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Bridges to Academic Success Faculty

Other Staff and Affiliates


Deborah Hecht

Position: Director
Phone: (212) 817-1834


Deborah HechtDeborah Hecht, Ph.D. is the Director and Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Advanced Study in Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is particularly interested in evaluation and development of educational programs and innovations, STEM education, service-learning, character education and charter schools. Dr. Hecht has been the lead evaluator on numerous NSF projects focusing on interconnected STEM learning and engineering pedagogy. She has also been locally and nationally involved in development and study of service-learning as an educational pedagogy and promoting character education in schools. In 1994 she was a co-founder of one of the first charter schools in NJ and has remained involved in the school since that time.

Current Research Projects:
Wise Guys and Gals (WGG)

Resume: Hecht_Resume


Milushka Elbulok-Charcape

Position: Research Associate

Milushka Elbulok-Charcape is a PhD candidate in the Learning, Development, and Instruction Educational Psychology program at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her dissertation topic focuses on the assessment of statistical literacy in undergraduate students. Other research interests include: science academic identity in STEM education, vocabulary development in emergent bilinguals, and the validity of multi-cultural assessments. She has taught a variety of psychology and educational psychology courses at Brooklyn, Hunter, and York College. Currently, she is a Research Associate at CASE where she works on numerous projects.



Ryan McNeil

Position: Research Associate


Ryan McNeil is a Hunter College alum with Bachelor's degees in Psychology and Physics. While pursuing his education, he ran several clubs and interned at Hunter's Psychophysics Laboratory, where he conducted human subjects research. Since Fall 2019, he has also served the Hunter College Office of Assessment as a college assistant. His experience includes quantitative and qualitative statistical analysis, office administration, and professional development.Ryan joined CASE as a research assistant in Fall 2017. His work mainly involves conducting funded assessment research for the Association of College and University Educators and the American Council on Education.  He looks forward to continuing to bring his CUNY-specific experience in assessment work to this position and plans to continue growing his place in the CUNY community as a sociology student at The Graduate Center in the near future.


Tareen Haque

Position: Creative Director, Research Intern


Tareen Haque is the research intern and creative director at the Center of Advanced Study in Education. She is currently a sophomore in the Macaulay Honors College at City College, majoring in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Currently, she is the Internal Events Coordinator of Macaulay Green Initiative, a club in her college that is promoting sustainability. Tareen is also currently the 2019 CUNY Youth Ambassador, and represented CUNY and CASE during the 23rd United Nations Winter Youth Assembly. She is currently developing a signature project dedicated towards the SDGs. Additionally, she is a youth ambassador of Voices of Bangla, a non-profit organization dedicated towards promoting youth leadership within the Bangladeshi community.


Nicole Zapparrata

Position: Research Intern


Nicole Zapparrata is a first year doctoral student in Educational Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her specialization is in quantitative methods. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from James Madison University and minored in statistics as an undergraduate.  Her interests include education improvement, educational program evaluation, statistics, and research methods applied to education and psychology.

