Education, Research & ImpactOur Education, Research & Impact Team, led by Dr. Tia Kim, consists of a team of research scientists, research assistants, and product engagement specialists who build on Committee for Children’s extensive experience in the field of social-emotional learning to develop and continuously improve our programs and products. Our researchers translate recent research from the field and the current challenges and needs of classrooms into practical application to ensure every program and product we create promotes the social-emotional development, safety, and well-being of children. The team is deeply invested in the continuous improvement of our programs and uses research as an aid to these efforts. The Committee for Children research advisory group also provides consultation and guidance to our staff. Join our growing team! Visit our Careers page to learn about our current openings. Tia Kim, PhD Vice President of Education, Research & Impact Read Bio × Tia Kim, PhD Vice President of Education, Research & Impact Tia Kim leads the development and evaluation of Committee for Children’s programs. She’s committed to enhancing their quality, effectiveness, and reach through innovation, partnerships, and rigorous, continuous improvement processes. Tia received her doctorate in developmental psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and completed three years of post-doctoral training at the Academic Center of Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention, where her research focused on the etiology and prevention of youth violence and aggression. She served for three years as an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State, Brandywine, before taking her current position at Committee for Children. Sherri Widen, PhD Research Manager Read Bio × Sherri Widen, PhD Research Manager For a long time, Sherri Widen was quite satisfied doing basic psychology research, especially with a focus on looking at how children’s understanding of emotion develops and changes with age. She received a BA in psychology and an MA in developmental psychology from the University of British Columbia, and went on to earn her doctorate in developmental psychology from Boston College. Then she moved into the more applied field of educational psychology, working on a social-emotional learning (SEL) program. “It helped open my eyes to all the possibilities there are to supporting children to develop and flourish,” she says. With that combined background in research and intervention, Sherri joined Committee for Children in 2018. As the research manager, she oversees research assistants as they help develop SEL products that are both research informed and evidence based. “We want to make sure any claims we’re making, or particular things we’re trying to teach kids, are supported by the research out there,” she says. “We also collect our own data so we can inform people about changes in our curricula.” As for her own SEL superpower, she believes it’s perspective-taking, which she employs in all her interpersonal interactions. “I use it when things aren’t going the way I expect,” Sherri says. “I think about the other person’s perspective so I’m not just focusing on what’s happening to me.” Sherri is grateful she has the opportunity to contribute to our mission of helping children thrive in a peaceful world. She says, “Committee for Children has enormous reach and this is an exciting time to work toward the goal of reaching 100 million children per year by 2028.” Cailin Currie, PhD Research Scientist Read Bio × Cailin Currie, PhD Research Scientist As a researcher, Cailin Currie has looked at everything from preschoolers’ school readiness and elementary students’ mindfulness to middle schoolers’ academic motivation and traditionally underrepresented undergraduate students’ sense of belonging in STEM majors. In April 2018, she brought her experience in investigating the best, evidence-based strategies for supporting students’ success inside and outside the classroom to Committee for Children, where she works as a research scientist conducting assessments and collecting feedback on our products at multiple stages. She’s also supporting one of the company’s product development teams as their researcher. Cailin has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a master’s and PhD in applied developmental psychology from Portland State University. Her SEL superpower is accurate self-perception. “Being aware of what’s going on internally and externally has been a big priority for me in the last 10 years,” she says. “It’s helped me interact with others and better understand my needs and what strategies work best for me.” Tricia Maas, PhD Senior Research Scientist Read Bio × Tricia Maas, PhD Senior Research Scientist Tricia Maas is a former high school math teacher who transitioned to research. She studies social-emotional learning (SEL) and currently supports the team working on the Committee for Children (CFC) program for out-of-school time settings. Tricia earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and French from the University of Richmond, a master’s degree in education policy from Stanford University, and a PhD in education policy from the University of Washington. Before joining CFC in March 2017, she was a research analyst at the University of Washington Center on Reinventing Public Education, where her work focused on charter, district, and independent schools’ efforts to improve student outcomes through innovative learning structures. Tricia loves to work on cross-functional teams and feels her SEL superpower is perspective-taking. “Both at home and at work, I am often able to calmly consider problems and disagreements from many perspectives and incorporate those perspectives into possible solutions,” she says. Kristen Althizer Research Associate Read Bio × Kristen Althizer Research Associate With a background in qualitative research—attempting to understand how and why people do, say, or think certain things—Kristen Althizer spends her days collecting feedback from our users to inform product development decisions. The goal is making our social-emotional learning (SEL) programs as relevant and engaging as possible for kids and their educators. Kristen has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in applied anthropology from California State University, Long Beach. Her higher education experiences focused on qualitative methodologies such as interviewing, participant