The UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families unites a multidisciplinary network across campus and throughout LA County to identify prevention strategies that safely reduce the need for foster care, while supporting equitable reform to our child welfare system.

OUR WORK

Collaboration is at the heart of the UCLA Pritzker Center. Our work comes to life through research, education, and partnership. As a bridge from UCLA and into neighborhoods across the region, we team with researchers and community leaders to boldly challenge and resolve systemic issues that have made Los Angeles County’s child welfare system the largest in the nation.

WORKING TO SUPPORT FOSTER

YOUTH AND FAMILIES

There are nearly 35,000 young people engaged in the child welfare services system in Los Angeles County, including more than 21,000 in foster care. Sadly, many children spend years in “the system,” moving from foster home to group home to foster home, and from one school district to another. Schools are the place where foster youth spend the majority of their day, but these schools are often not working optimally in collaboration with providers or parents. These challenges can result in persistent stress and uncertainty, leaving the child at risk for significant emotional and psychological trauma. Though well intentioned, few foster parents are equipped for the challenges faced by the children in their care.

With these opportunities for support in mind, the UCLA Pritzker Center is a hub for developing new ways to elevate the life trajectories of children and young people, with a focus on both prevention and intervention for those in the foster care system. Given the disproportionate number of youth in foster care who are Black, the Center is also a site for examining racial dynamics in foster care. Leaders at the UCLA Pritzker Center proactively and strategically link UCLA’s work to nonprofit agencies, K-12 systems, other education institutions, and government support services as we develop collaborative and innovative classroom support systems, family support services, and trauma and resiliency informed care.

OUR STORY

Launched in January 2018, the UCLA Pritzker Center was made possible by a generous gift from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation.

Tony and Jeanne Pritzker are Los Angeles philanthropists and leading supporters of UCLA who have made significant investments toward bettering the lives of foster youth and their families. With this vision in mind, the UCLA Pritzker Center has become a dynamic interdisciplinary venture that brings together a wide variety of UCLA resources and expertise to address the complex needs of foster youth and to create better prevention systems for families who are at risk of their children entering the foster care system. The Pritzker gift also establishes the Pritzker Family Endowed Chair in Education for Strengthening Children & Families in the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, to provide faculty leadership for the Center.

The UCLA Pritzker Center acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.


OUR TEAM

Our team is made up of a diverse network of multidisciplinary leaders from across the UCLA campus.

Audra Langley, PhD

Position: Co-Director
Email: ALangley@mednet.ucla.edu

Audra Langley, Ph.D. is a UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine Professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Langley’s body of research seeks to increase equity in access to quality mental health and wellbeing interventions for under-resourced populations of children, including those in schools and involved with the child welfare system. She is the Director of UCLA TIES for Families, an innovative interdisciplinary program for children in foster care, kinship care or adopted through foster care (ages birth to 25) and their families in Los Angeles County, working in close partnership with the Los Angeles County Departments of Children and Family Services and Mental Health. Dr. Langley has also served as Director of Training for the NCTSN-funded Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Resiliency, Hope and Wellness in Schools since 2003 and is faculty lead for Child Welfare with the DMH UCLA Prevention Center of Excellence. She is the author of 5 evidence-based interventions, including Bounce Back: Elementary School Intervention for Childhood Trauma, Support for Students Exposed to Trauma (SSET), ADAPT: Adoption-Specific Therapy to Help Adopted Children and their Families Thrive, and the recently released 2nd version of Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS).

Dr. Langley is proud of the UCLA Pritzker Center’s balanced investment in preventing children from entering child welfare AND intervening to elevate the life trajectories of children and young people already in foster care. She hopes the Center will continue to propel innovative, antiracist and LGBTQIA+ affirming synergy between UCLA and Los Angeles communities and child and family serving systems.

Dr. Langley enjoys hiking, travel, salsa dancing at family parties, and meaningful time with her wife and three incredible children.

Audra Langley, PhD

Co-Director

Audra Langley, Ph.D. is a UCLA David Geffen School of...

