequities in education. Prior to founding ANet, John was a tutor in reading, math, and writing for elementary and middle school students and a coach for school leadership teams. John is a graduate of Middlebury College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Felicia Cumings Smith
Dr. Felicia C. Smith is the President & CEO of the National Center for Families Learning, which works to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families.
Formerly, Felicia served as the Senior Director for U.S. Regions at National Geographic Society, where she led efforts to develop and foster partnerships with education providers focused on scaling and spreading NGS resources, game-changing tools, and professional learning experiences. She supported the Society’s strategic planning and priorities to demonstrate a commitment to educational equity and justice elevating the voices of educators and youth through storytelling to illuminate the wonders of the world aimed at creating a movement of the next generation planetary stewards.
Prior to this, Felicia’s experiences include leadership responsibilities as an assistant superintendent for Teaching and Learning in Jefferson County Public Schools (KY), a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and associate commissioner at the Kentucky Department of Education. She began her career teaching elementary grades in Louisville, KY and holds an education doctorate in instruction and administration.
A lifelong educator and national thought leader for teaching and learning, Dr. Felicia C. Smith brings decades of valuable experience to advance NCFL’s mission of working to eradicate poverty through education solutions for families. Having served in a variety of leadership roles in P-12, higher education, nonprofit, and philanthropy, her career has allowed her to experience leading systems and develop a unique vantage point of a learner’s educational trajectory from preschool to adulthood. Smith holds an Ed.D. in education leadership and administration from the University of Kentucky, and an M.A. in elementary education with an emphasis on K-12 literacy development and B.S. in elementary education from the University of Louisville.
Andy Sokatch joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a Senior Program Officer in 2016.
Prior to joining the foundation, he served as the founding Director of Research and Evaluation at The New Teacher Project (TNTP), overseeing all research activities and contributing the methodological approach and data analysis to TNTP’s early policy papers, including Missed Opportunities and Unintended Consequences. He went on to serve as the Vice President for Research at Teach For America. Most recently, Sokatch served as the founding Director of Research at Character Lab. Andy began his career as a classroom teacher in New York City, and has taught at the elementary, middle, college, and graduate school levels.
He holds a BA in English Literature from Carleton College, an MA in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a PhD in Social Policy and Children’s Welfare from Brandeis University.
Ila Deshmukh Towery
As a Partner with Education First Consulting, a national mission-driven strategy and policy consulting firm, Ila Deshmukh Towery works closely with funders, nonprofits, districts and states to improve college and career readiness and support teacher and leader preparation, growth and effectiveness.
Her past and current clients include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Syracuse City School District and U.S. Department of Education.
Ila previously served as TNTP’s Director of External Evaluation where she launched and/or completed six studies in partnership with leading researchers and some of the nation’s largest school districts. Ila was a key contributor to TNTP’s $20M+ i3 grant and served as Project Director. Ila also taught mathematics and was research director at the Boston Plan for Excellence. Ila holds a BA in Political Science & Education from Swarthmore College and a PhD in Child Development from Tufts University.
Shannah L. Varón
Shannah Varón is the Executive Director of Teach for America, the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates and professionals who commit to teach two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity.
Prior to this role, Shannah served for ten years as the Executive Director of Boston Collegiate Charter School, a diverse, fifth through twelfth grade public school serving 700 students with the mission of preparing each student for college. In addition to her work at Boston Collegiate, Shannah has chaired the Boston Charter Alliance, the group of Boston’s 15 Commonwealth charter organizations, and served on the board of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association. Shannah also co-chaired the Boston Compact, which is dedicated to collaboration across Boston’s charter public, district public, and Catholic schools. In addition, she served on the Regional Advisory Board of Teach For America Massachusetts and she enjoys other board service as well, including serving on the board of Transforming Education. Prior to joining Boston Collegiate Charter School, Shannah was a principal with the Parthenon Group, a Boston-based strategy consulting firm, where she focused in the firm’s Education Center for Excellence and led projects on teacher effectiveness in New York City, Memphis, and Washington, DC. Shannah previously worked in New York City for Teach For America, where she co-managed the program team, which was responsible for 1,000 corps members across 300 city schools. She began her career in education teaching bilingual elementary special education in Mercedes, Texas, as a Teach For America Corps Member. Shannah holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University summa cum laude and an MBA from Harvard Business School with distinction. She lives in Milton, Massachusetts, with her husband and two young sons.
