Learn about the accomplished faculty and staff of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy.
David Steiner is the executive director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and professor of education at Johns Hopkins University. In 2020, he finished serving as a member of the Maryland State Board of Education and the Maryland Commission for Innovation and Excellence in Education. He currently serves on the board of the Relay Graduate School of Education. Most recently, he was appointed to the Practitioner Council at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He previously served on the board of the Core Knowledge Foundation, Urban Teachers, as commissioner of education for New York State, as the Klara and Larry Silverstein Dean at the Hunter College School of Education, and as director of education at the National Endowment for the Arts.
As NYS commissioner, Steiner took a lead role in the state’s successful $700 million Race to the Top application to support the redesign of state standards, assessments, and teacher certification requirements. His insistence on including major funding for curricula in that grant led to the launch of EngageNY, the nation’s most consulted free online curriculum resource.
Steiner consults regularly with the federal government, state education leaders, educational reform organizations, and universities. He has addressed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and authored books, book chapters, and more than fifty articles. His most recent book, A Nation at Thought: Restoring Wisdom in America’s Schools, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in March of 2023.
Steiner holds degrees from Harvard University (PhD in political science), Balliol College, and Oxford University (BA and MA). Contact David Steiner at [email protected].
Ashley Berner is the director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and associate professor of education. She served previously as the Deputy Director of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy and as an administrator at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia. Palgrave MacMillan released Pluralism and American Public Education: No One Way to School (2017), and Harvard Education Press will publish her next book, Educational Pluralism and American Democracy: Exposure versus Indoctrination, in early 2024.
Berner has published articles, book chapters, and op-eds on citizenship formation, academic outcomes, pluralism, and the political theories of education in different national contexts. She led the design of the Institute’s School Culture 360™ and ELA and Social Studies Knowledge Maps™. Her teaching experience took place in a Jewish pre-school, an Episcopal secondary school, and an open university in Louisiana; she currently advises doctoral students at Johns Hopkins University.
Berner represents the Institute’s work across the country and consults regularly with international, federal, and state-level agencies, non-governmental organizations, and school systems. She held a five-year fellowship at the Center for the Study of Law & Religion at Emory University School of Law and currently serves as an advisor to the Educating for American Democracy project, the Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Debate Program, and CivXNow!’s Research and Best Practices Affinity Group, and holds a fellowship at the Mercatus Pluralism and Civil Exchange Program.
Berner holds degrees from Oxford University (MLitt and DPhil in Modern History) and Davidson College (Honors AB). Contact Ashley Berner at [email protected] and @BernerEd.
Director of Research and Assistant Professor
Alanna Bjorklund is the director of research at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and assistant professor of education at Johns Hopkins University. She previously served as a research fellow and an elementary and middle school teacher. Bjorklund’s research focuses on the impact of teachers and support provided to teachers, including training and curriculum.
Bjorklund holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University (PhD and MA in economics), City College of New York (MS), and the University of Washington/Seattle (BA in international studies). Contact Alanna Bjorklund at [email protected].
Angela R. Watson
Senior Research Fellow and Assistant Professor
Angela Watson is a senior research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and assistant professor of education at Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on alternative methods of education, with a focus on homeschooling, learning pods, and microschools.
Watson holds degrees from the University of Arkansas (PhD in education policy and BA in elementary education) and Harding University (MAT). She also holds a graduate certificate in STEM education and is a certified teacher. Contact Angela Watson at [email protected].
Director, High-Quality Curriculum and Instruction
Anika T. Prather is the director of high-quality curriculum and instruction at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. She has served in public and private schools for over 20 years, and she is the founder of the Living Water School, a unique Christian school for independent learners based on the educational philosophies of classical education and the Sudbury Model.
Prather has published two books on her journey to bringing classical education to the Black community: Living in the Constellation of the Canon, which she self-published, and The Black Intellectual Tradition, co-authored with Angel Parham and published by Classical Academic Press.
Prather holds degrees from the University of Maryland – College Park (PhD in English, Theatre, and Literacy Education), St. John’s College – Annapolis (MA in liberal arts), New York University (MA), and Howard University (MA and BA in elementary education). Contact Anika Prather at [email protected].
Kecia L. McCoy
Kecia McCoy is the program manager for the School Culture 360™ survey at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. In this role, she provides outreach to new partner districts and states; educates interested parties about the value and importance of this unique survey tool; manages the process of fielding the survey; and coordinates with IEP’s research team to study long-term effects and trend lines. Previously, McCoy has designed and led virtual education initiatives in higher education. Most recently, she managed social and emotional learning programs at Western Governors University.
McCoy holds degrees from Capella University (PhD in professional studies in education), the University of Phoenix (MA in adult education and distance learning), the College of Notre Dame (BA in English), and Baltimore City Community College (AA in business administration). Contact Kecia McCoy at [email protected].
Senior Research Fellow
Carol Macedonia is the senior research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. She works primarily with private schools in Florida and leads outreach regarding the need for a strong curriculum and coherent school culture.
Macedonia has committed her professional life to the teaching and learning of both children and adults. For the past nine years, she has served as the vice president of the Office of Student Learning for Step Up for Students, the nation’s largest tax-credit scholarship program for private school tuition. She leads a team of highly qualified educators who oversee the development of work systems, assisting both schools and families in establishing and maintaining structures, conditions, and processes to sustain collaborative partnerships that ensure children’s academic, social, and emotional success. Previously, she spent over 35 years in teaching, administrative, and professorial roles in public school education, and she co-authored and published the book A Districtwide Approach to Staff and Student Learning.
