Staff & Consultants
Our team is committed to fostering and sustaining a workplace environment where all members feel valued, heard, supported, and empowered to achieve our mission.
Karen Niemi oversees and directs all of CASEL’s activities to enhance and expand evidence-based social and emotional learning, including practice, research, communications, policy, and development. She is an accomplished business leader with a long track record of success in the education sector. By blending a deep understanding of school systems and pedagogy with solid business practice, she has successfully led education companies through all stages of growth. She has helped schools advance their educational mission by making research and best practices accessible and actionable by teachers and administrators alike. She has brought learning tools and strategies to school systems and students nationwide, having led the creation and dissemination of professional development programs as well as assessment and supplemental instructional solutions in the fields of social-emotional learning, literacy, and special education.
Karen has served in executive management positions in all business functions, including professional development, product development, sales, marketing, and operations. Prior to CASEL she was the CEO of ScholarCentric, a company focused on social-emotional learning and resiliency. Before that she was president of Cognitive Concepts, Inc., a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Company and a leader in early literacy.
She is also a former speech language pathologist. She has served pediatric and adult populations at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, Resurrection Medical Center, and Children’s Memorial Hospital, all in the Chicago area. Born in Niles, Ohio, she graduated from Rush University with a master’s degree in speech language pathology. She received her bachelor’s degree from Augustana College. She is a student of yoga, health, and nutrition. She and her husband have four children aged eight to nineteen.
Roger P. Weissberg was CASEL’s chief knowledge officer and board vice chair. He was also UIC Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). For the past four decades, Weissberg trained scholars and practitioners about innovative ways to design, implement, and evaluate family, school, and community interventions.
Weissberg authored more than 260 publications focusing on positive youth development programming to enhance the social, emotional, and academic learning of children and adolescents. He was the president of the American Psychological Association’s Society for Community Research and Action. He co-chaired an American Psychological Association task force on “Prevention: Promoting Strength, Resilience, and Health in Young People.” He also served both as a commissioner and as a member of the Council of Distinguished Scientists for the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. Weissberg was a recipient of the William T. Grant Foundation’s five-year Faculty Scholars Award in Children’s Mental Health, the Connecticut Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Psychological Contribution in the Public Interest, and the National Mental Health Association’s Lela Rowland Prevention Award. He received the 2000 American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Contribution Award for Applications of Psychology to Education and Training and the Society for Community Research and Action 2004 Distinguished Contribution to Theory and Research Award. He received the 2008 “Daring Dozen” award from the George Lucas Educational Foundation for being one of 12 people who are reshaping the future of education. He was named NoVo Foundation Endowed Chair in Social and Emotional Learning Research in 2011, and LAS/UIC Distinguished Professor in 2014. In 2013, Weissberg became one of 12 new members elected to the National Academy of Education for his contributions to education research and policy.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Professor Weissberg graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s in psychology from Brandeis University in 1974. He received his Ph,D, from the University of Rochester in 1980. He was the research director for the Primary Mental Health Project from 1980 to 1982. He was a professor in the Psychology Department at Yale University between 1982 and 1992, where he collaborated with the New Haven Public Schools to establish New Haven’s kindergarten through grade 12 Social Development Project. Weissberg lived in Wilmette, Illinois. He was a faculty member at UIC since 1992. He directed CASEL between 1996 and 2014 when he became CASEL’s Chief Knowledge Officer. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie Wright, a retired clinical psychologist, and two wonderful children, Elizabeth and Ted.
Kitty Rothschild is an experienced business leader and strategic advisor, focused on fostering organizational development and the adoption of “best practice” business accountability to help individuals and organizations uncover and articulate their big ideas, operate with more efficiency, and derive increased impact and influence as they work towards fulfillment of their mission and goals. She has managed funding relationships and projects that include: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, NEA, Nobel Laureate Economist James Heckman, Pritzker Foundation and more.
Here at CASEL, Colin is the MVP of bringing practice-based sensibilities to CASEL's rigorous research agenda.
Colin Ackerman (he/him/his) supports CASEL's research-practice partnership agenda through collaborative research engagements with educators and CASEL's partner organizations. Additionally, he serves as a curriculum design reviewer for CASEL's Guide to Effective Social Emotional Learning.
Prior to joining CASEL, Colin earned his Ph.D. in Digital Media Research at University of Colorado, Boulder. Before that, he was an early elementary teacher for Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Colin lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.
Quote: "If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow." —John Dewey
Here at CASEL, Bloodine is the MVP of steering district discussions/progress around SEL and Equity.
Bloodine Barthelus (she/her) currently serves as the director of practice innovations at CASEL. In that role, she uses her experience of integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) and equity to help codify and map out aligned language, approach, and technical assistance to CASEL partners supporting the implementation of SEL in service of equity.
Prior to joining CASEL, Bloodine was a school counselor in Tulsa Public Schools, Gwinnett County Schools, and Alexandria City Schools, where she was successful in developing programmatic solutions to increase student achievement and growth. She went on to become a district department lead in DC Public Schools as a director of school climate and social emotional learning.
Bloodine is a also a parent, a blogger, and a health and wellness enthusiast. Outside of work she is recharging with family, reading, writing, and unplugging to reconnect better.
Why I do this work: Social Emotional Learning that is focused on equity and justice is the life work that is required for a thriving collective humanity. Without it, we are diminished to transactional interactions that leave us depleted and disconnected from the core of who we are as human beings. As I do this work, I remain aware of this personally and remind and support those open to listening and learning.
Here at CASEL, Jessica is the MVP of integrating CASEL tools and resources into coaching and professional learning.
Jessica Bernstein (she/her) collaborates with school and district leaders toward effective implementation of high-quality, systemic social and emotional learning through coaching, thought partnership, and professional learning.
Prior to joining CASEL, Jessica worked for Safe Communities Safe Schools, a comprehensive school violence prevention project at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In this role, she coached middle school teams across the state to develop individualized approaches to systemic social-emotional learning focused on school climate and culture goals. Her prior work focused on child health promotion and well-being from a public health and policy systems perspective.
Jessica earned her master’s degree in public policy and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Jessica moved back to her hometown of Chicago with her husband, Sam, and their rescue pup, Maggie in 2018. Possibly inspired by her time in Washington, D.C. and Denver before moving home, Jessica's an avid follower of political news and she seeks out outdoor adventures.
Here at CASEL, Erin is the MVP of developing CASEL’s evaluation research initiatives and internal continuous improvement.
