Fellows and Contractors

Staff and Organization

The Society for Research in Child Development Fellows (SRCD Fellows)

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Krystal Bichay-Awadalla

Division of Child and Family Development

Krystal Bichay-Awadalla, Ph.D., is an American Association for the Advancement of Science / Society for Research in Child Development (AAAS/SRCD) Policy Fellow at OPRE during the 2020-2021 academic year. Dr. Bichay-Awadalla is a developmental psychologist with a particular interest in the measurement of early care and education (ECE) quality, and understanding how contextual and child-level factors influence the development of social-emotional skills for children from low-income families. Her work at OPRE focuses on ECE projects in the Head Start and Child Care portfolios. Prior to joining OPRE, Krystal was a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Miami, where she was involved in developing and evaluating interventions with teachers regarding effectively managing challenging behaviors in the classroom, as well as improving teacher-child interaction quality. Dr. Bichay-Awadalla holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Miami.

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Ellen Litkowski

Division of Child and Family Development

Ellen Litkowski, Ph.D., is an American Association for the Advancement of Science/Society for Research in Child Development Fellow (AAAS/SRCD) Policy Fellow at OPRE during the 2020-2021 academic year. Dr. Litkowski is an educational psychologist interested in understanding how children’s early experiences in the home and classroom shape the development of their school readiness skills and promote positive school transitions. Her work at OPRE focuses on early care and education, primarily in the Head Start and Child Care portfolios. Prior to joining OPRE, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Purdue University in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, where she worked with Indiana’s Department of Education to evaluate and redevelop a statewide kindergarten readiness assessment. Dr. Litkowski holds a B.S. in Biology and English from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Georgia State University.

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Jacquelyn Gross

Division of Child and Family Development

Jacquelyn Gross, Ph.D., is an American Association for the Advancement of Science / Society for Research in Child Development (AAAS/SRCD) Policy Fellow at OPRE during the 2020-2021 academic year. Dr. Gross is a developmental psychologist with a particular interest in how family and environmental factors, specifically the parent-child relationship and parenting behaviors, influence children’s social-emotional development. Her work at OPRE focuses on research and evaluation projects in the Head Start and Child Welfare portfolios. Prior to joining OPRE, Dr. Gross was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Center for Early Childhood Education and Intervention (CECEI). Dr. Gross holds a B.A. in Psychology from Trinity University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland.

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Dianna Tran

Division of Child and Family Development

Dianna Tran, Ph.D., is an American Association for the Advancement of Science/Society for Research in Child Development (AAAS/SRCD) Policy Fellow at OPRE during the 2020-2021 academic year.  She is currently working on projects in the Child Care and Head Start portfolios at OPRE. Dr. Tran holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Developmental Psychology with a minor in Advanced Quantitative Social Science from University of Notre Dame, and a B.A. in Psychology from California State University Long Beach. Her graduate work focused on children’s socioemotional development, academic development, and ecological systems effects (e.g., parenting, extended family caregiving, poverty, cultural norms). Dr. Tran was also a Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow during spring 2020 at NASEM (National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine) where she worked with the Board for Children, Youth, and Families and the Forum for Children’s Well-Being.


Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison National Poverty Fellows

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Amelie Hecht

Division of Economic Independence

Amelie Hecht is a National Poverty Fellow at OPRE during the 2020-2021 academic year. Dr. Hecht is a mixed-methods researcher, with experience conducting program and policy evaluations, survey design, quantitative modeling, and in-depth interview studies. She has a particular interest in nutrition policy, social determinants of health, and equity. Her work at OPRE focuses on TANF and child care programs, and disparities. Dr. Hecht’s doctoral research explored implementation and impacts of the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program, a federal provision that allows high-poverty schools to serve universal free meals. Prior to joining OPRE, she held positions at the University of California, San Francisco, where she contributed to studies on obesity prevention in schools and childcare, and as an AmeriCorps member at Salud Family Health Centers, where she served as a patient health navigator. Dr. Hecht holds a BA from Tufts University and a PhD in health policy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Nicol Valdez

Division of Economic Independence

Nicol attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying international relations, sociology and gender studies, from there she went on to get her PhD at Columbia University graduating in 2019. Her research focused on race/ethnicity, immigration, and stratification showing how undocumented status shapes mixed-status families’ contextual environment across New York and North Carolina. Interested in social policy, and research implementation she became a Poverty Fellow at the Institute of Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in residence at OPRE.

Currently, she works on offering support and technical assistance across the Hispanic Research Center, co-manages the Annual Survey of Refugee with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and works on the Tribal Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) 2.0 Evaluation. Her interests in government are motivated by understanding how resource allocation and implementation on evaluations improve programming and service delivery for underserved populations.