Kenyon Whitman, PhD

Position: Faculty Affiliate

Kenyon Lee Whitman is a scholar-practitioner. He has over 10 years of experience working in higher education, much of that time supporting foster youth. Most recently he directed the Office of Foster Youth Support Services at UC Riverside for six years. He received his Ph.D. in Education, with an emphasis on Higher Education Administration and Policy at UC Riverside. Dr. Whitman’s research is interdisciplinary, he focuses on underrepresented students in higher education, specifically, the racialized college-going experiences of foster youth. Currently, Dr. Whitman is serving as a UC Chancellor’s Post-doctoral Fellow at UCLA in the department of Urban Schooling, working with Dr. Tyrone Howard in the UCLA Pritzker Center for Research on Strengthening Children and Families. As a former foster youth, he understands first-hand the challenges foster youth face as they work toward earning a college degree. Kenyon also holds a B.S. and M.A. from Fresno State.

Kenyon Whitman, PhD

Faculty Affiliate

Kenyon Lee Whitman is a scholar-practitioner. He has over 10...

Lisa Gantz, MD

Position: UCLA Pritzker Center Antelope Valley Child Health and Wellbeing Fellow

Dr. Lisa Gantz is the inaugural fellow for 2020-2021. Dr. Gantz, who is board-certified in both Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California (USC), earned her medical degree at the Keck School of Medicine of the USC, and completed her internship and residency at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She recently joined LA County Department of Health Services (DHS) and provides clinical care to children and adults at the High Desert Regional Health Center in Lancaster and at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar. She also serves as Clinical Instructor for the Department of Pediatrics at UCLA. In addition to her clinical role, Dr. Gantz will work with DHS, the UCLA Center of Excellence (a partnership between UCLA Psychiatry and the LA County Department of Mental Health focused on trauma-informed care), and the UCLA Pritzker Center to support initiatives utilizing the medical home as a foundation for improving community engagement and response to trauma in the Antelope Valley region.

 

Lisa Gantz, MD

UCLA Pritzker Center Antelope Valley Child Health and Wellbeing Fellow

Dr. Lisa Gantz is the inaugural fellow for 2020-2021. Dr....

Patricia Lester, MD

Position: Leadership Team
Email: PLester@mednet.ucla.edu

Dr. Lester is the Jane and Marc Nathanson Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and David Geffen School of Medicine. She serves as the Vice Chair for Community Engagement, Director of the Division of Population Behavioral Health, Director of the Nathanson Family Resilience Center, Co-Director of the Center for Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support, and part of the leadership team for the Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families. She also serves as the Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health + UCLA Public Partnership for Wellbeing. A board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Lester’s research, administrative and clinical work have been dedicated to the development, evaluation, and implementation of family centered prevention and treatment for families and children facing trauma and adversity within community ecosystems and service settings. She co-developed the family-centered preventive intervention FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) which was designed to promote resilience and mitigate stress in families facing adversity, trauma and loss. Over the last 12 years, she has led the successful large scale implementation of FOCUS as a public health continuum of preventive services to support military families facing deployments and other transitions for the Department of Defense, which has served over 1 million people. In Los Angeles County, Dr. Lester oversees a prevention learning management system (learn.wellbeing4LA.org) focused on the implementation of trauma and resilience informed practice across large systems of care. She also advises on the needs of military-connected children and families across military, university and non-profit agencies. She is currently a Co-Principal investigator NIMH R01 study to evaluate the longitudinal impact of adverse childhood events related to parental military service during early childhood on adolescent outcomes. Her work has been supported by the Department of Defense, the US Department of Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, National Institute for Mental Health, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Full CV here.

Patricia Lester, MD

Leadership Team

Dr. Lester is the Jane and Marc Nathanson Professor of...

Todd Franke, PhD

Position: Leadership Team
Email: tfranke@g.ucla.edu

Dr. Franke is Professor in the Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare.  Dr. Franke has 27 years of experience in conducting cross-sectional and longitudinal research in a variety of interconnected fields including child welfare, education, juvenile justice, mental health and adolescent violence. His experience includes data analysis (multivariate, predictive analytics, machine learning), data visualization, and linking large existing datasets together for the social good. Over the years Dr. Franke has worked on numerous evaluation projects in these areas and is currently co-editor of the American Evaluation association journal, New Directions in Evaluation. In the area of child welfare, he has done work on multiple levels including examining the child welfare system and the related systems involved in the lives of children and families (e.g, health, mental health, juvenile justice, education, housing), workers and worker training, as well as children and families. He has received over $90 million dollars in funding. He recently completed a study examining the link between children in out-of-home care and early childhood education through a project funded by the Administration for Children and Families. In addition to working with the Center of Excellence at UCLA around Trauma informed practice/training, Dr. Franke currently oversees the training provided to all new and current staff at the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services as well as the cross-training that is beginning to occur between county agencies and for service providers and families.