As part of the Research Leadership Team, Erin oversees the design and management of CASEL’s research agenda at the level of states, districts and school communities, and leads CASEL’s internal continuous improvement and learning agenda. In addition to designing and conducting evaluations of CASEL’s programs, tools, and resources, Erin oversees CASEL’s Program Guide of evidence-based SEL programs, as well as the National Implementation Survey, which reflects data on high- quality SEL implementation throughout the nation. Also overseeing and directing CASEL’s Data Management System, Erin creates systems and protocols for collecting, analyzing, visualizing, and using data, with the goal of ensuring that CASEL staff are continually learning and improving their approaches to supporting partnering states, schools, and districts for greatest impact.
A developmental psychologist by training, Erin brings over 10 years of deep content expertise and experience working at the nexus of research, practice, and policy. Prior to joining CASEL, Erin served as a researcher at the American Institutes for Research where she led large scale evaluations, research projects and strategic partnerships with states and districts, educational programs, and schools. As a Vice Provost Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, Erin was a member of the Penn Child Researcher Center, and led research partnerships with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Early Head Start, and the School District of Philadelphia. Erin has also continued to contribute to the field through research and has received grants from the American Education Research Association and the Society for Research on Child Development to lead independent research projects exploring parenting, social emotional learning competencies, and school readiness among Black children and families. Erin has earned a Phd in Education and in Psychology from the University of Michigan, a Master’s in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s in Psychology from the University Michigan, and a Bachelor’s in Education and in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.
Why I do this work: I believe that all children are born with strengths, gifts and talents. Not all children, however, are given an opportunity to exercise these skills, thus we see educational inequity and disparities even before children enter Kindergarten. I believe that by supporting taking strengths-based approaches to supporting SEL in academic settings, and facilitating evidence-based decision making around policies that reduce social and structural inequity in P-12 educational systems, we can provide all students the opportunity to excel and to build upon their strengths in ways that support their learning, well-being, and trajectory towards life- long success.
Here at CASEL, Patrick is the MVP of providing project management and production support for various CASEL external convenings to deliver the best content for the greatest impact.
Patrick Boston (they/them) provides project management and production support for numerous CASEL external events, convenings and professional learning experiences to deliver the best content for the greatest impact. They are most excited to work on the SEL Exchange, the Leading Schoolwide SEL workshop series, the Allstate Fellows Academy, and the events associated with CASELS research-practice partnerships within the BELE Network and NSLC.
Prior to joining CASEL, Patrick worked for the Marriott brand in Atlanta in guest support services with experience in planning and coordinating events from education conferences to wellness retreats and weddings. Previously, Patrick served as the special projects coordinator for the Dayton Early College Academy (DECA), an urban public charter school serving students in the inner-city district. In this role, they worked alongside school administrators, community leaders, and students to develop DECA’s first annual BRAND-AID College and Career Readiness Conference for sophomore students.
Patrick earned their bachelor’s degree in international studies and communication management from the University of Dayton.
Patrick spends their time exploring their surroundings by bike, always on the search for the best oatmilk cortado and tree-shaded resting places.
Quote: "I believe that children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside."
- Whitney Houston
Alaina Boyle is a part of CASEL’s Research-Practice Partnership team, where she works with a variety of data to assess both continuous improvement and systemic social and emotional learning implementation. Additionally, she provides research and evaluation support for the CASEL Program Guide.
Prior to working at CASEL, Alaina coordinated a National Science Foundation project exploring how various aspects of the school context, such as school climate and teacher practices, influence adolescents’ healthy development as they transition from middle school into high school. She also worked at a private research firm developing and implementing evidence-based interventions that foster social and academic competence. Alaina’s research focuses on the ways parents and schools promote achievement and positive socio-emotional development in minority and low-income youth, with a special emphasis on educational transitions.
Alaina earned her doctorate in human development and family sciences from the University of Texas at Austin, her master’s in psychology from East Carolina University, and her bachelor’s in psychology and economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Cynthia Coleman is the director of operations for the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Research Group in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She oversees the day-to-day operations and coordinates program activities, major funding agencies and external partners for the team. She is also the senior executive assistant to the Office of CASEL’s president, providing direct administrative support as well as supporting CASEL’s board of directors. She has been working closely with Dr. Roger Weissberg for nearly two decades.
Tim Corbett is responsible for the day-to-day financial operations of the organization, as well as driving internal processes such as budgeting and financial analysis.
Tim’s background is a mix of both financial planning/analysis and accounting. He previously worked as the finance director of The Abundancy Group, manager of finance at Careerbuilder, and senior audit associate at KPMG.
He received his bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Notre Dame and his master’s at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Tim lives in Chicago with his wife and three children.
Here at CASEL, Kay is the MVP of pithy, relatable, impactful communications about CASEL’s work.
Kay Daly (she/her) is part of the Communications team at CASEL, overseeing editorial work and managing social media. She has a hand in nearly all our publications, such as reports, briefs, and newsletters, providing support that includes editorial project management, conceptualizing new pieces, writing and revising drafts, and making final copyedits. She is also the main point person, content creator, and manager for our various social media platforms. Finally, Kay is proud to serve as our on-staff “style and grammar czar.”
Prior to joining CASEL, Kay worked for a variety of organizations producing online content, managing editorial staff, and developing online courses. As a freelancer, she has undertaken nearly every kind of editorial project, from lesson plans for the Metropolitan Opera and PBS to blog posts for Bulleit Bourbon to print and online newsletters for various nonprofit organizations and businesses.
Kay lives in Chicago with her husband and two cats. She spends her time outside work buried in books and manuscripts, which she weaves into historical novels set in the early 17th century.
Why I do this work: I work at CASEL because I am committed to the idea of education as the means for creating a just, equitable, and positive future for our children, our nation, and our world. I fervently believe that education is a whole-person experience that goes beyond the acquisition of knowledge, and instead empowers us to pursue our full potential as people. CASEL’s work has shown me that education is most effective and enriching when it encompasses the whole child, the whole adult, the whole family, and the whole community.
Here at CASEL, Caitlin is the MVP of bringing energy, expertise, and systems thinking to the research and policy work of the CSI.
Caitlin M. Dermody (she/her) supports the policy and research efforts of the Collaborating States Initiative (CSI). She specializes in the developmental nature of SEL, systemic SEL policy at the state and federal level, and workforce integration. In the past, Caitlin has acted as a State Policy Consultant to support the development of key publications and resources for the CSI.
Prior to joining CASEL, Caitlin served as Research Assistant to Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan at the National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University. Caitlin has also served as an intern at the Brookings Institution and Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Caitlin earned her Masters in Child Development and Education from the University of Oxford and her BA in Sociology and Education Studies from Yale University.
