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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.

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Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg

Newhouse Director of CIRCLE

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 Kiesa

Abby Kiesa

Deputy Director

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

Jimmeka Anderson

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Jimmeka Anderson is a postdoctoral fellow at CIRCLE focusing on projected related to media, youth, and democracy. Dr. Anderson received her Ph.D. from the Curriculum and Instruction-Urban Education program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and her Master’s degree in Educational Media with a focus on New Media Literacies at Appalachian State University. Her research interest includes critical digital media literacies among historically marginalized youth, and she has immersed her professional development efforts in focusing on digital inequity in urban communities.

While serving as the Founder and Executive Director of I AM not the MEdia, Inc. for over ten years, she developed curriculum and award-winning community programs that empower youth through media literacy and media creation. Dr. Anderson is the creator of the Black Girls Film Camp and also serves as a Program Fellow for New America and an advisor for the American Library Association (ALA) Media Literacy in Libraries for Adult Audiences initiative. From 2020 to 2023, Dr. Anderson was the Project Manager for the National Association of Media Literacy Education's Cyber Citizenship Initiative. 

Additionally, Dr. Anderson has been a consultant for media literacy education with national organizations such as the Women’s Sports Foundation and 9 Story Media Group. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. degree, she worked for the public library for ten years as an Outreach Coordinator and as a media literacy course Instructor with the Carolina School of Broadcasting. Dr. Anderson's book, Power Lines: Connecting with teens in urban communities through media literacy, was published in August 2022 by ALA New Editions with co-author Kelly Czarnecki.

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Ruby Belle Booth

Elections Coordinator

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.

Sarah Burnham

Postdoctoral Fellow

Sarah Burnham is a postdoctoral fellow at CIRCLE focusing on civic learning and development in K-12 education. She received her Ph.D. from Suffolk University in Applied Developmental Psychology. Her dissertation focused on social media literacy and anti-oppressive attitudes among young adults. She also holds an M.A. in Forensic Psychology from Roger Williams University and a B.A. in Psychology from Suffolk University.

Combining her prior experience as a research assistant at CIRCLE, her research at Suffolk University, and her own political development, Sarah is passionate about fostering culturally sustaining pedagogy in public education, as well as developing critical consciousness and anti-oppressive attitudes across the lifespan both online and offline.

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Mari German

Outreach and Resource Specialist

Mari is the Outreach and Resource Specialist for CIRCLE at Tisch College. She supports outreach with the young leaders on multiple projects. Her background is DEIJ, community and higher education focused. Prior to joining the team, she was a Mentor/Trainer at The Posse Foundation which brought her full circle as a Posse Scholar. Mari holds a double B.A. in Africana and Hispanic Studies from Hamilton College.

Peter de Guzman

Peter de Guzman


Peter de Guzman is a 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

Senior Researcher

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.

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Katie Hilton

Katie Hilton is a Research Analyst at CIRCLE, where they do data analysis and visualization in support of CIRCLE’s research, primarily focused on voter registration. Katie has a strong background in data analytics working in both the private and public sector. Their last job was at Priorities USA, where they worked on the analytics team to support Priorities’ mission of using digital advertising to mobilize voters. They hold B.A.’s in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Virginia.

Mahnoor Hussain

Program Manager

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

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

Communications Team Lead

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 boards of directors of Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora and the Denver Urban Debate League.

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Katherine Pinney

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 Price

Equitable Democracy Fellow

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

Sam Searles

Communications Coordinator

Sam Searles joined CIRCLE as Communications Coordinator in March 2024. She graduated from Suffolk University in 2021 with a BA in Journalism after transferring from UNH Manchester where she studied Communication Arts.

Prior to CIRCLE, she was a Report For America Corps member, reporting on Gun Violence Prevention at WHYY News in Philadelphia. Searles has interned with New Hampshire Public Radio, Skillsoft, and NECN. She has deep passions for lifelong learning, justice, youth initiatives, and media literacy, and has served in various civic and mutual aid volunteer positions in her home state of New Hampshire.

