Meet the LEEAD Mentors
Supporting CREE LEEADers
The ongoing mentoring component is central to the Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity (LEEAD) Program. Scholars and Mentors go through an extensive matching process to ensure a strong, supportive, and lasting relationship. We’re excited to introduce the Mentors for the 2023-2024 LEEAD Cohort, many of which have provided their mentorship for multiple Program cohorts! Thank you to all of those, present and past, who have supported the LEEAD Program over the years.
Afi Wiggins, PhD
Afi is a 20+ year veteran in research and evaluation and an effective executive leader. In her position as managing director at the Charles A. Dana Center, she leads the development and implementation of comprehensive, coherent, and evidence-based strategies for equity-minded systemic and structural reform that positively impact students in K12, postsecondary education, and the high school-to-college transition spaces. Afi establishes and operationalizes long-term strategic goals and priorities in programmatic, partnership, and philanthropic development. She is a transformative leader, strategic thought partner, and consummate educator. Afi effectively enculturates organizations to ground decisions and actions in appropriate, meaningful, and impactful evidence.
Art Hernandez, PhD
Dr. Art Hernandez, Professor at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio has broad and diverse training and experience in clinical psychology, educational psychology, curriculum and instruction, K-12, public health, and program evaluation. He has served as evaluator or evaluator consultant on projects of local, state, and national scope and among other areas of scientific and evaluative inquiry remains committed to studying and supporting culturally responsive and equitable evaluation. His writing and research has focused on measurement and evaluation, psycho-educational interventions, and teaching and learning. He is a past co-editor of Forum, the journal of the Texas Teacher Educators, and currently co-editor of Research and Practice in the Schools, a publication of the Texas Association of School Psychologists. Dr. Hernandez has been Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator or Consultant on numerous research and teaching grants and his writing can be found in education, public health, counseling, psychology and policy publications.
Blanca Flor Guillén-Woods, MA
Blanca Flor Guillén-Woods has been involved with several aspects of applied research and evaluation including management of multi-site and multi-year projects for non-profit organizations working with marginalized communities. Her experience includes research design, fieldwork, public opinion polling, conducting focus groups, facilitation of community meetings, as well as quantitative and qualitative data analyses. She has conducted quasi-experimental and mixed methods research studies and program evaluations related to education, youth services, civic engagement, and health prevention and intervention for over 20 years through the lens of diversity and inclusion. Her work for the past several years with Latino Decisions has focused on providing Latinos a stronger voice and impact on national and statewide policies ranging from Health Care Policies to Immigration Reform efforts. Her work with Strategic Learning Partners for Innovation focuses on culturally responsive and equitable evaluation approaches.
Clare Nolan, MPP
Clare Nolan, Co-Founder of Engage R+D, is a nationally recognized expert in social-sector learning, evaluation, and strategy. She has 20 years of experience consulting with philanthropy, nonprofits, and government to design and evaluate programs and strategies. Clare is motivated by efforts to improve population-level outcomes, and thus much of her consulting work focuses on systems and policy change, networks, scaling, and adaptive strategies. Clare is the founding chair of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Evaluation Advisory Committee, the author of a GrantCraft guide on foundation knowledge-sharing, and co-founder of the Funder & Evaluator Affinity Network which focuses on strengthening the field of philanthropic evaluation. Clare holds a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School at the University of California.
David E. Garcia, EdD, MPH
With almost 30 years in public health management, health equity research, and evaluation science, Dr. Garcia offers a distinctive blend of bi-cultural Chicanx perspectives cultivated across the Midwest, Seattle, New York, and Texas. His extensive background includes disease prevention, treatment, testing, and healthcare access for diverse populations. As a former LEEAD Scholar in Cohort 2, Dr. Garcia passionately champions culturally responsive evaluation methods and Lean Six Sigma-rooted quality improvement initiatives. He holds a Doctorate in Health Education and Behavior from Columbia University and a Master of Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Currently Director of Quality Improvement at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease, Dr. Garcia remains committed to improving health outcomes. Beyond his professional role, he takes pleasure in watching reality TV, mirror-side dance routines, and cultivating an extensive knowledge of Beyoncé.
