Margaret Cahalan, Ph.D. — Senior Fellow
Margaret Cahalan is the Director of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education (Pell Institute) and the Vice President for Research at the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). Dr. Cahalan joined COE in 2011, after serving as the division leader for the Secondary-Postsecondary Cross-Cutting (SPCC) Team within the Policy and Program Studies Services (PPSS) at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). She also served as a Co-PI for an i-3 grant awarded to COE entitled, Using Data to Inform College Access Programming. Prior to working at ED, Maggie worked as a statistical research contractor for over 20 years at Westat, Mathematica, and RTI. In this capacity she served as the project director for large statistical sample surveys including the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOFAS) and the National Study of Recent College Graduates (NSRCG). She also directed several TRIO national evaluations including the National Evaluation of Student Support Services and the National Evaluation of Talent Search, as well as several TRIO Performance Reporting Technical Assistance and Analyses contracts. These contracts were responsible for the re-design of the annual performance reports (APRs) of the Upward Bound, Student Support Services, and McNair programs to include individual student records and the building of longitudinal databases to track program outcomes.She currently serves as the Principal Investigator of the NSF funded iStronG project to develop a science curriculum designed to empower Upward Bound Students using systems dynamics modeling tools with a focus on green STEM careers and climate change solutions. She is the lead author on the Pell Institute and PennAHEAD publication series: Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States Historical Trend Reports. This project, now in its 6th edition, was begun in 2015, and has a major goal to serve as a tool for tracking progress from an equity perspective in the U.S .higher education system. The project also sponsors Shared Solutions Dialogues at the national, state, and local levels among multiple stakeholders to consider specific action plans to address the issues of systemic inequality in higher education. Maggie cares passionately about helping to find ways to reduce educational inequity and working toward an inclusive asset based talent development approach to education at all levels. She is also very much interested in place based education and action research working to mitigate and adapt to climate change and helping to promote the transition to a more just, co-operative and environmentally friendly world economy. Maggie received a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Terry Vaughan III, Ph.D. — Director, Research
Terry Vaughan III, PhD is the Associate Director of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. His research focuses on education theory and philosophy, education policy, equitable career pathways, and career development strategies for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. He received his BA in Philosophy from DePaul University and his master’s and PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Marisha Addison, MA — Research Associate
Marisha Addison is the Research Associate at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). As a first-generation student and Federal TRIO alumna, she is passionate about using data to create results-driven solutions to equity issues in the United States higher education system. Her work at the Pell Institute includes documenting low-income, first-generation, and students with disability experiences and actively collaborating with over 3,000 TRIO programs to provide best practices and services for this traditionally underrepresented population. Marisha’s educational merits include a master’s from the University of Amsterdam and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Geography and Sociology. She minored in African Studies, Chinese, and International Development.
Alysia Marie Genao — Research Assistant
Alysia Genao is a research assistant for The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and a program assistant for the Council for Opportunity in Education. Alysia is responsible for assisting with the dissemination of surveys, scheduling, and conducting meetings with research partners, maintaining data collection files, assisting with data analysis, and generating correspondence, reports, and graphics. Alysia is a Rutgers University Upward Bound TRIO alumna and a longtime advocate for equity in education. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a concentration in Public Policy from Pace University in New York City.
Nicole Brunt — Research Associate
Nicole Brunt is a research associate and has worked for the Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY (PEO) research newsletter since 2003 in conjunction with the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education since 2013. Nicole assists Tom Mortenson and the Pell team with the collection, organization, analysis, and reporting of education, demographic, economic and other data on opportunity for postsecondary education and training in the United States. Nicole graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in communication from William Penn University in 2001 and is currently working on obtaining her master’s degree at Fort Hays State University, studying information analysis and communications, and will be completing the degree in May of 2022.
Sureima Santillan — Research Consultant
Sureima I. Santillan currently serves as a research consultant for the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. As an Upward Bound TRIO Alumni, Sureima took on the role of a mentor in various organization to inspire and empower youth to pursue a higher education. Sureima joined the Council for Opportunity in Education in 2017, after serving as an education policy intern with the United States House of Representatives. She also received a fellowship to work in the United States Senate, working in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee. Sureima’ s responsibilities include organizational and logistical support for conferences such as U.S. Department of Education Training Grant for Federal TRIO Programs, Student Financial Aid Research Network Conference, COE’s Policy Seminar, and Capitol Hill briefings. Sureima graduated from UC Irvine with a double major in Criminology, Law, and Society and Social Policy and Public Service.
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