Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementReturn to this website's homepageBrandeis University

Affiliated Staff

ICYFP is proud to collaborate with a number of talented researchers, consultants, and scientists from a variety of institutions and academic backgrounds. 

Joanna Almeida, collaborating researcherJoanna Almeida, ScD, MPH, MSW, Visiting Scholar

Joanna Almeida is an Assistant Professor at Simmons School of Social Work. Prior to beginning her faculty position, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute on Urban Health Research at Northeastern University. After earning her Masters degrees, she was a fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where she conducted public health research at the local, state and federal level. As part of her fellowship, she was assigned to the Miami-Dade County Health Department where she conducted epidemiologic research on risk factors for hepatitis C among clients of a public STD clinic, and helped to  identify unique risk factors for childhood lead poisoning among recently arrived immigrants in Miami, FL. This research informed the development of lead poisoning screening guidelines for health care practitioners in Miami-Dade County. Recently, Almeida completed a National Institutes of Drug Abuse/National Institutes of Health fellowship on substance use among Latino immigrants. Almeida’s primary research is focused on understanding social factors such as social networks/social support, poverty, discrimination and neighborhood conditions that influence the deterioration of immigrants’ health after arrival in the US. Her work has been covered by the Boston Globe and by Boston Public Radio. In addition, she was invited to discuss her research findings at the Massachusetts State House Library. She holds a dual Masters in Social Work (MSW) and Masters in Public Health (MPH) from Boston University, and earned a Doctorate of Science (ScD) from the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Gina Chirichigno PhotoGina Chirichigno, JD, Visiting Scholar

A native of Denver, Colorado, Gina graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA and Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC. Prior to law school, she worked as a Residential Instructor at the SEED Public Charter School of Washington, DC. She interned for three years at the Office of Human Rights for the City of Alexandria, VA, where she handled employment discrimination claims. Shortly after becoming a licensed attorney in Massachusetts, Gina led the staff of Education Action, a small nonprofit spearheaded by author and activist Jonathan Kozol. Education Action assisted teachers, parents, students and organizers in becoming actively engaged in education reform. In June of 2008, she began coordinating the school and neighborhood integration efforts of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School and four other national civil rights organizations. From 2010-2011, Gina was a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. There, she was primarily involved with the Ford Secondary Education and Racial Justice Collaborative. In addition to co-directing One Nation Indivisible, Gina is the Outreach Coordinator for the National Coalition on School Diversity and a member of the Racial Imbalance Advisory Council, one of eighteen advisory councils that contribute to the development of education policy in Massachusetts. She also belongs to TAG Boston, a network of educators in the Boston metropolitan area who are committed to social justice and racial equity.

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Kerith ConronKerith Conron, PhD, MPH, Visiting Scholar

Dr. Kerith Conron is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist who is committed to identifying policy-relevant intervention strategies to address social determinants of health, with an emphasis on childhood. Her specific interests include preventing children’s exposure to maltreatment, mitigating the consequences of exposure to maltreatment and other adversity, and promoting healthy child development within families and communities. As lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children are disproportionately impacted by early life adversity, much of Dr. Conron’s work over the last decade has focused on documenting and reducing LGBT-related health disparities. She was the first coordinator of the Office of LGBT Health for the City of Boston, served on the first Steering Committee of the National Coalition for LGBT Health, and has organized or been an invited participant on several national scientific workgroups and panels focused on LGBT-inclusive health surveillance, including the Sexual Minority Assessment Research Team (SMART) and Gender Identity in U.S. Surveillance (GENIUSS) groups. In addition to her work with the Institute for Child, Youth, and Family Policy as a Visiting Scholar, Dr. Conron is a Research Scientist at the Fenway Institute where she is Co-Investigator of a study that utilizes community-based participatory research methods to improve health for Boston-area LGBT youth of color [National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Fenway Institute, Center for Population Research in LGBT Health]. Dr. Conron is also collaborating with BAGLY Inc. to investigate social determinants of sexual health among Boston-area LGBT youth.  Dr. Conron earned her doctorate from the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, master’s degree (MPH) from the Boston University School of Public Health, and bachelor’s in Sociology from Mary Washington College.

