Kimberly Hambrick, Ph.D., Director
I have over 30 years of extensive experience and knowledge of the region, serving in leadership roles to provide capacity building as well as research and evaluation services. I am knowledgeable about federal, state, and local statutes including ESSA and current initiatives. A certified coach and trainer, my focus is on leadership development, effective communication, and team building. I have been connected with the Comprehensive Center program since its inception, with a short break to develop my leadership training and coaching more extensively.
Why I do this work? I am passionate about working in this region and alongside educators to improve educational opportunities for all students.
Laura Taylor, Deputy Director
I have over 14 years of experience including classroom instruction, directing TA projects, program evaluation, leading resource development and digital media efforts, and providing support to locals and states in topical areas from birth to workforce development. I have worked closely with states as they implement their ESSA plans, and I am particularly well-versed in areas related to teacher and leader development and early learning.
Why I do this work? Access to quality education with high expectations for all students is the catalyst for systemic change. By doing this work, I firmly believe that we can support this change and ensure a brighter future for all children.
Brad Keller, Ph.D., Co-Lead
I have over 18 years of experience conducting research on and providing technical assistance for education programs. I have worked extensively with K-12 programs, and throughout Appalachia.
Why I do this work? Effective education is the tool that allows people and communities to shape their futures. I help people generate and use research to increase opportunity.
Shauna Harps, Ph.D., Co-Lead
As the director of an evaluation of projects funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, I am familiar with the Appalachian region’s characteristics, strengths, and challenges. Additionally, as a TA provider, I have worked collaboratively with clients and grantees to address their needs related to data quality, performance measurement, and grant implementation.
Why I do this work? It is rewarding to see clients and grantees transition from having limited knowledge of how to effectively use data to improve program and project processes to feeling pride in the fact that they actively contributed to data-driven decisions that improve outcomes and are sustainable.
Monica Young, Ph.D., Co-Lead
I have provided TA to states, districts, IHEs, and non-profits in topics such as data management, data use, human capital management, equitable access, educator evaluation, and accountability, for over 15 years. I have designed and led workshops, convenings, focus groups, and provided individualized support to increase capacity of dozens of education organizations across the nation. In addition to spending four years at the New York State Education Department overseeing accountability metrics and analytics, I also have experience teaching and overseeing research on teacher preparation at Syracuse University.
Why I do this work? I do this work because I have experienced the challenges with designing and implementing meaningful initiatives at the state level. I am eager to support state agencies with enhancing the design and implementation of their initiatives.
I currently hold my Superintendent, Principal (PreK-12), Elementary (PreK-6), and Special Education (K-12) licensures in the state of Ohio. I have a wide range of curriculum and instruction expertise from my experience as community school director, an elementary principal, a special education teacher co-teaching with a variety of teachers and subject areas from preK-12th grade, a continuous improvement officer at a Drop Out Prevention and Recovery Career Technology High School, and most recently an independent educational sales consultant working with schools to support their assessment and programing for students to successfully transition from school into the workforce.
Why I do this work? At the core of why I went into education and now work in technical assistance is to ensure that ALL students receive the highest quality education possible to meet their individualized needs for learning, workforce development, and overall wellness.
Terry Lashley, Ph.D., Co-Lead
I have over 30 years of progressive experience in program design; K-12 STEM instruction; curricular reform for teachers and students; dropout recovery and prevention programs; college and career readiness programs; large-scale evaluation projects; grant development; and development of undergraduate, graduate and pre-service teachers. I have worked with rural, underserved students as well as gifted and highest performing students across the U.S. My comprehensive center work has focused on competency-based education, personalized learning, social and emotional competencies, whole child supports, and student agency.
Why I do this work? To make a difference. Throughout my school years, I had so many wonderful teachers and opportunities; I also had parents who supported my involvement in curricular and extracurricular activities. Not all students have the same type of positive experiences I had and, through my work, I hope to help change that.
