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OUR TEAM

Executive Committee

KC-AERC is governed by an Executive Committee that is responsible for ensuring that the consortium fulfills its mission, guides its progress towards fulfilling its research and evaluation agenda, and oversees ongoing research projects.  The Executive Committee includes faculty from all four partner postsecondary institutions.

  • Dr. Carolyn Barber is an associate professor of educational research and psychology in the School of Education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Barber’s research is focused on the role of schools in supporting youth development. Since joining the UMKC faculty in 2007, she has published studies on volunteerism and predictors of community engagement, civic education, and the development of ideas about social justice in youth and young adults. In 2011, Carolyn received an Outstanding Young Scholar Alumni Award from her doctoral institution, the University of Maryland College Park, for exceptional research productivity in the first 10 years past Ph.D.

    Her recent publications include:

    • Barber, C., Sweetwood, S.O., & King, M. (2015). Creating classroom-level measures of citizenship education climate. Learning Environments Research, 18, 197-216.
    • Barber, C., & Wasson, J. W. (2015). A comparison of adolescents’ friendship networks by advanced coursework participation status. Gifted Child Quarterly, 59(1), 23-37.
    • Barber, C., Fennelly, K., & Torney-Purta, J. (2013). Nationalism and support for immigrants’ rights among adolescents in 25 countries. Applied Developmental Science, 17(2), 60-75.

    Dr. Barber received her doctorate in human development in 2007 and her master’s degree in educational measurement, statistics, and evaluation in 2006, both from the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her bachelor of arts in sociology and psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 2003.

    Contact Info
    Division of Counseling and Educational Psychology
    School of Education, Suite 223
    University of Missouri-Kansas City
    5100 Rockhill Road
    Kansas City, MO 64110

    Phone: 816-235-6151
    Fax: 816-235-5270
    Email: barberce@umkc.edu

  • Professional positions:

    • Director, Hook Center for Educational Leadership and District Renewal, 2011 to present
    • Associate professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, University of Missouri, 2005 to present (promoted and tenured September 2011)
    • Graduate teaching fellow, Department of Economics, University of Oregon, 1999 to 2005

    Education:

    • Ph.D. Economics, University of Oregon, August 2005
    • M.S. Economics, University of Oregon, December 2000
    • B.S. Mathematics and Economics, University of Oregon, June 1999

    Contact Info
    Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
    University of Missouri
    202 Hill Hall
    Columbia, MO 65211

    Phone: (573) 882-2759
    Fax: (573) 884-5714
    Email: cursb@missouri.edu

  • Mark Ehlert is a research assistant professor in the Economics Department at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Mark received his doctorate in comprehensive vocational education in 1998 and has worked extensively with institution- and state-level data to conduct research and evaluation on K–12, higher education, and employment and training systems. Recent research projects include statistical analyses of student outcomes from public schooling; teacher supply and demand; teacher attitudes and labor market behavior related to incentive pay systems in public education; trends in higher education enrollments and completions; the role of financial aid in college attendance and performance; impacts of professional development on teacher practice and student learning; and predicting enrollment of college applicants. Dr. Ehlert also has more than 15 years of experience providing software training and technical assistance to personnel in public schools to facilitate capturing, organizing, and reporting data for state reports and school improvement efforts.

    Contact Info
    Economics and Policy Analysis Research Center
    18 Professional Building
    University of Missouri-Columbia
    Columbia, MO 65211

    Email: ehlertm@missouri.edu

  • Donna K. Ginther is a professor of economics and the Director of the Center for Science Technology and Economic Policy at the Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas. Prior to joining the University of Kansas faculty, she was a research economist and associate policy adviser in the regional group of the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta from 2000 to 2002. She taught at Washington University from 1997 to 2000 and at Southern Methodist University from 1995 to 1997. Her major fields of study are scientific labor markets, gender differences in employment outcomes, wage inequality, scientific entrepreneurship, and children’s educational attainments.

    Dr. Ginther has been published in several journals, including Science, Journal of the American Statistical Association, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Demography, and the Papers and Proceedings of the American Economic Association. She has also received research funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Kauffman Foundation. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southern Economic Association.

    A native of Wisconsin, Dr. Ginther received her doctorate in economics in 1995, master’s degree in economics in 1991, and bachelor of arts in economics in 1987, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Contact Info
    Economics Department
    333 Snow Hall
    1460 Jayhawk Blvd
    Lawrence, KS 66045-7585

    Phone: (785) 864-3251
    Fax: (785) 864-5270
    Email: dginther@ku.edu

  • John L. Rury is professor of education at the University of Kansas. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, and his research focuses on education policy, urban development, and social inequality. His books include Education and Social Change (2009), Rethinking the History of American Education (2008), Urban Education in the United States (2005), Seeds of Crisis: Public Schooling in Milwaukee Since 1920 (1993), and Education and Women’s Work (1991). Additional publications have appeared in the American Journal of Education, Teachers College Record, The Journal of Negro Education, Educational Policy, and other journals. He has served as president of the History of Education Society (1998) and a vice president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) (1997–1999). From 1992 to 1996 he was editor of the Social and Institutional Analysis section of the American Educational Research Journal, and from 1999 to 2002 he served as a Senior Program Officer at the Spencer Foundation.

