Applied Research & Program Evaluation

Our Staff

Penny Brierley-Bowers

Director, Applied Research and Program Evaluation

Penny Brierley-Bowers

Penny Brierley-Bowers, Ed.D. PMP  is a psychologist and certified project management professional with over 25 years of experience developing, operating, and evaluating health and human service programs. Through this work she has confronted some of the most complex concerns of government agencies and private organizations, including expanding Medicaid, innovating behavioral health services, and scaling early education programs nationally.  

Dr. Brierley-Bowers brings a deep understanding of health and human service program policy and operations. This understanding is combined with strong skills in qualitative and single-subject research, facilitation, and strategic planning. Her recent work focuses on evaluating state and federal behavioral health, intellectual and development disabilities, and long term care systems to promote effective and efficient programs. She has led the work to define clinical best practices and clinical practice guidelines in developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injury, and behavioral health. Dr. Brierley-Bowers has presented internationally and nationally as well as authored numerous journal articles, white papers, and reports.

Prior to joining the Insitute, Dr. Brierley-Bowers was a specialist at Deloitte Consulting, LLP.  She earned her undergraduate degrees from Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Washington University and her graduate degrees from The New School for Social Research and West Virginia University. 

(413) 587-2402

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Jennifer Gordon

Senior Research and Operations Manager

Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer Gordon is a research professional with nearly 20 years of experience leading the design, management, and implementation of a portfolio of applied research, program evaluation, and public policy projects. In addition to her research responsibilities, Ms. Gordon assists the director in managing ARPE’s business operations including strategic planning, business development, budgeting, and staffing.

Ms. Gordon’s work has a strong focus on K-12 education reform and improvement initiatives including work at the local, state, and regional levels. Her areas of expertise include logic modeling, research design, and project management. She has extensive experience integrating quantitative and qualitative data including student assessments, activity logs, surveys, and interviews. Ms. Gordon has authored numerous reports presenting research results and surfacing key findings to support her clients’ program development efforts and help them demonstrate the impact of their work.

Ms. Gordon has an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She earned a master’s degree in public policy with a concentration in quantitative methods and program evaluation from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

(774) 455-7376

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Christina Citino

Senior Research Manager

Ms. Citino specializes in health and human services evaluation and research work. She has more than 20 years’ experience providing state agencies, community-based agencies, and private organizations with program development, needs assessment, and program evaluation services. Her professional experience includes extensive work in behavioral health, evaluating trauma-informed therapeutic interventions for children and families, evidence-based therapies addressing co-occurring disorders, and prevention interventions addressing the intersecting roles of substance use and other high-risk behaviors. Additional areas of focus include healthcare integration, care coordination, and patient-centered care. Throughout her career, she has provided training and technical assistance related to the development and implementation of outcomes measurement systems, and has supported numerous agencies in the development of systems to document program outcomes.

Ms. Citino also has a deep understanding of the unique needs facing the human services workforce. Since 2006, she has authored four reports on the Massachusetts human services industry and its workforce, and conducted a study of the issues facing private practice clinicians. Findings from her human services workforce reports have been used to increase awareness of the social and economic impact of the human services industry, advocate for pay equity, and develop strategies to improve workforce recruitment and retention.

Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Citino worked as a research associate for the Public Health Management Corporation in Philadelphia, PA. Ms. Citino earned a bachelor’s in sociology from Temple University.

(413) 695-6963

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Jeremiah Johnson

Senior Research Manager

Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson has more than 10 years of experience evaluating K–12 and post-secondary programs and policies. He has managed large-scale, state-level, and multi-state evaluations of educational assessments and interventions that encompass hundreds of public schools and districts. A focus of his work has been assessing the efficacy of educational interventions designed to improve the STEM pipeline, with a particular emphasis on programs that serve populations that have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM. More recently, his work has focused on college and career readiness, and dropout prevention and recovery. Dr. Johnson has served as the lead quantitative researcher for a number of projects, and has implemented a broad array of analytic techniques including experimental and quasi-experimental design, propensity score weighting, hierarchical linear modeling, comparative interrupted time series analysis, and regression discontinuity analysis.