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Kelly Siegel-Stechler

Senior Researcher

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

Senior Researcher

Sara Suzuki is a Senior Researcher at CIRCLE, where she works on projects that explore how organizations, institutions, and systems embedded within and across communities can support and sustain youth civic engagement in all of its forms. In particular, she focuses on how young people enact sociopolitical reflection and action (critical consciousness) to challenge systems of oppression and bring about social change. In her work, she also pursues innovation in anti-racist and anti-oppressive quantitative methodology, in particular by studying the application of QuantCrit to mixture modeling techniques. Sara serves as 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.

Tova Wang

Visiting Fellow at Tisch College

Tova Wang joins CIRCLE's work as a Visiting Fellow, bringing her expertise in voting rights and electoral policies to co-lead several CIRCLE projects. She is a Senior Researcher in Democratic Practice at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Prior to that she was Director of Policy and Research at the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, where she worked on voter registration reform and oversaw and conducted research on how to develop transformative strategies for increasing political participation among marginalized groups. She has been working on improving democracy since the 2000 presidential election, including for several years as a Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos. Tova has focused on issues related to greater political inclusion in the United States, including major studies on increasing voter participation rates among low income people, communities of color, naturalized immigrants, youth and Native Americans. Her critically acclaimed book, The Politics of Voter Suppression: Defending and Expanding Americans’ Right to Vote, was published in 2012 by Cornell University Press.

Research Fellows and 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.

Liani Astacio

Liani Astacio is a Research Assistant at CIRCLE and a senior at Tufts University studying Latin American Studies and Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora Studies. They will be supporting projects related to youth and media ecosystems and broadband access. She has experience in and is excited about local and student journalism and political organizing.

Javier Fuentes

Javier Fuentes is a sophomore at the University of Maryland studying Public Policy and Social
Data Science. He is eager to use his background in environmental and social justice advocacy to guide his research efforts. Javier joins CIRCLE this summer as a Laufer Democracy Intern, with goals of contributing to youth poll tracking and election policy scans.

Lexi Harless

Lexi is a graduate student in the MA in Educational Policy Studies program at Boston University. At CIRCLE, she is supporting research efforts that work to improve the implementation of social studies curriculum in grades 3-7. Her research focuses on the implementation of this curriculum in rural areas across the state and understanding the diverse needs of students and teachers based on geographical location.

Drisana Hughes

Drisana is a graduate student in the MPP program at Harvard Kennedy School. Her background is in political campaigns, grassroots organizing, and policy research. Her work at CIRCLE focuses on identifying ways advocates and organizers can best use election reform laws to their maximum potential.

Seona Maskara

Seona (she/they) is a Research Assistant at CIRCLE who is currently a sophomore at Tufts University studying International Relations and Civic Studies. She is excited to channel her passion for youth civic engagement into CIRCLE’s research; they will be supporting research projects focusing on youth activism and youth political homes.

Ilan Solano

Ilan Solano is a senior at Tufts University studying Sociology, eager to continue his journey within the field of education through CIRCLE's research. With experience as a social studies teaching fellow, he is excited to begin educational research. He will support CIRCLE’s research project on Massachusetts civic education, which advances civic learning and development in K-12 education.

José Velásquez

José Velásquez is a senior at Tufts University majoring in Quantitative Economics, with minors in Urban Studies and Mathematics. He has worked on projects and campaigns related to child labor laws, farmworker justice, and immigration reform. José will be joining CIRCLE as a 2024 Tisch Summer Fellow. During this time he will focus his work on the Youth Electoral Significance Index (YESI) and election policy scans.

Melinda Yung

Melinda is a Research Assistant at CIRCLE and a sophomore at Tufts University majoring in Psychology, Child Studies and Human Development, and potentially minoring in Entrepreneurship. She is excited to learn and gain more experience in educational research, supporting CIRCLE’s research project on Massachusetts’ civics education and implementing their Investigating History curriculum as part of their initiative to maintain adequate and equitable civic learning for all students.