Full CV here.

Todd Franke, PhD

Leadership Team

Dr. Franke is Professor in the Luskin School of Public...

Tyrone Howard, PhD

Position: Director
Email: thoward@gseis.ucla.edu

Tyrone C. Howard is the Pritzker Family Endowed Chair in the School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. He is the director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children & Families, the UCLA Black Male Institute, and the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools. Professor Howard’s research examines race, culture, and educational equity. A native and former classroom teacher of Compton, CA, Professor Howard was named the recipient of the 2015 UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, which is the university’s highest and most distinguished award for teaching excellence. Professor Howard was named an AERA Fellow in 2018, and during the last five years, Dr. Howard, the author of 6 books, and countless other publications, has been listed by Education Week as one of the most influential scholars in the nation informing educational policy, practice and reform.

Dr. Howard hopes for the UCLA Pritzker Center to work with UCLA and community partners to create system and policy change for our most vulnerable populations in Los Angeles County. The challenges that youth in care face are multifaceted and require multidisciplinary, caring, and systemic interventions, and the Center can play an instrumental role in eradicating the need for foster care. Under his leadership, he envisions the Center supporting children by identifying and utilizing accessible pathways to educational success, playing a preventive role in supporting families, and offering culturally responsive interventions to support families currently in care.


Dr. Howard is a product of Compton, CA. In addition to being a competitive person, and huge sports fan, he is also a proud father of four amazing young people. He and his wife are both former classroom teachers in the Compton Unified School District. In fact, his wife’s first teaching assignment was in the same Kindergarten school and classroom where Dr. Howard attended as a Kindergartner. 

Full CV here.

Tyrone Howard, PhD

Director

Tyrone C. Howard is the Pritzker Family Endowed Chair in...

Ana Rivera

Position: Program Coordinator

Ana Rivera is the Program Coordinator at the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families. Ana is a graduate from California State University, Fresno, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health. During her time there she served with Jumpstart to help preschool aged children in underserved communities develop language and literacy skills. Prior to joining UCLA, Ana was a Program Manager for the Central California Asthma Collaborative where she worked on a multidisciplinary approach to asthma management and advocated for families in areas of health care access, affordable housing, mental health, and environmental justice and equity. Ana is excited to join the UCLA Pritzker Center team and hopes to aid in the research, education, and community building goals to help children and families in the foster care system. 

Ana Rivera

Program Coordinator

Ana Rivera is the Program Coordinator at the UCLA Pritzker...

Brenda Tully, PhD

Position: Research Fellow

Brenda A. Tully joined the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families as a Research Fellow after earning her PhD in Social Welfare at UCLA in September 2022. Twenty years of social work practice with children, youth, and families on the edge of, or in the child welfare system inform Brenda’s research. Brenda plays a lead role in the UCLA Pritzker Center’s research and evaluation which are rooted in collaboration and movement toward racial equity. She leads research teams focused on domestic violence and child welfare, an intervention to reduce racial disproportionality in substantiations following child welfare investigations, and facilitators and barriers to uptake of housing choice vouchers for young people transitioning out of foster care from the perspectives of young adults, property managers, and housing navigators. These applied research projects aim to produce practical recommendations for systems change to streamline service provision in the community, reduce racial disproportionality and disparities, and support family and young adult stability.

Brenda Tully, PhD

Research Fellow

Brenda A. Tully joined the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening...

Christine Ann Lina

Position: Communications Manager

Christine Ann Lina is the Communications Manager at the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families. Christine’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from California State University, Long Beach, where she developed a solid foundation in communication theory, research, practical skills, and enhanced her ability to effectively analyze target audiences, tailor messages, and develop strategic communication plans. Prior to working at the UCLA Pritzker Center, she worked as a Social Media Coordinator in the real estate industry and Creative Director in the faith-based space, where she successfully managed and executed social media strategies, leveraged her expertise to drive engagement and enhance brand presence.