Current Research Project:
Enrichment to Excellence (E2E) in Freeport District



Elaine Klein

Position: Co-Principal Investigator/Senior Advisor,  Bridges to Academic Success 

Phone: (212) 817-1823


Elaine KleinElaine C. Klein is Associate Professor of Linguistics Emerita at Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY (GC,) where she is presently the Co-Principal Investigator and Senior Advisor to Bridges to Academic Success. Professor Klein received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the GC, with a specialization in second language acquisition. Having taught CUNY undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy, second language acquisition, research methods, sociolinguistics, and English syntax, among other courses, she also specialized in preparing teachers for certification in the Teaching of English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL). A former New York City elementary and high school teacher, Professor Klein has focused her research on second language development and, more recently, on studies of and interventions for immigrant students with special language and literacy needs.
The author of two books and numerous academic papers, Professor Klein has given presentations at national and international conferences in her field. She has also conducted professional development workshops to teachers and administrators of English language programs in Mexico, Cyprus and Viet Nam. The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) commissioned Dr. Klein and her colleague, Dr. Gita Martohardjono to study a growing, at-risk population of adolescent emergent bilinguals, students with interrupted/inconsistent formal education (SIFE). Part of this research culminated in the development of a series of SIFE diagnostics in several languages for use in NYC high schools. Another direct result of Dr. Klein’s work on SIFE was the development of an intervention called Bridges to Academic Success, which targets the skills needed for developing language, literacy and academic content knowledge among SIFE with limited literacy in their home languages. The Bridges project, with Dr. Klein as founder and Principal Investigator, now includes a special SIFE Curriculum, a Professional Development component for SIFE teachers and administrators, and a research initiative that focuses on Bridges outcomes. Bridges, funded by the NYCDOE, the New York Community Trust, and the NYS Department of Education (NYSED), is now operating in several high schools in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, and West New York State. Dr. Klein served as the Bridges project’s Principal Investigator for the first six years and now serves as Co-PI/Project Advisor.

Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Lisa Auslander

Position: Principal Investigator/Project Director, Bridges to Academic Success 

Phone: 212-817-1831


Lisa AuslanderLisa Auslander is the PI and Project Director for Bridges to Academic Success. She leads and support the daily management of professional learning, team operations and team development. She is a former teacher, coach and administrator who has worked in NYC schools and at the district level for over 15 years. She served a range of emergent bilingual students in an inclusion setting in the middle and high school levels in New York City schools. From there she moved on to support teachers in literacy practices and teacher teams in curriculum planning and the collaborative inquiry process. She has also worked to support principals around a variety of initiatives including the Quality Review accountability process and strategic action planning for school-wide improvement. Lisa received her Ph.. in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center with her dissertation around culturally and linguistically responsive instruction in an RtI framework, specifically focusing on teacher practice with emergent bilinguals in the secondary classroom.

Currrent Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success
Building Bridges: A Cross-Case Study of Teacher and Student Experiences of a Curriculum for Refugee and Immigrant Students with Interrupted Education


Jennifer Chard

Position: Project Manager, Bridges to Academic Success


Dr. Jennifer Chard is the Project Manager for Bridges. She is responsible for project work flow, scheduling, and data management. Jennifer is also the Project Manager for Multilingual Literacy SIFE Screener at the Second Language Acquisition Laboratory. She develops and leads professional development workshops for teachers in preschools that serve children with home languages other than English.

Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Aida Genovese

Position: Native Language Arts Curriculum Developer, Bridges to Academic Success


Aida Genovese is the Bridges Home Language Arts Curriculum Developer. She recently retired from the NYS Public Education System after 30 years of teaching. Aida holds a master’s degree in Bilingual education and advanced studies in Spanish literature. She piloted the Dual Language Program in a NYC public elementary school and worked with the SIFE population in the middle school and high school level for over ten years in Long Island. Aida enjoys traveling with her husband, gardening and tutoring her grandchildren.

Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Suzanna McNamara

Position: Senior Instructional Coach, Bridges to Academic Success


Deborah Hecht

Suzanna McNamara is a Senior Instructional Coach who coaches and supports labsite teachers as well as develops and leads PD for Bridges to Academic Success. She worked closely with and advocated for SIFE and other students at Bronx International for eleven years, and was hired specifically to address the instructional needs of English language learners unable to access their content classes. She has worked with small groups of three students in a separate class with targeted language and literacy instruction, and has co-planned and team taught in larger content classes (Science, Social Studies, and Math). The NYCDOE supported a sabbatical semester for Ms. McNamara during Spring 2011 to begin development of the Bridges to Academic Success curriculum. The curriculum has continued since 2013, with funding from NYCDOE, NYCT, and NYSED.

Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Mireia Emilia Rothman-Simon

Position: Instructional Coach and Professional Developer, Bridges to Academic Success



Mireia is an Instructional Coach and Professional Developer for Bridges to Academic Success. Trilingual in Spanish, English and Catalan, and born in Barcelona, she spent a decade teaching social studies to English language learners in public high schools in New York City, Massachusetts, and Catalonia. While teaching in high schools, she worked in very diverse classrooms with students from more than 30 countries and developed interdisciplinary curriculum that fostered multicultural understanding, while helping students reach their academic potential and learn a new language. Her curriculum for newcomers to gain familiarity with their new home in the United States while simultaneously learning English and social studies was recognized by the English Teachers Association of Catalonia. Along with her years of teaching, she is bringing experience coaching teachers to develop documentary and video projects with the Educational Video Center, as well as developing content for higher education books at Pearson Education. Most recently, Mireia took a few years away from teaching to work in the field of international relations at the Government of Catalonia in New York. Mireia holds Masters Degrees in Education and Political Science and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success



Virginia Skrelja

Position: Senior Instructional Coach, Bridges to Academic Success
Virginia Skrelja

Virginia Skrelja is a Senior Instructional Coach who coaches and supports labsite teachers as well as develops and leads PD for Bridges to Academic Success. After graduating with a BA in English from Columbia College, Virginia edited books for young readers until she decided her passion for reading would better serve a classroom of young learners. She completed her MA in Teaching of English at Teachers College. Having grown up in a multilingual home, she was drawn to the challenges and joys of teaching ELLs and SIFE. She taught at Bronx International High School for many rewarding years before joining the Bridges team.


Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Joanna Birnbaum

Position: Professional Developer, Bridges to Academic Success

Joanna Birnbaum is a professional developer for Bridges. She is responsible for coaching teachers whose students are English Language Learners with interrupted formal education. For the past eight years, she has trained and supervised prospective and in-service foreign language, TESOL, and bilingual education teachers, in Bachelors and Masters programs at CUNY. She started out as a middle and high school Spanish teacher to multilingual immigrant students in the derelict suburbs of Paris, the city where she was born and raised. Drawing on her students’ diverse backgrounds and experiences, she and her colleagues designed an interdisciplinary project on immigration to the neighborhood, which led to an invitation to city hall to meet the mayor. In addition to Spanish, she has taught English and French (her two native languages) to children and adults in Madrid and New York City. Joanna holds a PhD in Linguistics from the CUNY Graduate Center.

Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Camille Wynter

Position: Fiscal and Operations Manager, Bridges to Academic Success


Camille Wynter is the Fiscal and Operations Manager for Bridges where she is responsible for the financial management and administrative oversight of the program. Her most recent work experience includes Grants Administrator for a CDC funded community health grant where she provided fiscal oversight and managed the day to day operations of the grant. She received her Master of Public Administration from the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service where she developed an interest around the area of social impact and developing underserved communities.

Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Klara Seddon

Position: Program Assistant, Bridges to Academic Success


Klara Seddon manages daily operations for the professional development team. She also coordinates intake of new and returning partner schools in the Bridges cohort and is responsible for maintaining and uploading content to the Bridges website. Klara has a background in arts education and community literacy as a museum educator, working with students and teachers from New York City Title 1 schools. She has a Master’s degree in Art History from the Bard Graduate Center.

Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Maggie Beiting-Parrish

Position: Research Assistant, Bridges to Academic Success



Maggie Beiting-Parrish is the research assistant for the Bridges to Academic Success fieldwork and program evaluation. She is responsible for the collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data for research projects. Maggie has master’s degrees in psychology and education and is currently working on her PhD in Educational Psychology with a focus on supporting special populations in mathematics. She was a middle school math teacher for three years for grades 6 and 7 for a Title 1 school in New York’s Lower East Side, which is where she first became interested in working with English Language Learners. Maggie enjoys long walks with her dog and her husband. She also is proficient in Spanish.

Current Research Projects:
Bridges to Academic Success


Alexandra Logue

Position: Research Professor

Phone: 212-817-1847Alexandra W. Logue


Dr. Alexandra W. Logue is a Research Professor in CASE (the Center for Advanced Study in Education) of the Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY), with particular responsibility for research and scholarship concerning college student success. Please see her website at Click here to read more.