Dr. Johnson has a strong background in public education, program evaluation, and statistics. He was integrally involved in the development and field testing of the Values Engaged, Educative Evaluation Approach to STEM program evaluation—an effort funded by the National Science Foundation in which he contributed to five refereed journal articles or conference presentations. Dr. Johnson also managed a team of researchers that developed and field tested the “accessible block alternative” for the National Assessment of Educational Progress grade 4 and grade 8 mathematics assessments—an effort funded by the National Center for Educational Statistics and supported by the American Institutes for Research. More recently, Dr. Johnson’s work has focused on the evaluation of state-level initiatives supported by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education.

Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Johnson worked as a research associate at the University of Illinois I-STEM Center. Dr. Johnson received his master’s degree and doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Illinois, specializing in evaluation and statistics.

(774) 455-7377

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Eliot Levine

Senior Research Manager

Eliot Levine

Eliot Levine has 25 years of research and applied experience in public schools, universities, nonprofit organizations, and mental health settings. His research and evaluation work has focused on secondary and postsecondary education, substance abuse treatment and prevention, HIV prevention, and early childhood development. During his eight years at the Institute, he has managed state-level and multi-state evaluations of educational interventions that encompassed hundreds of public schools and districts. He has also managed research and evaluation projects on school district restructuring, college access and success programs, college and career readiness, work-based learning, dropout prevention, online courses for credit recovery, and public guardianship.

Dr. Levine’s book about an innovative high school reform model, published by Teachers College Press at Columbia University, was named a “Best Book for High School Reform” by the Gates Foundation and published in three languages. After publishing the book, which supported the scale-up of a national school reform model, he worked in an education reform non-profit organization and was then a teacher for seven years in two innovative public high schools. His research and evaluation findings have been disseminated in peer-reviewed journals, trade journals, edited books, and the popular press, as well as presentations to research, policy, and practitioner audiences.

Dr. Levine has a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a master’s and doctorate in clinical and community psychology from the University of Maryland College Park. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in program evaluation at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

(413) 587-2418

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Jill Capitani

Research Manager

Jill Capitani has more than 15 years of experience providing program evaluation services, strategic planning, and technical assistance to both state and local government agencies and community-based organizations. Throughout her career, Ms. Capitani has worked with programs addressing youth development, education, welfare reform, and violence prevention.

Most recently, Ms. Capitani produced several case studies of impactful relationships occurring at youth development organizations in Massachusetts. She also conducted quantitative research exploring and depicting the landscape, trends, and needs of youth mentoring in Massachusetts. In the area of education she worked on process and impact evaluations of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Integrating College and Career Readiness demonstration initiatives and the Boston Public School’s Credit Skills Recovery Program.

Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Capitani worked for both Caliber Associates (now part of ICF Consulting) and the Urban Institute in Washington, DC. She has an undergraduate degree from Colgate University and a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. 

(617) 835-1612

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Mariana Gerena Melia

Research Manager

Mariana Gerena Melia

Mariana Gerena Melia has more than 10 years of experience in research and evaluation focused on public health programs and education policy. She has a strong background in program evaluation, early education, and public health. She specializes in the use of mixed methods that combine rigorous analysis of quantitative data with qualitative methodologies. A recent focus of her work has been on validating a state-level system designed to improve the quality of early childhood education care in the Massachusetts and on program evaluation and community needs assessment within an early education context. More recently, the focus of her work has been on a substantive review of a state-level system of educational standards for the early childhood workforce.

Dr. Gerena-Melia has led a series of health-related studies focused on addressing the needs of underserved communities. In particular, her work on a National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded translation of the Behavior and Symptom Identification Scale (BASIS) instrument identified necessary adaptations required to ensure a culturally-sensitive and valid instrument for Latino mental health clients and contributed to an enhanced understanding of ethnic disparities in mental health treatment. She also successfully managed research studies on behalf of the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) Boston Center of Excellence designed to assess and improve the quality of care at VHA hospitals. Specifically, she contributed to the development of a composite instrument to assess care quality in VHA Nursing Homes (Identifying and characterizing high performing VHA Nursing Homes). The results of her research have been published in a number of peer-reviewed journal articles.

Dr. Gerena Melia received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where her dissertation focused on ethnic differences in extended family integration and kin support between Latinos and whites as well as among ethnic subgroups of Latinos. 