With a keen eye for design and a passion for staying at the forefront of digital and social media trends, Christine is committed to delivering the message of the UCLA Pritzker Center into the world, strengthening children and families.

Christine Ann Lina

Communications Manager

Christine Ann Lina is the Communications Manager at the UCLA...

Laura Liévano-Karim, PhD

Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Laura Liévano-Karim is a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Pritzker Center. Her research lies at the intersection between social work and public health; specifically, she focuses on violence prevention and intervention, youth development, and child welfare in Colombia and the United States. Her ongoing research projects in the United States encompass the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare, the delivery of culturally responsive care for Black children in foster care, the identification of barriers to racial equity within the child welfare system, and the elimination of implicit bias, to advance fairness and equity, in child welfare decision-making. Dr. Liévano-Karim has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Carleton University, a master’s degree in public policy from Universidad de Los Andes, and a PhD in Social Welfare from UCLA.

Laura Liévano-Karim, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Laura Liévano-Karim is a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA...

Taylor Dudley, JD

Position: Executive Director
Email: dudley@gseis.ucla.edu

Taylor is the Executive Director at the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families. Prior to working at UCLA, Taylor was the Children’s Deputy for LA County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, where she focused on policy reform relating to foster care, juvenile justice, women’s health , education, child care and immigration. Taylor is a licensed California attorney, and previously practiced with the Alliance for Children’s Rights, where she established and managed the first medical-legal partnership in the country serving children in foster care at LAC+USC Medical Center. Taylor aims to open the doors of UCLA to children and families across Los Angeles with the work offered by the UCLA Pritzker Center. Taylor was a babysitter and gymnastics coach as a high school student, and attributes these early experiences to her lifelong career working with children and families.

Taylor Dudley, JD

Executive Director

Taylor is the Executive Director at the UCLA Pritzker Center...

Abigail “Abby” Rubstova

Position: Research Assistant

Abigail Rubtsova Henderson is a rising third year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Political Science and Anthropology. On campus, she dedicates her time to organizations like Kids Korner, Bruin Guardian Scholar, the Academic Advancement Program and holds office in Kappa Alpha Pi pre-law fraternity. She is also a contributing writer for Fostering Media Connections through Youth Voices Rising. Abigail currently works on the Photovoice team and hopes to empower foster youth by sharing their stories through creative media and research.

Abigail “Abby” Rubstova

Research Assistant

Abigail Rubtsova Henderson is a rising third year undergraduate student...

Amanda Solis

Position: Research Assistant

Amanda Solis is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in Sociology. She is a part of the UCLA Photovoice research team that is working to empower and to amplify the voices of foster youth through the use of photography. Solis aspires to advocate for children in the child welfare system.

Amanda Solis

Research Assistant

Amanda Solis is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at...

Brittney Hun

Position: Survey Researcher

Brittney Hun is a recent graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles, earning her Bachelors of Science in Human Biology and Society. At the Pritzker Center, Brittney works on the AVENUE Project, the Summer Child Welfare Academy, and our Speaker Series. Brittney plans on attending medical school and ensuring health and social equity for communities she is a part of.

Brittney Hun

Survey Researcher

Brittney Hun is a recent graduate from the University of...

Claudia Martinez

Position: Graduate Student Researcher

Claudia Martinez is a third-year dual degree graduate student. She is currently pursuing her master in social welfare concentrating in mental health across the life; and public health specializing in community health sciences. During the summer she completed 400 field studies hours at Venice Family Clinic as a Behavioral Health Intern. Currently, she is gaining hands-on experience through her internship hours at Kaiser Permanente, where she will have clinical rotations to assist different patients throughout the hospital. Pursuing her dual master’s degrees in Social Welfare and Public Health will increase her confidence to help the community thoroughly, on micro, mezzo, and macro levels. In the next 3 years , Claudia hopes to receive her license in clinical social work while working at a hospital. After some time in the field, she hopes to create/implement a mental health program and deliver clinical services to families at the border. Her goal is to contribute to research and create policies that foster safe and healthy spaces for migrants to get acclimated to the U.S. In her free time, she likes to build legos, enjoys exploring new coffee shops and hangout with her dog Snoopy.

Claudia Martinez

Graduate Student Researcher

Claudia Martinez is a third-year dual degree graduate student. She...