BOARD MEMBERS EMERITUS
Executive in Residence at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business
Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
Founder of the Institute for Nonprofit Practice
National Advisory Board
Transforming Education’s Advisory Board members offer deep expertise in a range of domains related to whole child development. They are scholars and leaders in fields such as social-emotional development, positive learning environments, clinical and developmental psychology, mental health, trauma-informed practices, culturally responsive education, measurement, and policy. We draw from their wisdom and experience to ensure that all of our work with schools and districts is informed by strong evidence and best practice.
David is the Chief Executive Officer at The Urban Assembly.
He previously served as the Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator for District 75 where he shaped the District’s approach to social-emotional learning for students with severe cognitive and behavioral challenges. He has worked internationally in schools in England, standing up and evaluating programs of positive behavioral supports and Social-Emotional Learning as a research intern at Yale University’s Health, Emotion and Behavior Lab, and published multiple academic papers around the relationship of social-emotional competence, and student academic and behavioral outcomes. He is married with two children, serves on the Board of Directors of CASEL and is a Civil Affairs Officer in the Army Reserve. David holds an M.Ed in Educational Psychology from Fordham University.
Jean-Claude Brizard is President and Chief Executive Officer of Digital Promise.
He is the former Senior Advisor and Deputy Director in US Programs at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Previously, he was the Chief Executive of Chicago Public Schools. Prior to his appointment in Chicago, he was Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester, NY School District. Under Mr. Brizard’s leadership, both the Chicago Public Schools and the Rochester City School District saw substantial improvements in student performance. Mr. Brizard’s experience also includes a 21-year career as an educator and administrator with the NYC Department of Education. He served as a Regional Superintendent, supervising more than 100 schools in the Borough of Brooklyn and he also served as the system’s Executive Director for its 400 secondary schools. He is a Fellow of the Broad Center, a Fellow of the Pahara-Aspen Institute, and a member of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network. A commercial pilot, Mr. Brizard credits his parents—both of whom were educators—with inspiring him to pursue a career in education.
Katie Buckley is the Senior Managing Director/Senior Research Scientist of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) at Teach for America, where she oversees research and evaluation related to the social-emotional development of students and corps members.
Christina Cipriano, Ph.D., holds a dual appointment at the Yale School of Medicine as Assistant Professor of Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center and Director of Research at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (YCEI).
Dr. Cipriano’s research focuses on the systematic examination of classroom social processes in the promotion of pathways to optimal developmental outcomes for traditionally underserved student and teacher populations. Dr. Cipriano has extensive experience working in classrooms and schools, providing training to teachers and support staff, and direct instruction to students. As the Director of Research at the YCEI, Dr. Cipriano oversees, designs, and maintains large-scale basic and applied research studies on: emotions, emotional intelligence, and social and emotional learning, including longitudinal studies and randomized controlled trials. Dr. Cipriano has a wealth of project management experience as the PI and Director of numerous major grants supporting the development, validation, and training of student assessment, social and emotional learning, and classroom observation practices. Dr. Cipriano received her Ph.D. in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology from Boston College, her Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and undergraduate degree from Hofstra University. Dr. Cipriano is a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, and the mother of four beautiful children who inspire her every day to take the moon and make it shine for everyone. You can learn more about her work @drchriscip and drchriscip.com
Jennifer DePaoli is a Senior Researcher at the Learning Policy Institute, where she co-leads the Whole Child Education team, focusing on students’ social and emotional learning and well-being, the science of learning and development, and putting the whole child at the center of policy and practice.
DePaoli brings with her more than a decade of experience teaching and conducting research and policy analysis in K–12 education. She began her career teaching middle grade students and later taught courses in educational foundations to pre-service teachers at the University of Akron and Ohio State University. Prior to joining LPI, DePaoli served as the Senior Research & Policy Advisor at Civic Enterprises, where she led research on raising high school graduation rates and increasing college readiness, social and emotional learning, and alternative school accountability systems. Before that, she conducted school choice and charter school policy research at Policy Matters Ohio. DePaoli earned her Ph.D. in Education from Ohio State University, where she focused on state- and district-level K–12 education reform policy. She also holds a Master’s in Middle Childhood Education and a B.A. in Communications from the University of Dayton.