observation, and qualitative coding—skills she uses nearly daily as a research assistant at Committee for Children. Empathy is what drives her. “That’s why I became an anthropologist!” Kristen says. “We live in a large and diverse culture here in the United States. It is so important to be able to understand the experiences of others and for others to understand your experiences, too.” She uses her SEL superpower of empathy when talking to users to really listen to their struggles. This helps in developing programs that address the needs of the greatest number of people. Kaylynn Blosser Research Associate Read Bio × Kaylynn Blosser Research Associate After working on several social research projects as an undergrad studying psychology and sociology at Milligan College, Kaylynn Blosser was ready to gain practical experience in research outside of academia. That goal, coupled with her desire to help make a positive impact on the world, led her to Committee for Children in February 2019. As a research associate, she reviews current and past literature to provide our product teams with relevant foundations for writing social-emotional learning (SEL) curricula. She also helps evaluate our products through research studies to make sure they teach what we say they do and to test new materials in classrooms nationwide. Kaylynn calls social awareness her SEL superpower. “I like to take note of the people around me, the skills they offer, and the stories they have to share,” she says. “I think that listening to others is very important in making sure that everyone’s goals are met and that everyone feels valued and accepted.” Eva Chen Research Assistant Read Bio × Eva Chen Research Assistant Eva Chen is a social science researcher who brings an interdisciplinary approach to her role as research assistant at Committee for Children. Prior to joining our organization, she worked on a variety of projects, including qualitative analysis of Congressional representation of racial minorities, quantitative research of Asian American political behavior and racialization, and community outreach to promote energy justice and sustainable energy. “While I really enjoy the inquisitive and analytical nature of research, I’m also very passionate about community engagement and direct advocacy,” says Eva. Her breadth of experience in policy, international studies, and sociology guides her work, which is currently focused on developing middle school social-emotional learning (SEL) curricula. She conducts literature reviews and analyzes data related to the issues and nuances of equitable access to information. Whether her research is for curricula or substantive policy change, she says she makes sure that issues and content are viewed through the lens of equity and consideration of historically marginalized populations. Eva has a bachelor’s degree in political science and global studies from the University of Minnesota. When asked which characteristic she identifies as her SEL superpower, she’s quick to say empathy, adding that she always tries to approach issues and situations by considering as many perspectives as possible. Ailsa Kiemle Product Engagement Specialist Read Bio × Ailsa Kiemle Product Engagement Specialist A bachelor’s degree in parks, tourism, and recreation management from the University of Montana may not seem like a natural educational fit for a project coordinator at Committee for Children, but Ailsa Kiemle’s background gives her a unique perspective on the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL). Ailsa’s SEL superpower is compassion, and before coming to CFC in April 2019, she worked in therapeutic recreation, interacting with youth in out-of-school time organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club and the YMCA. In her current role, she helps coordinate research studies and spends much of her time communicating with teachers, principals, counselors, and district professionals to get their feedback on how we can improve our products. “I have seen, from working in addiction and therapeutic settings, the harm that can be done by not being taught how to control and identify emotions,” she says. “I believe SEL is a powerful tool.” Pooja Rajanbabu Research Assistant Read Bio × Pooja Rajanbabu Research Assistant After graduating from the University of Washington (UW) with a bachelor’s degree in public health-global health, Poojashree “Pooja” Rajanbabu says she knew she wanted to work for an organization driving meaningful change in the world. “I joined Committee for Children because of the innovative research it’s doing to support and improve the social-emotional development and well-being of children across the nation and around the world,” says Pooja. “I am passionate about improving the overall health and well-being of children and am excited about future possibilities.” In her previous positions interning at the UW Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health and the UW Global Center for Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents, and Children, she gained significant experience working with qualitative and quantitative data, conducting literature reviews, and collaborating with key stakeholders. She also contributed as a scientific writer and became highly skilled at developing procedures and improving processes. In her current role as research assistant for Committee for Children’s Education, Research & Impact team, she collects, analyzes, and reports data from her team’s research activities to inform the development of research-based solutions that improve outcomes for students and staff. Pooja says her SEL superpower is empathy. “I believe it’s critical to understand multiple people’s perspectives and thoughts, especially when working to create products for a diverse global population,” she says. “Empathy is essential for building trust and respect.” Carrie Thomas, MBA Product Engagement Manager Read Bio × Carrie Thomas, MBA Product Engagement Manager Carrie Thomas finds her motivation in getting to come to work every day and do something meaningful. As Product Engagement Manager at Committee for Children, she makes sure that client feedback and perspectives are reflected in our products serving them, and she collaborates with multiple CFC teams to make this happen. In her previous role assessing community needs for state government, Carrie analyzed data to help schools and community organizations identify services needed to address youth violence and substance abuse prevention. She