Cristopher Espino

Position: Research Assistant

Cristopher Espino is a rising second year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Political Science and Education & Social Transformation Studies. On campus, Cristopher works as the Chief of Senate in the Academic Affairs commission and the UCLA Political Science Council. Cristopher also works as a Stakeholder for the North Westwood Neighborhood Council and is a Fellow for Teach for America. He’s excited to help discover ways in which the Foster Care system can be ameliorated. Cristopher is especially excited to learn from others and to be able to meaningfully contribute to the Pritzker Center’s work.

Cristopher Espino

Research Assistant

Cristopher Espino is a rising second year undergraduate student at...

Tae Thompson

Position: Doctoral Student Researcher

Tae Thompson is a doctoral candidate in UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies, Urban Schooling Division. His research explores how educational institutions can facilitate success for marginalized students, particularly those who have had interactions with the child welfare and justice system. Tae is a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow and aims to counter the master narrative about students with foster care experience and center their voices in education literature. He is a Compton, CA native and the co-founder and Executive Director of Twinspire, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that works for and with youth in need of life skill services. A slam poet and author of the inspirational autobiography, Raised From Scratch, Tae received his M.Ed. from the University of Southern California and his B.S. in Business Management from California State University, Northridge.

Tae Thompson

Doctoral Student Researcher

Tae Thompson is a doctoral candidate in UCLA’s School of...

Ellis Eckles

Position: Research Assistant

Ellis Eckles is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Public Affairs. Ellis has worked with organizations like Olive Crest to support foster families and vulnerable youth. At the Pritzker Center, she hopes to grow her understanding of child welfare policy in America and ways to improve it at the state and national levels.

Ellis Eckles

Research Assistant

Ellis Eckles is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at...

Isabella Reina

Position: Research Assistant

Isabella Reina is a third year undergraduate student at University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Public Affairs and Communications. Isabella is a member of the AVENUE initiative and a research assistant on the TAY HUB FYI Housing Choice Voucher Study. Aside from research efforts, Isabella is a communications assistant for the Pritzker Center. She looks forward to continuing supporting research and communications efforts.

Isabella Reina

Research Assistant

Isabella Reina is a third year undergraduate student at University...

Kahlila Williams

Position: Research Assistant

Kahlila Williams is a third year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Sociology and African American Studies with a minor in Community Engagement and Social Change. She worked as a liaison for the Bruin Guardian Scholars Program and has been an advocate for students through the Black Student Achievement Plan. Kahlila works with the DV project team and is looking forward to continuing her advocacy with the UCLA Pritzker Center.

Kahlila Williams

Research Assistant

Kahlila Williams is a third year undergraduate student at the...

Keara Williams

Position: Graduate Student Researcher

Keara Williams is a doctoral student in UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies, Urban Schooling Division. She is a high school English teacher committed to social justice and giving back to her community. She believes in teaching a curriculum that centers students of color experiences and values students’ assets. Keara received her BA in American Literature with a minor in Education Studies and her M.Ed. from UCLA. She believes in seeing and teaching the whole child- a belief that allows teachers to see a student beyond academics.

Keara Williams

Graduate Student Researcher

Keara Williams is a doctoral student in UCLA’s School of...

Maya Melnick

Position: Operations Assistant

Maya Melnick is a third-year Cognitive Science major (B.S.) pursuing a specialization degree in Computer Programming with a minor in Film, Television, and Digital Media. As the Operations Assistant at the UCLA Pritzker Center, Maya assists with grant acquisition, event, and field trip planning, as well as work in communications. After she graduates from UCLA, she hopes to pursue a higher level of education in Computer Science with a focus on website and app development geared toward mental health.

Maya Melnick

Operations Assistant

Maya Melnick is a third-year Cognitive Science major (B.S.) pursuing...

Mia Meza

Position: Research Assistant

Mia Meza is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in Nursing. At the Pritzker Center, Mia works on the AVENUE, DV, and TIES projects. Mia hopes to become a Nurse practitioner that provides quality and accessible trauma informed care to all patients and their families while addressing faults within our healthcare systems.

Mia Meza

Research Assistant

Mia Meza is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at...

Olivia Gilchrist

Position: Research Assistant

Olivia Gilchrist is a third year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Psychology and Public Affairs. Olivia is a head counselor with UCLA Unicamp and volunteers for Mentorship at UCLA. She looks forward to supporting research and education around the child welfare system.

