Biosketches of Committee Members and Project Staff
Ruby Takanishi (Chair) is a senior research fellow in the Early and Elementary Education, Education Policy Division at New America. She was formerly president and CEO of the Foundation for Child Development in New York, and has a lifelong interest in how research on children’s development can inform public policy and programs. Dr. Takanishi also was founding executive director of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences; director of the Office of Scientific Affairs of the American Psychological Association; executive director of the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development; and assistant director for Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education in the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. In 2014, she received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Education Research Association. Dr. Takanishi has served on several boards, including those of the Council on Foundations; Grantmakers for Children, Youth, and Families; Grantmakers for Education; the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; the Advisory Panel on Public Issues of the Advertising Council; the National Advisory Committee for the National Children’s Study; and the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Health Care Quality and Research. She earned her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University.
Alfredo Artiles is Dean of Graduate Education, and the Ryan C. Harris Professor of Special Education at Arizona State University. His scholarship focuses on understanding and addressing educational inequities related to
the intersection of disability and sociocultural differences. He directs the Equity Alliance and co-edits the International Multilingual Research Journal and the book series Disability, Culture, & Equity. Previously, he was vice president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). He is an AERA fellow, a Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education postdoctoral fellow, and a resident fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Artiles has been principal or co-principal investigator of numerous projects. He has served as an advisor to the Civil Rights Projects at Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the National Academy of Education, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, among others. In 2012, he received the Palmer O. Johnson Award for best article published in an AERA journal. Dr. Artiles has held a number of visiting professorships internationally. He served as a commissioner in President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and was named 2009 Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of Virginia.
Diane L. August is currently a managing researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she is responsible for directing the work of the Center for English Learners. Her area of expertise is research, policy analysis, and technical assistance related to the education of preschool and school-age English learners (ELs). At AIR, she serves as a senior advisor to multiple federally funded studies that involve ELs. She has also advised state-funded studies examining the trajectories of a cohort of ELs over multiple years and exploring variables that lead to their success. Dr. August has recently directed or is directing studies funded by the U.S. Department of Education focused on peer review criteria for evaluating state Title III assessment and accountability provisions, state-level dual language programming, and attributes of promising practices in the math education of ELs. Prior to her position at AIR, she was a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics, where she directed or co-directed federally funded studies focused on language, literacy, and science development in ELs, as well as assessment of and programming for ELs. Dr. August holds a Ph.D. in education from Stanford University and has published widely in both journals and books.
Xavier Botana is currently superintendent of the Portland Public Schools, Portland, Maine. He was formerly associate superintendent of the Michigan City Area Schools. During his tenure, the district saw continued improvements in test performance and other metrics while achieving budget
reductions of more than 15 percent. Mr. Botana was previously chief academic officer for Portland, Oregon, public schools, where he directed the district’s teaching and learning programs, including special education and programs for ELs. His key accomplishment was articulating the “guaranteed core program” for community comprehensive high schools and establishing a districtwide training program for cultural competence with the Pacific Education Group. Mr. Botana served as chief officer for instructional design and assessment in Chicago Public Schools, overseeing the development of the district’s first formative assessment program and support structure for literacy, math, and science instruction. Previously, he worked as director of English learner programs in the Illinois education department, where he spearheaded the development of the state’s first assessment of English language proficiency. He was a part of the Chicago Public Schools Leadership Program, which partnered with Harvard University. He holds degrees in education from Chicago State University and has completed the coursework toward a doctorate in education and social policy at Northwestern University.
Dylan Conger is a professor at the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University and director of the master’s in public policy program. She is also a research affiliate at the institution, as well as New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy. Her research interests include disadvantaged, immigrant, and minority youth, with a focus on education policies and urban areas. Current projects are examining the effects of public policies and programs on the educational outcomes of undocumented immigrants and English learners from early schooling through postsecondary education, estimating the effects of advanced placement and other advanced high school courses on educational outcomes, and identifying the sources of gender disparities in secondary and postsecondary educational outcomes. Dr. Conger holds a Ph.D. in public policy from New York University.