Contractors (Team VPD)

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Ciara Bridges

Research Assistant
Division of Economic Independence

Ciara Bridges is a Research Assistant with VPD Government Solutions, providing research support to OPRE. She has a particular interest in work that studies disparities in access to resources based on income, ethnicity, etc. Prior to joining OPRE, she held positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Survey Center. As a Project Director, she managed social science and health-based surveys throughout the state of Wisconsin and nationwide. Ms. Bridges holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied Psychology and Sociology with a concentration in conducting research projects.

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Elaine Carpenter

Associate Analyst
Division of Economic Independence

Elaine Carpenter is an Associate Analyst with VPD Government Solutions, providing research support to OPRE. Her work at OPRE focuses on assisting a wide range of projects related to employment and family self-sufficiency. She is especially interested in the field of behavioral science and its applications to human services. Prior to joining OPRE, she was a research program coordinator at the Poverty and Inequality Research Lab at Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Carpenter holds a BA in Public Health Studies from Johns Hopkins University and is currently working towards a MS in Government Analytics from Johns Hopkins University.

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Tracy Carter Clopet

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Division of Child and Family Development

Tracy Carter Clopet is a Senior Social Science Research Analyst with VPD Government Solutions. Her work at OPRE focuses on early care and education (ECE), particularly in the area of quality improvement efforts in ECE programs for low-income children and families. Dr. Carter Clopet is also the lead consultant for the Child Care and Early Education Policy Research Consortium (CCEEPRC), which brings together researchers, policymakers, program administrators, and other partners interested in strengthening the bridges between research and policies shaping early care and education programs and systems throughout the country. Prior to her current role, she was a Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Executive Branch Policy Fellow in the Office of Child Care, and a Head Start Graduate Student Research Scholar. Dr. Carter Clopet holds a B.S. in psychology and German and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, all from the University of Miami.

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Jesse Coe

Social Science Research Analyst
Division of Family Strengthening

Jesse Coe is a Social Science Research Analyst with Jefferson Solutions providing research support to OPRE. Her work at OPRE focuses on family strengthening, particularly in the area of home visiting. Prior to joining OPRE, she was an NIH T32-funded postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Kentucky and a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Rochester.

 

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Paula Daneri

Social Science Research Analyst
Division of Child and Family Development

Paula Daneri is a Social Science Research Analyst with Jefferson Solutions. Her work aims to bridge research and policy to improve young children’s lives. Prior to her current role, Dr. Paula Daneri was a Professional Staff Member on the Committee on Education and Labor of the U.S. House of Representatives, where she led legislative efforts focused on improving and expanding federal early care and education programs and child abuse and neglect response and prevention programs. Dr. Paula Daneri was also previously a Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Congressional Policy Fellow and a Head Start Graduate Student Research Scholar. She holds a B.A. in psychology from Duke University and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from New York University.  

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Clare DiSalvo

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Division of Economic Independence

Clare DiSalvo is a Senior Social Science Research Analyst with VPD Government Solutions providing research support to OPRE. Her work aims to build rigorous evidence to reduce poverty, promote self-sufficiency, and improve the well-being of low-income families. Ms. DiSalvo is particularly interested in interventions designed to improve employment outcomes for individuals struggling with substance use and/or mental health disorders. She first came to OPRE in 2010 as a Presidential Management Fellow. Prior to attending graduate school and joining OPRE, she worked as a community organizer. Ms. DiSalvo holds a BA from Yale University and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota.

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Shariece Evans

Social Scientist
Division of Data and Improvement

Shariece Evans is a Social Scientist with VPD Government Solutions, providing research support to OPRE. Most recently, Shariece served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Shariece brings several years of experience managing multiple research projects that crossed several disciplines, such as transportation research, public health research, education policy research, and health policy research. She has managed data collection for several large scale surveys and government reporting initiatives, including the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey, and Parts A & B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Shariece holds a BA in Psychology from UMBC, an MA in Experimental Psychology at Towson University, and a PhD in Public Policy/Public Health from UMBC.

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Lauren Griffin

Social Scientist
Division of Data and Improvement

Lauren is a sociologist with a background in mixed methods research on families and inequality. Most recently, Lauren worked as the Data Manager for the American Voices Project, a national study on poverty and the largest qualitative interview project to date. Prior to that, Lauren served as a Research Assistant and Instructor at Cornell University, where her work focused on marriage, cohabitation, and romantic relationships. Lauren holds a B.A. in Sociology from Luther College and did doctoral work in Sociology at Cornell University.