repeatedly saw the use of Second Step, CFC’s social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, included in the methods. “When the position at CFC became available, I knew it was something I believed in because I saw the direct impact it could make firsthand,” she says. Carrie has a dual bachelor’s degree in mass communications and public relations from Seattle University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Having worked on a variety of teams at CFC since 2007, she has found relationship-building to be her SEL superpower—and a huge part of this collaborative role. Research Advisory Group Dorothy Espelage, PhD × Dorothy Espelage, PhD University of Florida Dr. Dorothy Espelage is a professor of psychology at the University of Florida. She is the recipient of the APA Lifetime Achievement Award in Prevention Science and the 2016 APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy, and is a fellow of APS, APA, and AERA. Over the last 20 years, she has written over 140 peer-reviewed articles, five edited books, and 30 chapters on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, dating violence, and gang violence. Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming, and she has secured six and one-half million dollars of external funding. She advises members of Congress and the Senate on bully prevention legislation. She wrote a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference in 2011, and has been a consultant on the stopbullying.gov website and consultant to the National Anti-bullying Campaign, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including The Today Show; CNN; CBS Evening News; The Oprah Winfrey Show; Anderson 360, and has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, People, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Sandra Graham, PhD × Sandra Graham, PhD University of California, Los Angeles Dr. Sandra Graham is a distinguished professor in the Human Development and Psychology Division in the Department of Education at UCLA and the University of California presidential chair in education and diversity. Her major research interests include the study of academic motivation and social development in children of color, particularly in school contexts that vary in racial/ethnic diversity. She is principal investigator on grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Dr. Graham has published widely in developmental, social, and educational psychology journals and received many awards. Among her awards, she is a 2011 recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award from the Society for Research on Child Development and the 2014 E. L. Thorndike Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Educational Psychology, Division 15 of the American Psychological Association. Most recently, in 2015 she was elected to the National Academy of Education. Nancy Guerra, EdD × Nancy Guerra, EdD University of California, Irvine Dr. Nancy Guerra is the dean of the School of Social Ecology and professor of psychology and social behavior at UCI. Her research focuses on preventing youth violence and promoting healthy youth development. She has been the lead investigator for a number of large-scale projects, including the Southern California Academic Center for Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention (2000–2011) funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before that she was the principal investigator on an eight-year development and prevention study in the Chicago Public Schools, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. More recently she has been involved in international programs, as associate provost and senior international officer at the University of Delaware (2011–2015), and as a consultant for international agencies, including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and USAID. She currently serves as co-chair for kNOw Violence, a global initiative to prevent violence in childhood sponsored by the Public Health Foundation of India. Kevin Haggerty, PhD × Kevin Haggerty, PhD Social Development Research Group, University of Washington Dr. Kevin Haggerty is the director of the Social Development Research Group, University of Washington School of Social Work. He has specialized in the development and implementation of prevention programs at the community, school, and family levels. Since 1993, he has been the project director for the Raising Healthy Children study, a school-based approach to social development. He is an early implementer and trainer of the Guiding Good Choices parenting program. He is principal investigator of the NIDA-funded Family Connections study, testing the Parents Who Care program, and the Focus on Families study. He is an investigator of the Community Youth Development Study, testing the effectiveness of Communities that Care. Shelley Hymel, PhD × Shelley Hymel, PhD University of British Columbia Dr. Shelley Hymel’s research addresses the interface of social and academic functioning, with the goal of understanding social developmental processes in order to support children and youth in school settings. Of primary interest is research to promote social-emotional learning (SEL) in children and youth. Her research is conducted through ongoing school-university partnerships and in collaboration with graduate students in the Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED) research laboratory. John Love, PhD × John Love, PhD Retired Dr. John Love began retirement after 18 years with Mathematica Policy Research, where he was senior fellow and area leader for early-childhood policy and research. He now provides independent consulting in early care and education research, program evaluation, and policy. He has been involved for more than 40 years in teaching, research, and evaluation studies of programs for children birth to age five and their families. Dr. Love is an authority on early-childhood program evaluation and assessment. He has directed numerous program evaluations that have included randomized control studies, implementation/process studies, and qualitative research. He was a key player in Early Head Start research and evaluation studies from the infant-toddler phase through its prekindergarten follow-up study. He directed a multisite study of preschool curricula for the US Department of Education (the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research or PCER project) and a single-county study of universal preschool for First 5 LA.