Richard P. Durán is a professor at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara. He previously served as a research scientist at the Educational Testing Service, where he conducted studies on the validity of the SAT for use in predicting Latino students’ college achievement, the validity of the GRE test, and the validity of the Test of English as a Foreign Language. He has conducted and published research on assessment validity and education policy and on educational interventions serving ELs preparing for college. He has investigated how more effective instruction could be designed to improve the academic outcomes of culturally and linguistically diverse students who do not perform well on standardized tests and who come from low-income families, and
how students’ self-awareness of their performance can lead to new notions of assessment. Most recently, he has been conducting research on student learning in after-school computer clubs.
Linda M. Espinosa is currently co-principal investigator for the Getting on Track for Early School Success: Effective Teaching in Preschool Classrooms project at the University of Chicago. She was formerly co-principal investigator for the Center for Early Care and Education Research—Dual Language Learners at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a professor of early childhood education at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and has served as co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University and vice president of education at Bright Horizons Family Solutions. She served on the Head Start National Reporting System technical advisory group and was a member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation. Her recent work has focused on effective curriculum and assessment practices for young children from low-income dual language families. Recently, she was appointed to the New York City Universal PreK Scientific Advisory Council and completed a secondary analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten (ECLS-K) cohort on the school achievement patterns of language minority children. She completed her B.A. at the University of Washington, her Ed.M. at Harvard University, and her Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Chicago.
Eugene E. García is professor emeritus at Arizona State University. He was dean of the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education at the Tempe campus and was professor and vice president for education partnerships at the university. He also served as professor and dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a senior officer in the U.S. Department of Education. He is conducting research in the areas of effective schooling for linguistically and culturally diverse student populations and has chaired the National Task Force on Early Education for Hispanics. He has been honored by several professional organizations for his research contributions and has received an honorary doctorate of letters from Erikson Institute, Chicago, in recognition of his contributions to the area of child development. Most recently, he was appointed to the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Garcia received his B.A. in psychology from the University of Utah and his Ph.D. in human development from the University of Kansas. He has served as a postdoctoral fellow in human development at Harvard University and as a National Research Council fellow. He has received numerous academic and public honors.
Fred Genesee is professor emeritus in the Psychology Department at McGill University. He has conducted extensive research on alternative approaches to bilingual education that has systematically documented the longitudinal language development (oral and written) and academic achievement of students educated through the media of their home and another language. Currently, his work focuses on immersion students who are at risk for reading and/or language learning difficulties and how best to identify such students early in their schooling so that appropriate intervention can be provided. He is engaged in collaborative research with colleagues at McGill University that is examining the neural signatures of late second language learning in typical second language learners, simultaneous bilinguals, and internationally adopted children. Dr. Genesee has served as a consultant with parent, educational, and policy groups around the world on issues related to second language learning in school-age children, bilingual education, and dual language learning during the preschool years. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology from McGill University.
Kenji Hakuta is the Lee L. Jacks professor of education, emeritus, at Stanford University. His tenure at Stanford was interrupted briefly when he left to serve the new University of California at Merced as its founding dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. He began as a developmental psycholinguist at Yale University and has authored many publications on language, bilingualism, and education. He has testified to Congress and the courts on language policy, the education of language minority students, affirmative action in higher education, and improvement of quality in educational research. Dr. Hakuta is an elected member of the National Academy of Education, a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recognized for his accomplishments in linguistics and language sciences. He has served on the boards of organizations including the Educational Testing Service, the Spencer Foundation, and the New Teacher Center. He is a well-recognized expert in the relationship between students’ oral language and learning. Currently, he directs the Understanding Language Initiative at Stanford, focused on the role of language in the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Dr. Hakuta received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Harvard University.