Diana Lemos, PhD, MPH
Dr. Diana Lemos (she/her) is the Director of Evaluation and Learning at the American Medical Association (AMA) Center for Health Equity. She serves the critical role of embedding culturally responsive and equitable evaluation across the AMA’s Strategic Plan to Advance Health Equity and Embed Racial Justice. In addition to this role, Dr. Lemos is a lead evaluator and advisor on multiple initiatives related to health equity across the Center. Having led and implemented research and evaluation projects at community-oriented institutions — domestically/locally in Chicago and internationally — such as Stroger Hospital of Cook County/Hektoen Institute for Medical Research, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Obama Foundation, Dr. Lemos is passionate about ensuring meaningful engagement, designing inclusive data collection tools, bringing expertise of those with lived experiences, and using evaluation to identify and shift power imbalances and create more equitable processes. Dr. Lemos serves as a workgroup member for AEA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup.
Donna M. Mertens, PhD
Dr. Donna Mertens, Professor Emeritus at Gallaudet University, specializes in research and evaluation methodologies designed to support social transformation. She has authored/co-authored many methodological books related to social, economic, and environmental justice and human rights, most recently Mixed Methods Research, Program Evaluation Theory and Practice (2nd ed.); Mixed Methods Design in Evaluation; and Research and Evaluation in Education and Psychology (5th ed.). She has consulted with many international agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control, Johnson & Johnson Foundation, F3E, UN Women, Engineers without Borders Canada, and the WK Kellogg Foundation. Mertens served as the editor for the Journal of Mixed Methods Research from 2010-2014. She was President of the American Evaluation Association in 1998 and served on the Board from 1997-2002; she was a founding Board member of the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation and the Mixed Methods International Research Association.
Jacqueline Chan, MPH
Jacqueline Chan is passionate about helping nonprofit and public agencies use data to drive equitable impact and inclusive community development. She has 15+ years of experience in applied research and evaluation spanning the fields of public health, education, housing, global health, environmental health, and financial empowerment. Her areas of expertise include impact evaluation, developmental evaluation, equitable evaluation, collective impact evaluation, mixed methods studies, and combining rigorous study design with participatory methods. She currently serves as the Senior Director of Data and Evaluation at United Way Bay Area where she oversees organizational efforts to measure impact and use data insights to drive decision-making. She also teaches nonprofit leaders how to use data insights to advance equity at California State University, East Bay. Previously, she served as a consultant to help organizations design, establish, and learn from program evaluations. She holds a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from Emory University.
Karuna Sridharan Chibber, DrPH
Karuna Sridharan Chibber, an Evaluation and Learning Officer at The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, brings over 15 years of experience in research and evaluation working both domestically and globally and across various settings – nonprofits, consulting, philanthropy, international development, and academia. She has designed and lead evaluation and research in the areas of women’s health, systems transformation, health equity, poverty alleviation, violence prevention, and systemic and social determinants of health. Her career has been dedicated to ensuring a balance between rigor and feasibility of implementation; using innovative and culturally and context-appropriate methods; building partnerships across sector lines; and helping partners own and employ data to improve programs, maximize, and share stories of impact. Karuna holds a Doctorate in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health and a Fogarty International post-doc from the University of California, San Francisco’ Center of Excellence in Women’s Health and Empowerment.
Kimberly N. Harris, PhD, MBA
Dr. Kimberly Harris (Kim) is the founder and principal of Educa Consulting, a full-service research and evaluation firm. With over a decade of experience in research and evaluation, Kim’s evaluative and research practices frequently employ a diverse set of methodological approaches including quasi-experimental design, survey instrumentation, and cognitive testing in collaboration with community. Her background as a social science researcher and evaluator, as well as her extensive experience managing research, evaluation, and consulting projects for clients in the public and private sector, has afforded her opportunities to work extensively with communities across the country. Dr. Harris received a PhD in Education Research and Policy Analysis, with a concentration in Industrial Psychology from North Carolina State University, a Master’s in Business Administration from Campbell University, and a dual Bachelors in Economics and African-American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill. She completed her postdoctoral work at The University of California, Berkeley.
