Biosketches of Committee Members and Project Staff
Martín-José Sepúlveda (Chair) is an IBM fellow, member of the National Academy of Medicine, and CEO of Claraluz LLC, an advisory and project consulting firm specializing in health data, analytics, technology, health, and health systems. In addition to his service on the Board on Children, Youth, and Families (BCYF), Dr. Sepúlveda has participated in numerous committee and roundtable activities within the National Academies, including the Committee on Improving the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of Young Adults. He also serves on several boards outside of the National Academies, including the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and the Council on Research for Development. Widely recognized for his contributions in public and population health, private-sector health care, wellness, and health benefits innovation, Dr. Sepúlveda led a private-sector collaboration with clinicians for medical home transformation, leading to the formation of the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative. He has also collaborated with multidisciplinary scientists on applied research for multisectoral data analytics related to health in cities, primary care transformation, and human performance in the workplace. Dr. Sepúlveda holds a B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University, M.P.H. and M.D. degrees from Harvard University, and an Sc.D. from the University of Iowa.
Karl Alexander was most recently executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Alliance (TMA). Dr. Alexander founded TMA, which ran from 2015 to fall 2019, to assist schools in Baltimore that are committed to
economic and racial diversity. He presently holds appointments at Johns Hopkins University as the John Dewey professor emeritus of sociology, and academy professor. He is past president of the Southern Sociological Society, past editor of the journal Sociology of Education, and a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. For more than a quarter century, Dr. Alexander and colleague Doris Entwisle directed the Baltimore-based Beginning School Study, which tracked the life progress of 790 Baltimore children from first grade into mature adulthood. He is author of nearly 100 scholarly publications and six books. In addition to his work with the TMA, he serves on the Board of the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA). His studies of summer learning loss in Baltimore have helped bring attention to the problem of “summer slide” among low-income children. With the leadership of NSLA, he is co-editor of The Summer Slide: What We Know and Can Do About Summer Learning Loss (Teachers College Press, 2016). Dr. Alexander holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Nisha Botchwey is an associate professor of city and regional planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology and an adjunct professor in Emory University’s School of Public Health. She is an expert in health and the built environment, as well as health equity, community engagement, and data dashboards for evidence-based planning and practice. Dr. Botchwey codirects the National Physical Activity Research Center; the Atlanta Neighborhood Quality of Life and Health Dashboard; and the data dashboard for Health, Environment and Livability for Fulton County; and she directs the Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse. She has won distinctions, including a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Woman of Excellence Faculty Award and a Rockefeller-Penn Fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, and she was nominated as a Changemaker by the White House Council on Women and Girls under President Obama. Dr. Botchwey has also served on the Advisory Committee to the Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is a member of the Voices for Healthy Kids Strategic Advisory Committee for the American Heart Association. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.P.H. from the University of Virginia, and both a master’s and a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
Nancy L. Deutsch is professor of research, statistics, and evaluation and applied developmental science at the University of Virginia and the director of Youth-Nex, the University of Virginia Center to Promote Effective Youth Development at the Curry School of Education. She is also affiliated with the Curry School’s Youth & Social Innovation Program. Dr. Deutsch’s research examines the socio-ecological contexts of adolescent development,
particularly issues related to identity. She has focused on the role of afterschool programs and relationships with important adults, and is especially interested in understanding the process of adolescent learning and development as it unfolds within local environments to learn how to create settings that support youth, especially those at risk due to economic or sociocultural factors. In 2017, Dr. Deutsch became editor of the Journal of Adolescent Research. She also sits on the editorial boards for Applied Developmental Science and Qualitative Psychology. In addition to journal articles, she has published two books on youth in after-school programs. Her work has been funded by organizations including the William T. Grant Foundation; the United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the United States Department of Education. She holds a B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in human development and social policy from Northwestern University.
