MACC@WestEd Team

Leadership Team

Janice K. Anderson
Center Director

For more than two decades, Janice K. Anderson, a Senior Research Associate at WestEd, has led efforts at improving education analysis and practice at national, state, and local levels.

As a Senior Policy Analyst at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Anderson led Department-wide teams to implement the Secretary’s priorities for standards- and assessment-based improvement, briefed senior officers and Congressional bodies on budget and policy initiatives, steered sensitive policy development, and established partnerships within and beyond the Department to support the Administration’s goals. In addition, during her tenure at ED, Anderson served as lead Governor’s Education Aide and work group leader for the National Governors’ Association and Education Commission of the States. She represented the Governor of Missouri on state programs and national education improvement efforts, providing assistance to local districts, guiding research and evaluation for Parents as First Teachers, and establishing education partnerships across states and local districts.

Carol Cohen
Director of Technical Assistance

Carol Cohen has more than 25 years of experience managing and conducting research, analysis, and technical assistance for federal, state, and local policymakers and program leaders in education and human services. She has particular expertise in budget and finance issues, and high-level organizational and project management.

As a Senior Research Associate in the Evaluation Research Program at WestEd, Cohen has directed a series of large projects to evaluate and improve education policies and programs. For example, she directed a five-year multi-million dollar project monitoring state education agencies, Charter Management Organizations (CMOs), and charter schools in the implementation of their federal Charter School Program (CSP) grant projects.

Prior to joining WestEd, Cohen served as Deputy Director of The Finance Project, a $6-million national research and technical assistance organization focused on the financing and sustainability of education and human services initiatives.

She also directed the federally funded National Resource Center on Charter School Finance and Governance and studies on teacher professional development and leadership preparation.

Rima Azzam
Director of Operations; District of Columbia & Maryland Case Manager

Rima Azzam’s 20 years of experience in the field of education includes working in national and international centers and projects on a variety of areas, such as education reform, program and state-level evaluation, literacy, and policy analysis.

A Senior Research Associate at WestEd, Azzam directs and manages small to large complex projects and centers. She has worked on contracts, cooperative agreements, as well as grants with funding values ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $93 million.

Becky Smerdon
Pennsylvania Case Manager; DC Liaison; College & Career Readiness and Success Content Lead

Becky Smerdon is a Senior Research Scientist at WestEd and a nationally recognized expert in college & career readiness and high school reform. Trained as a quantitative researcher, she has led numerous studies and evaluations, including a formative and summative evaluation of Baltimore’s high school reform initiative. Smerdon also completed a prestigious Senior Urban Fellowship sponsored by the Council of Great City Schools and the Institution of Education Sciences, during which she worked with DC Public Schools to develop early warning indicators. She recently completed an NSF-funded study to identify predictors of successful completion of 9th grade Algebra among DCPS students. Smerdon has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and edited 2 books, Saving America’s High Schools (2009) and High Schools for a Complex World (2011). She is currently working on a third book on college & career readiness & success. As the founding Director of the National High School Center and in the role of technical assistance provider on numerous projects, Smerdon has worked directly with states, districts, and schools to build capacity to use research and data to improve policy and practice.

Carolyn Vincent
RMC Research Corporation Subcontract Lead; and Innovations in Learning Content Lead

Carolyn Vincent serves as Vice President of RMC’s Arlington, Virginia, office. She has over 20 years of experience as a senior project director, technical assistance provider, and program evaluator.

Vincent played a key role in an IASA Regional Comprehensive Center (1995–2005). There she worked under the Chief State School Officer, supporting her reform agenda. She also contributed to the assessment of state needs, development and implementation of technical assistance plans, and reporting on outcomes of technical assistance, with emphasis on Title I School Improvement and the statewide system of support for low-performing schools.

Vincent also worked on the Doing What Works Project (DWW), where she provided content expertise in English learners and helped develop DWW’s resources on several literacy topics. She also served as a technical assistance liaison for two DWW Implementation Award projects and worked with the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of English Language Acquisition to develop an online community of practice for one of its grantee groups.

Vincent brings deep expertise in processes related to implementing, sustaining, and scaling up. From 2006–2010, she directed a project for ED on sustaining the scientifically based approach to teaching reading demonstrated in the Reading First program. This project worked from research on implementation science conducted by the National Implementation Research Network.

Kyle Snow
RMC Research Corporation Subcontract Lead

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Snow has worked in early childhood education. He has shown national leadership in early childhood education as the director of the Center for Applied Research at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Director of the Program in Early Learning and School Readiness at the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). In these positions, Snow worked with multiple stakeholders to advance policy and support evidence-based practice.  In those roles, he has often communicated the results of research in high stakes settings to policymakers, practitioners, and the public. Snow has served on numerous federal, state, and private foundations advisory panels, applying his content knowledge in assessment, factors affecting children’s early care and education, transition to school, and the experiences of young dual language learners.

Core Team (in addition to those listed above)

Daniel Bugler
Great Teachers and Leaders Content Lead

Daniel Bugler is a Senior Research Associate with the Evaluation Research Program at WestEd.

Bugler works with the Regional Educational Laboratory West to support design and research needs of Arizona’s Department of Education as it develops and implements a new Teacher Effectiveness Evaluation System. He is also evaluating the instructional reform efforts in Arizona’s Creighton School District.

Previously, Bugler served for four years as Chief Research, Evaluation, and Accountability Officer for Chicago Public Schools where he was responsible for the evaluation of the impacts of the district’s instructional and educational programs and initiatives development of value-added measures used in the district’s Teacher Incentive Fund grant for annual assessments of nearly 400,000 students and statistical analysis of student, school, and district data.