Camille A. Farrington is a Managing Director and Senior Research Associate at the UChicago Consortium.
She is a national expert on academic mindsets and the measurement of psychosocial factors in academic settings. Her research focuses on understanding how learning environments provide opportunities for positive developmental experiences for students, how young people make sense of daily schooling experiences, and how school structures and teacher practices shape students’ beliefs, behaviors, performance, and development. Camille is passionate about leveraging the science of learning and development in K-12 schools, identifying and disrupting inequitable structures and practices, supporting the ongoing growth and development of educators to lead profound change in schools, and ultimately transforming the daily schooling experience and life outcomes of educationally marginalized students and communities. Her book, Failing at School: Lessons for Redesigning Urban High Schools (2014, Teachers College Press), outlines one approach to equitable school redesign. All of Camille’s work is informed by her fifteen years’ experience as a public high school teacher. Working or not, Camille attempts to split her time as evenly as possible between Chicago, the best American city, and California, which is hands down the best state in the land.
Hunter Gehlbach is a Professor and Vice Dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Education as well as the Director of Research at Panorama Education.
An educational psychologist by training and a social psychologist at heart, his primary interests lie in improving the social climate of schools, bolstering students’ motivation, and helping adolescents develop greater self-regulatory capacities. Thanks to a recent Spencer Foundation mid-career fellowship, much of his recent focus has shifted towards investigating how social psychological approaches might improve environmental education. He complements a methodological interest in helping social scientists improve their questionnaire design processes with recent work on enhancing the rigor of educational research through open science practices.
Gehlbach is a member of the questionnaire committees for the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Programme for International Student Assessment as well as an editorial board member for Educational Psychology Review and the Journal of Educational Psychology. A former high school teacher and coach, Gehlbach taught at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education from 2006-2015, before joining the faculty at UCSB from 2015-2019, before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 2019.
Paul Goren currently serves as Chief Strategy Advisor for the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy.
Between 2014-2019, he was superintendent of schools for Evanston/Skokie School District 65 where he implemented early literacy curricular reforms, established climate teams and approaches to social/emotional learning in every building, and led a robust equity agenda that included racial identity training for 1400 employees over a 2-year period. Goren successfully negotiated seven contracts during his tenure and led a successful excess tax referendum for the district that garnered support from 80% of the community. Prior to joining District 65, Goren served as the senior vice president for program at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in Chicago. Previously he served as the interim chief for strategy and accountability for Chicago Public Schools while working as executive director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research. A former middle school social studies and math teacher and basketball coach, Goren worked on the senior administrative teams of the Minneapolis Public Schools and the San Diego Unified School District. He served for over a decade as senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation and as a program director for Child and Youth Development at the MacArthur Foundation. Goren has a Ph.D. from the Stanford University School of Education, a Master’s of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin, and a B.A. from Williams College.
Akira S. Gutierrez, M.A., is a doctoral student in Clinical Science in Child & Adolescent Psychology at Florida International University.
While studying Child Development at Tufts University, she trained in early childhood education and applied human developmental research. Her professional experiences include teaching in diverse and inclusive classrooms as well as providing clinical services to children with disabilities. Before returning to graduate school, Akira served as the Senior Manager of Research-Practice Integration at Transforming Education, where she supported educators in integrating best practices for promoting social-emotional development in schools and classrooms.
Akira has conducted research related to social-emotional learning, positive youth development, and teacher-researcher partnerships. Her current research focuses on understanding the implications of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma on academic, behavioral, and social-emotional development among young children. As a clinician-in-training, she is involved in the implementation of evidence-based clinical practices in community settings to support children and families in building strong relationships, developing critical social-emotional skills for thriving and wellbeing, and being prepared for a strong start in kindergarten. In her little (but important!) down time, Akira enjoys spending time with her family, taking mindful walks in natural spaces, and exploring new places alongside her husband and young daughter.
