Linda Grove, senior advisor to the Abe Fellowship Program, received a BS in journalism from Northwestern University and an MA and PhD in Chinese history from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught at Sophia University in Tokyo and served as both a dean and vice president, responsible for international programs and research management. She has published books and articles on Chinese rural industrialization and social change, East Asian trade history, and Chinese women’s history and has translated and edited Japanese studies on Chinese history. Grove has been a member of the boards of several Japanese academic associations; serves on the editorial boards of Modern China, International Journal of Asian Studies, Textile History, and Gender History (in Japanese); and was a member of the local organizing committee for the 2015 World Economic History Congress in Kyoto. She is currently working on a book based on extensive fieldwork in rural China that traces the histories of five villages over the twentieth century.
Paige Holt is both fellowships coordinator for the SSRC, as well as program associate to the Abe Fellowship Program, the Japan Program, and Korean Studies Workshops. Prior to joining the council in February 2015, she completed an M.A. in East Asian Studies from UCLA with a focus on modern Japanese history. Paige has interned with Japan Foundation Los Angeles and Los Angeles Universal Preschool. She holds a B.A. in History and Anthropology from UCLA, and is an alumnus of Cornell University’s FALCON Program for Japanese. .
Anthony Jackson is the Digital Communications Associate for the Social Science Research Council. He focuses primarily on digital content creation, social media engagement, online audience acquisition, and web analytics management. Prior to joining the SSRC, Anthony served as the Digital Marketer at the F.X. Matt Brewing Co. He graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in Government and Africana Studies in 2015. As an alumnus, Anthony serves as president of the Delta Chi (Hamilton chapter) Alumni Board of Trustees, as well as a member of advisory committees at his alma mater.
Ron Kassimir is executive program director at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), supporting the development of new program initiatives as well as the deepening of cross-program connections. He also provides leadership for the Religion and the Public Sphere program, works closely on the Council’s Africa-focused activities, Scholarly Borderlands initiative, and Anxieties of Democracy program, and is editor of the SSRC’s digital forum Items. From 1996 to 2005, Kassimir was first a program officer and then a program director at the Council, where he managed the Africa Program and, from 2000 to 2005, the International Dissertation Field Research Fellowship Program. He also coordinated research networks on youth and globalization and humanitarian intervention. In 2005, Kassimir became associate dean at the New School for Social Research and associate professor in the Department of Politics, and in 2007 he moved to the New School’s Office of the Provost, where he worked for six years as associate provost for research and special projects. From 2011 to 2013, he cochaired the university committee that produced an institutional self-study as part of the New School’s reaccreditation process. He returned to the Council in 2013. Kassimir earned a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago in 1996. He has published on religion, civil society, higher education, and globalization in Africa, as well as on youth activism and civic engagement. He is coeditor of Intervention and Transnationalism in Africa: Global-Local Networks of Power (Cambridge University Press, 2001), Youth Activism: An International Encyclopedia (Greenwood Publishing, 2005), and Youth, Globalization, and the Law (Stanford University Press, 2007). .
James Kirwan is a program assistant for the Anxieties of Democracy program at the Social Science Research Council. Kirwan graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in political science and religious studies. At the University of Pittsburgh Kirwan was involved with the White House–initiated It’s On Us Campaign, which works to prevent sexual violence on college campuses, and also founded the university’s Sexual Violence Coalition. During this time, he also worked as a program coordinator and resident assistant for Residence Life.
Gail Kovach joined the staff of the Council’s finance office in 1986 as assistant to the controller and later served as assistant to the chief financial officer. In 1996 she was appointed fellowship accountant, responsible for the payment, maintenance, and taxability of all the Council’s fellowship awards while handling various other financial and administrative tasks. In July of 2000, Ms. Kovach was promoted to director of administrative services, a position that included management of the Council’s facilities, supervision of the travel office, risk management, contract review, oversight of office space build-out and the SSRC’s relocation to Brooklyn, as well as acting as staff liaison to the Council’s Executive, Audit, and Investment Committees, and plan administrator for the Council’s 403(b) retirement plans. She was promoted to director of operations in July 2010, adding supervision of the IT department to her existing responsibilities. In 2014, Ms. Kovach moved to Florida and changed to senior advisor status, maintaining many of her current roles while providing guidance to executives, management, and program staff on a variety of topics. She works remotely from her Florida home office and makes frequent trips to the SSRC throughout the year.