Joshua Dohan is director of the Youth Advocacy Division (YAD), the juvenile defender branch of Massachusetts’ statewide public defender agency, the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Mr. Dohan became a public defender in 1988 and joined the Youth Advocacy Project, the predecessor organization to the Youth Advocacy Division, at its inception in 1992 as its first staff attorney. Using a Positive Youth Development approach, YAD lawyers and social workers work with children and youth in the Massachusetts juvenile justice system to advance their legal and human rights, promote their healthy development, and help them achieve their legal and life goals. YAD also actively partners with other state agencies and community-based organizations to help create safer, healthier communities. YAD has been recognized for excellence in juvenile defense by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the National Juvenile Defender Center, the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, the MacArthur Foundation, and others. Mr. Dohan is also president of the board for the Youth Advocacy Foundation, a founding member of the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Leadership Forum, and a member of several other boards, including the Community Advisory Board of the Institute on Race and Justice at Northeastern University. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and holds a B.A. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.
Barry A. Garst is associate professor of youth development leadership at Clemson University. Dr. Garst’s research and professional interests concern the developmental outcomes of youth programs and factors that influence program outcomes, with a particular emphasis on out-of-school time youth settings. A nationally recognized researcher in the area of summer camp experiences, his scholarship has also examined the meaning that youth
and families attribute to nature-based experiences and the impact of these experiences on family functioning. Dr. Garst is currently examining over-parenting and parental perceptions of anxiety associated with out-of-school time experiences. He serves on the National Evaluation Advisory Board for After-School All-Stars, the National Advisory Board for the Center for Adolescent Research and Education, and the Healthy Camps Research Committee for the American Camp Association, and he is chair of the research committee for the Association of Camp Nursing. He holds a B.S. from Virginia Tech, an M.S. in recreation administration from Arizona State University, and a Ph.D. in forestry from Virginia Tech.
Sandra Hassink is the medical director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. She has focused her career on preventing and treating obesity in children, an area in which she is an internationally recognized expert. She was the founder of the Nemours Obesity Initiative at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE, and past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Hassink has testified before Congress on childhood obesity, food insecurity, and hunger, focusing on supporting the foundations of child health. She was co-principal investigator for the Healthy Active Living for Families project, which promotes active healthy living for parents and families of young children, and was the principal investigator on an Obesity Cluster Grant to develop population health management systems for children with obesity. She has authored numerous articles for pediatricians and parents as well as two books on pediatric obesity and pediatric weight. She holds a master’s degree in pastoral care and counseling from Neumann College and an M.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and she completed her residency at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.
Jennifer McCombs is a senior policy researcher and director of the Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department at RAND. Her research focuses on evaluating the extent to which public policies and programs improve outcomes for at-risk youth. Dr. McCombs is currently leading a five-district longitudinal study of the effectiveness and implementation of voluntary summer learning programs for low-income elementary youth and an evidence review of summer programs. Her studies combine implementation and outcome data to give practitioners and policy makers guidance on how to improve programs and promote student outcomes. Over the course of her career, she has studied the development of systems for out-of-school time programs; ways to improve teacher effectiveness; the implementation and impact of test-based promotion policies; and the effects of federal accountability policies on schools, classrooms, and students. Dr. McCombs holds a Ph.D. in public policy from The George Washington University.
