Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

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PhD Students and Recent Alumni

The following is a selection of a just a few current PhD students and recent alumni with concentrations in Child, Youth, and Family Policy at the Heller School. For more information on the full PhD program, we encourage you to visit the Heller Admissions page. 

Kate GiapponiKate Giapponi

Kate Giapponi is a fourth-year doctoral student in social policy at the Heller School.  Prior to joining Brandeis and the ICYFP, she worked for over six years at a government consulting firm serving state and local human services agencies.  In this capacity, she conducted projects involving survey research, program evaluation, needs assessment, revenue maximization, and business process review.  Ms. Giapponi is interested in the fields of early education and care, public assistance and child welfare.  Her current work is focused on child care subsidy policy. Specifically, she is researching state variation and equity issues in child care subsidy administration, application and use across the United States.  Ms. Giapponi holds an MBA from Clark University and a BA in Economics from the College of the Holy Cross. 


Megan Madison PhotoMegan Madison

Megan Madison is currently a third-year PhD student studying Social Policy with a concentration in Children, Youth, and Family Policy.  Her research interests include Head Start, the early childhood workforce, and the intersections of race, gender, and class. Before coming to Heller, she taught preschool at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, a multicultural community-based family development organization located in Chicago. This experience grounds her dual passions for early childhood education and social justice. Megan graduated with highest distinction from the University of Michigan, having completed a self-designed concentration program in Studies in Religion in 2009.


Morgan Crossman PhotoMorgan Crossman

Morgan K. Crossman, MA, is a fourth-year PhD student at Heller. She has most recently worked as a Research Assistant in the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, the Starr Center, and the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Heller. She has also worked as a Research Coordinator at Children's Hospital Boston and the Institute for Community Inclusion. Morgan has an MA in Applied Developmental and Education Psychology from Boston College and a BA in Psychology and Communication Studies from the University of Rhode Island. Her concentration at Heller is in Children, Youth and Families with a focus on the well-being of families of children with disabilities and special health care needs, early intervention, as well as the prevention and effects of child sexual abuse on children and families of children with disabilities and special health care needs.

Photo of Charlotte Powley Charlotte Powley

Charlotte Powley is currently a first-year PhD student studying Social Policy with a concentration in Children, Youth, and Family Policy. Her research interests include female empowerment with respect to health and financial well being. She is currently a teaching assistant for Dr. Darren Zinner, assisting undergraduate Brandeis seniors in their capstone class "Health: Science, Society, and Policy" as they focus on infant mortality issues. Before coming to Heller, Charlotte pursued her Master's in Public Health at Tufts University, where she focused on biostatistics and epidemiology. Prior to doing her MPH, Charlotte was a special education math teacher at the High School for Health Professions and Human Services in New York City. She worked with students with both learning and emotional disabilities. Charlotte earned her Master's in Education from Hunter College and she continues to explore her interest and dedication to students with disabilities, particularly those from immigrant backgrounds. Charlotte graduated from Columbia University in 2011 with a major in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. Charlotte's interests in education, public health, and gender equity have all intertwined within her greater commitment to social justice.

Photo of Nick TeichNick Teich

Nick Teich recently had a book published titled Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue (Columbia University Press, 2012). He participated in transgender policy talks at the White House in September and November, 2012, specifically on the subject of bullying in schools. He is currently working on developing indicators and compiling information on legislation from around the country regarding anti-bullying policies. He is also developing his doctoral dissertation, entitled “Anti-transgender Bullying in High School: Outcomes in Adulthood and Policy Perspectives.” This entails analysis of the 2008 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, the largest study to date on a transgender population. Specifically, Nick is examining whether bullying in high school due to gender identity or expression affects outcomes in employment, housing, suicidality, and harassment later in life. Nick will also be conducting interviews for a qualitative piece on these subjects.

Taletha Derrington PhotoDr. Taletha Derrington, Ph.D., '12

Taletha Derrington completed her dissertation, titled “Drug-Exposed Young Children and Early Intervention: What influences service engagement?” in May 2012.  Dr. Derrington created a unique database to conduct this mixed methods study of the effects of federal policy requiring the referral of drug-exposed infants to Part C Early Intervention (EI) Services. She linked secondary data from the population-based Massachusetts Pregnancy to Early Life Longitudinal (PELL) Data System with primary data collected through interviews and surveys of 14 Massachusetts early intervention (EI) programs. To identify drug-exposed infants, she developed the Drug Exposed Infant Identification Algorithm (DEIIA) and conducted quantitative and qualitative analyses to determine what child clinical, family sociodemographic, hospital, and EI provider and program characteristics predicted EI service access and engagement.  She found that Relational Coordination (the strength of relationships and communication) between EI programs and hospitals was a strong positive predictor of access and engagement.  While completing her dissertation, Dr. Derrington was a Senior Program Manager at the Boston University School of Public Health, where she used PELL to conduct studies on children with Down syndrome, fetal loss, and women of childbearing age with substance use disorders. Dr. Derrington has recently taken a position with SRI International as an Early Childhood Researcher working on The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy Center).  She is also a Visiting Scholar with the Nathan and Toby Starr Center on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at the Heller School. 

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