Laura Laderman, data analyst, performs quantitative analysis and creates data visualizations for Measure of America. She holds a BA in physics and a minor in statistics from Swarthmore College. She was previously a Summer of Maps Fellow at Azavea, where she conducted geospatial analysis for nonprofit organizations. In addition to making maps, she enjoys dancing, hiking, and growing vegetables.
Vikki Lassiter, Partnerships Specialist, provides strategic direction for stakeholder outreach and expanding Measure of America’s collaborative advantage to support research, advocacy, and bottom-up innovation. Previously, Vikki was the senior advisor and executive director for the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network based at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. Vikki’s prior work has focused on a number of issues related to change management, health equity, and community-partnered research. Vikki earned an MS in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University.
Michelle Lee is a program assistant for the Dissertation Proposal Development Program. She graduated from Connecticut College in 2018 with a degree in International Relations and minors in French and Global Islamic Studies. Her honors thesis focused on UN peacekeeper sexual exploitation and abuse. While at Connecticut College, Michelle was an office assistant at the Writing Center and on the Executive Board of the Women's Empowerment Initiative. She also completed a study-away and summer internship in Kigali, Rwanda. .
Nicole Restrick Levit is the manager of the fellowships office and the assistant director of the Abe Fellowship Program and the Japan Program. She holds a B.A. in modern literary studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Cornell University. Prior to joining the Council in 2006, Nicole worked in the field of international education, exchange and outreach for five years, first as associate director of the National Clearinghouse for U.S.-Japan Studies, Indiana University, and then as an international programs officer at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.
Kristen Lewis is Co-Director of Measure of America and co-author of two volumes of The Measure of America (Columbia University Press, 2008 and NYU Press, 2010) as well as well-being reports for California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Marin and Sonoma Counties. Before founding Measure of America with co-director Sarah Burd-Sharps in 2007, Kristen was senior policy advisor to the water and sanitation task force of the UN Millennium Project, led by Jeffery Sachs, and was co-author of the task force report, Health, Dignity and Development: What will it take? (Earthscan, 2005). She previously worked at the United Nations for many years, first with UNIFEM and then as in UNDP's policy bureau, and has served as a consultant on gender equality issues for numerous international development organizations, including UNICEF and UNFPA. Kristen contributes regularly to media outlets, with articles published in the The Nation, Huffington Post, and Stanford Social Innovation Review, among others, research cited by The New York Times, Forbes, The Atlantic, Washington Post, NPR, Slate, Freakonomics blog, and frequent newspaper and radio interviews. She received a Masters degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.
Lisa Marshall joined the SSRC in late 2014 as Development Officer, in which capacity she is helping to coordinate the organization's Campaign for the Second Century and build a long-term fundraising program. Lisa is a cross-country transplant from Portland, Oregon, where she spent 12 years fundraising in the arts and social service sectors. She has a BA in English and graphic design from Lewis & Clark College and master's coursework in poetry and independent publishing. In addition to her work in nonprofit fundraising, Lisa also offers freelance graphic design and strategic marketing services to a variety of small business clients.