Laura Hamilton is general manager of the research centers at ETS.
She previously served as distinguished chair in learning and assessment at the RAND Corporation and directed the RAND Center for Social and Emotional Learning Research. Much of her research has focused on promoting effective use of assessment data to support social, emotional, and academic learning and on providing evidence-based SEL guidance to local and state education leaders. As co-director of the American Educator Panels, RAND’s nationally representative survey panels of teachers and principals, she and her team gathered systematic data from educators about their strategies for implementing SEL programs and practices and about the conditions that facilitate or hinder their efforts. She also helped build a new stream of RAND research on civic education and media literacy. She’s served on numerous committees and panels including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Developing Indicators of Education Equity, the steering committee for the CASEL Assessment Work Group, and the technical advisory committees for several state assessment programs. She currently serves as associate editor of Educational Researcher and editorial board member for Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and Journal for Research on Educational Effectiveness. She holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology and an M.S. in statistics from Stanford University.
Robert J. Jagers is CASEL’s vice president of research.
Prior to joining CASEL, he was a faculty member in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan, a Co-PI of the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context (CSBYC), and the founding director of Wolverine Pathways, a university-sponsored diversity pipeline program for qualified secondary school students. Among his various CASEL duties, Dr. Jagers is leading work with partner districts to explore how social and emotional learning can be leveraged to promote equitable learning environments and equitable developmental outcomes for students from historically underserved groups. He has a particular interest in participatory approaches to SEL research and practice and their implications for the civic development of children and youth.
Stephanie Jones’ research, anchored in prevention science, focuses on the effects of poverty and exposure to violence on children and youth’s social, emotional, and behavioral development.
Over the last ten years her work has focused on both evaluation research addressing the impact of preschool and elementary focused social-emotional learning interventions on behavioral and academic outcomes and classroom practices; as well as new curriculum development, implementation, and testing. Jones is a recipient of the Grawemeyer Award in Education for her work with Zigler and Walter Gilliam on A Vision for Universal Preschool Education (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and a recipient of the Joseph E. Zins Early-Career Distinguished Contribution Award for Action Research in Social and Emotional Learning. Jones’ research portfolio emphasizes the importance of conducting rigorous scientific research, including program evaluation, that also results in accessible content for early and middle childhood practitioners and policymakers. Her developmental and experimental research investigates the causes and consequences of social-emotional problems and competencies; strategies for altering the pathways that shape children’s social-emotional development; and programs, interventions, and pedagogy that foster social-emotional competencies among children, adults, and environments. Her policy-driven research with colleague Nonie Lesaux focuses on the challenge of simultaneously expanding and improving the quality of early childhood education, at scale (The Leading Edge of Early Childhood Education, Harvard Education Press, 2016). Jones serves on numerous national advisory boards and expert consultant groups related to social-emotional development and child and family anti-poverty policies, including the National Boards of Parents as Teachers and Engaging Schools. She consults to program developers, including Sesame Street, and has conducted numerous evaluations of programs and early education efforts, including Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution, Resolving Conflict Creatively, SECURe, and the Head Start CARES initiative. Across projects and initiatives, Jones maintains a commitment to supporting the alignment of preK-3 curricula and instructional practices.
Clark McKown, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center (RUMC).
He is also founder and President of xSEL Labs, whose mission is to improve student outcomes by helping educators understand children’s social-emotional strengths and needs. xSEL Labs fulfills its mission by providing evidence-based assessments of student SE competencies and school climate. A leader in the field of SEL, McKown has written and spoken extensively on SEL with the goal of increasing the capacity of educators to use SEL assessments well. McKown was lead author on a report of the state of the field of SEL assessment. He is also the author of Assessing Student Social and Emotional Learning: From Planning Through Action.
Eric Moore is the Chief of Academics and Accountability, Research and Equity at Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS).
He oversees two departments responsible for ensuring that both academic and student supports are aligned to school needs, that equity is embedded in all academic divisional processes, and that identified district priorities (including equity, literacy, Multi-tiered Systems of Support, and Social and Emotional Learning) are clearly articulated and monitored.Eric holds an MPA from the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and is an alum of Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project Fellowship.
