September 2022 Conference – Speaker Biographies

Shirley Adelstein

Dr. Shirley Adelstein is a Senior Social Science Research Analyst at the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). She is a former CROCUS Fellow and worked on the Tulsa universal preschool evaluation from 2008-2011. Prior to joining ACF, she held research roles at Georgetown University, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the Urban Institute. Her research areas include parenting, early childhood, and work and family. 

Sara Amadon

Sara Amadon is a developmental psychologist and Senior Research Scientist at Child Trends.  She served as a member of the CROCUS team starting in 2014 and is currently a Co-Investigator for CROCUS’ Tulsa Pre-K Project.  In addition to her work on the Tulsa pre-K program, she also has expertise in child care, neighborhoods, and residential mobility.

Tim Bartik

Tim Bartik is a senior economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, where he has worked since 1989. He co-directs the Institute’s research initiative on place-based policies. Bartik has written two books on the economics of early childhood policies: Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development (2011); From Preschool to Prosperity: The Economic Payoff to Early Childhood Education (2014). Bartik received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin in 1982.

Daphna Bassok

Daphna Bassok is the Batten Bicentennial Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Virginia. Bassok leads the Study of Early Education through Partnerships.  Through research policy partnerships with the Louisiana and Virginia Departments of Education she does research to inform large scale efforts to improve early childhood systems.  She received her Ph.D. in the Economics of Education from Stanford University.

NaLette Brodnax

NaLette Brodnax is an Assistant Professor of Data Science in the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.  She received a joint Ph.D. in Public Policy and Political Science from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.  Dr. Brodnax’s research interests include education policy, policy diffusion, and computational social science.

Sherri Castle

Dr. Sherri Castle is the Assistant Director for Research and current Acting Director at the Early Chilhood Education Institute (ECEI) at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.  In her role, Sherri oversees all research conducted at the ECEI and works closely with program partners to co-design evaluations to examine progress toward program goals.  An Oklahoma native and first-generation college graduate, Sherri aims to support teachers and communities in providing positive and effective experiences for all children, with a specific focus on those who are historically excluded and underserved.

Amy Claessens

Amy Claessens is Associate Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she serves as the Gulbrandsen Distinguished Chair in Early Childhood Education.  With a doctorate in human development from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, her research aims to understand how policies and programs affect young children’s development and opportunities to learn.  She is a Co-Investigator for CROCUS’ Tulsa Pre-K Project.

Cindy Decker 

Cindy Decker is the Executive Director of Tulsa Educare, an agency operating four high quality early childhood schools in under-resourced neighborhoods and impacting lives beyond the walls of its schools through Early Learning Works programs. Formerly, she worked at CAP Tulsa as the Director of Research & Innovation and the U.S. Government Accountability Office as a Senior Economist and served on the Board of Education for Tulsa Public Schools. She holds a B.A. in Economics and Mathematics from Emory University in Atlanta and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley. She entered the field of early childhood education due to a passion for maximizing the return on investment of programs designed to make the world more equitable. 

Steven Dow

Steven Dow served as Executive Director for CAP Tulsa, which runs Head Start and other programs in Tulsa, from 1992 until 2019.  Along with many others, he was involved in the legislative efforts that created Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program and tiered reimbursement system for child care in 1998.  Steven relocated to Houston in 2019 to help care for his elderly parents and is working on several efforts there to help improve the area’s early childhood system.

Bill Gormley

Bill Gormley is Professor of Public Policy and Government and Co-Director of the Center for Research on Children in the U.S. (CROCUS).  He has written books on critical thinking and K-12 education, issue framing by children’s advocates, child care, organizational report cards, and bureaucratic politics.  He has been the Principal Investigator for multiple waves of Tulsa pre-K studies and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.  He plays jazz and writes mysteries in his spare time.

Ginnie Graham

Ginnie Graham is the editorials editor at the Tulsa World, where she has been a writer and editor for 28 years.  She holds a master’s degree in public administration and bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma.  In the mid-to late-90s, she reported on the establishment of Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program and efforts to build a robust early education system.

Erica Greenberg

Erica Greenberg is Principal Research Associate and PK-12 Team Lead in the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute. She comes to the conference as the Principal Investigator of the District of Columbia Prekindergarten Study, lead on the OK Futures Needs Assessment: Oklahoma’s Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five, and a former pre-k teacher. She is honored to join in the celebration of 20 years of research on Tulsa’s early childhood education programs.

Carolyn Hill

Carolyn J. Hill is a Senior Fellow at MDRC, where she does research on the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program, the effects of poverty on children and families, public policy implementation, and other topics.  Before joining MDRC in 2016, she was on the faculty at Georgetown’s McCourt School for 15 years and served as Associate Dean there.  She earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy from the Harris School at the University of Chicago.

Diane M. Horm

Diane M. Horm, Ph.D., is the George Kaiser Family Foundation Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education and Founding Director of the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) at the University of Oklahoma at Tulsa. Through the ECEI, Horm is currently leading several applied research initiatives in early childhood education, including program evaluation research in collaboration with Tulsa’s Educare program and a multi- year study with colleagues from Georgetown and McGill Universities to investigate children’s development from Pre-K through Grade 4. At OU she teaches graduate courses in early childhood education and serves as the Associate Director of a university-wide initiative to promote interdisciplinary research related to equity and opportunity.