Caitlin’s research focuses on social and emotional learning, early childhood education and care, and policies that affect young children and families. She enjoys running, baking, and traveling with friends and family.
Why I do this work: The healthy social and emotional development of all children is essential for the well-being of families, communities, and society. It is an honor to advance the mission of CASEL through this work.
Dana Godek works predominantly on policy-related data to support initiatives that assist state education agencies as they plan, develop, and implement statewide SEL policies and practices. In that role, she systematically analyzes SEL and workforce readiness policies, as well as other related policies to advance the Collaborating States Initiative (CSI).
Prior to joining CASEL, Dana was the administrative director for special projects in Palm Beach County, Fla. She has served four urban districts in similar capacities, drawing on her expertise in government relations, strategic communications, resource development, and state/federal compliance. She led government relations and fund development efforts within the higher education community resulting in workforce education expansions in Florida.
Dana earned her doctoral degree in education and organizational leadership and is widely recognized as an authority on public education policy and resource development. She is a published author whose most recent novel explores the challenges of disenfranchised youth. She developed social and emotional learning curriculum for Florida Atlantic University, where she is also a graduate program adjunct professor.
Here at CASEL, Carolina is the MVP of sharing the power of SEL.
Carolina Herrera (she/her) is responsible for raising awareness of social and emotional learning and amplifying CASEL's mission. She oversees CASEL's digital presence and marketing-specific efforts. Her focus on internal and external communications helps strengthen the organization's influence as a field leader and ensures key audiences that support young people have access to quality SEL expertise and guidance. She shifted to this role after three years in CASEL's development department.
Prior to joining CASEL, Carolina worked as the associate director of development for the National Child Research Center (NCRC), an independent school in Washington, D.C. that offers an inclusive and diverse play-based model to provide children with a strong foundation on which to build their future. At NCRC, she managed donor projects and relations and was responsible for leading all web and social communication initiatives in relation to fundraising and branding.
Carolina likes to use her free time as a time to discover new things - from traveling around the world to uncovering must-try food spots to exploring new books.
Here at CASEL, Colleen is the MVP of organizing workflows and motivating teams to efficiently reach deadlines on time and on budget.
Colleen Jackson (she/her/hers) provides project management expertise in determining and creating organized project plans, arranging and allocating resources, and ensuring workstreams are executed smoothly and on time for successful delivery. As a strategic thought partner, she leverages CASEL's talented staff and technology to create efficiencies in processes and procedures across complex and multi-faceted projects.
Prior to joining CASEL, Colleen worked at After School Matters, a Chicago youth-development nonprofit that provides out-of-school time programming to Chicago Public High School teens. In her latest role, she managed the operations of the organization’s largest fundraising efforts and supported the development team across various projects. Her responsibilities included managing and tracking donor pipelines and communications, creating proposals, drafting high-level donor correspondence, and the reporting and analysis of data through Raiser’s Edge. Prior to her work in philanthropy and the nonprofit industry, Colleen performed in operas and concerts in the U.S. and Europe.
Colleen has lived in Chicago since 2014 and enjoys the summer season best. You can find her at Montrose dog beach with her fiancé and miniature Goldendoodle, Clover, or catching an outdoor concert in the parks. In her free time, she enjoys dabbling in portrait photography and singing with members of the Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota.
Robert J. Jagers is CASEL’s vice president of research. 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.
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.
Olivia Johnson is part of the Research Team at CASEL. In this capacity, she supports their role as the convener of the Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) learning lead hub, as well as their work with the Next System Learning Collaborative (NSLC). Olivia works closely with external partners to design, conduct, coordinate, and facilitate action research on essential actions across participating district and school networks.
Prior to joining CASEL, Olivia completed her M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. A former middle school teacher, community college, and university instructor, Olivia’s work is informed by her thirteen years as a public educator. Her research primarily focuses on how theories of authentic, critical care can impact the creation, interpretation, and implementation of educational policy, and how education stakeholders—from board members to students—rely on their ethic of care when making meaning out of policy. She is particularly interested in how care can be leveraged for equity and social justice within historically marginalized communities, and how care can transform qualitative research methodologies.
Olivia lives in Austin with her fiancé John and their dog, Hugo.
Here at CASEL, Denise is the MVP of CSI Administrative Management.
Denise King has worked at CASEL as the Administrative Assistant for the CSI and Federal Policy efforts for the past nine months. Prior to her promotion to the CSI Team, she worked at CASEL as the Administrative Assistant for the Office of the President for three years and provided day to day administrative and clerical support.
Prior to joining CASEL, Denise worked as an Executive Assistant for WVON-1690AM (Talk Radio), assisting their executive and management teams for more than 15 years. She also worked for Harvard University's School of Public Health Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods in the Infant Assessment Unit.
Denise recently began meditating to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm, stable state of mind. Denise also enjoys baking goodies for her grandchildren. Denise enjoys spending time with her three adult children and eight grandchildren in her spare time.
Quote: "Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances." Saint Vincent de Paul
Rebecca Lectura supports the Vice President of Research. She joined the CASEL staff in September 2016.
Previously, Rebecca worked as a research assistant for NORC at the University of Chicago and as an executive assistant in the construction and engineering industry.
Rebecca earned her bachelor’s degree in operations management from Baruch College in New York City.
Here at CASEL, Jack is the MVP of sharing CASEL's great work with the world.
Jack Lewis (he/him) supports executive marketing and communications strategy to promote key CASEL initiatives and grow awareness of evidence-based social and emotional learning. He supports CASEL's digital presence, coordinates with media, and serves as a writer across our platforms.
Prior to joining CASEL, Jack was a communications specialist with the Howard County, Maryland government. He also previously worked in the nonprofit sector at Promundo-US and the Quixote Center.
Jack enjoys good books, bad movies, and riding his bike along Lake Michigan.
Rebecca Liebman joined CASEL’s administrative team in 2010 as executive assistant.
Her past experience in the finance and human resources divisions in a large advertising agency supports her role at CASEL. She has worked for six years in for-profit organizations and brings her diverse organizational experience and administrative skills to CASEL.
Jessica Marshall is a pre-doctoral Research Fellow with CASEL. She is a Learning Sciences PhD student at Northwestern University and an educator with over 14 years of experience, including as a classroom special education and social studies teacher in both Chicago and New York City public schools. In her role at CASEL, Jessica works with educators, scholars, and community members to develop and examine supports for teachers and school districts aligned to the ELDP framework. Jessica hopes her work can deepen our collective understanding of how adults can support youth in addressing historic injustice and imagining more just futures.