Current Research Projects:
A2B, a collection of three CUNY projects that share the common objective of removing or meliorating the factors that impede the progress of students as they transfer among CUNY’s system of 19 associate’s-degree and bachelor’s-degree colleges.


Bert Flugman

Position: Senior Principal Investigator

Phone: (212) 817-1825


Bert Flugman is a Senior Research Fellow and a member of the Ph.D. Program in Education Psychology at the Graduate Center, of the City University of New York. Previously he served as Director of CASE. In his capacity as Director of CASE, he supervised the development and implementation of over 200 externally sponsored research and development projects. Click here to read more.



Francesca Teora

Position: Former Program Assistant, Bridges to Academic Success  Fran Teora


Francesca Teora was the Program Assistant for Bridges to Academic Success. Past experience includes several years as a Research Assistant at the Center for Advanced Study in Education (CASE). She is also currently a graduate assistant at the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at the Graduate Center. She is in the midst of her doctoral studies in Educational Psychology at the Graduate Center, with a concentration in Quantitative Measures. She received her BA in Psychology from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. Her current projects at CASE focus on qualitative and quantitative educational evaluation of STEM programs throughout the country.


Laura Saxman

Position: Project Director

Phone: (212)817-1822


Laura SaxmanDr. Saxman is a Project Director at CASE where she has worked since 2002. Dr. Saxman received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the Graduate Center, CUNY, with a dual specialization in Quantitative Research Methods and Learning. She received her B.S. from Cornell University in Economics. She is currently Project Director of the evaluation of MSPinNYC2, a program that restructures high school STEM courses by incorporating peer tutors and student-centered pedagogy. The program extends and deepens a promising program called the Peer Enabled Restructured Classroom (PERC). Dr. Saxman has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in research methods, child development, educational psychology and statistics. Her previous research includes work on science teacher preparation and peer victimization.


Current Research Projects:


Paul Attewell

Position: Principal Investigator

Phone: (212)817-8778


Paul AttewellPaul Attewell is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. Professor Attewell has published a number of influential articles, based on analyses of longitudinal student datasets, and holds a restricted data license from the National Center for Education Statistics that provides access to a huge database of student transcript data. He is the co-author of Passing the Torch: Does Higher Education for the Disadvantaged Pay Off Across the Generations? (Sage Publications, 2009), which earned the Grawemeyer Award in Education and AERA’s outstanding book award. Most recently, he has received a National Science Foundation Grant to build an inter-disciplinary research community to prototype computationally-intensive analyses of large-scale educational datasets.


Current Research Projects:
The Role of Academic Momentum in Retention and Degree Completion (Gates Foundation)
Building an inter-disciplinary research community to prototype computationally-intensive analyses of large-scale educational datasets (NSF)


Samar Elhitti

Position: Founder and Former Director of CUNY Youth Ambassador Program


Samar ElHitti is an Associate Professor of mathematics at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY. She received a Maîtrise ès Sciences in Statistics and Probability from the Lebanese University in Lebanon, and both her master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Missouri. She grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and has lived in Canada and the United States since 2002. She is passionate about integrating global sustainable development efforts into education and enjoys working with students beyond curriculum content. In 2012, she co-founded the non-profit organization Race2Rebuild to help in long term recovery and rebuilding of communities affected by natural disasters. Her dream is to help build a compassionate community where the intrinsic usefulness of every individual is valued and nourished. She is an avid runner, triathletes, backpacker and reader.


Kristin Sroka

Position: Graduate Student and Former Research Intern

Kristin Sroka has an undergraduate degree in Mass Communication from Boston University. After working in advertising technology for seven years, she aims to pursue a graduate degree in Social Work. She is interested in STEM Education, and how technology can be used to improve the lives of young people. During her time in CASE, she worked on WISE Guys and Gals STEMgineering and other projects.