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Susan Eaton Photo Susan Eaton, Ed.D, Ed.M., Director of the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

Susan is Research Director at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School (CHHIRJ). She is also co-director of the documentation and strategic organizing project One Nation Indivisible (, which is a joint project of CHHIRJ and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council. She has lectured about, studied and written about schooling, inequality and immigration for more than two decades as a journalist, scholar and activist. Most recently, as co-director of One Nation Indivisible, Susan’s work has centered around identifying, understanding and advancing alternatives to segregation and marginalization within schools, neighborhoods, social institutions and in policies and programming related to immigration. She is author, most recently, of The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial (Algonquin, 2007), a narrative book that interweaves the stories of a contemporary civil rights case and an urban classroom in Hartford, Connecticut. In 2008, this book was one of three finalists for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. She is also author of The Other Boston Busing Story: What’s Won and Lost Across the Boundary Line (Yale, 2001), which explores the adult lives of African-Americans who’d participated in a voluntary, urban-to-suburban school desegregation program as children. With Gary Orfield, she is co-author of Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown v. Board of Education (New Press, 1996). Her writing has appeared in numerous popular and scholarly publications, including The New York TimesThe Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, The Nation, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poverty & Race, Harvard Law and Policy Review and Education Week. Previously, Susan was a staff reporter at daily newspapers in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where she won several awards for her writing about public education.

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David Jacobson headshotDavid Jacobson, PhD, Visiting Scholar

David Jacobson is the Director of the Birth through Third Grade Learning Hub and the Professional Excellence Director for Cambridge Education. The Birth through Third Grade Learning Hub profiles and analyzes Birth—3rd initiatives with the aim of promoting learning, exchange, and knowledge-building across communities. David has conducted applied research projects on PreK—3rd Alignment for the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and on Birth—3rd Alignment Partnerships for the MA Department of Early Education and Care. David also provides technical assistance to schools, communities, and states. He is currently supporting Birth—3rd partnerships in Cambridge, MA and New Bedford, MA and a major school improvement planning initiative in the New Haven Public Schools.
As the Professional Excellence Director for Cambridge Education, David oversees ongoing improvement of Cambridge Education’s services, including School Quality Review, Educator Evaluation, Survey Services, and School and District Improvement. David led the development of Cambridge’s approach to school turnaround and school improvement planning and supported Worcester and Springfield in their district Common-Core alignment initiatives. Much of David’s professional development work has focused on supporting teacher teams in improving curriculum, assessment, teaching, and learning. David developed the Common Priorities approach to structuring the work of teacher teams and has supported dozens of schools in implementing this approach, including large project implementations in New York City, Perth Amboy, NJ, and Fulton County, GA. David also provided support to the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the development of the Massachusetts System of Tiered Instruction and a District Common Planning Time Self-Assessment.
David has a PhD. in Sociology of Education and Sociology of Organizations from the University of Chicago.

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Nancy McArdle PhotoNancy McArdle, MPP, Senior Research Consultant

Nancy McArdle is a researcher and author with over twenty-five years’ experience analyzing housing policy and demographics, migration and settlement patterns, racial segregation, and the intersection between civil rights and opportunity.  Currently she is Senior Research Analyst with, a website enabling analysis of a wide range of socio-economic, demographic, and neighborhood indicators by race/ethnicity for all metropolitan areas of the U.S. ( She plays a similar role with the new project, focusing more intensely on opportunities for children, across a wide range of geographic areas.

McArdle graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University (summa cum laude) and received a Master's of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.  She was Research Analyst at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and Research Director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project’s Metro Boston Equity Initiative.  Author and co-author of a wide range of publications, she is a contributor to the recent books Twenty-First Century Color Lines:  Multiracial Change in Contemporary Society and The Integration Debate:  Competing Futures for American Cities.  In addition to writing and research, McArdle has developed and taught top-rated training programs for community development professionals and lectured at several universities, including Harvard, MIT, Northeastern and Brandeis. 