Barbara Medina teaches as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Northern Colorado, Center for Urban Education. Dr. Medina began her career as a classroom teacher, serving K–12 students and educators throughout her career. From her first position as an educator serving students in a rural migrant summer program to her leadership at the Colorado Department of Education as assistant commissioner, she has been actively involved at the district, state, and national levels in the areas of language and literacy for diverse populations. Her work has focused on equity for culturally and linguistically diverse students and their families. During Dr. Medina’s 37-year career in public education in Colorado, she served in various roles including coordinator of Secondary-level Second Language Programs in Boulder Valley Schools; professor and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Adams State University; assistant commissioner of the Colorado Department of Education; director of the Office of Language, Culture, and Equity at the Colorado Department of Education; and director of English Language Acquisition in the Denver Public Schools. Dr. Medina has served on several boards, including CASE (Colorado Association of School Executives and Education Specialists), Diversity and CAES, and CABE (Colorado Association of Bilingual Education). She served two terms on the City of Denver’s Denver Human Rights Council and also on its Latino Commission, both mayoral appointments. She holds a Ph.D. in educational policy from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Deborah Moroney is a managing director at American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she serves as the director of the Youth Development and Supportive Learning Environments practice area. Dr. Moroney’s research and practice experience is in social and emotional learning and youth development. The architect of a collaborative method for the design of dual-purpose (improvement and demonstration) evaluation frameworks, she has led numerous projects to explore the factors that influence child and family well-being. She works with national multisite programs, including the YMCA of the USA and the Boy Scouts of America, and she is the principal investigator for a number of city and statewide evaluations, including those for the Partnership for Children and Youth in California and School’s Out New York City. Dr. Moroney is also a member of the Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative for the C. S. Mott Foundation’s statewide afterschool networks. She serves on the publications committee of the Journal of Youth Development, is a reviewer for journals including Afterschool Matters, and has authored numerous chapters and publications on social and emotional development and assessment, including social and emotional learning in out-of-school time. Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Moroney was a clinical faculty member
in educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Youth Development Graduate Program. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Ed. from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Chris Smith is president and executive director of Boston After School & Beyond (Boston Beyond), an organization that expands learning and skill development opportunities for students by mobilizing partnerships among program providers, philanthropy, business and higher education, the Boston Public Schools, and the City of Boston. Over the past two decades, Mr. Smith has created, scaled, and led cross-sector partnerships in education and workforce development. Under his leadership, Boston Beyond has developed a nationally recognized model of summer learning that improves student outcomes, built a citywide program performance measurement system, and cultivated a network of 230 programs serving more than 18,000 students. Previously, Mr. Smith worked at the Boston Private Industry Council, where he collaborated both with business leaders, to integrate work and learning in order to help thousands of students graduate, and with legislative leaders to address the dropout rate in Massachusetts. He began his career at the United States Department of Education, where he coordinated partnerships for the Secretary of Education. Mr. Smith holds a B.A. in American studies from Trinity College and an M.B.A. from Babson College in Wellesley, MA.
Rachel L. J. Thornton is associate professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Dr. Thornton is a board-certified pediatrician and public health researcher who previously served as a health policy advisor to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and worked on the National Prevention Strategy and Implementation Plan, which had the goal of having people live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Her policy work addresses “health in all policies,” with an emphasis on housing, community development, and urban planning policy. Her research focuses on childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease risk, health disparities, and social determinants of health. An expert in racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care, Dr. Thornton’s scholarship informs the development of novel interventions to eliminate health disparities by addressing individual-, family-, and community-level factors that contribute to disparities in child and adolescent obesity and cardiovascular disease risk. She holds an M.D. from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a Ph.D. in health policy and management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She received additional fellowship and postdoctoral training in behavioral aspects of cardiovascular disease and general academic pediatrics and later in public policy as a White House Fellow.
Rebekah Hutton (Study Director) is a program officer with the Board on Children, Youth, and Families. Previously, she was as 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 holds a master’s degree in international education policy and management from Vanderbilt University and a bachelor’s degree in French language and literature from the University of Tennessee.
Priyanka Nalamada is an associate program officer with the Board on Children, Youth, and Families at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Upon completing a congressional internship, she joined the National Academies and worked for a number of years in its Health and Medicine Division. Her work involves research and project management in the areas of public health and education. Her past work focused on a range of global health issues including public-private partnerships in low- and middle-income countries, medical device donations in low-resource settings, and the role of multinational companies in health literacy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bryn Mawr College.
Stacey Smit serves as a senior program assistant with the Board on Children, Youth, and Families, supporting consensus studies on the board. In the past, she has supported the Executive Office of the Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education with the following: the Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security; the Committee on the Use of Economic Evidence to Inform Investments in Children, Youth, and Families; the Committee on Supporting the Parents of Young Children; the Forum on Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health; and the Committee on Increasing Capacity for Reducing Bullying and Its Impact on the Lifecourse of Youth Involved. She holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park.
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