Before joining CASEL, Jessica served as the founding Director of the Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). In her role at CPS, Jessica led strategic initiatives to implement districtwide civic and financial education, expanded student voice structures, developed multiple curricula in partnership with educators and community, and worked with scholars to develop infrastructure for research in civics and social studies education. Both her scholarship and work with practitioners focuses on how schools can improve civic learning opportunities including increased attention to issues of race, identity and the lived experiences of marginalized youth. Through her work with educators and students, Jessica has come to understand the need to integrate a transformative approach to SEL more intentionally into civic learning practices.
Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Latin American & Caribbean Studies from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in special education from City College – City University of New York. She is a born and raised Chicagoan, lover of cooking, gardening, and puzzles, and a mama of three.
Here at CASEL, Tyrone is the MVP of representing connections and leaning into complexity for the sake of making space for everyone to thrive.
Tyrone Martinez-Black (he/they) seeks and solidifies the connections between our research, practice, and policy efforts. his current focus is engaging and empowering parents/caregivers to authentically partner with school staff and community members. Tyrone leads an advisory council testing models of shared power amongst adults in homes, schools, and the broader community as co-designers and co-governors of equitable learning environments.
Prior to joining CASEL, Tyrone taught middle school math and science. he has also an instructional coach and district administrator in those subjects. he began designing and delivering learning experiences for adults during his earliest days as an educator. He continues to do so on a range of topics often intersecting mathematics, equity, and SEL.
Tyrone actively collaborates with fellow creatives to generate and elevate models of civic life that offer sovereignty, solidarity, and sustainability for individuals and communities. he strives to honor his immediate family as a grandson, son, husband, and father.
Duncan supports communities across the country that partner with CASEL. The support he provides involves planning and implementing technical assistance that focuses on continuously improving large-scale SEL implementation to foster systemic change. To ensure that SEL is implemented systemically across these communities, he collaborates with district leadership, research & evaluation teams, and organizations that coordinate out-of-school time programming. The support Duncan provides involves coaching, consultation on measuring social-emotional outcomes, effective improvement science methods for using data to improve practice, and facilitating learning networks. All of Duncan’s efforts in supporting these communities are in the service of achieving compelling outcomes for young people and adults.
Previously, Duncan’s work at CASEL involved overseeing the review and development of the CASEL Guide to Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs, and he has also been the lead author of the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide Social and Emotional Learning. He has worked on several research projects while at CASEL, and was the project director of a federally funded randomized control trial that assessed the impact of schoolwide SEL as a school improvement strategy.
Duncan completed his Ph.D. in clinical-community psychology at the University of South Carolina. Duncan has interests in implementation science, program evaluation, and community-based mental health services for youth and their families.
Ednah Nwafor is part of the CASEL Research-Practice Partnership team as a Research Fellow. Her role supports the Equitable Learning and Development Project as a qualitative documenter and survey developer assistant, to aid in better understanding the mechanisms and factors that facilitate effective research-practice partnerships.
Prior to joining CASEL, Ednah was a Research Project Coordinator in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She is a graduate of Tufts University, where she earned both her undergraduate degree in Clinical Psychology and Master’s in Child Study and Human Development. Her research interests center on culturally sensitive mental health care for youth of color and promotion of their healthy ethnic and racial identity development. Ednah has several years of research and mentorship experiences working with children and young adults serving in multiple capacities. She is an active Tufts Health Careers Fellow, providing mentorship and guidance to Tufts’ undergraduates from underrepresented groups in the health sciences. Her passion for mental health and working with children and adolescents grew during her senior year practicum, where she served as a clinical intern at a short-term rehabilitation center for young girls, providing therapeutic services and learning how to actively listen to the concerns of her clients. This was further cemented after her time as a teaching assistant in Washington Heights, New York through the Americorps program, Blue Engine. She plans to use these experiences to improve the developmental outcomes of children, especially in the area of academic achievement and mental health, in marginalized and under-recognized spaces similar to her home in the Greater Newark area, New Jersey.
Here at CASEL, Tamara is the MVP of developing and implementing systems and strategies that result in an efficient, effective, and growing fundraising program at CASEL.
Tamara Pacada, CFRE (she/her) is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining systems that ensure the successful and effective implementation of the department’s annual development plan. Tamara builds and maintains relationships with individuals and organizations to secure philanthropic support. She has a specific focus on new investors, including corporate and individual donors. Working in collaboration with the Senior Director of Planning and Development, Tamara is focused on meeting CASEL’s fundraising goals and deepening and diversifying our donor base.
Prior to joining CASEL, Tamara served as the Managing Director of Development at City Year Milwaukee for nine years. In that role, she oversaw the fund development, civic engagement, and brand/communications work. Directly prior to joining City Year in 2012, Tamara was the Fund Development Manager for Menomonee Valley Partners working on behalf of the From the Ground Up campaign in partnership with the Urban Ecology Center. The goal of this $25 million campaign was to remediate a 24-acre brownfield into a park and community asset, expand the Hank Aaron State Trail, and build a third branch of the Urban Ecology Center. In 2010, Tamara achieved her Master’s in Business Administration from Marquette University as part of the Trinity Fellows Program, and in 2017 completed the Developing Leaders Program for Nonprofit Professionals at Columbia University.
Tamara resides in Glendale, Wisconsin with her husband Allan and two sons, Elijah and Louis. As a family, they enjoy traveling, hiking, reading and visiting all the great restaurants, civic attractions and neighborhoods Milwaukee has to offer. In addition to her role at CASEL, Tamara serves on the board of directors, and as Secretary, of Teens Grow Greens.
Here at CASEL, Juan is the MVP of making people feel good!
Juan Phillips (she/her) is responsible for assisting with virtual and in-person CDI professional learning events as well as planning social events for CASEL staff and collaborators. She also monitors the numerous CASEL incoming inquiries ensuring that questions and requests are guided to the best resource in order to keep our CDI community informed and up-to-date on Social and Emotional Learning.
Prior to joining CASEL, Juan was the operations assistant for the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Research Group at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also spent more than 20 years providing administrative support in various accounting firms assisting managing partners. Her background in event planning, along with more than 20 years of administrative and organizational experience, will continue to help CASEL in addressing the needs of the field and our collaborators and partners.
Juan loves anything relating to lake activities and outdoor grilling. Growing up spending summers at her lake house with family and friends was key in forming her passion for water and the outdoors.
Pamela joined the CASEL staff in September 2011 and currently works closely with the Collaborating Districts Initiative in her capacity as Senior Staff Advisor.