Nina R. McCoy received a B.S. from the University of Oregon in sociology, a Masters in teaching from the School for International Training and a Masters in public health (international health) from the University of Hawaii. She did additional post-graduate studies in sociology, teaching and public administration. After Peace Corps service in Thailand, Ms. McCoy worked with the Swedish International Development Authority as a language and cross-cultural trainer in Sweden and co-coordinator of an English language training program for health care projects in Vietnam, 1979-1983. She served from 1989-96 as associate director of Kalihi-Palama Health Center in Honolulu, which provides care for uninsured, immigrant and homeless populations. At KPHC she taught in a pioneer multidisciplinary community-based health training program. Between 1996-2006, in Ha Noi, Vietnam, Ms. McCoy managed youth-focused HIV/AIDS prevention programs for Population and Development International and the Australian Red Cross; worked on an HIV program five-year strategic plan for USAID; carried out HIV/AIDS related documentation and evaluation work for Family Health International; and, as Futures Group staff, became the management advisor for the USAID-supported Policy Project. Ms. McCoy joined SSRC in 2006.
Mary McDonnell is executive director and chief operating officer of the SSRC, and she leads the Council’s capacity-strengthening, fellowships, and Asia-focused work. McDonnell received her PhD in history from Columbia University with a focus on transregional connections between the Arab Middle East and Southeast Asia, particularly through Islam. She has master’s degrees in both international affairs and journalism, also from Columbia, and worked as a journalist covering Asian and Middle Eastern affairs before joining the Council full time in 1986, where she became founding director of the Abe Fellowship and Vietnam Programs. In 2015, she coedited the SAGE Handbook of Research Management, and earlier she contributed a case study of injury prevention in Vietnam to Structural Approaches in Public Health, edited by Marni Sommer and Richard Parker (Routledge, May 2013), providing a lens on creating achievable policy and behavioral change and offering lessons for other public health interventions while demonstrating the power of evaluation as a tool for strategic learning. Her current work includes a decade-long, qualitative and quantitative assessment of population health in rural Vietnam; and she recently secured a series of grants from the Atlantic Philanthropies. McDonnell is leading learning and evaluation (LEP) efforts for four of the Atlantic Fellows programs: International Inequalities Institute, Racial Equity, The Equity Initiative, and the Global Brain Health Initiative. She also coordinates across all Atlantic Fellows LEP efforts. McDonnell serves on the Expert Working Group of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program, on the advisory boards of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the British Council for Mobilising the Humanities. She chairs the Board of Trustees of the School for Social Development and Public Policy at Beijing Normal University and is a founding member of the board of a new NGO, Resources for Health Equity.
Clare McGranahan is editorial and communications associate for the SSRC’s Communications Department. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2013 with a BA in religion and philosophy. Before joining the SSRC she interned for Island Press’s Production Department in Washington, DC.
Branden Miles is an evaluation program assistant for the SSRC’s Atlantic Fellows Strategic Learning and Evaluation program. He graduated from Hamilton College in 2017 with a B.A in Government and a minor in Africana Studies. Before joining the SSRC he interned for U.S Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office and the Criminalization of Poverty Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Branden is a recipient of the POSSE Foundation’s full-tuition leadership scholarship and an Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center Social Innovation Fellow. In addition to working at the Atlantic Fellows Strategic Learning and Evaluation program, he enjoys traveling, literature, and jazz music.
Amanda is a human resources associate and administration coordinator. She graduated from the University of Georgia with her bachelor's of social work in 2012.
Alondra Nelson is the fourteenth president of the Social Science Research Council. She is professor of sociology at Columbia University, where she served as the inaugural dean of social science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. As dean, she led the first strategic planning process for the social sciences at Columbia, working with faculty in more than thirty departments and research units to set long-term academic priorities. Nelson began her academic career on the faculty of Yale University, where she received the Poorvu Award for interdisciplinary teaching excellence. Nelson has published award-winning and widely acclaimed books and articles exploring the junction of science, medicine, and social inequality. She is author most recently of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome. Her book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination was recognized with the Mirra Komarovsky Book Award of the Eastern Sociological Society and was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award. Her research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. She has been a fellow of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the BIOS Centre at the London School of Economics, the Bavarian-American Academy, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Nelson is chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology. A member of the World Economic Forum Network on AI, the Internet of Things, and Trust, she also serves on the Board of Directors of the Data and Society Research Institute. She is an elected member of the Sociological Research Association. Raised in Southern California, Nelson received her BA from the University of California at San Diego, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her PhD from New York University in 2003.