For over a decade, McArdle has served as an expert witness, providing analysis and testimony at trial in several major legal cases involving housing and school segregation. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston and the Advisory Committee for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s Equity Report Card.  

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Theresa Osypuk PhotoTheresa L. Osypuk, SD, SM, Visiting Scholar

Dr. Theresa L. Osypuk, SD, SM, is a social epidemiologist, and her research examines why place influences health and health disparities, including the roles of racial residential segregation, neighborhood context, and social policies. Her research explores how seemingly “non-health related” social policies (for example, those directly concerned with housing or neighborhoods) may reduce racial/ethnic health disparities. She also researches racial, socioeconomic, and nativity/immigrant disparities in health and mental health, their geographic patterns, and causes. 

Dr. Osypuk is currently the principal investigator of two National Institutes of Health grants investigating how housing choice vouchers and neighborhood context influence the mental health of adolescents and their families, in the Moving to Opportunity housing policy experiment. She is also a co-investigator on several NIH grants including a birth cohort to examine racism and pre-term birth among black women, and a cohort study in Bangladesh to understand norms about intimate partner violence and women’s empowerment. 

Dr. Osypuk’s research has appeared in leading medical, epidemiology, public health, and urban studies journals. She entered the public health field via communications, by creating national public service campaigns to change attitudes and behavior related to public health and social issues, at The Advertising Council. She received her Master's and Doctoral degrees from the Harvard School of Public Health, and received postdoctoral training in Population Health in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars fellowship at the University of Michigan. Dr. Osypuk is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in the Division of Epidemiology & Community Health.

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Erika Smith photo

Erika J. Smith, PhD, EdM

Dr. Erika J. Smith has held administrative leadership roles supporting college access and success for underrepresented students, as well as publishing and presenting on these issues since 2001. She has presented on these issues at convenings held by the National Conference on Students in Transition, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Boston Foundation, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Boston College, and Newbury College.   

Dr. Smith has served as the director of the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program (MKTYP) at Brandeis since 2004. The MKTYP is a first-year academic program for students who exhibit intellectual and character strengths required for college success, but whose pre-college academic opportunities have been limited in some way. Her tenure at Brandeis, which began in 2000, has also included appointments as a research assistant at the Heller School's Center for Youth and Communities, mentor for the Posse program (a leadership merit scholarship program that sends groups of students to top-tier colleges and universities), research analyst for the Office of Planning and Institutional Research, adjunct lecturer at the Heller Graduate School for Social Policy and Management, and ombudswoman. She has also served on several boards and advisory committees for nonprofit organizations focused on college access and success.

Dr. Smith earned a BS in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University, where she matriculated as a Posse Scholar, an EdM in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an MA and PhD in Social Policy from Brandeis’ Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

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Jasmine Waddell, Visiting ScholarJasmine Waddell, PhD, Visiting Scholar

Waddell is Resident Dean of Freshmen at Harvard College, responsible for the academic and pastoral well-being of Elm Yard students. Waddell earned her PhD from the University of Oxford in Social Policy before completing a NICHD Postdoctoral Fellowship based at the Wellesley Centers for Women. Before moving to Harvard, Dr. Waddell held positions as an Assistant Professor of Environmental and Public Affairs in the Greenspun School of Urban Affairs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Visiting Lecturer at Brandeis University, faculty at the University of Massachusetts Boston in the Program for Women in Politics and Public Policy and as a Senior Program Officer at Oxfam America. Her fields of specialization include environmental policy, resilience studies, poverty and social inclusion, qualitative research methods, strategic planning for nonprofit organizations, monitoring and evaluation, gender and human rights, and South African Studies. She has published articles in African Studies Quarterly (2006) and New Global Studies (2011). Her work on race relations in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is a chapter in Resilience and Opportunity (2011, Brookings Institution Press), a New Republic blogpost (2011), and a review of the film "Come Hell or High Water: The Battle of Turkey Creek" (2014). Dr. Waddell is a US Rhodes Scholar and serves as a Trustee of the Brown University Corporation and Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities After Disaster (CRSCASD) at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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