Formerly Pamela was a school-improvement officer for high schools in the Houston Independent School District. There she was responsible for supervising and coaching principals to create high-quality teams and programs focused on student academic growth, achieving bold and measurable goals, and working with their communities. Pamela has also served as an area instruction officer and deputy chief officer in the Office of High School Programs of the Chicago Public Schools, where she had broad responsibilities for the city’s high schools. Previously she was the interim superintendent for the St. Louis Public Schools, where she also served as deputy superintendent and executive director of secondary education. While she was principal of Metro Academic and Classical High School in St. Louis, the school had the highest academic ranking in the state. She was also a member of the contract negotiation team for St. Louis public school teachers and was elected president of the American Federation of School Administrators local association in St. Louis.
A graduate of the Broad Academy for Urban Superintendents, Pamela began her career in education as a high school dance teacher in University City, Mo. She holds a doctorate in education administration from St. Louis University and a master’s degree in education administration from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville. She completed her bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where she was an honors graduate and featured alumna in September 2012.
Here at CASEL, Sherrie is the MVP of helping districts grow and learn from one another.
Sherrie Raven (she/her/hers) works with districts across the country to support their systemic implementation of SEL. She led the work of CASEL in the Wallace Foundation Partnerships for SEL Initiative, working to bring SEL to students in school and in out of school time activities in an integrated way. Sherrie's priorities are helping districts create and implement plans for school wide and district wide SEL implementation, as well as leading a team that develops ongoing engagement and learning for the Collaborating District Initiative districts.
Prior to joining CASEL, Sherrie was the founding director of SEL in the Austin Independent School District. In five years, the SEL team reached district wide implementation, with all 130 schools and the central office involved. Sherrie has also been an elementary teacher and principal as well as a special education coordinator in Austin. Sherrie also taught all levels in Hirosaki, Japan, and elementary and middle school in Chappaqua, New York.
Sherrie is the proud mother of two daughters. She and her husband live in the Austin area and love lake and water activities. Sherrie enjoys reading, cooking, and sharing time with friends laughing.
Why I do this work: I work in SEL because I believe that every person has the right to be safe, seen, and celebrated. Adults and students thrive in a culture that is accepting, person-centered, and growth-oriented. One of my favorite quotes is Maya Angelou: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Lauren Sandherr (she/her) is a Project Manager on CASEL's Operations Team, where she plans, organizes, and ensures completion of projects from start to finish. From solving problems to facilitating and monitoring progress, Lauren ensures the successful delivery of projects from a variety of CASEL teams.
Prior to joining CASEL, Lauren spent several years doing marketing, communications, and advocacy campaigns for education policy and school health organizations. Passionate about the intersection of education and health and how schools can deliver critical skills to improve well-being, especially in under-resourced communities, Lauren is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health degree at University of Illinois – Chicago.
Lauren spends her time outside of work volunteering as a sexual assault crisis counselor with the organization Resilience and also dotes on cats at an animal shelter. For fun, Lauren enjoys doing activities with her husband and friends, such as traveling, bowling, dancing, riding bikes, and doing karaoke (despite not even being a mediocre singer – it’s all about the enthusiasm).
Here at CASEL, Melissa is the MVP of relationships and resources that promote the practice of SEL.
Melissa Schlinger (she/her) leads CASEL’s efforts to advance systemic implementation of high quality social and emotional learning in districts and schools across the nation. She oversees CASEL’s Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI), which has grown under her leadership from eight to twenty large urban districts implementing systemic SEL. She also oversees the development of school and district resources based on CDI learnings, as well as CASEL’s professional services. As a key member of CASEL’s leadership team, Melissa collaborates with foundations, program providers, state and federal departments of education, school districts, non-profit organizations, and university partners to advance CASEL’s mission of helping to make SEL an integral part of PreK-12 education for all students in the nation.
Before joining CASEL, Melissa served in many different leadership roles, including vice president of education services for ScholarCentric and vice president of strategic initiatives for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In these roles she has collaborated with educators, researchers, and policymakers to increase awareness and practical applications of evidence-based instructional strategies and assessment. A seasoned and engaging presenter, she has also frequently presented at conferences and lead communication efforts, development, and delivery of educational products and services for diverse audiences.
Melissa lives in the Chicagoland area and loves hanging out with her husband and teenage twins (well, most of the time). When she’s not working, you’ll find her exploring new recipes, digging into new books, listening to podcasts, or running with her beloved dog, Alice.
Why I do this work: To truly know and understand ourselves and others, To feel and create the deep bonds of connection and belonging, To recognize all that we are capable of, and to put that power into action... These are the things that bring us hope, happiness, and love. It’s my honor and calling to work towards ensuring that all children have educational experiences where they feel loved, known, and empowered to achieve their dreams and build a better world for themselves and for all.
Justina Schlund (she/her) leads the translation of CASEL’s learning and expertise into content to deepen and expand SEL knowledge across the education field. She oversees content strategy of all of CASEL publications and platforms in close collaboration with the research, practice, and policy teams.
Prior to joining CASEL, Justina was the executive director of Chicago Public School’s Office of Social and Emotional Learning, where she led districtwide improvement strategies to foster supportive learning environments that promote the social and emotional development of all students. These strategies scaled SEL implementation across more than 430 schools in the district. In her seven years at CPS, Justina’s work also focused on reducing the use of punitive disciplinary practices, resulting in a 76% reduction in out of school suspensions, and launching a districtwide initiative to build organizational commitment to addressing issues of race and equity.
Her previous experience includes education journalism, teaching, early childhood administration, education policy analysis, and teacher preparation in the U.S. and rural China. She holds a bachelor’s in journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s in education policy and management from Harvard. Justina lives in Dallas with her husband and two young children.
Here at CASEL, Jennifer is the MVP of ensuring CASEL meets its fundraising goals in order to pursue its priorities and fulfill its mission.
Jennifer Schneider (she/her) leads strategic planning and fundraising at CASEL. In collaboration with CASEL board and leadership, she guides the organization in developing its long-term goals, strategies, and activities. She oversees and cultivates a diverse portfolio of philanthropic partners that include foundation and corporate partners, individual donors, and event sponsors. She develops fundraising plans, establishes revenue targets, and directs implementation of strategies that ensure CASEL meets its fundraising goals.
Prior to joining CASEL, Jennifer worked at The Chicago Public Education Fund, where she led investor relations, managed grant-making activities, and helped to secure more than half a million dollars for the organization. She previously worked as development associate at the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides high school scholarships and academic support to Chicago eighth–grade students. Prior to that, she worked in development at the Chicago Public Art Group, a nonprofit organization that creates collaborative public art in Chicago communities.
Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her husband, two daughters, and dog. When she is not working, she enjoys planning trips and traveling. She also loves art projects and baking bread.
“To me, SEL just makes sense. How else are we, as a society, going to learn how to understand ourselves, resolve conflict, empathize with one another, and persevere in tough times? Some are born into families, communities, and/or circumstances that nurture these competencies. Others are not. I think we all deserve a chance to be our best selves. And we deserve the opportunity to live in a society that helps to bring out the best self in all of us.”
Here at CASEL, Claire is the MVP of turning CASEL's systemic SEL implementation model into straightforward resources, templates, tools, and learning experiences.
Claire Schu (she/her) works to capture essential learning about SEL implementation from the field to develop practical tools, support models, and professional learning. She supports the continuous improvement of the CASEL Guide to Schoolwide SEL and the District Resource Center by cataloging exemplary resources and practices from collaborating districts and tuning into areas of need.
Prior to joining CASEL, Claire was the manager of universal social and emotional learning supports for Chicago Public Schools. In that role, she tailored and expanded professional learning and implementation support to respond to expressed needs, designed resources and professional learning communities to develop school-based leaders, and supported the exponential growth of Chicago’s use of school climate standards, action planning, and supportive school certification. Before becoming an administrator, she experienced the impact of SEL in her own classroom as a middle school teacher.
Claire lives in Nashville with her spouse and two sons. Her favorite things include outdoor concerts, national parks, and good recipes that take less than 30 minutes to make!
Why I do this work: Schools that infuse SEL into all policies, practices and supports are better places to learn, better places to work, and better places to volunteer and visit. I'm all in for SEL because I believe this is the best way to improve school climate, academic achievement, and equity.
Here at CASEL, Heather is the MVP of helping to define and identify high-quality program design.
Heather Schwartz (she/her) works to help define and identify “high-quality” SEL programming through her work on the CASEL Program Guide. This includes coaching districts on an inclusive and thoughtful process for selecting programming that is aligned to the hopes and needs of diverse stakeholders. Heather also contributes to the continuous improvement of CASEL's resources and professional learning, with a special focus on SEL and academic integration.
Prior to joining CASEL, Heather worked as an instructional coach on Chicago’s southwest side. In this role she worked directly with teachers to create intellectually active and engaging learning experiences for all students.
Heather lives in Chicago with her husband and son. When she is not working, you will find her with her head in a book, out in nature, or talking to strangers.
Why I do this work: I aspire to contribute to a more just society by supporting SEL in schools and districts. I believe that an equitable approach to SEL can create the space for all people to show up fully and thrive, as they are.
Here at CASEL, Alexandra is the MVP of integrating data in all SEL implementation efforts.
Alexandra Skoog-Hoffman (she/her) leads the design and enactment of district-level continuous improvement technical assistance efforts at CASEL in the effort to explore how social and emotional learning can be leveraged to promote equitable learning environments and equitable developmental outcomes for students. In her role, she directs key practice-focused research initiatives designed to support and scale the processes and impacts of high-quality SEL implementation in partner districts, schools, and communities.
Prior to joining CASEL, Alexandra worked at TNTP, a full-service educational consulting firm, where she consulted with district and school leaders on instructional program and initiative implementation, and evaluation. She led data-informed strategy development with school districts and charter management organizations and has conducted mixed-method action research and evaluation studies at the school, district, and state levels.
Alexandra lives with her husband and children in Chicago. She enjoys exploring local breweries and restaurants around the city and keeping the rabbits out of her fledgling garden.
Why I do this work: I work in the field of SEL because I believe that social emotional development is a prerequisite for authentic engagement and learning, as well as a keystone for a happy and successful post-academic life. As a former high school educator, I found that when my students and I integrated social emotional learning with academic content, we made progress toward academic benchmarks and more importantly co-developed a classroom culture that fostered trust, safety, critical thinking & questioning, and healthy discussions.
Here at CASEL, Megan is the MVP of keeping the workstream of the practice team flowing and organized.
Megan Smith (she/her) provides support to the entire practice team. Working closely with the vice president of practice and two senior directors, Megan manages calendars, work flow, team meetings and implements adminstravie guidance for a vast array of programs and projects.
Prior to joining CASEL, Megan worked as high school social studies teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. When the twists and turns of life took her to Chicago, she transitioned into an administrative space, managing programs for a local educational foundation before moving into her current role at CASEL.
Megan enjoys staying active, listening to (possibly too many) political podcasts, curling up with a good book, and considers herself a lightweight foodie.
"SEL is central to all learning and success. I wish SEL had been systemically implemented into my school district when I was growing up. Working at CASEL, an organization that supports states, districts and schools nationwide to ensure SEL is a priority in every school, is fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the vital need for SEL for all children (and adults!)."
Before joining the CASEL operations team, David Terroba worked in the public and private accounting sectors for six years. His strengths include extensive experience with daily accounting and financial transactions.
David is a Chicago native who received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from DePaul University in 2007.
Here at CASEL, Karen is the MVP of building partnerships that help us learn and implement systemic SEL in service of equity and excellence.
Karen VanAusdal (she/her) oversees multiple initiatives to support and scale SEL in service of equity and excellence in school districts and with collaborators in the field. She works to advance the learning and support efforts of the SEL Fellows Academy, the Collaborating Districts Initiative, BELE and other key partnerships.
Prior to joining CASEL, Karen was the founding Executive Director of the Office of Social and Emotional Learning within Chicago Public Schools. Karen started her career as an elementary school math and literacy teacher. From there, she joined Peace First, where for five years she designed and managed a whole-school SEL model. Karen holds a bachelor’s from Brown University, a master’s in human development from Harvard University, and a master’s in social policy from the London School of Economics.
At home in Chicago, she also spends time perpetually trying new artistic pursuits, walking and jogging on the shores of Lake Michigan, and nourishing the SEL skills of her two school-age children.
Why I do this work: The post-it I keep at my desk helps keep me focused on my core aims in this work: to foster shared humanity, compassion, liberation, and joy for the young people and adults in school ecosystems across the country. I see SEL as a powerful lever for this transformation.
Brittney Williams provides research and evaluation support for the CASEL Program Guide.
Prior to CASEL, Brittney worked on projects that examined how early elementary school teachers viewed SEL programs and implementation. In addition, she has worked on multidisciplinary projects promoting collaborative work between preservice teachers and school social workers at the master’s level to assist in fostering SEL within the schools and with students they serve.
Brittney is a recent graduate from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) College of Education. Her doctoral degree is in educational psychology, with a focus on social and emotional development in young African-American children.