Arturo Hernandez is currently professor and director of the graduate program in developmental psychology at the University of Houston. He is also affiliated with the University of Houston Cognitive Science program and with the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory at the Baylor College of Medicine. Over the past 16 years, he has worked in collaboration with
numerous colleagues in uncovering the factors that determine differential brain activity in bilinguals. His major research interest is in the neural underpinnings of bilingual language processing and second language acquisition in children and adults. He has used a variety of neuroimaging methods as well as behavioral techniques to investigate these phenomena, with the results of this work being published in a number of peer-reviewed journal articles. Although his work has focused on word-level processing with bilingual speakers, these efforts are aimed at investigating questions of interest to cognitive and developmental psychologists. Dr. Hernandez received his Ph.D. in cognitive science and psychology and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Diego.
Bobbi Ciriza Houtchens retired after nearly 40 years of teaching English and English language development, and now consults with and provides professional development for teachers who work with English learners and urban students across the country. She has taught in the migrant labor camps south of Miami, in the DC public schools, and in an Oaxacan middle school. She worked in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition as a teaching ambassador fellow. She also has served as a teacher trainer/mentor and as a University of California, Los Angeles, writing project consultant. She received both a B.A. and Licenciado from Elbert Covell College, an experimental college at the University of the Pacific in California, where she majored in Latin American politics, teaching English as a second language, and Spanish. She holds an M.A. in bilingual/bicultural literacy from California State University, San Bernardino, where she served as an adjunct professor in the School of Education.
Jeff MacSwan is professor of applied linguistics and language education at the University of Maryland. His applied research program is focused on the role of language in theories of school achievement and on education policy related to bilingual learners in U.S. schools. His basic scientific research program concerns the linguistic study of bilingualism and code switching. Currently, he is editor of the International Multilingual Research Journal. He is also a fellow of the National Education Policy Center. He holds a Ph.D. in education from University of California, Los Angeles.
Harriett Romo is director of the Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) and a professor in the department of sociology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has also taught at the University of Texas at Austin and at Texas State University. She has directed grant projects at CAPRI funded by various government agencies and foundations. She has also collaborated with colleagues at the University of Washington on the language acquisition of infants in bilingual homes and has evaluated
Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Her research interests include Latino children and schooling, early childhood education, immigrant families and children, and foster care youth. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s in education from University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, San Diego, and competed postdoctoral studies in sociology at Stanford University.
Maria Sera is a professor at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the relationship between language and cognitive development. Current projects are examining the relationship between knowledge of classifiers and categories in speakers of Chinese, Hmong, and Japanese and the acquisition of second languages by preschoolers. Dr. Sera is currently conducting three studies investigating how preschoolers learn a second language. All of these studies are using experimental designs. One is comparing the role of first language vocabulary in second language learning; the second is examining the role of first language semantic and phonological organization in second language word learning; and the third is exploring the parameters of speech discrimination training that may accelerate second language learning. Dr. Sera holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Indiana University.
Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda is professor of applied psychology at New York University. Her research is focused on infant and toddler learning and development in the areas of language and communication, object play, cognition, motor skills, gender identity, emotion regulation, and social understanding and the long-term implications of early emerging skills for children’s developmental trajectories. She investigates how skills in different domains reciprocally affect one another and snowball over time, and examines the role of sociocultural context in skill development and lagged associations. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; National Institute of Mental Health; Administration for Children, Youth, and Families; Ford Foundation; and Robin Hood Foundation. She has produced more than 150 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books and coedited Child Psychology: A Handbook of Contemporary Issues, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Editions. She holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology with a concentration in developmental psychology from New York University.
Kevin J.A. Thomas is an associate professor of sociology, demography, and African studies at the Pennsylvania State University and a research associate at the university’s Population Research Institute. He previously worked as a David Bell fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development
Studies, and later as a research fellow at the Harvard Initiative for Global Health. He also helped produce the World Migration report in 2003 and has served as a consultant for several organizations, including the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., and as an expert witness on immigration issues. His research interests include migration and immigration processes among African-origin populations and racial and ethnic inequality. He has received a number of awards, including the Young Scholars Fellowship of the Foundation for Child Development. His work has been published in leading peer-reviewed outlets such as the International Migration Review, Demography, and the Lancet. He earned a B.A. (with honors) from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone; a master’s in development administration from Western Michigan University; and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in demography from The University of Pennsylvania.
