Our People

Our extraordinary team of researchers, educators, data analysts, and education technology specialists bring together years of teaching and course management experience to provide support for the program’s design, implementation, maintenance, and sustainable growth as we expand our program offerings in the future.

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

professor, award-winning author and activist

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess is a professor, award-winning author and activist who grew up in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. After surviving genocide and more than 1,100 days under the Serbs’ military siege, she emigrated to the United States in 1996. By December 1999, she earned a B.A. in Economics from Brown University. Later, she obtained two Master’s degrees and a Doctorate from Columbia University. Currently, she is a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College working on understanding how and why societies fall apart and what role education can play in rebuilding countries. She has published on education-related issues and has lectured around the world to adult and adolescent audiences. Her award-winning memoir, The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival, was published to critical acclaim. In her students’ feedback, Amra is consistently praised as one of the most inspiring professors they have encountered.

Lauren Gonzalez

Curriculum and budget Lead

Lauren Gonzalez is a long-time educator and researcher with a range of academic publications and extensive field-experience. Since 2015, she has been working as a teacher and education researcher, focusing on improving school quality, student safety and health, and overall educational outcomes. She serves as a Director of Research for an education communications and technology company aimed at improving school quality. Moreover, she serves as a Research Teaching Specialist with the New Jersey (N.J.) Safe Schools Program at Rutgers School of Public Health, where she has had experience facilitating in-person and online educator professional development trainings geared towards providing certification for Work-Based Learning (WBL) supervision in conjunction.

Vikramaditya Joshi

research, outreach, and partnership lead

Vikramaditya (Vik) Joshi is a doctoral student in the Philosophy and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Literature from Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York) and an M.A. in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction from the University of East Anglia (Norwich, United Kingdom). He has served first as a Teaching Fellow and, for the past three years, as a member of the faculty of the Bard Prison Initiative – a college-in-prison program at maximum and medium security prisons in Up-state New York. He has worked on educational programming, through the Initiative, with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) for five years, focused on the teaching, advising, and tutoring of incarcerated students. He has served as a Fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Justice. He is currently a faculty member at Fordham University in the Philosophy Department.

Tina Keswani

Technology, media, and creative lead

Tina Keswani is currently a master’s student at Teachers College, Columbia University studying Communications, Media, and Learning Technologies Design with a concentration in Computing in Education. Since 2013, she has been working in the ed-tech industry with globally recognized universities to scale, support, and improve learning outcomes by creating innovative online degree programs. She has partnered with hundreds of faculty to design their online courses, continuously striving for the right balance between vision, curriculum, and technology. She has also established processes for faculty to continually reflect and improve upon their courses through a data-driven approach. Her current interests lie in creating digital learning experiences that have a positive social impact using genuinely inclusive and collaborative interactions.

Brooke Tucker

curriculum development research assistant

Brooke Tucker is completing her M.A. in Education Policy and Social Analysis with a concentration in Early Childhood Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. For ten years, Brooke worked in early learning centers—seven of those years were spent in the classroom and the last three were in administration. During her time in administration, Brooke developed and led several educator professional development trainings across three campuses. She also designed and implemented a peer-to-peer mentoring program for educators. Brooke serves on the board of Florida Association for the Education of Young Children (FLAEYC), a leading early childhood organization in the state of Florida and serves on an early childhood degree advisory committee for St. Petersburg College in Florida. She holds a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida. 

Timon Hruschka

Statistics Graduate Research Assistant

Timon Hruschka is currently doing a master’s degree in Learning Analytics at Teachers College, Columbia University. In his program, he learns about advanced statistical methods and data mining techniques to leverage (big) data in informing educational research and program evaluation. He holds one B.Sc. in media communication from the University of Würzburg, Germany, as well as a B.A. in philosophy. While studying in Germany, he worked as a research assistant for the chair of Psychology of Communication and New Media at the University of Würzburg, as well as a freelance journalist – mainly for an educational journalist startup from Berlin.

Sophia Acquisto

Graduate Research Assistant, Technology & Media

Sophia Acquisto is a master’s student at Teachers College, Columbia University studying Computing in Education within the Communications, Media, & Learning Technologies Design program. Sophia holds a B.S. in Early Childhood and Childhood Education with a history concentration from SUNY New Paltz. Passionate about inclusive and engaging history curricula and harnessing the powers of technology in education, Sophia has been creating a digital history map to teach New York students, educators, and the general public about the historically significant sites across the Hudson Valley region. For her contributions to New York’s public history education, she was awarded three research grants by SUNY New Paltz and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

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