Consultants & Advisors
Matthew Atwell has been a member of the Civic team since 2015. He leads Civic's data analysis and research on a diverse set of policy areas, including the education gap, civic health, and social mobility. As Senior Research, he has authored numerous Civic reports, including Building a Grad Nation, Hidden in Plain Sight, Our Opportunity Nation, the Great American High School Campaign, and Ready to Engage: Perspectives of Teachers and Parents on SEL and Service-Learning.
Matt is an honors graduate of St. Joseph’s University, where he studied Political Science and Economics, and in 2019 earned a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics from George Washington University.
Teresa Borowski is a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in the Community and Prevention Research Ph.D. program in the Psychology Department. She works as a research specialist with the UIC Social and Emotional Learning Research Group and with CASEL’s research team on various projects such as the Assessment Work Group and the Collaborating States Initiative.
Prior to coming to UIC, Teresa worked as a research assistant on a National Science Foundation project with Michael Kral at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also worked as a research experimenter and observer in the Infant Cognition Lab with Renee Baillargeon, as well as for the Learning and Memory Lab at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
Teresa’s professional interests include social and emotional competence development and promotion through the arts (dance, music, art, drama, etc.), SEL and mindfulness, and influences of culture and context. Teresa graduated Phi Beta Kappa, James Honors Scholar, and Bronze Tablet recipient with a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
John Bridgeland is Founder & CEO of Civic, a social enterprise firm in Washington, D.C, and Executive Chair of the Office of American Possibilities. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of the COVID Collaborative, a national platform that marshals top leaders and institutions in health, education and the economy to work with national, state and local leaders to combat COVID-19. He is also the Co-Founder of ACT NOW, a ground-up effort to re-envision policing and public safety across 16 communities representing the diversity of the United States. Bridgeland is Chair of Service Year Alliance to make a year of national service a common expectation and opportunity for all 18-28 year olds, Co-Convener of GradNation to reach a 90 percent high school graduation rate by the Class 2020, and Vice Chairman of Malaria No More, a nonprofit working to end malaria deaths in Africa. Bridgeland served as Co-Chair of Policy and a Commissioner of the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development.
Previously, Bridgeland was appointed by President Obama to serve on the White House Council for Community Solutions. He also served as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Assistant to the President of the United States, and first Director of the USA Freedom Corps after 9/11 under President George W. Bush.
He is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Virginia School of Law and has given commencement addresses at the College of William & Mary, Johns Hopkins University, Saint Anselm College, Averett University, Hamline University, and Ripon College. In addition, he founded Tennis for America in 2020 with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, which awarded him their “Lifetime Achievement Award,” presented by Wimbledon Champion Stan Smith.
Ann McKay Bryson (she/her) contributes to developing and producing CASEL's professional learning engagements including the SEL Exchange Virtual Summit, the CDI Acceleration Team and the CASEL Fellows. Ann supports the Anchorage School District and Washoe County Public Schools in their continued participation and leadership in the Collaborating Districts Initiative (CDI). She presents at national conferences, including CASEL's SEL Exchange, Learning Forward, the American Educational Research Association (AERA).
Prior to joining CASEL, Ann worked in the Anchorage School District as a classroom teacher and Adult SEL Professional Learning Specialist for 32 years. She served as an adjunct at University of Alaska, Anchorage, providing a wide array of courses including SEL Professional Inquiry, SEL-Based Principal Leadership, Mentoring and Induction, and Trauma-Aware Effective Teaching Practices. She served two terms as National Writing Project Board Chair for the Alaska State Writing Consortium.
Ann loves spending time with her family, including her three daughters and two grandchildren. She is a contributing author and editor of the SEE (Social, Emotional, Ethical) Learning curriculum.
As a consultant with CASEL, Pat provides technical assistance and support to states involved in the Collaborating States Initiative (CSI).
An educator for 35 years, Pat Conner retired from the Tennessee Department of Education as the Executive Director for the Office of Student Support. In that role, she provided oversight to 146 school districts on alternative education, Family Resource Centers, school climate, school based mental health, trauma-informed schools, and out of school time.
Her belief is that all children deserve to feel safe, emotionally and physically, at school and that families and the community play an important role in making schools safe, nurturing places to learn and grow.
Ruth Cross, Senior SEL Consultant, supports districts and schools to implement systemic high quality SEL. She also consults with states in the Collaborative States Initiative to develop SEL competencies / standards , polices and practices, that support SEL within districts and schools across the state.
Prior to joining CASEL, Ruth was an Illinois educator for 34 years with experience in rural and suburban districts. She was a teacher, a principal ,and ended her educational career as Assistant Superintendent in Naperville District 230. Ruth also co-chaired the committee that wrote the Illinois SEL Standards and served on the Illinois State Board of Education.
Ruth enjoys spending her free time with her husband, 4 sons, 10 grandchildren and a great granddaughter. She loves to read mysteries and enjoys nature.
Why I do this work: SEL matters to me, as it is the opportunity to educate the whole child by building on the strengths that all children and young people bring to schools. My hope for the future is that all students attend a school that has a supportive, caring, and culturally responsive environment in which all students can grow socially, emotionally, and academically and have the skills to build a more inclusive and just world.
Linda Dusenbury has worked with CASEL for more than a decade. She is a nationally recognized expert with 30 years experience planning, supporting, and evaluating evidence-based strategies designed to create a safe and nurturing world for children and adolescents. Linda currently helps lead CASEL’s Collaborating States Initiative, a multistate effort that launched in 2016 to support states in creating the conditions where SEL can thrive at the district, school, community, and family levels. As of April, 2021, more than 40 states (serving more than 30 million K-12 students) have participated. Over the years, she has been involved in CASEL’s reviews of evidence-based SEL programs and state scans of state learning competencies and guidance for SEL.
Before joining CASEL, Linda served on the faculty of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, as a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and as a senior researcher at Tanglewood Research, Inc. Linda has published more than 100 professional articles and chapters. She also co-edited two books in the Vermont Conference on the Primary Prevention of Psychopathology series.
Dr. Deidre Farmbry (she/her) provides guidance to district and school staff and their community partners in understanding the "what," "why," and "how" of SEL. She is a thought partner, strategist, and a creative designer and facilitator of professional learning. She consults and coaches, both in-person and virtually, fueled by the power of collaboration.
Prior to joining CASEL, Deidre was a high school English teacher, English department head, high school principal, regional superintendent, chief academic officer and interim superintendent of a large urban district. She also worked with a group of consultants participating in collaborative inquiry on school leadership as part of an international project involving five countries. Deidre once had a non-profit in her hometown of Philadelphia dedicated to the educational achievement of young men of color and continues her advocacy for this population by providing guidance to the Boston-based Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color.