Leah Christina Neubauer, EdD
Dr. Leah Christina Neubauer’s primary area of scholarship is curriculum development and training in the public health and health-related professions. She conducts collaborative global mixed-methods research focused on the development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of health and education programs across the USA and in Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Mozambique. Her work employs multidisciplinary, theory-driven approaches to accreditation, teaching, training, and evaluation capacity-building within varied settings. She is an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University where she teaches graduate-level courses in global health, public health and evaluation. She holds leadership roles in the evaluation and public health education professional communities serving as: past co-chair of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Local Affiliate Collaborative (LAC), appointed leader on the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Framing the Future 2030 Task Force, and an accreditation Site Visit Chair with the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).
Monique Liston, PhD, MPH
Dr. Monique Inez Liston is the Founder, Chief Strategist, and Joyful Militant at UBUNTU Research and Evaluation, a strategic learning organization based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a self-identified Afrofuturist who believes that Black people should imagine the future unencumbered by oppression and its intersection and that getting to that future requires Black people’s radical imagination and creative thought. She is a proud alum of Howard University. She remains #bisonproud even after obtaining a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Delaware and a PhD in Urban Education from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Shepherd Express nominated her organization as Best Place to Work for Social Justice in 2021 and 2022. She was selected as a winner of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Diversity in Business Awards in 2022. If the anti-Black, sexist, queerphobic capitalism didn’t ravage this world, she would be a chef and storyteller. If you read this bio, she hopes that you feel the desire to build better communities with those you love.
Nidal Karim, PhD
Dr. Nidal Karim (she/her) is a feminist researcher and embodiment practitioner who supports individuals and collectives to feel held, heard, and inspired. Her work centers and supports collaborations with communities at the margins, in their autonomous journeys toward equity and social change. Nidal has provided guidance to various institutions and groups as they evolve toward justice-centered and liberatory approaches and practices. Her experiences encompass leading multi-site gender justice programs; engaging in participatory and mixed-methods research, evaluation, and learning initiatives; as well as strategic support to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Nidal’s passions include immersing herself in nature, fostering growth through somatic and writing practices, promoting positive sexuality, and collectively envisioning and building futures focused on justice, joy, and healing.
Penelope Huang, PhD, MA
For nearly two decades now, Penelope (Penny) has been supporting nonprofit, philanthropic, and government organizations in their work to bolster thriving communities, families, and children. Penny seeks to elevate social justice and equity issues and identify root causes to right the wrongs in her world. She is experienced in program evaluation and research design, and in a variety of methodological approaches to data collection, analysis, and dissemination of findings. Penny provides thought partnership and all manner of supports from note-taking and meeting facilitation to strategic planning to her clients. Her pet content areas of expertise include early childhood education, school readiness, community development, child welfare, opportunity youth, mental health, and family demography. Penny holds an MA in Psychology from Brandeis University, a PhD in Sociology from the University of Washington, and completed postdoctoral work in Demography at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan. She strives to use her powers for fighting the good fight.
Raquel Ellis, PhD, MSW
Dr. Ellis is an Associate Professor of Practice for the Doctor of Social Work Program at Simmons University. She has over 20 years of experience practicing social work. She is a program evaluation expert with over 15 years of research and program evaluation experience. She spent several years working at premier research firms, including Child Trends and Westat, directing federally funded projects that evaluated innovative interventions meant to improve outcomes for children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system. Dr. Ellis is skilled in culturally responsive qualitative and quantitative research methods and has extensive experience training research staff and teaching research methods. She recently co-authored a book chapter on the use of CREE in child welfare evaluations, which is included in the Culturally Responsive and Equitable Evaluation: Visions and Voices of Emerging Scholars text.
Rita S. Fierro, PhD
Dr. Rita Fierro is a coach, social justice consultant, community builder, and program evaluator who inspires and supports progressive, trailblazing leaders birthing a more humane world. Her firm, Fierro Consulting, LLC, has increased the effectiveness of organizations internationally that are committed to reducing racism and sexism by helping them realign their internal cultures with their values, measuring their results, and focusing on systems transformation. In her latest book, Digging Up the Seeds of White Supremacy, Dr. Rita explores how exploitation and oppression have branched into persistent structures that are resistant to change. The book also addresses the extensive trauma this creates and how we can transform the world through our personal and collective healing. Dr. Rita has studied systemic racism and its effects for more than 30 years. She has a PhD in African American Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, and a Master’s in Sociology from the University of Rome, Italy. Dr. Rita comes from a long line of traditional healers and is both a Reiki and Family Systems Constellation practitioner.