Jobi Lawrence, Ed.D., Co-Lead
I have over 25 years of experience working across all levels in the field of education, through program administration, evaluation, and implementation with educators across the country and internationally. I bring content expertise in English learners, special populations, assessment and evaluation, literacy, and school improvement. Over the course of my career, I have provided leadership at the National Clearinghouse of English Language Acquisition (NCELA) and the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center. I served as the Director of Title III and Education Program Consultant for the Iowa Department of Education.
Why I do this work? Providing capacity building TA allows me to grow and learn alongside our partner states, and I get to serve as a thought partner and provide services that build the capacity of the SEA to move the work forward. It is very rewarding to see the results from each initiative and the impact the work has on the educational outcomes for educators, students, and families.
Amy Lamitie, Co-Lead
I have 25 years of experience in education. I began her career designing instructional materials for corporate change initiatives and then taught high school English, served as a building administrator in two school systems, supported educational reform initiatives for the SEA, and designed and delivered adult professional learning in the areas of literacy, mathematics, social-emotional learning, and standards-based instructional design.
Why I do this work? I believe all children deserve a high-quality education that gives them choices in their lives and power in this world.
Subject Matter Experts
My experience in education includes conducting research and evaluation studies for federal programs, and providing technical assistance in the areas of performance measurement, data collection, and reporting.
Why I do this work? I enjoy working with clients to find ways that data can help inform decisions, and to improve our collective understanding of how education programs are working. Education can transform lives, and I believe that everyone deserves access to a high-quality education.
I have over 10 years of experience in education policy analysis and research. My expertise includes using evidence-based research and policy approaches to improve career readiness and access to high-skill, high-wage, high-demand jobs for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. In my current work, I help state educational agencies improve their states’ college and career readiness outcomes. Prior to coming to Westat, I was an education analyst at the Congressional Research Service, where I provided nonpartisan, confidential education policy analysis to members of Congress and their staff.
Why I do this work? As both an immigrant and a former public school teacher, I have repeatedly seen the transformational impact that access to a quality education can have on young people's lives. Working to ensure that all children have the ability and opportunity to pursue their passions and follow educational and professional paths that align with their interests and goals is the best work I could imagine doing. I am honored and proud to contribute to Region 5's efforts.
Carla Howe, Ph.D.
I have over 20 years of K-12 experience from school choice research assistant, classroom teacher, district and regional teacher consultant, and SEA staff leading information and reporting initiatives. While at the WVDE, I led the state’s data governance efforts, which included collaborating across various agencies and programs such as higher education and career and technical education to make information more readily available to stakeholders. I helped build the capacity of SEA and LEA staff to understand and use information for decision-making through training, workshops, and supporting materials.
Why I do this work? I get up each morning with the hope of positively impacting students’ educational and career opportunities by ensuring access to information so that strategic, intentional, and impactful data-driven decisions can be made by students themselves or with them as the central focus.
Joanna Bivins is a senior research associate with Westat and has more than 20 years of experience working with youth and their families. For 13 of those years, Ms. Bivins worked in the education field, at the district and state level, in the field of school psychology and special education services. Before joining Westat and her work with the Comprehensive Center, her state role included work associated with child find, disability evaluation and identification, special education eligibility, response to intervention, multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), alternate assessment participation decision guidance, and federal reporting/district support for improvement planning. She joined the Region 5 Comprehensive Center Region 5 and currently helps support work with West Virginia.
Why I do this work? I'm invested in work that affects change in outcomes for students and supports those who work with them.
I am the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education (2009-2013), a communications consultant, and was Chief of Staff for the Maryland State Department of Education and served as a spokesman and oversaw communications for two Maryland public school districts.
Why I do this work? I do this work to improve educational and economic opportunities for disadvantaged communities.
Matt Finster, Ph.D.