    Contact Info
    1122 W. Campus Rd.
    Joseph R. Pearson Hall, Room 423
    University of Kansas
    Lawrence, KS 66045-3101

    Phone: 785-864-9697
    Fax: 785-864-4697
    Email: jrury@ku.edu

  • Jacqueline D. Spears is a professor of curriculum and instruction and director of the Center for Science Education at Kansas State University. She has worked broadly in the field of higher education, with experience in teacher education, institutional development in private colleges, issues of rural adult access to education, and gender issues. More recently, her work has focused on gender issues in science, mathematics, and engineering. As director of the Center for Science Education, she collaborates with scientists and engineers in integrating contemporary research into high school science classrooms. She has directed projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Annenberg/CPB Project, Title III of the Higher Education Act, and US Information Agency.

    Contact Info
    Bluemont Hall 234
    Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506

    Phone: 785-532-5530
    Email: jdspears@k-state.edu

Staff Members

Karin Chang, Ph.D.

Executive Director

As the Executive Director of the Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium (KC-AERC), Dr. Chang has managed local, state and national evaluations, including 30 multi-site evaluations in the area of early childhood, K–12 education, and post-secondary attainment. Most of her research work utilizes experimental or quasi-experimental research designs. Dr. Chang is a member of the American Evaluation Association and presents nationally on such topics as systems evaluation, college readiness, afterschool evaluation, instrument development, and statistical modeling techniques. She earned her Ph.D. in Education Research and Psychology from the University of Kansas. She holds a B.A. in History from Amherst College and a M.A. in Education Policy and Administration from Stanford University.

Aarti Bajaj Judd, Ph.D.

Research Project Manager

Aarti Bajaj Judd is a Research Project Manager at KC-AERC. She earned her Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy Studies from University of Kansas. She currently manages the evaluation research on STEM pipeline education initiatives and policy research on college and career readiness. Her work on college and career readiness specifically looks at the role mathematics learning affects postsecondary attainment and achievement. Prior to KC-AERC, Aarti worked at Service Management Group (SMG), a marketing research firm for two years. At SMG, she conducted the customer satisfaction and loyalty research for YUM! Brands, for both their domestic and international locations. She holds a B.A. in Economics from DePauw University and a M.A. in Economics from Vanderbilt University.

Meghan Ecker-Lyster, Ed.S.

Research Project Manager

Meghan Ecker-Lyster is a Research Project Manager at KC-AERC. She is a doctoral candidate in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Kansas. She has worked on local, state, and national evaluations spanning the P20 educational pipeline. Most of her work employs a utilization-focused evaluation approach and mixed methodology. She currently manages the evaluation research for CEOP’s federally funded college access and educational opportunity programs, including GEAR UP and TRIO programs. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and Family Studies from Chadron State College, a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Minnesota State University, and an Ed.S. in School Psychology from the University of Kansas.

Jennifer Boden, M.A.

Associate Researcher

Jennifer Boden is an Associate Researcher at KC-AERC. She is a lecturer and doctoral candidate in Economics at the University of Kansas. Her current work at KC-AERC focuses on utilizing her quantitative skills. Jen has extensive experience in working with large, complex datasets using SAS, STATA, and SQL. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Northern Iowa and a M.A. in Economics from the University of Kansas.

Kristina VanAnne, B.A., B.S.

Associate Researcher

Kristina is an Associate Researcher with KC-AERC. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and her Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management from the University of Kansas. Her research work at KC-AERC focuses on college and career readiness, educational opportunity programs, and process analysis. She is experienced in survey development, conducting one-on-one interviews, and focus groups.

Lauren Coleman-Tempel, M.S.E.

Associate Researcher

Lauren Coleman-Tempel is an Associate Researcher with KC-AERC. She is a currently a doctoral student in the Education Leadership and Policy Studies program at the University of Kansas. Her area of interest surrounds sociological theory of education as it pertains to educational access and opportunity for underrepresented populations. Prior to beginning doctoral study, Lauren worked professionally with a high school migrant education program (Harvest of Hope Leadership Academy), as well as TRIO Student Support Services at the University of Kansas. Lauren has B.A. in Spanish Wichita State University and a M.S.E. in Curriculum and Teaching from University of Kansas.

Nadia Kardash, Ph.D.

Associate Researcher

Nadia Kardash is an Associate Researcher with KC-AERC. Her area of interest is financial literacy and parent engagement and involvement. Nadia has extensive experience in conducting qualitative research, primarily focus groups with teachers, parents, and students and one-on-one interviews.