Deidre loves to garden, sketch, write poetry, go to plays and concerts, and travel.
Why I do this work: Committing to SEL is my way of contributing to a humane society.
Mary Hurley serves as a CASEL consultant working with Minneapolis Public Schools, Oakland Unified School District, and projects within CASEL’s Collaborating States Initiative. Her areas of focus are leadership coaching, team development, adult SEL, professional learning, and strategic planning for systemic SEL implementation. She is on the steering committees of CASEL’s Equity Work Group and Professional Learning Institute, and she co-authored CASEL’s SEL 3 Signature Practices Playbook. Mary is particularly interested in supporting the design and sustainability of SEL implementation in service of equity.
Prior to joining CASEL, Mary was the founding coordinator of social and emotional learning for the Oakland Unified School District, served as a district transformational leadership coach and elementary writing coach, and taught PreK to eighth grade. Mary began her career in education as an early childhood educator in London, England, served as a research assistant at the American Institutes for Research, and was the director of Golden Gate University’s Child Development Center before coming to Oakland. Mary is a Scholar with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and has presented at national conferences on teacher inquiry, systemic school reform, district SEL implementation, adult Social and Emotional Learning, and SEL’s role in achieving equity.
Mary received her B.A. from Stanford University and her masters in educational leadership from California State University, Hayward.
Susan Keister is a CASEL SEL Specialist who has been a consultant to the organization since 2003, serving as contributing author of the 2006 edition of CASEL’s Sustainable Schoolwide Social and Emotional Learning Implementation Guide and Toolkit and the new CASEL School Guide. She is also a district consultant for the Sacramento City Unified School District as part of the Collaborating Districts Initiative. In that capacity she has conducted more than 60 workshops for CASEL with more than 4,000 school leaders throughout the United States to prepare them to implement high-quality social and emotional learning in their schools and districts.
Susan is an international author, speaker, workshop facilitator, and educational leader with more than 30 years of experience in leading the research, development, and training of international programs and professional development in comprehensive school reform, social and emotional learning, character development, positive prevention of drug use and violence, conflict management, and service-learning. Between 1983-2001 she served as vice president of program development and lead developer of the programs of Lions Clubs International Foundation: Lions-Quest Skills for Growing (Grades K-5), Skills for Adolescence (Grades 6-8), and Skills for Action (Grades 9-12). She led the revision of the Skills for Growing, Skills for Adolescence, and Skills for Action programs between 2001-2011. Since 2001 she has been an educational consultant, serving as the lead program and training specialist with Lions Clubs International Foundation, providing training and program assistance to more than 6,000 people in more than 40 countries and 50 states in the implementation of the Lions-Quest programs. She has helped lead large-scale reform initiatives and provided training and coaching in statewide and districtwide SEL, service-learning, and prevention programming in Arizona, California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, and many other locations. Between 1998-2001 she was a Fetzer Institute Fellow with an emphasis on transformational school reform.
She holds a masters in curriculum development and supervision from Michigan State University.
Rafiqah Mustafaa (she/her) supports a variety of CASEL’s internal continuous improvement projects. In this role, Rafiqah analyzes and documents learnings about SEL implementation to improve CASEL’s technical assistance and resources, and to support researchers and educators in improving their SEL-related work. Prior to this role, Rafiqah served as a CASEL continuous improvement research associate, supporting a group of CASEL’s partner districts including Baltimore City Public Schools, Guilford County Schools, and Minneapolis Public Schools.
Prior to joining CASEL, Rafiqah supported planning and evaluation capacity-building for Chicago-based foundations and nonprofits as an evaluation coach at PIE Org. Prior to that, Rafiqah conducted research and evaluation projects for Chicago nonprofits and for the City of Champaign, Illinois, at Institution Builders, Inc., an evaluation consulting company. Rafiqah earned a doctorate and a master’s in educational policy studies, with an evaluation specialization from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and bachelor’s degrees in political science and sociology from Pennsylvania State University.
Rafiqah is a Philadelphia native living in Chicago. She enjoys writing creative fiction and nonfiction, spending time by the water, cooking plant-based meals and seafood, and traveling with her family.
Rob Schamberg has served as a CASEL senior district advisor since 2011. Rob has supported several CASEL collaborating districts, most notably, Austin Independent School District in Texas, Washoe County School District in Nevada, and Boston Public Schools. Rob is the primary author of Districtwide SEL Essentials for Superintendents published by CASEL and AASA. He authored the CASEL SEL Financial Sustainability website and CASEL District Resource Center content regarding Aligning Resources. Rob is the developer and facilitator of the CASEL SEL Strategic Planning Institute, in which district teams develop and implement sustainable SEL for all K-12 students, staff and community. Rob has helped many school districts and communities get started with SEL implementation through conducting readiness studies and follow-up consulting. He has authored several case studies of SEL implementation and partnerships. Along with his work at CASEL, Rob facilitates strategic planning, leadership development, organizational development, and team-building workshops.
Prior to joining CASEL Rob was executive vice president, chief administrative officer, and superintendent-in-residence at the Forum for Youth Investment in Washington, D.C. In those roles Rob worked with staff as well as community, state, and federal constituents to build their capacity in ensuring that all young people they serve will be Ready by 21®: ready for college, work and life. Rob has 30 years of experience as an educational leader in California. As superintendent in two school districts, he led major improvements in student achievement through strengthening curriculum and instruction, implementing positive youth development practices, engaging youth and staff in adventure learning, deepening community involvement and partnerships, bringing fiscal stability, and improving infrastructure and technology. He implemented innovative programs with successful youth outcomes during his nine years of service in the Black Oak Mine Unified School District on the Georgetown Divide. In 2007, 2008, and 2010 “the Divide” was named by America’s Promise as one of the “100 Best Communities for Youth.” Rob was named Environmental Administrator of the Year in 2007 by the American River Conservancy.
Prior to serving as a superintendent, Rob was a high school teacher and administrator, an elementary school principal, and a district leader in several positions. He was a founding board member of Georgetown Divide Ready by 21® Inc. and the El Dorado County Community Health Center. He also has served on the board of the El Dorado County Western Slope Boys and Girls Club and as Chair of San Francisco Bay Inner City Outings. Rob earned a bachelor’s degree in applied physics and information sciences at the University of California, San Diego, along with a teaching credential from the University of California, Berkeley. He obtained a master’s degree in educational leadership from California State University, Hayward.
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