Olivia Gilchrist

Research Assistant

Olivia Gilchrist is a third year undergraduate student at the...

Sam Blanchard

Position: Graduate Student Researcher

Sam Blanchard is a doctoral student in the Urban Schooling division at the University of California, Los Angeles. Sam’s research interests focus on external social, political, and economic conditions, such as trauma and poverty, and their impact on student experiences, in addition to how schooling practices cause trauma. Prior to attending UCLA, Sam was an elementary classroom teacher passionate about trauma-informed practices and identity-affirming curriculum, classrooms, and school environments.

Sam Blanchard

Graduate Student Researcher

Sam Blanchard is a doctoral student in the Urban Schooling...

Sophia Dsouza

Position: Survey Researcher

Sophia Dsouza is a recent graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a Bachelor of Science in Physiological Science. Currently, Sophia is a Survey Researcher for the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, working on the Blind Removal, DV, and Speaker Series projects. In the future, Sophia plans to apply to medical school and pursue a career as a pediatric physician.

Sophia Dsouza

Survey Researcher

Sophia Dsouza is a recent graduate from the University of...

Taylor Thaxton

Position: Medical Student Research Assistant

Taylor is a fourth year medical student in the Drew/UCLA medical education program. She recently completed her Master’s in Public Health at UC Berkeley, with a focus on maternal, child, and adolescent health. Her interests include pediatric medicine and resilience-focused interventions for patients with a history of adverse childhood experiences.

Taylor Thaxton

Medical Student Research Assistant

Taylor is a fourth year medical student in the Drew/UCLA medical...

Ellis Eckles

Position: Research Assistant

Ellis Eckles is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in Public Affairs. Ellis has worked with organizations like Olive Crest to support foster families and vulnerable youth. At the Pritzker Center, she hopes to grow her understanding of child welfare policy in America and ways to improve it at the state and national levels.

Ellis Eckles

Research Assistant

Ellis Eckles is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at...

Claudia Martinez

Position: Graduate Student Researcher

Claudia Martinez is a third-year dual degree graduate student. She is currently pursuing her master in social welfare concentrating in mental health across the life; and public health specializing in community health sciences. During the summer she completed 400 field studies hours at Venice Family Clinic as a Behavioral Health Intern. Currently, she is gaining hands-on experience through her internship hours at Kaiser Permanente, where she will have clinical rotations to assist different patients throughout the hospital. Pursuing her dual master’s degrees in Social Welfare and Public Health will increase her confidence to help the community thoroughly, on micro, mezzo, and macro levels. In the next 3 years , Claudia hopes to receive her license in clinical social work while working at a hospital. After some time in the field, she hopes to create/implement a mental health program and deliver clinical services to families at the border. Her goal is to contribute to research and create policies that foster safe and healthy spaces for migrants to get acclimated to the U.S. In her free time, she likes to build legos, enjoys exploring new coffee shops and hangout with her dog Snoopy.

Claudia Martinez

Graduate Student Researcher

Claudia Martinez is a third-year dual degree graduate student. She...

Laura Liévano-Karim, PhD

Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Laura Liévano-Karim is a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Pritzker Center. Her research lies at the intersection between social work and public health; specifically, she focuses on violence prevention and intervention, youth development, and child welfare in Colombia and the United States. Her ongoing research projects in the United States encompass the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare, the delivery of culturally responsive care for Black children in foster care, the identification of barriers to racial equity within the child welfare system, and the elimination of implicit bias, to advance fairness and equity, in child welfare decision-making. Dr. Liévano-Karim has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Carleton University, a master’s degree in public policy from Universidad de Los Andes, and a PhD in Social Welfare from UCLA.

Laura Liévano-Karim, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Laura Liévano-Karim is a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA...

Cristopher Espino

Position: Research Assistant

Cristopher Espino is a rising second year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Political Science and Education & Social Transformation Studies. On campus, Cristopher works as the Chief of Senate in the Academic Affairs commission and the UCLA Political Science Council. Cristopher also works as a Stakeholder for the North Westwood Neighborhood Council and is a Fellow for Teach for America. He’s excited to help discover ways in which the Foster Care system can be ameliorated. Cristopher is especially excited to learn from others and to be able to meaningfully contribute to the Pritzker Center’s work.