(413) 587-2412

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Annette Hunt

Research Manager

Annette Hunt

Annette Hunt currently conducts evaluations for a number of state-level K-12 education technology integration initiatives. Drawing on her training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, Ms. Hunt typically employs a mixed methods approach in her evaluation designs. Her research interests include education reform, social networks, and community organizations. Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Hunt was director of a non-profit organization in Los Angeles and conducted research at the UCLA School of Education.

Ms. Hunt is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her bachelor's of arts in sociology from California State University.

(413) 587-2408

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Marianna Litovich

Research Manager

Marianna Litovich

Marianna Litovich, Ph.D. focused her work in systems of early education and care. Her past experience includes direct clinical work in a variety of social service and mental health agencies as well as applied research and program evaluation utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Her interests center around community initiatives targeting a broad array of mental health and social welfare outcomes, working with marginalized and vulnerable populations, and systems-level change. She draws from her previous work as an educator and clinician when working with clients to meet their needs in ways that are feasible, realistic, empowering, and valuable to their organizations.

Dr. Litovich received her Ph.D. in Clinical/Community Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) with a graduate certificate in gender studies. She also holds an master's degree from UMBC and earned her bachelor's in psychology in women’s studies at Wesleyan University.

(413) 587-2422

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Aliza Porth

Research Manager

Aliza Porth

Aliza Porth, M.P.H. specializes in the evaluation of public health and human service initiatives. Her background in community health prevention provides a solid basis for assisting organizations as they monitor program implementation and impact. Working in partnership with clients, Ms. Porth collaborates with organizations to gather data on process and outcome measures that will meet federal reporting requirements and prove useful in ongoing program quality improvement. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked for the Town of Enfield, Connecticut where she managed substance abuse, suicide, and bullying prevention grants.

Ms. Porth earned a master’s in public health the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has a bachelor's of science in community health education from Ithaca College.

(413) 587-2411

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Stefanie Santaniello

Research Manager

Stefanie Santaniello

Stefanie Santaniello has more than 10 years of experience in applied research and program evaluation. She specializes in the evaluation of education, workforce, and professional development initiatives, and is experienced in both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Most recently, her work has focused on early education and care quality improvement and the measurement of quality in early education and care settings.

Ms. Santaniello has been a key contributor to evaluations of statewide school improvement initiatives—including the Commonwealth Pilot Schools Initiative, an innovative whole-school reform and turnaround initiative and the start-up of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s regionally-based District and School Assistance Centers (DSACs)—as well as those involving online credit recovery and acceleration; student-centered learning approaches; and Advanced Placement and pre-AP courses. Recently, she partnered with researchers from the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College to conduct a validation study of a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for Massachusetts early education and care providers, the findings of which were presented at the 2016 BUILD QRIS National Meeting.

Ms. Santaniello has a master’s degree in public policy and administration and a master’s in business administration, both from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also has a bachelor’s degree in management and communications from Boston College.

(413) 587-2407

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Jean Supel

Research Manager/STEM Summit Coordinator

Jean Supel

Jean Supel has more than 12 years of experience in research, program evaluation, and data analysis. She has expertise in formulating the theoretical and evidence bases for research and evaluation projects, meshing those with program missions to develop logic models, and constructing evaluation plans which support continuous program improvement. In addition to her research responsibilities, Ms. Supel serves as Coordinator of the annual Massachusetts STEM Summit.

Ms. Supel’s primary areas of expertise are STEM education and early education. Her research focus in STEM has been on the intersection of interest and achievement and how it differs across populations. In early education, she has been researching and supporting the realignment of content and competency frameworks as well as a new career lattice for the MA Department of Early Education and Care.

Ms. Supel is currently pursuing her Ed.D. at Northeastern University. She has a master’s degree in education from Indiana University and an undergraduate degree in comparative social policy from the University of Minnesota. 

(774) 455-7375

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Ivana Zuliani

Research Manager

Ivana Zuliani

Ivana Zuliani has more than fifteen years of experience evaluating K-12 education programs through the use of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Most of her work has focused on supporting state-wide and regional initiatives by evaluating efforts in the areas of school improvement, adolescent literacy, and professional development.

Ms. Zuliani has a solid background in program evaluation and research methodologies. She has been a key contributor to evaluations of statewide improvement initiatives including the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s regionally-based District and School Assistance Centers and the Massachusetts Math and Science Partnerships Program, which aims to improve student achievement in mathematics and science through educator professional development. She also managed the evaluation of the Rhode Island and New Hampshire Extended Learning Opportunities Initiatives which seek to foster student-centered learning for high school students.