Cleia Noia is the program manager of the Drugs, Security and Democracy Program. She received her law degree from Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie in Brazil and her master's degree in law and diplomacy, with a focus on international development and human security, from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Prior to joining the Council in February 2014, Cleia worked as a corporate lawyer in Brazil and consulted on Brazil's drug policy for the Open Society Foundations.
Cyril Obi is program director of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) program, bringing his extensive research, networking, and publishing experience on African peace, security, and development to the Council. After completing his doctoral studies in Political Science at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, he joined the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and was promoted to associate research professor in 2004. That same year, Dr. Obi was awarded the Claude Ake Visiting Chair at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. From 2005 to 2011, he was a senior researcher and led the research cluster on “Conflict, Displacement and Transformation” at the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI) in Uppsala. He has received academic awards and fellowships from the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in Dakar, Senegal; the Social Science Research Council (SSRC); Africa Studies Center (ASC), Leiden; St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford; 21st Century Trust; Salzburg Seminar; and the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Dr. Obi is currently a research associate of the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa; a visiting scholar to the Institute of African Studies (IAS), Columbia University; and an adjunct professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). Dr. Obi serves on the editorial boards of several reputable journals, including African Affairs, African and Asian Studies, African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review, African Security Review, Brazilian Journal of African Studies, International Political Science Review, Governance in Africa, Strategic Review for Southern Africa, and Ubuntu: Journal of Conflict Transformation. He is also an international contributing editor to the Review of African Political Economyand serves on the Zed Books Africa editorial advisory board. Dr. Obi is also a member of the Board of Directors of the African Studies Association (ASA) and the International Advisory Board of the International Panel on Exiting Violence (IPEV), Paris. His publications include The Rise of China and India in Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and Critical Interventions (Zed Books, 2010), with Fantu Cheru; Oil and Insurgency in the Niger Delta: Managing the Complex Politics of Petro-Violence (Zed Books, 2011), with Siri Aas Rustad; and a special issue of the African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) (Indiana University Press, 2014), with T. Tieku and L. Scorgie-Porter. He has also contributed articles to the following peer-reviewed journals: Review of African Political Economy (2014), Extractive Industries and Society (2014), and South African Journal of International Affairs (2015). Dr. Obi recently contributed a chapter, “Understanding the Resource Curse Effect: Instability and Violent Conflict in Africa,” to Minding the Gap: Conflict Management in a Time of Change, edited by Pamela Aall and Chester Crocker (CIGI, 2016).
Becky Ofrane, Senior Program Manager, coordinates various projects at Measure of America, particularly related to public health impacts, strategy, and stakeholder management. She previously served as Children’s Environmental Health Coordinator at the U.S. EPA, with a focus on toxic chemicals policy, environmental health impacts from the built environment, human health risk assessment and public-private partnerships. She brings a public health perspective to social, environmental and economic spheres. Becky has a BS in Biochemical Engineering from Rutgers University and a MPH in Environmental Health and Toxicology from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Aaron Pangburn is the Program Manager of the Social Science Research Council’s new Understanding Violent Conflict Initiative. Previously, he served as a program coordinator for SSRC’s Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum’s special projects in Africa, including the Justice and Security Research Programme, DRC Affinity Group, and Accommodation of Justice for Displaced in DRC research consortium. He joined CPPF in January 2013 and also supports CPPF’s Africa programming with the United Nations. His research interests include the mechanisms of conflict management and international peace processes, and he has developed a regional expertise on the Horn and Great Lakes regions of Africa. In recent years, Aaron has completed consultancies for the Center on International Conflict and the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University on peace operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As part of his graduate capstone project with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he also coauthored “The Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Electoral Processes,” a systematic look into the support provided by the department’s substantive units in preparation for, during, and after a national vote. He received his Master of International Affairs (MIA) from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), concentrating in international security policy and international conflict resolution, and his BA in political science with minors in both human rights and legal studies from Trinity College (CT). Aaron was born and raised in Vermont but has also lived in Spain and Kenya.