Cristopher Espino

Research Assistant

Cristopher Espino is a rising second year undergraduate student at...

Tae Thompson

Position: Doctoral Student Researcher

Tae Thompson is a doctoral candidate in UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies, Urban Schooling Division. His research explores how educational institutions can facilitate success for marginalized students, particularly those who have had interactions with the child welfare and justice system. Tae is a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow and aims to counter the master narrative about students with foster care experience and center their voices in education literature. He is a Compton, CA native and the co-founder and Executive Director of Twinspire, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that works for and with youth in need of life skill services. A slam poet and author of the inspirational autobiography, Raised From Scratch, Tae received his M.Ed. from the University of Southern California and his B.S. in Business Management from California State University, Northridge.

Tae Thompson

Doctoral Student Researcher

Tae Thompson is a doctoral candidate in UCLA’s School of...

Isabella Reina

Position: Research Assistant

Isabella Reina is a third year undergraduate student at University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Public Affairs and Communications. Isabella is a member of the AVENUE initiative and a research assistant on the TAY HUB FYI Housing Choice Voucher Study. Aside from research efforts, Isabella is a communications assistant for the Pritzker Center. She looks forward to continuing supporting research and communications efforts.

Isabella Reina

Research Assistant

Isabella Reina is a third year undergraduate student at University...

Kahlila Williams

Position: Research Assistant

Kahlila Williams is a third year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Sociology and African American Studies with a minor in Community Engagement and Social Change. She worked as a liaison for the Bruin Guardian Scholars Program and has been an advocate for students through the Black Student Achievement Plan. Kahlila works with the DV project team and is looking forward to continuing her advocacy with the UCLA Pritzker Center.

Kahlila Williams

Research Assistant

Kahlila Williams is a third year undergraduate student at the...

Keara Williams

Position: Graduate Student Researcher

Keara Williams is a doctoral student in UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies, Urban Schooling Division. She is a high school English teacher committed to social justice and giving back to her community. She believes in teaching a curriculum that centers students of color experiences and values students’ assets. Keara received her BA in American Literature with a minor in Education Studies and her M.Ed. from UCLA. She believes in seeing and teaching the whole child- a belief that allows teachers to see a student beyond academics.

Keara Williams

Graduate Student Researcher

Keara Williams is a doctoral student in UCLA’s School of...

Maya Melnick

Position: Operations Assistant

Maya Melnick is a third-year Cognitive Science major (B.S.) pursuing a specialization degree in Computer Programming with a minor in Film, Television, and Digital Media. As the Operations Assistant at the UCLA Pritzker Center, Maya assists with grant acquisition, event, and field trip planning, as well as work in communications. After she graduates from UCLA, she hopes to pursue a higher level of education in Computer Science with a focus on website and app development geared toward mental health.

Maya Melnick

Operations Assistant

Maya Melnick is a third-year Cognitive Science major (B.S.) pursuing...

Mia Meza

Position: Research Assistant

Mia Meza is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in Nursing. At the Pritzker Center, Mia works on the AVENUE, DV, and TIES projects. Mia hopes to become a Nurse practitioner that provides quality and accessible trauma informed care to all patients and their families while addressing faults within our healthcare systems.

Mia Meza

Research Assistant

Mia Meza is a rising fourth year undergraduate student at...

Olivia Gilchrist

Position: Research Assistant

Olivia Gilchrist is a third year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, double majoring in Psychology and Public Affairs. Olivia is a head counselor with UCLA Unicamp and volunteers for Mentorship at UCLA. She looks forward to supporting research and education around the child welfare system.

Olivia Gilchrist

Research Assistant

Olivia Gilchrist is a third year undergraduate student at the...

Sam Blanchard

Position: Graduate Student Researcher

Sam Blanchard is a doctoral student in the Urban Schooling division at the University of California, Los Angeles. Sam’s research interests focus on external social, political, and economic conditions, such as trauma and poverty, and their impact on student experiences, in addition to how schooling practices cause trauma. Prior to attending UCLA, Sam was an elementary classroom teacher passionate about trauma-informed practices and identity-affirming curriculum, classrooms, and school environments.

Sam Blanchard

Graduate Student Researcher

Sam Blanchard is a doctoral student in the Urban Schooling...