Our Team

This guide is based on research funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings and conclusions contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

It was written, designed and published by a full-service team at FHI 360.

The FHI 360 Team (Alphabetical)

Felix Fernandez, PhD, Principal Research Scientist at FHI 360, has over 15 years’ experience conducting research on education technologies, dropout prevention, college and career readiness, and STEM identity with specific focus towards underserved communities. Dr. Fernandez is an expert at translating research findings to practical applications, data visualizations, and the design and implementation of rigorous, multi-method program evaluations. 

Gabrielle Espina, MSc, is a research associate at FHI 360. She has experience in mixed-methods research, data visualizations, analytical writing and continuous improvement. Gabrielle is passionate about research that has a meaningful, long-lasting impact on the well-being of people and communities. Additionally, Gabrielle has research and K-12 teaching experience in Latin America and Europe and is bilingual. 

Kari Kraus is a passionate advocate for youth well-being and whole child development, with a background in arts and community-based programming. She has spent the last 6 years focused on making schools in Chicago and NYC resource hubs within their communities to best serve students, families, and staff. 

Liza Rodler, MPP, is an education research associate at FHI 360. Her work includes mixed-methods research, program evaluations, and technical assistance for K-12 education programs, with a focus on support for marginalized populations, education policy, and equity. Liza also has experience researching and evaluating programs in the domains of income support, early childhood education, child welfare, and career pathways.  

Marcia Sobers, EdD, has more than 25 years of experience as a K-12 teacher, coach, school administrator and consultant. She currently serves as a Technical Advisor for Professional Development and Capacity Building in K-12 education at FHI 360. Dr. Sobers’ experience includes leading the implementation of small learning communities; facilitating a community of practice on diversity, equity, and inclusion; and co-facilitating professional learning sessions and providing technical assistance for district leaders and school-based educators.   

Maud Abeel, EdM, has more than twenty years’ experience developing, directing, and implementing national, state and local education initiatives to improve secondary to postsecondary outcomes for youth in under-resourced communities. In addition to her work at FHI 360 as a Senior Advisor on Postsecondary Success, Maud is a consultant nationally for college and career readiness initiatives and advocacy efforts. 

Misha Galley, Senior Writer, Editor and Communications Advisor, US Education, is an accomplished writer and editor with more than twenty years of experience exploring the most pressing education issues in the United States. She began her career as a journalist for Education Week newspaper, has been published by Harvard University Press, and has led complex communications initiatives for small projects and large multi-national organizations. 

Nancy Gannon has 30 years of experience as a teacher, coach, principal, and district administrator in the NYCDOE, where she led city-wide review and adoption of standards-based curriculum, developed and implemented the school quality review process, and launched the middle school literacy initiative. She serves as Senior Advisor of Teaching and Learning for FHI 360’s education programs, informing the design and development of the programs. 

Rachel Renbarger, PhD, works as an educational researcher at FHI 360. As a former low-income and rural student and teacher, she is dedicated to improving educational systems for all students, particularly those most marginalized. With her educational background in human development and quantitative methods, Dr. Renbarger also strives to improve methods to increase transparency and inclusivity in educational research.  

Risa Sackman serves as the Director of U.S. Education at FHI 360, with over two decades of experience providing leadership and support to schools and school districts, higher education, non-profits, foundations, the federal government, and cultural organizations, as well as to school improvement initiatives at the school, district, and state level. Ms. Sackman has deep experience designing programs and supports in the areas of dropout prevention, equity, literacy, social emotional learning, positive youth development, chronic absenteeism, postsecondary readiness, middle grades reform, child/adolescent development, and educational leadership. 

Additional Contributors

  • Eleanor Newsome 
  • Frances Santiago 
  • Kate Nugent 
  • Pam Sutton 
  • Patrice Williams 


Deanna Saab
Krista Gill
Brandon Geib

Family and Community Collaboration Advisors

Dr. Alex Cortez, Bellwether Education Partners
Amy Neloms, Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development
Dr. Deborah Bergeron, Longwood University
Helen Westmoreland, National PTA
Dr. Karen Mapp, Harvard University
Kendall Wilson, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
Kenya Bradshaw, Reconstruction
Kiara Bennerman, Village of Wisdom Parent Leader
Shani Dowell, Possip
Dr. William Jackson, Village of Wisdom

Hybrid Learning and Comeback Advisors

Alexandra Anormaliza, Executive Director, NYC Department of Education
Lynn Dole, Principal, Greenfield Middle School
Tracy Fray-Oliver, Vice President, Bank Street Education Center
Dr. Stephen Peters, CEO, TPG, LLC
Pilar Ramos, Co- Principal Arts & Letters 305 United
Dr. Julie Spencer, Assistant Superintendent, Durham Public Schools
Sarah Taylor, English Teacher, Lee Vining High School
Daniel Voloch, Vice President, Curriculum & Instruction, New Visions for Public Schools


The FHI 360 team recognizes the critical role educators around the country played in informing the guide. To all those who completed surveys, participated in focus groups, and responded to calls for information, we thank you. We especially would like to acknowledge our advisory group members for their repeated willingness to share their experiences, review our progress, and provide ongoing feedback.

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