I have more than 10 years of experience in education and educational policy research. I have provided TA to U.S. Department of Education grantees in the area of strategic management of human capital, including teacher recruitment, induction, performance management, and compensation. I have written briefs and presented nationally on a variety of topics including teacher turnover and mobility, evaluating teacher leadership programs, development and implementation costs of student learning objectives, staffing teacher leader programs, high school rankings, and peer evaluation programs.
Why I do this work? Because I believe the fate of our future depends on the education of youth.
Sheila Brookes, Ph.D.
I have recently completed an intensive study of the Military Child Care System with the goal of taking that model to states, territories, tribes, and municipalities. I have been a high-performing Senior Training and Technical Assistance Specialist for federal early childhood grants, including Head Start and Early Head Start, and I have over 25 years of experience in the field of early childhood. I have an extensive background in early childhood as a former preschool teacher, program director, executive director, professor of child and family studies, and senior research and policy analyst with rigorous training in policy analysis and research and evaluation methods. My specialties include, early literacy and early math; early childhood teacher preparation; using data for improvement; and program evaluation and improvement recommendations.
Why I do this work? I entered the field of early childhood as a preschool teacher to make a difference. My goal, in all of the work that I do, is to improve the lives of children and families.
I have over 20 years of experience providing support to staff working in the education research arena. My skills and background allow me to grasp ideas and concepts quickly and determine how best to support staff in their quest to improve educational outcomes.
Why I do this work? I love supporting and assisting staff so the work they do can improve the education world in important and positive ways.
I have spent the past 14+ years supporting human services research and evaluation studies for government, non-profit and private sector organizations, including the Appalachian Regional Commission. During this time, I have provided TA to schools and grantees, addressing issues related to data quality, study design, and capacity building. Additionally, I have supported data collection efforts, created a wide variety of project documents, including reports and survey instruments, and supported data synthesis and reporting. I currently work on Region 5 supporting equity efforts and monitoring state funding priorities. I also support the Tennessee team, focusing on teacher effectiveness efforts, alternative growth measures and monitoring changing legislation.
Why I do this work? I believe that all students deserve equal access to a high-quality education. By understanding how to better use data, we will better understand the issues and identify potential solutions that will help us get there faster.
I provide technical assistance and support in the areas of data collection, reporting, and communities of practice.
Why I do this work? To make a difference by improving opportunities and positive outcomes to ensure all students receive high-quality education.
I have over 12 years of experience conducting qualitative research and providing support and technical assistance for education- and youth-focused programs. I also have experience offering support for Federal contracts involving program implementation and compliance monitoring. My work has covered an array of topics, including rural education and capacity building, educator effectiveness, educational equity, literacy, and child nutrition. Within the Comprehensive Center network, I serve as a liaison between the National Comprehensive Center and multiple Regional Comprehensive Centers, and provide support for a number of Regional Center projects in the area of educator effectiveness and human capital management.
Why I do this work? I believe every child deserves an educational experience that places value on who they are as individuals and prepares them to be happy, well-rounded adults and community members.
For over 14 years, I have assisted with projects for federal, state, and private sector clients in the field of social science, with experience in education evaluation, technical assistance, and data analysis. I serve as a research associate on multiple projects involving education policy work and analysis. I also provide technical assistance, and I work closely with many school districts to improve evaluation and data collection efforts. I hold a M.A. in Applied Sociology, with an emphasis on the sociology of aging, from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. My undergraduate studies focused on anthropology and psychology.
Why I do this work? I do this work because I am interested in providing equal access to education for all children.
I have 8 years of experience in educational research and technical assistance. For the Region 5 Comprehensive Center, I support initiatives in West Virginia and maintain this website.
Why I do this work? I believe that every child should have access to high-quality education.
I have 9 years of experience in research and providing technical assistance. Intrigued by how people learn and use information to make decisions, my focus is on continuous improvement, data driven decision making, and professional learning.
Why I do this work? I firmly believe that high-quality and accessible education is the foundation for a society where we can all participate and thrive. Supporting and improving educational opportunities for all children is rewarding work that benefits all of society.