Chris Dwyer
Early Learning Content Lead

Chris Dwyer has provided technical assistance for the federal government and state agencies in the implementation of family literacy programs, focusing on the early childhood and parent development components of Even Start. Recent product development in early childhood includes working on an online mentoring toolkit for supporting preschool staff and cross-walks of infant/toddler and preschool guidelines.

Dwyer has also served as a content lead for the US Department of Education’s Doing What Works research-to-practice initiative, developing web-based media and tools for professional developers in topics such as preschool language and literacy, literacy for English learners, K-3 reading comprehension, response to intervention in literacy and mathematics, and elementary and middle school mathematics.

Vito A. Forlenza
Pennsylvania State Liaison

Vito Forlenza has more than 37 years of experience in public education.

For most of his career he served as a Curriculum Director and Assistant Executive Director serving 20 public school districts across five northeastern counties in Pennsylvania. He worked closely with education practitioners, higher education researchers, and Pennsylvania Department of Education officials.

Forlenza previously served as the Pennsylvania coordinator for the REL Mid-Atlantic. There, he worked with educators across the Mid-Atlantic region; served on the REL Mid-Atlantic’s Governing Board; recruited schools for and participated in research studies; and designed and conducted professional development programs for education practitioners aimed at bridging research, policy, and practice.

Stephen Hamilton
Turnaround Schools Content Lead

Stephen Hamilton serves as Director of District and School Services for Learning Innovations at WestEd.

He previously was Learning Innovations’ Senior Manager for work with the New England Comprehensive Center and a staff member for the Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center at WestEd.

Hamilton works with state education agencies and districts on turnaround initiatives, supporting dropout prevention initiatives focused on college- and career-ready standards for all students; and supporting the development of new curricula, assessments, and practices aligned to Common Core State Standards.

Hamilton also co-leads a team supporting a three-year New Hampshire high school/middle school School Improvement Grant turnaround effort and coordinates improvement efforts for a public elementary school in Lynn, MA.

Ellen Mandinach
Data-Based Decision-Making Content Lead

Ellen Mandinach, Senior Research Scientist at WestEd, is a leading expert in the area of data-driven decision-making at the classroom, district, and state levels. She directs WestEd’s Data for Decisions Initiative and consults nationwide to support increased use of data for decisions in education.

Mandinach served as an expert panelist on the Institution of Education Sciences Practice Guide for data-driven decision-making and on National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES’s) technical working group to understand how researchers can better use statewide longitudinal data systems. She has also led projects about how schools of education can prepare educators to use data and on defining data literacy.

She has directed large studies for ED, the National Science Foundation, and several foundations. Her leadership positions include Research Director for REL Northeast and Islands and Interim Director of REL Appalachia.

Mandinach has authored dozens of publications and books, most recently Data Literacy for Educators: Making It Count in Teacher Preparation and Practice.

Tony Marchio
Delaware State Liaison

Tony Marchio served as Superintendent of Schools for the Appoquinimink (Delaware) School District from 1995 to 2011.

Previously, Marchio worked as a high school principal, vice principal, and teacher in West Virginia and Florida.

Marchio has also served on many education committees in Delaware, including the State Assessment Task Force, Vision 2015 Steering Committee, Achievement Gap Committee, Delaware Council on Economic Education, Delaware Professional Standards Board, and the Delaware Parent and Family Involvement in Education Committee.

Currently, Marchio serves as an adjunct faculty member at Wilmington University and the University of Delaware.

Marchio was named Delaware Superintendent of the Year in 2003 and 2007. In 1992, he was named by Executive Educator magazine as one of North America’s 100 Top Educators.

Karen Sanders
Innovations in Learning Content Lead

Karen Sanders has 35 years of experience in education at the local, regional, state, and national levels. Sanders currently manages the RMC subcontract for the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center, applying her knowledge of research on the implementation of educational initiatives within each state’s context. Her primary areas of expertise include implementing Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act priorities, meeting the needs of diverse learners, technical assistance and training, and complex problem solving. Her work has also addressed emerging policy aligned with Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, ESEA flexibility waivers, and Early Learning Challenge Grants. Sanders has worked extensively in partnership with state education agencies and many districts on strategies for improving education performance within the context of complex and challenging environments. She earned her Ph.D. in education policy and leadership from Ohio State University.

Dixie Stack
Maryland State Liaison

Dixie Stack has more than 40 years of classroom and administrative experience. She served as Director of Curriculum for Anne Arundel County (MD) Public Schools and the Maryland State Department of Education.

As State Director of Curriculum, Stack led the development of the curriculum and STEM sections on Maryland’s successful application for a Race to the Top grant. She directed the work of Maryland educators and content specialists in the creation of Maryland State Curricula and an electronic toolkit that supports classroom teachers in implementing the State Curricula.

Stack also worked with the leadership of various divisions within the State Department of Education on a variety of projects and with the Assistant Superintendents of Instruction from local systems to provide information on curriculum initiatives and respond to local system requests.

Core Team Partners

RMC Research Corporation

RMC Research Corporation specializes in technical assistance and program evaluation in K–12 public education. RMC is a key player in the Comprehensive Center network, holding the prime contract for the region serving New York / New England and subcontracts in six regions nationwide.

For four decades, RMC has provided on-site technical assistance and produced numerous research-based products focused on support for low performing schools and districts, STEM, literacy, and many other high-priority areas. Read more at rmcresearchcorporation.com.

IMPAQ International, LLC

IMPAQ International conducts research and evaluation studies on a wide range of areas, including comprehensive school reform, adolescent literacy, teacher professional development, dropout prevention, and the usefulness of technical assistance and professional development. Read more at impaqint.com.

Additional Collaborators

Community Training and Assistance Center

Johns Hopkins University – Center for Social Organization of Schools

Research for Action

TERC

Teacher Preparation Analytics

Profound Knowledge Resources (PKR)