Rohan Jeremiah, PhD, MPH
Rohan D. Jeremiah is the Associate Dean for Global Health and an Associate Professor of Human Development Nursing Science at the University of Illinois Chicago, College of Nursing. He is a global public health scholar with cross-disciplinary training in Applied Medical Anthropology and Public Health. His research is at the intersections of substance use, violence, and HIV/AIDS and focuses on developing strategies to reduce trauma, disease risks, and mortality. Dr. Jeremiah’s scholarship reflects more than twenty years of global health experiences, including Peace Corps volunteer services in Cameroon and South Africa and program development and management throughout Sub-Saharan Africa (Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Uganda, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Tanzania), South Asia (India and Bangladesh), Latin America, the Eastern Caribbean, and the United States. He has served as a Technical Advisor to the United Nations, US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Rucha Londhe, PhD
Dr. Rucha Londhe, a Senior Director for Equity at Abt Associates, is an experienced evaluator, researcher, and technical assistance provider with a demonstrated history of working in the education and health industries. Dr. Londhe is an expert in qualitative data methods and has multiple experiences conducting community-based participatory research and evaluations with diverse populations including immigrants and Native American Tribes. Currently, Dr. Londhe leads the equity evaluation team at Abt Associates. In this role, she leads corporate equity efforts such as planning company-wide business and research strategy; creates equity resources; provides project teams a framework for including equity based principles into data collection, analysis, and reporting; helps proposal teams bring an equity perspective into their work; and manages entry-level and mid-career staff and helps them achieve their professional goals.
Sharon Brisolara, PhD
Dr. Sharon Brisolara is a program evaluator, educator, and founder of Inquiry That Matters. Through Inquiry That Matters, she also coaches organizations and mid-career professionals in matters of equity, resilience, organizational development, and collaborative forms of inquiry. Her areas of expertise include feminist evaluation, participatory evaluation, qualitative methodology, mixed method studies, and equity focused planning and evaluation strategies. She is a long-time member of the American Evaluation Association and has served on the editorial advisory board of the American Journal of Evaluation. Sharon and her colleagues co-edited one of the first volumes on feminist evaluation in 2002, Feminist Evaluation: Explorations and Experiences: New Directions for Evaluation, and has since written on feminist evaluation and the intersection of equity-mindedness, evaluation, and higher education. Prior to refocusing her business, she led the Office of Equity and Inclusion as Associate Dean at a California community college. Her evaluation work has focused in the areas of youth resilience, public health, rural community-based development efforts, and criminal legal reform. She received her doctorate from Cornell University in Program Evaluation and Planning with concentrations in Rural Sociology and what would now be considered Gender Studies within the City and Regional Planning Department.
Tara Dixon, DSc, MPH
Dr. Tara Dixon is an experienced healthcare leader, evaluator, and researcher. Dr. Dixon founded the Research and Evaluation Group (EvalGroup) established in 2009 as a full-service research and evaluation firm specializing in providing professional services in the evolving fields of public health and healthcare. Under Dr. Dixon’s leadership, EvalGroup has served as the prime contractor for over 70 grants/contracts – recently 12 federally funded and seven contracted governmental agencies. Her firm works with federal agencies such as the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the National Institute of Health (NIH), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), assessing their programmatic efforts, developing research grants, scientific reports, and presentations. She is an expert in public, behavioral, and community health; research; and evaluation. She has evaluated multi-site chronic disease and substance abuse prevention projects domestically and internationally. Dr. Dixon earned her BS in Physical Science/Chemistry from Auburn University, and her Master of Public Health and Doctor of Science in Healthcare Leadership from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. As a military spouse, Dr. Dixon is an advocate for veterans, remote/flexible work for spouses, women in the workplace, and women back to work. She also enjoys traveling, running, and ice skating.
Interested in becoming a mentor for a future LEEAD Cohort?
The mentoring component is central to the LEEAD model, with most Scholars rating the relationship with their Mentor as valuable to their experience. Many Mentors have had positive experiences, and have served as Mentors for multiple cohorts.