Claudio O. Toppelberg is a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist and research scientist at Harvard Medical School and the Judge Baker Children’s Center, where he directs the Child Language and Developmental Psychiatry Research Lab. He directs continuing medical education at the Child Mental Health Forum, serves on the medical staff at Children’s Hospital Boston, and sits on the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry research committee and the Harvard Global Mental Health Workgroup. Dr. Toppelberg is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a co-investigator at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. His research in child/adolescent development and mental health focuses on the relationships of language, neurocognitive, and emotional/behavioral development; the development of English learning/dual language children of immigrants; and reduction of socioeconomic disparities in language, neurocognitive, and emotional/behavioral development through national and state policies. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and received several international, national, and Harvard research awards. He is an active member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine and trained in two Harvard Medical School programs in psychiatry.
Lily Wong-Fillmore is professor emeritus of education at the University of California, Berkeley. Much of her research over the past 40 years has focused on issues related to the education of language minority students in American schools. Her professional specializations are second language learning and teaching, the education of language minority students, and the socialization of children for learning across cultures. She has conducted studies of second language learners in school and community settings,
including a study of the language resources of Alaska Native children in several Yupik villages along the Yukon River. She is currently engaged in studies of the academic language of complex texts as required by the Common Core State Standards, and is working with the Council of Great City Schools to develop instructional strategies for teaching such language skills to English learners and other underachieving language minority students. She also engaged over the past several decades in work focused on the revitalization of indigenous languages in the Southwest. She continues to work with leaders in several pueblos in New Mexico in support of language programs for the teaching of heritage languages to the children in those communities.
Suzanne Le Menestrel (Study Director) is a senior program officer with the Board on Children, Youth, and Families at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, where her responsibilities have included directing three consensus studies focused on children and adolescents birth to age 18. Prior to her tenure with the National Academies, she was founding national program leader for youth development research at 4-H National Headquarters. Before that, she served as research director in the Academy for Educational Development’s Center for Youth Development and Policy Research and was a research associate at Child Trends. She was a founder of the Journal of Youth Development: Bridging Research and Practice and chaired its Publications Committee. Dr. Le Menestrel has published in numerous refereed journals and is an invited member of a research advisory group for the American Camp Association. She received the 2012 Outstanding Leadership and Service to the Extension Evaluation Profession award from the American Evaluation Association. She holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. in human development and family studies from the Pennsylvania State University, a B.S. in psychology from St. Lawrence University, and a nonprofit management executive certificate from Georgetown University.
Pamella Atayi is program coordinator for the Board on Children, Youth, and Families, supporting the board and board director, consensus studies, and a forum. She received the Sandra H. Matthews Cecil Award from the Institute of Medicine in 2013. She has more than 20 years’ experience providing administrative services and has worked at various nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C., area, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the America’s Public Policy Office, Catholic University of America, and World Education Services. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Maryland University College and holds a diploma in computer information systems from Strayer University.
Rebekah Hutton is an associate program officer for the Board on Children, Youth, and Families. Previously, she was an education management and information technology consultant and worked on projects in the United States as well as Haiti, Equatorial Guinea, and Djibouti. She has also worked as a program manager and researcher at the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University, studying whether teacher pay for performance has measurable impact on student outcomes, and as an English language lecturer in Tourcoing, France. She received her M.Ed. degree from Vanderbilt University in international education policy and management and a B.A. degree from the University of Tennessee in French language and literature.
Amy Stephens is a program officer for the Board on Science Education of the National Academies. She is an adjunct professor for the Southern New Hampshire University Psychology Department, teaching graduate-level online courses in cognitive psychology and statistics. She has an extensive background in behavioral and functional neuroimaging techniques and has examined a variety of different populations spanning childhood through adulthood. She has worked at the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) on producing cognitive profiles of academically talented youth in an effort to develop alternative methods for identifying such students from underresourced populations. Additionally, she has explored the effects of spatial skill training on performance in mathematics and science classes as well as overall retention rates within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related fields for students entering the engineering program at the Johns Hopkins University. She holds a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University and was a postdoctoral research fellow in CTY and the university’s School of Education.