CIRCLE's work is conducted by a dynamic, diverse team of researchers, program coordinators, fellows, and support staff. Team members contribute extensive quantitative and qualitative research expertise; ample experience working with partners in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors; and a wide range of interests in myriad aspects of youth participation. Individually and collectively, the staff is deeply committed to CIRCLE's mission of advancing stronger and more equitable youth civic education and engagement.
The CIRCLE team is led by Director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, who oversees all CIRCLE research and day-to-day operations. Dr. Kawashima-Ginsberg, formerly Lead Researcher and Deputy Director of CIRCLE, has served as director since 2015, when she succeeded former director Peter Levine.
Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg is the Newhouse Director of CIRCLE. She oversees CIRCLE’s wide-ranging portfolio of research and impact projects with its diverse partners and for audience groups. Kei has a background in Community Psychology and Social-Emotional Learning, which she applies to various projects at CIRCLE. Before coming to CIRCLE, Kei worked with young people and families at a public high school, and at an emergency room and community health center as a therapist in training. Working with people who faced numerous structural challenges made her want to work with systems that created those challenges in the first place, which attracted her to CIRCLE.
As a leading voice in the youth civic engagement field, Kei is frequently featured in major outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, C-SPAN, Channel 1, and NBC. Kei is a recipient of the Jobs for The Future Distinguished Fellowship for Student-Centered Learning (2016-2018), and serves on the National Board of Generation Citizen, Democracy Works. Most recently, she played a major role in development of the Our Common Purpose, a commission-report from the AAA&S, and the Educating for American Democracy initiative. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University, with an emphasis on positive youth development and community psychology.
Abby joined CIRCLE in 2005, after working with students across the country, to focus on maintaining a conversation between research and practice. Now, as Deputy Director of CIRCLE, Abby continues that work and also provides leadership for CIRCLE’s election strategies, website content, and external communications. She has worked on several major research projects and evaluations while at CIRCLE, as well as on several partnerships to support growing voters for a more equitable electorate.
Abby is well-versed in the wide range of youth civic and political engagement efforts and practice, and brings a broad view of the institutions and interventions that can make up ecosystems for civic development among all youth. She is most interested in how to effect change in community, institutional, and political systems to reduce inequality. Abby has been cited by news outlets such as The New York Times, CSPAN, NPR, and PolitiFact. Learn more
Ruby Belle Booth
Ruby Belle Booth started at CIRCLE as a Diverse Democracy Fellow in the summer of 2020 and is now CIRCLE’s Election Coordinator. She graduated from Tufts University in 2021 with a BA in History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Ruby is interested in youth civic participation as a pathway for social, racial, and economic justice. She is passionate about increasing youth voice throughout our political and education systems and in CIRCLE’s work. At CIRCLE, she has worked on a range of projects including the CIRCLE Growing Voters report, and she is coordinating CIRCLE’s 2022 election work. Ruby is also a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice researching civic learning and engagement.
Peter de Guzman
Peter de Guzman is an Associate Researcher at CIRCLE, where he conducts research on voter registration, the electoral context of youth voting, and youth media creation. Peter is particularly interested in social identity and political participation among young people of color. CIRCLE projects Peter has contributed to include multiple analyses on the political participation of Asian American youth and the ways community-based voter registration groups engage new members of the electorate. Learn more
Noorya Hayat joined CIRCLE as a researcher in January 2016. She works on projects that help promote civic learning and engagement in the K-12 education system and beyond, and she is interested in the intersection of education, both in formal and informal settings, and civic learning and awareness in youth, particularly from marginalized and diverse ethnic backgrounds. Noorya has experience working in the U.S. and abroad in teaching and educational research. Before joining CIRCLE, Noorya worked as an international researcher and coordinator in public health and nutrition awareness in the developing world. She has experience teaching and mentoring students from diverse backgrounds and grade levels, and worked as an early childhood educator in Boston.
She holds an Ed.M. in international education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a focus towards global education and citizenship for the 21st century, monitoring and evaluation for improving education systems, and applied data analysis. She also has a background in economics and anthropology. Noorya is passionately interested in narrowing gaps in civic education, awareness, and life-opportunities for underresourced communities by providing evidence-backed research for decision-making and policies.
Mahnoor Hussain is a Program Manager at CIRCLE, where she supports outreach and builds meaningful partnerships with election practitioner groups and stakeholders. Mahnoor is an active community organizer in the greater Washington, D.C. area and an experienced public policy advocate with a background in civic engagement, immigration, and civil rights. She holds a B.A. American University’s School of International Service. Mahnoor is deeply committed to advancing equity for all communities.
Liz Kopecky started at CIRCLE as a Project Manager in September 2022. She collaborates with CIRCLE leadership to oversee project implementation, strategize about process improvements and hiring, and monitor grant processing. Liz splits her time between CIRCLE and the MGGG Redistricting Lab, another research center at Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. She is interested in community engagement and passionate about supporting CIRCLE’s mission and research.
Alberto Medina leads CIRCLE's communications. He collaborates with CIRCLE leadership on strategic communications, oversees the editorial work to produce and disseminate research, and maintains CIRCLE’s digital presence. Alberto began working with CIRCLE in his previous role as Communications Specialist at the Tisch College of Civic Life—CIRCLE's institutional home—where he led a variety of communications efforts and initiatives. A graduate of Yale University, Alberto previously worked as a freelance writer and editor and at national newspapers in his native Puerto Rico. He is a commentator and advocate on Puerto Rico’s political status and a member of the board of directors of the Denver Urban Debate League.
