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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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, working on projects at the intersection of activism and community change. Her research focuses on the development of young people as sociopolitical actors who resist and challenge systems of oppression. She employs the theoretical frameworks of critical consciousness and positive youth development in her work. In her research, Sara also pursues methodological innovation in anti-racist and anti-oppressive research (e.g., QuantCrit). Sara 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. She currently serves on the “Emerging Scholars” and “Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice” committees in the Society for Research on Adolescence and is an active member of a Boston-based community organizing home.
Alison Cohen, PhD, MPH, is an affiliated researcher with CIRCLE. Alison's research includes studying educational, health, and civic inequities among young people, and evaluating strategies to reduce inequities using quantitative and qualitative techniques and in partnership with practitioners. Trained in both epidemiology and education, she has a PhD in epidemiology and a Masters of Public Health in epidemiology and biostatistics from UC Berkeley.
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 and Research Assistants
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.
Jen Frye is the Summer 2022 Diverse Democracy Fellow at CIRCLE and a second-year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) candidate at The Fletcher School. Their work at CIRCLE supports research and communications leading up to the 2022 midterm elections with a focus on barriers to youth voting and civic engagement for underrepresented communities. At Fletcher, Jen studies conflict resolution and gender and intersectional analysis, concentrating on critical and decolonial theory and how identity influences conflict. Prior to joining CIRCLE, Jen worked with Convergence Center for Policy Resolution to generate innovative policy solutions and reduce political polarization through relationship-building dialogue. Jen holds a B.A. in Spanish Cultural Studies from Tufts University.
Megan is an undergraduate at Tufts University majoring in Community Health. Their work at CIRCLE supports research efforts in youth activism, voting fields, and digital organizing. They are interested in how diverse groups of young people engage with and influence their communities.
Yumei is an undergraduate at Tufts majoring in International Relations with a concentration in security studies. She is currently a Research Assistant for CIRCLE's project with the Massachusetts Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE), and is interested in the impact of domestic and international politics on daily life. Moreover, she is passionate about making policy research actionable and accessible to those outside the world of academia. She was previously a Policy and Communications intern at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT in the fall of 2021.
Maha is a first year master's student in Data Science 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 is a Diverse Democracy Fellow at CIRCLE and a second-year M.A. student in Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development. Her work with CIRCLE’s Rep Us team focuses on the many ways media, especially news media, intersect with youth civic development and participation. She is interested in how the inclusion of diverse youth voice in news, as well as collaborations between news media and young people, can benefit both youth political efficacy and democracy at large. Before joining CIRCLE, she worked as a journalist for the Anchorage Daily News, The New York Times, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She holds 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.