Ms. Zuliani earned a master’s degree in sociology from Brown University and an undergraduate degree from Concordia University. 

(413) 587-2417

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Jenny Malave

Senior Research Analyst

Jenny Malave

Jenny Malave has more than five years of experience working on quantitative research studies in the areas of education and social services. She has an extensive background in quantitative design and data analysis, including extensive experience using MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data (ESE). She currently works on multiple projects in which she leads data cleaning and preparation of ESE datasets for analysis.

Much of Ms. Malave’s work has focused on the evaluation of educational programs designed to increase the likelihood of student success especially amongst high needs students. This has included work aimed at reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. More recently, her work has expanded to include the evaluation of the effect of Academic Support programs on increasing students' ability to gain Competency Determination, a requirement to graduate within the Commonwealth, as well as an evaluation of the effect of the Advancing STEM AP program on increasing participation and success in STEM AP courses and exams within Massachusetts.

Ms. Malave completed doctoral coursework in sociology at The Ohio State University. She earned a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

(413) 587-2401

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Catherine Jett

Research Analyst

Catherine Jett

Catherine Jett has been working in research and evaluation since 2009 on a variety of topics in health, education and the arts. Prior to joining the Institute, her projects included strategic research on public health career preparation, analysis of a large data set related to reproductive health care and an evaluation of an arts-based science learning initiative, among many others. She is experienced in quantitative and qualitative methodologies, particularly large data sets, custom surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups. 

Ms. Jett was trained as an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she earned her master’s of public health. Her undergraduate degree, in Spanish and women’s studies, is from Tufts University.

(413) 587-2414

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Jackie Stein

Research Analyst

Jackie Stein

Jackie Stein has more than 8 years of mixed-method research and applied experience in fields including post-secondary education, community-based public health, workplace schedules and negotiations, and public opinion of economic policy. A focus of her work has been social and economic disparities. Prior to joining the Institute, she served in research and teaching roles focused on both qualitative and quantitative data analysis and worked as a public health program and research coordinator.

Ms. Stein is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her master’s in public health from the University of California Berkeley and her bachelor of arts in biology from Williams College.

(413) 587-2409

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Gaby Stevenson

Research Analyst

Gaby Stevenson

Gaby Stevenson has experience with both qualitative and quantitative research methods and research design. Her academic work has focused on race, migration, and citizenship research. She has published a peer-reviewed article that used longitudinal survey data to explore the relationship between race, gender, and documentation status in regards to residential segregation. Since joining the Institute in 2016, she has supported research projects related to education, human services, and economic development.

Ms. Stevenson is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She earned her master’s in applied sociology from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is fluent in Spanish. 

(413) 587-2406

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Sarah Young

Research Analyst

Sarah Young

Sarah Young, M.S. has previous research experience with community-based public health program evaluation. Currently, her work is focused on educational initiatives. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked on a large scale literature review leading to recommendations for evaluation expansion for a Cambridge, MA-based parenting program. 

Ms. Young received an master's in applied psychology with a concentration in community psychology from Sacred Heart University. She also received a bachelor's in psychology and literatures in English from Connecticut College.

(774) 455-7361

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Aileen Avigliano

Fiscal & Administrative Support Specialist

Aileen Avigliano

Aileen Avigliano has worked in the public finance sector for eight years. Her past experience includes grant reporting, creating and maintaining budgets, preparing spending plans, and employee reimbursements.

Ms. Avigliano received her master's in business adminstration from Bay Path College.

(413) 587-2420

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Bryan Comer

Project Coordinator

Bryan Comer

Bryan Comer offers a wide range of research support to projects as they move from survey creation to final copyediting. Before joining the Institute, he taught first-year composition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he completed his M.F.A. in the Program for Poets and Writers.

Mr. Comer also holds a bachelor’s of arts in english and asian studies from the University of Denver.

(413) 587-2416

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The UMass Donahue Institute is pre-approved to offer a variety of options for streamlined, simplified contracting both within Massachusetts and at the federal level.

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UMass Donahue Institute

University of Massachusetts

Office of the President

100 Venture Way, Suite 9

Hadley, Massachusetts 01035

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