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, Ph.D., is the 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. Kei has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (Child and Family subspecialty) from Loyola University Chicago but identifies as a community psychologist. 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.
Kei serves as a national board member of Generation Citizen and Democracy Works, and lends her expertise as an advisory group member for Nonprofit VOTE, Project Information Literacy, Citizen Z project at Education Week, and the American Bar Association's Division of Public Education. She has been the lead author on landmark papers and reports, such as The Republic is (Still) at Risk – and Civics is Part of the Solution (with Peter Levine); The Future of Civic Education (in NASBE Magazine); Taking the Lead: How Educators Can Help Close the Gender Leadership Gap (with the National Education Association and the American Association of University Women); and All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement. She has also published extensively in various peer-reviewed journals and written several book chapters. Learn more
Abby joined CIRCLE in 2005, after working with students across the country, to focus on maintaining a conversation between research and practice. Now, as Director of Impact at 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
Rey Junco is a Senior Researcher at CIRCLE, where he applies his extensive experience in quantitative social science research to study various aspects of youth civic and political engagement. Rey has a rich background in several interconnected fields like education, cognitive science, and the use of technology. Before joining CIRCLE, he was a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where he worked on the Youth & Media and the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence projects. He has done pioneering work on young people’s social media use, especially as it relates to their psychosocial development and their potential political engagement. His experience with big data, machine learning, predictive algorithms, and other research tools and methodologies allows him to make forecasts about voting and other youth behaviors.
Rey has a Master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and he was a licensed, practicing counselor for a number of years. He also has a D.Ed. degree from Penn State.
Sarah is a Research & Impact Fellow at CIRCLE, helping connect CIRCLE’s research with communities in order to build and diversify youth engagement in elections. She supports the Teaching for Democracy Alliance, a CIRCLE-coordinated collaboration of national organizations committed to providing K-12 educators and administrators with the encouragement, training, and resources to teach young people about elections and voting. She also oversees a project on youth media creation and youth in media representation, as well as contributes to CIRCLE’s broader research and communication efforts. Learn more
Kelly Beadle joined CIRCLE in February 2019 and manages CIRCLE’s voter registration research project. Her role is to lead qualitative and quantitative analysis on voter registration and participation, in addition to program evaluation for the project. Before joining CIRCLE, Kelly worked on program development, running field experiments and fundraising in numerous national and state-based organizations. She began her career and worked for over a decade in Minnesota, which she considers her home. In her free time, you can find her reading academic papers on experiments to change political behavior or planning a trip to a new country.
Peter de Guzman
Peter de Guzman is the Research Program Coordinator for CIRCLE and the Institute of Democracy & Higher Education at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. At CIRCLE, Peter conducts research on voter registration, the electoral context of youth voting, and resources for teachers concerning equitable voting. At IDHE, Peter supports the National Study on Learning, Voting, and Engagement and helps campuses participate and access their data. Peter also provides administrative support to both research teams at Tisch College.
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.
Sarah Keese joined CIRCLE in 2020 as the Project Manager, restructuring processes and enabling CIRCLE to deepen its vital efforts and strengthen our civic engagement work. Joining the team from Albania, Sarah has a background in database management with the Department of Defense and worked on a USAID project in Albania focused on deterring radicalization and violent extremism through women’s empowerment, youth engagement, and civic strengthening. Despite this seemingly disparate background, Sarah is passionate about the mission of CIRCLE to collaborate with and recognize youth as assets in their communities. Through her work in international development, she has seen firsthand the impact that youth can have within their communities as agents of resiliency and change and appreciates the value of research and data to inform these crucial programs.
Kristian Lundberg is an Associate Researcher at CIRCLE. He conducts research and performs data-driven analysis on youth political behavior and voter participation, young people’s impact on policy and electoral outcomes, and youth engagement in civic life more broadly. Kristian is particularly interested in the impact of youth civic participation on efforts to reduce structural inequities. Research projects Kristian has worked on at CIRCLE include county-by-county analyses of voting patterns in the 2020 primaries, analyses of CIRCLE’s pre-election polls of young people aged 18-29, and longitudinal and cross-sectional studies of voter registration activities. Learn more
Adam is a Research Impact Fellow at CIRCLE, where he focuses on communications and field-building strategies that for systems, practitioners, and stakeholders on research-informed best practices that promote more equitable civic education and engagement. He develops and implements CIRCLE’s social media strategies. Adam also led our Expanding the Electorate grantee initiative that partnered with three of Opportunity Youth United’s youth-led community action teams to collaborate with their local election administrators to improve voter access for opportunity youth by addressing systematic barriers and challenges to participating. Learn more
Tisch College Staff
In addition to our full-time staff, we receive valuable support from colleagues at CIRCLE's home institution, Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life, especially from their experienced communications staff:
As part of her role at Tisch College, Jen provides key strategic communications support to CIRCLE, including advising on messaging and handling media inquiries. She began her career in Washington, D.C., at the US Commerce Department, followed by service at the US Treasury and the US Department of Energy. Most recently, she was a senior advisor to Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), working in the district on outreach to local media, universities, businesses, and school districts. In her civic life, Jen is currently serving as a member of the Melrose School Committee. Jen received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University and a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Alberto oversees a wide range of communications tasks for CIRCLE's home institution: the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. He provides key editorial support to the CIRCLE, drafting and reviewing text to share key research and managing the CIRCLE website. Alberto has been a freelance writer and editor, and previously worked at national newspapers in his native Puerto Rico and at multinational publishing houses. He is a graduate of Yale University.
Diverse Democracy Fellows
In the summer of 2020, we're pleased to have the assistance and support of Diverse Democracy Fellows, students who are serving as research assistants and supporting various projects:
Ruby Belle Booth
Ruby is a senior at Tufts University double majoring in History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. While at CIRCLE, Ruby is helping to evaluate civic learning projects responding to COVID and the 2020 election through the Civic Spring Project. She is also assisting with a range of communications projects to help disseminate CIRCLE’s research and maximize its impact.
As a fellow at CIRCLE, Alex is working on a study of youth participation in political movements and is supporting the development of a national roadmap for teaching civics and U.S. History in K-12 schools. She holds a degree in Political Economy from Georgetown University and is currently pursuing her M.P.P. at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Before graduate school, Alex taught high school social studies in Clayton County, Georgia, and worked with adjudicated youth in Washington, D.C.
Cait Gardiner is a senior at Emmanuel College, where they are majoring in political science with a concentration in American government and politics and a minor in philosophy. At CIRCLE, they are researching rural youth civic engagement, civic deserts, and LGBTQ+ civic engagement. They also provide support to projects that provide a platform for youth to get involved in CIRCLE's research and that uplift data from the 2020 Youth Electoral Significance Index. After completing their undergraduate studies, Cait plans to pursue a PhD in political science.
Carolina Olea Lezama
Carolina Olea Lezama is a junior at Tufts University double majoring in American Studies and Political Science. At CIRCLE she is assisting with the Minneapolis elections office project in recruiting and supporting youth poll workers. Specifically, she is supporting the young cohort members in creating a survey about the experience of youth as poll workers. She also provides support with research on states’ voting laws, including online voter registration and disenfranchisement due to criminal offenses. Carolina is also analyzing the relationship between identity and its impact on civic engagement and development of civic identity. When Carolina is not working with CIRCLE she is a summer cohort member with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Emma is a senior at Tufts University studying Geology and Math. At CIRCLE she is researching youth news consumption and how youth interact with political content on social media. She also analyzes CIRCLE survey data, researches state statutes about voting registration and policies, and writes about how youth engagement can affect election outcomes in certain states.