Douglas Hummel-Price

Douglas Hummel-Price started working with CROCUS as a Research Assistant during his graduate program, the MS in Data Science for Public Policy program at the McCourt School.  Since graduating, Douglas has performed research as a full-time Research Fellow at McCourt, where he splits his time between CROCUS and the education finance group, Edunomics Lab.  He lives in Hagerstown, MD with his wife, Julie, his toddler daughter, Stevie, two dogs, Ace and Max, and cat, Siri.

Lauren Jenks-Jones

Lauren Jenks-Jones is the Executive Director of Early Childhood Education at the Oklahoma State Department of Education.  In her role, she oversees and supports OSDE’s birth through 3rd grade initiatives, including state funded public pre-K.  Her passion for early childhood education is rooted in her time in her kindergarten classroom, where she saw the immense impact high-quality early learning experiences could have on children and their families.

Anna D. Johnson

Anna D. Johnson, Ph.D. is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Georgetown University, and co-director of Georgetown’s Child Development and Social Policy (CDSP) lab. A hybrid scholar with dual degrees in Developmental Psychology and Public Policy, Dr. Johnson’s research sits at the intersection of the two disciplines. Specifically, she blends the theories and measures of developmental psychology with quantitative and econometric analytic methods to ask exploratory and evaluative questions about how public policies impact child development. Dr. Johnson’s primary research focus is on the effects of publicly-funded early school experiences (preschool-4th grade) on the learning and wellbeing of children from low-income families. In a secondary line of research, Dr. Johnson examines the predictors and consequences of food insecurity for child and family functioning, as well as food assistance programs designed to offset the negative effects of food insecurity.

Karen Kiely

Karen Kiely joined CAP Tulsa in 2008 and became Executive Director in Oct 2019. Under Kiely’s leadership, CAP Tulsa was named one of the “Best Non Profits to Work For” in Tulsa by the Non-Profit Times for seven consecutive years, earning the top spot in 2021.  Prior to joining CAP, Kiely spent seventeen years in manufacturing at The Bama Companies, Inc., in a variety of leadership roles in both the U.S. and Beijing, China. Before joining Bama, Kiely was in international banking in New York, Hong Kong and Taipei. Kiely holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University and a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Organizational and Community Leadership from the University of Oklahoma.

Delia Kimbrel

Dr. Delia Kimbrel holds a Ph.D. in Social Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University.  As a Harvard Rappaport Public Policy Fellow, she led state-level research and evaluation projects at the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.  Delia was named Strive Together’s Cradle to Career Champion for her leadership in using data and advocacy to create transformational change in Tulsa.

Karin Kitchens

Karin Kitchens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech University and non-resident Senior Fellow at the Center for Research on Children in the United States (CROCUS) at Georgetown.  Her recent research has focused on the politics of education, school environments, and school board capacity during the COVID pandemic.  She worked at the RAND Corporation prior to receiving a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown.

Katherine Magnuson

Katherine Magnuson is the Vilas Achievement Professor of Social Work and the Director of the Institute of Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She studies how poverty and social policy, and with specific attention to areas of income support and early childhood education.  She is a Lead P.I. for the Baby’s First Years Project, which looks at the effects of income supplements on child well-being, and is a Co-Investigator for CROCUS’ Tulsa Pre-K Project.

Brittany McGill

Brittany McGill is a senior social science analyst in the Division of Family and Community Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Trained as a mixed methods sociologist, her current portfolio covers issues related to economic mobility, equity, and safety net program integration. She previously served as the Associate Director for Family Support Research at Insight Policy Research, an Emerging Leaders Fellow at the National Survey of Family Growth, and a CROCUS fellow working on the early years of the Tulsa universal pre-k evaluation in 2002-2004. Brittany holds an M.P.P. in education, family, and social policy from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Maryland. 

Beth Meloy

Dr. Beth Meloy is an early childhood research and policy consultant, working primarily with the California Department of Education as the state implements UPK and a P-3 alignment initiative. Prior to launching her consulting business, Meloy co-led the early learning team at the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), where she co-authored several papers on early childhood policy, including Untangling the Evidence on Preschool Effectiveness:  Insights for Policymakers.    Meloy is a former Society for Research in Child Development Policy Fellow and has served as a Social Science Analyst at the federal Office of Head Start and as an Early Childhood Policy Advisor to Senator Al Franken (D-MN).  Meloy holds a Masters in Public Policy and a Ph.D. in Child Development, both from Georgetown University.

Danielle Neves

Danielle Neves serves as an Instructional Leadership Director for Tulsa Public Schools, where she leads and supports secondary principals and their school teams.  She has served Tulsa Public Schools since 2014, serving as Executive Director of Teaching and Learning and Deputy Chief of Academics.  She has also served as a Director of Curriculum, School Principal, and Teacher in several cities across the country, including Washington DC, Oakland, and Los Angeles.   Danielle holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University, a Masters of Educational Leadership from California State University, and is pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Administration, Curriculum and Supervision at the University of Oklahoma.

Deborah Phillips

Deborah Phillips is Professor of Psychology, and Associated Faculty of Public Policy at Georgetown University. She was the first Executive Director of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine and served as Study Director for From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Child Development, and also served as President of the Foundation for Child Development, Director of Child Care Information Services at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and AAAS/SRCD Congressional Science Fellow. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, and received the 2022 Nicholas Hobbs award from the American Psychological Association, the 2022 President’s Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award from Georgetown University, and the 2011 Distinguished Contributions to Education in Child Development Award from the Society for Research in Child Development.