Macedonia holds degrees from the University of South Florida (PhD) and the University of Florida (MA and BA). Contact Carol Macedonia at [email protected].
Director of Knowledge Maps
Amy Fuller is the director of Knowledge Maps for the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. In this role, she has substantially expanded the reach and depth of IEP’s curriculum work.
Fuller brings more than 20 years of K–12 teaching experience, mostly in the humanities, and has worked in public, charter, and private schools. Prior to joining IEP, she worked specifically with schools and companies developing and analyzing curricular materials aligned to high-quality rubrics, standards, and assessments.
She holds degrees from Towson University (MS in instructional technology) and Loyola University (BA in history with a minor in secondary education). Contact Amy Fuller at [email protected].
Al Passarella is the research analyst for the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Prior to joining IEP, he worked with the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Previously, he served as director of data analysis for Baltimore’s Promise and as research director for Advocates for Children and Youth. Before moving to Maryland, he worked as senior research associate at the Education Law Center in Newark, NJ, specializing in equitable education funding for low-income school districts.
Passarella holds degrees from the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University – Newark (MPA in public administration) and William Paterson University (BA in political science). Contact Al Passarella at [email protected].
Stacey Hardin serves as communications associate for the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. In this role, she is responsible for messaging to outside audiences. Prior to working at IEP, she held marketing positions with Kraft, Novartis, and Communities in Schools of Atlanta.
Hardin holds degrees from Wake Forest University (MBA) and Gettysburg College (BA in business administration). Contact Stacey Hardin at [email protected].
Helen Thornton is the finance manager for the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Prior to joining IEP, she worked in the Johns Hopkins School of Education’s business office for almost 20 years. She has held a variety of finance positions; most recently, she was the research services analyst, responsible for processing and managing grants for the Center for Technology in Education and the Public Safety and Leadership Center.
Thornton holds a degree from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School (Executive Certificate in Financial Management). Contact Helen Thornton at [email protected].
Crystal Spring is a postdoctoral fellow with the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, sponsored by the Kern Family Foundation. She works to optimize the School Culture 360™ survey and conducts research with its data. Previously, she served as an assistant director at the University of Notre Dame’s Writing Center and taught middle school English language arts.
Spring holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University (PhD in education) and the University of Notre Dame (MEd in secondary education, MA in English, and BA in sociology and English). Her dissertation project created and validated a survey measuring motivation in class discussion and connected motivation in class discussion to academic achievement. Contact Crystal Spring at [email protected].
Senior Administrative Coordinator
Sherry Yates is the senior administrative coordinator for the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Prior to working at IEP, she held administrative positions with Adventist HealthCare, The Living Water School, and Jacobs Engineering.
Yates holds a child development associate credential, and she previously taught early learners at Head Start and a private school, both in Maryland. Contact Sherry Yates at [email protected].
Karena Paleologo is the research assistant at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Previously, she taught middle school science for nine years in Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Paleologo is working towards her MS in education policy at Johns Hopkins University, and she holds degrees from Simmons College (MAT in secondary science education) and Wellesley College (BA in biological science). Contact Karena Paleologo at [email protected].
Administrative Research Coordinator
Sherry Richburg is the administrative research coordinator for the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Prior to working at IEP, she served as the administrative coordinator for the School of Education’s Assessment, Accreditation, and Technology program.
Richburg holds a degree from Kaplan University (associate degree in business management) and a certificate from the Carey Business School (finance management). Contact Sherry Richburg at [email protected].
David Casalaspi is a Research Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. Most recently, Casalaspi served as Senior Managing Director of Research at Teach For America, where he led the organization’s research, learning, and capacity-building portfolio in the area of community-based education systems change. Previously, he served as assistant professor of education at Colby College, senior K-12 policy analyst at the National Governors Association, and policy advisor to the mayors of Detroit, MI, and Charlottesville, VA.
He has taught courses at Johns Hopkins University, Colby College, Michigan State University, and the University of Virginia. His research specializes in the politics of education and has examined numerous topics including school quality and accountability, school choice, community engagement, youth civic development, and classroom teaching and learning, among others. He holds a PhD (education policy) from Michigan State University and a BA (history) from the University of Virginia. Contact David at [email protected]
Miriam Merin is a research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. In addition to her work for IEP, she is an associate psychotherapist in Northern Virginia.
Merin is working toward her PhD in counseling and psychotherapy at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, with academic and clinical interests in the intersection of student mental health and success. She holds degrees from the University of Oxford (MSc in higher education), Brown School at Washington University in Saint Louis (MSW in mental health), and Brown University (BA in education history and policy).
Olivia Crosby is a research assistant at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. She served as a managing editor and economist for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics for 10 years. Her research concentrated on education and training classifications and projections, new and emerging occupations, and data communication techniques. She had an interest in communicating research results to educators and the public in ways that were clear and useful.
Crosby has nearly 10 years experience in K-12 schools teaching English, science, math, and other subjects, and she has experience volunteering in educational programs for underserved populations.
She holds degrees from the University of Maryland – College Park (BA in economics with a concentration in statistics) and Global Campus (Masters in Teaching), and she holds a Maryland State teaching certification. Contact Olivia Crosby at [email protected].
Grants and Contracts Analyst
Rosetta Fitzgerald is the grants and contracts analyst for the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. She has held several administrative and finance positions within the university. Most recently, she worked with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Infectious Disease as a grants and contracts specialist. In her new position, she will support IEP’s finance manager and the IEP team.
She holds degrees from the University of Baltimore (BS in business administration) and Walden University (MS in human resources). Contact Rosetta Fitzgerald at [email protected].