Dr. Isaiah Pickens is the founder and CEO of iOpening Enterprises, a professional development and media company that specializes in building the capacity of individuals and organizations to unlock their potential using psychological science, implementation best practices, and inspirational media.
In this capacity, Dr. Pickens has developed the Bridge Trauma-Informed Culturally-Responsive (TICR) Program, a multi-day professional development for educators that provides a practical toolkit for managing youth traumatic stress responses in the school setting. As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader and Fellow, Dr. Pickens works collaboratively with cross-sector scholars and practitioners to promote a culture of health in America. Dr. Pickens currently sits on the National Board for Communities In Schools (CIS) and has been awarded by the American Psychological Association Early Career Achievement Award and the Black Enterprise BE Modern Man award for his contributions to the field of psychology. As a former clinical assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine and Assistant Director at the UCLA-Duke National Center for Child Traumatic Stress – the coordinating site of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) – Dr. Pickens has built a reputation as a national trauma expert and shares practical science-informed lessons about mental wellness with audiences around the world. Dr. Pickens aims to continue working toward systemic change and unlocking people’s potential by moving the world from happy to healthy through psychological science.
Shanette Porter is the Director of Research and Senior Fellow at the Mindset Scholars Network.
Prior to joining the Network, Porter was a senior researcher at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research, where her research and partnerships focused on understanding the role of schools in shaping students’ social, emotional, and motivational experiences. Her ongoing lines of research examine the relationships among structural inequality, economic disadvantage, and students’ academic and life outcomes. This work centers on addressing issues related to measurement, effective data use, and policy implementation processes. Dr. Porter completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research and the Department of Psychology, and earned a PhD in social and personality psychology from Cornell University, and a BA in psychology from Yale University.
Prior to BlackPrint, Dr. Rose was the Assistant Superintendent of the Opportunity Gaps Office at the Boston Public Schools for 4 ½ years where he was able to build a legacy of effective systemic initiatives, professional development, workstreams, and programming.
Among his accomplishments are the authoring of the Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices (CLSP) Continuum, the foundational document for culturally responsive practices in BPS and broadly across the state; the authoring and implementation of the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Policy and Implementation Plan – a strategic plan with over 125 SMART goals across all the offices in the Boston Public Schools; the co-creation of the BPS Racial Equity Planning Tool – a now mandatory planning document for major decisions in the district; and the cultivation of multiple innovative programs such as Excellence for All, a highly effective school model that aims to foster culturally responsive and rigorous instruction and supports. Dr. Rose’s leadership and equity innovations have been featured in multiple journals and media outlets including a feature in Boston Magazine in the Spring of 2019.
Hal Smith serves as the Senior Vice President for Education, Youth Development and Health with the National Urban League, leading the organization’s programmatic, advocacy, policy and research work in those areas.
For most of his career Hal as focused on issues of educational equity & excellence, access, social determinants of health, community building and expanding opportunity for historically underserved individuals and communities.
Prior to joining the National Urban League in 2008, Hal held teaching, research, administrative, policy, engagement and advocacy positions focused with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), the Annenberg Institute for School Reform @ Brown University, the City College of New York, the College of the Holy Cross, Northern Illinois University, Lesley University and Harvard University.
Hal holds a B.B.A. in Human Resource Administration from Temple University, an M.A. in Africana studies from the State University of New York at Albany and an Ed.M. and Ed.D. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Martin R. West is the William H. Bloomberg Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and editor-in-chief of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research on education policy.
He is also deputy director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and a member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the National Assessment Governing Board. West studies the politics of K-12 education in the United States and how education policies affect student learning and social-emotional development. In 2013-14, he served as senior education policy advisor to the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. He previously taught at Brown University and was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution.
ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS EMERITUS
Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
CEO of Empower Schools, Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, & Lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education
Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences & Technology and Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy & Administration at Harvard Graduate School of Education
Associate Professor at Stanford University
The views expressed in our work – including papers, toolkits, and other resources – do not necessarily reflect those of the members of our National Advisory Board. Any errors in fact and interpretation are our own.