Kelly Siegel-Stechler is a Senior Researcher at CIRCLE, where she studies civic development and political socialization in schools. She is primarily focused on projects that advance civic learning and development in K-12 education, as well as questions related to youth political and electoral engagement. Prior to joining CIRCLE, Kelly worked as a Research Fellow with the Institute for Education Policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, where she supported their work on civic development as it relates to curriculum, instruction, and school culture. Her professional background is in educational programming and youth outreach and engagement. She has led programs in global and multicultural education including Model UN, interfaith debate, and international exchange programs. She also has a background in political science and international relations. Kelly is passionate about advancing equity and strengthening democratic institutions by improving opportunities for all young people to access and use the skills and knowledge they need to meaningfully participate in civic life.
Sara Suzuki is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CIRCLE where she is working on projects that explore how youth civic engagement—ranging from voting to community organizing—can empower communities and bring about social change. Her research focuses on how young people use sociopolitical reflection and action (critical consciousness) to challenge systems of oppression. In her work, she also pursues innovation in anti-racist and anti-oppressive quantitative methodology. Sara currently serves as the chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice committee at Tisch College. She has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology from Boston College, and a B.A. in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. As a member of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Sara is involved in the Emerging Scholars committee and Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice committee. She is an active community organizer in Cambridge, MA and is the development coordinator for Cambridge HEART.
Katherine Pinney is the Research Program Assistant at CIRCLE's home institution: the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. She recently graduated from Westfield State University in 2022 with a BA in Political Science and Economics. At CIRCLE, Katherine supports the team in an administrative capacity as well as assisting with various projects. She is interested in barriers to civic participation, particularly voter suppression efforts like complex voter ID laws, unfounded claims of voter fraud and polling place closures.
Naraya is the Equitable Democracy Fellow at CIRCLE. Naraya recently graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University as a Robertson Scholar. At UNC, Naraya received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and African, African American, and Diaspora Studies. While at Duke, Naraya received two Certificates in Human Rights and Prison Studies. Naraya graduated with Highest Honors and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society. Her senior honors thesis, which measured civic engagement patterns among formerly incarcerated Black women, received multiple departmental awards. Naraya brings to the team classroom experience in rural Mississippi and Southeast D.C. and an overwhelming belief that the pursuit of educational equity is inextricably bound in the fight for social, economic, and racial justice
Fellows, Assistants, and Collaborators
We're excited to have the support of students and young scholars who are serving as fellows or research assistants, supporting various projects and aspects of our work.
Sarah is a fourth-year PhD student in Applied Developmental Psychology at Suffolk University. Her research at Suffolk University focuses on social media literacy and social justice in youth development. Her work at CIRCLE supports research efforts in promoting civic engagement and civic learning through social studies curricula across grades 5-7. She also holds an M.A. in Forensic and Legal Psychology from Roger Williams University.
Nicole Faraci joined CIRCLE in 2020. She is currently a third-year PhD student in Education with a specialization in School Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research broadly focuses on youth political engagement and equitable civics education. Through her work with many stakeholders in a variety of schools on both the east and west coasts, she has seen the success that youth can have within their communities when provided with quality support and curriculum. Nicole is passionate about the intersection of research, practice, and policy in order to foster meaningful and empowering participation of young people in civic life.
Aashna John is second year graduate student at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, pursuing the Law and Diplomacy program. Her work at CIRCLE focuses on communications and increasing CIRCLE's digital presence. She is interested in ideating social media engagements through various forms of content.
Maha is a second-year MS in Data Science student at Tufts University. Her work at CIRCLE focuses on youth political engagement, and how the youth vote influences election outcomes. She has a B.A in Biology and Statistics from Mount Holyoke College.
Madeline McGee is a former CIRCLE fellow and continues to contribute to CIRCLE’s work on particular initiatives. As a Project Coordinator for Research at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, she is interested in the intersection of youth, digital media, and democracy, and in particular the role of media and digital communication in the civic and political development of young people. During her CIRCLE fellowship, she studied the interplay between media and civic engagement, with a particular focus on youth-adult partnerships and participatory design, youth voice and media creation, and local communication ecologies. She holds an M.A. in Child Study & Human Development from Tufts University and a B.S. in Media Studies from Kennesaw State University.
Grace is a Research Partner with Illinois Civics Hub and CIRCLE, where she will be working on evaluating Illinois Middle School civic education standards and supporting the Democracy Schools project. She is a second-year graduate student from the Stevenson Center at Illinois State University, pursuing her M.S. in Political Science and Applied Community and Economic Development. Her research centers on youth civic engagement, youth voter turnout, and youth participation in community development. Before joining CIRCLE, she worked with multiple community development organizations, including serving as a Youth Development Promoter in Peace Corps Costa Rica. She holds a B.A. in History and International Studies from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
SJ McGeady is a Research Assistant at CIRCLE, helping on Independent Voter Registration Report. They graduated from The College of William and Mary in 2020, with a BS in Mathematical Biology. In 2021 they graduated from Georgetown University with an MS in Bioinformatics. Currently, SJ is a PhD student in the Biology department of Tufts University. SJ is passionate about lowering the racial voting gap in order for elections to better represent the growing diversity of the American public. SJ is currently working on the Independent Voter Registration Report, as well as a new project on Racial Voting Gap analysis on the 2020 election results.