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Mason Kelly

Research Assistant
Division of Child and Family Development

Mason Kelly is a research assistant with VPD Government Solutions providing support to OPRE. His work at OPRE focuses on early care and education, primarily the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, as well as Child Welfare. He has a particular interest in families and children who have or are experiencing homelessness. Prior to joining OPRE, he held positions at the Harrisonburg, VA Department of Social Services, where he facilitated the administration of welfare programs including Medicaid and SNAP, and at the Harrisonburg Mercy House, where he helped administer the afterschool program. Mason holds a BA from James Madison University.

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Kathleen McCoy

Senior Social Science Research Analyst
Division of Family Strengthening

Kathleen McCoy is a Senior Social Science Research Analyst with VPD Government Solutions. Her work at OPRE focuses on family strengthening, in particular teen pregnancy prevention and healthy marriage/responsible fatherhood. Additionally, she works on child and foster care related projects. Prior to joining OPRE, she was the Chief Psychology Post-doctoral fellow at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, as well as a Post-doc in the Health Disparities and Public Policy lab. Dr. McCoy holds a BS from Drexel University, and a PhD from the University of Notre Dame.

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Katherine McKinney

Manager of Onsite Operations
Office of the Director

Katherine McKinney is the Manager of Onsite Operations for VPD Government Solutions at OPRE. In addition to managing onsite operations for the BSC staff, she develops initiatives to improve BSC program administration and acts as a liaison with OPRE management. Ms. McKinney also serves as a Senior Management Analyst at OPRE. Her work at OPRE focuses on analyzing, evaluating, and implementing new or improved business and management practices. Prior to joining OPRE, Ms. McKinney worked for the State of Washington in a variety of management analyst and quality assurance roles for the Department of Social and Health Services, the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises, and the Economic Services Administration. Ms. McKinney holds a BA in Political Science from James Madison University and an MPA, with a certificate in Nonprofit Administration, from the University of Central Florida.

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Rowan Myers

Program Assistant
Office of the Director

Rowan is a Program Assistant with Jefferson Solutions working in the Office of the Director on a variety of projects and support areas. Prior to working at OPRE, Rowan worked as a paralegal at the law firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP. He holds a B.A. in Public Policy with a minor in Economics from Hamilton College.

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Melissa Prosper

Project Management Specialist
Division of Data and Improvement

Melissa Prosper is a Project Management Specialist with VPD Government Solutions, providing project management and general support to OPRE. Throughout her career, Melissa has had the opportunity to work on public health-related efforts including projects designed to reduce substance use in local communities and among service members, bioscience efforts that focused on biospecimen banking and data management, and a number of mental health-related efforts designed to promote mental wellness at the individual — and population-level. Prior to joining OPRE, Melissa served as a Project Manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a contractor where she managed a project which established and resulted in the successful implementation of a rapid response, novel biospecimen bank and data repository. Melissa holds a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University, a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, and is a Project Management Professional (PMP).

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Allison (Allie) Walker

Associate Analyst 
Division of Child and Family Development

(pronouns: she/her) Allie Walker is an Associate Analyst with VPD Government Solutions, providing research, dissemination, and administrative support to OPRE. Her work at OPRE focuses on early care and education, and in particular, the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AIAN FACES) and the Study of Disability Services Coordinators and Inclusion in Head Start. Prior to joining OPRE, she was a Public Policy Fellow at the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women and a Legal Support Clerk at the law firm Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP. Ms. Walker holds a BA in Psychology from Grinnell College.

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Jy’nan K. Williams

Senior Security Manager, IT Support
Division of Data and Improvement

Jy’nan K. Williams is a Senior Security Manager, IT Support with VPD Government Solutions providing IT Security support to OPRE. Her work focuses on the augmentation of OPRE’s data security, for all of the OPRE systems. She has a particular interest in cloud security. Prior to joining OPRE, she held a position with ACF OCIO Security, where she led a team in system audits for ACF, and previously held the same position in support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Mrs. Williams holds a BS from the University of Maryland.

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Camille Wilson

Manager of Special Projects
Office of the Director

Camille Wilson is the Manager of Special Projects for VPD Government Solutions at OPRE. Camille works closely with the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning, Research, and Evaluation to spearhead selected process improvements, strategize and manage cross-divisional projects, and build capacity for multiple teams across the office. Prior to joining OPRE, Camille supported child care policy and evaluation efforts in Washington State, taught pre-K, and developed growth strategies for community-based programs serving vulnerable children and families. She holds a BA in Psychology and Individual and Family Development from Seattle Pacific University. Camille also holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance and a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from the University of Washington.

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Catherine Workmeister

Budget Analyst
Office of the Director

Catherine Workmeister is a Budget Analyst with Jefferson Consulting Group providing financial and budget management support to OPRE. Prior to working at OPRE, Catherine worked in accounting at an international manufacturing company. She holds a B.A. in Business Administration with a minor in Political Science from Hood College.