Trained in: Gettysburg area high school; Bucknell University (BA); Penn State University (MA); Syracuse University (PhD)
Family: Derek (husband); Masiel (daughter); Nahlia (girl)
Job: Senior Senior Research Associate and Director of Capacity Building, Westat. I lead education and equity focused studies for nonprofits and foundations. Through federal grants and contracts, I also work with state education agencies and school districts to build capacity on how to develop, implement and sustain effective evidence-based interventions. that lead to high results for all students.
Reward for work: Collaborate with state education agencies, school districts and community organizations to create systemic changes that lead to more equitable outcomes for students, educators and communities.
Job’s frustrations: Supporting systems change is a challenge. Often, we only work with partners for a fixed period of time. If system change is not part of the organization’s overall strategic plan, it often does not hold up.
The very first job was: Granite Hill Campground Store
Favorite food: Seafood, especially crabs and tuna
Pets: Beijing, Xerxes, Oreo (all cats!)
Hero: I cannot answer with just one answer. As a sociologist, I have always admired the way Bishop Desmond Tutu lives his life and works to make humanity stronger. More personally, I have always sought to live my life relying on the strengths of my parents, as they were and continue to be the greatest influencers in my life. My father is the best listener I know, and the eternal optimist. My mom is the hardest worker I know and she strives to make our community more equitable.
Hobby: Watch Penn State football (we are!); Take long walks; Visit the ocean often! ; Dancing with family and friends
The black beasts: Talking while chewing food (my parents were adamant about this rule!)
Collection: I used to collect everything; but now I only collect family photos!
Best friend: Why? My husband (Derek) and Carrie Jones Mendelsohn. Derek: When they say “opposites attract” I think that defines me and my husband. He is tall; I am small. He’s relaxed… definitely not me! He’s a great listener, but he also offers great perspectives and often challenges me to think outside the box. We have had and continue to have such a great time together, and we also support each other in our struggles. Carrie: She was my first friend when she was two. We did it all together, kids and teens. We went to the same college and lived together in Washington, DC. She has been a part of every phase of my life. We celebrated many good times together and she helped me through some of my most difficult times. I admire her in so many ways as she creates positive change through her incredible grace.
What event would you like to have witnessed in history? As I read about this as a student, I wish I could have attended the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in person. For me, the Commission really illustrates how a nation or a community must approach its future, and it is in authentic and truthful facing its past in order to truly come to terms with one another and then plan a way forward. Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s approach was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Commission. He’s a phenomenal human being.
Event that changed your life: In my final year, I studied for a semester in Namibia. The program highlighted how nations systematically create social change. I not only had fantastic teachers and classmates, but I also had the opportunity to live with two amazing host families: one in the capital Windhoek and one in a rural village of Ovamboland. I also had the opportunity to teach students as part of a high school internship program. I fell in love with Namibia. Interestingly, learning about the systems of social change in Namibia and South Africa, upon returning to the United States, I knew that I wanted to further study social change and movements in the United States, especially through the prism. of our education system.
Your scariest moment: I was diagnosed in February with advanced Lyme disease. For several months before my diagnosis, I literally thought I was going crazy. I am a fairly pragmatic person; but, I literally lost the ability to think rationally. Fortunately, with the help of three fantastic doctors, I was able to start a treatment plan which, for the most part, has my symptoms in remission.
First memory: I have several very old memories, but one of my favorites is that of my paternal grandmother who passed away when I was young. I remember when I was 2-3 sitting in her kitchen and she allowed me to choose the candies I wanted from her candy jar then we went for a wagon ride outside their farm .
Trait inherited from parents: Empathy. Both of my parents have always served the community through service organizations and our church, St. James Lutheran. They instilled in my sister and I the importance of serving the community to help make the community inclusive for all. In order to serve as effectively as possible in a community, my parents always explained the importance of reflecting on what it is like to “walk in another person’s shoes.”
Council by which you live: “We are all made for kindness, love and compassion. Our lives are transformed as much as the world is when we live with these truths. “- Bishop Desmond Tutu
Who needs a hug and why? Everyone! We all need to give love and feel loved.
Favorite Reading / Author: I do not have any. Having said that, one of my favorite books is “Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism” (edited by Paula Moya and Michael Hames-Garcia). I am a nerd.
Favorite place on earth? With family by the ocean, especially on Hatteras Island, North Carolina. The ocean is good for the soul. And family fills my heart.
Website you visit the most: During this time of year, it’s ESPN. I am a huge fan of college football. WE ARE!
Would you like concert tickets to see: I love to dance… so Pitbull!
A bad habit : I worry too much.
3 items on your bucket list: I am not sure. But, since I love to travel, I will name three places I want to visit: Tanzania; Machu Picchu, Peru; Pink Beach, Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Five minutes with: My paternal grandmother
What skill or lesson would you like to learn? Speak another language
What would people find surprising about you? I’m pretty much an open book.
What would make this world a better place? Showing empathy
What’s the best news you’ve received lately that you would like to share? My mother-in-law recently moved to Gettysburg. It’s great to have my parents and my mother-in-law so close to us.
How would you like to be remembered? As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, niece and cousin who was grateful and loved her family. And, as someone who has worked to make education more equitable.