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Our Team

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Susan B. Neuman    

(Principal Investigator)


Susan B. Neuman is a specialist in early literacy development; whose research and teaching interests include early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction for children who live in poverty. In her role as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Neuman established the Early Reading First program, developed the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program, and was responsible for all activities in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act. She has written more than 100 articles and authored and edited eleven books.

Jefra Rees
(Project Manager/Junior Research Scientist)

Jefra Rees brings in over two decades of professional experiences and a broad knowledge and skill set pertaining to child development, family systems, early education, and working with children and families in stressful contexts. As a direct service provider within the realms of early childhood intervention, addiction recovery, and early childhood education, she has witnessed successes and limitations of both home-based and community-based programs. Coming from a foundation of therapeutic play and social-emotional learning, her goal is to build on that knowledge base to improve the long-term educational outcomes of young children. As an active member of the UN NGO Committee on the Family, her other passions include: unstructured and risky play, early literacy and children’s accessibility to culturally meaningful books, and advocating for vulnerable children. Jefra is looking forward to advancing her career as a researcher as she begins her doctoral program in Teaching and Learning in the Fall of 2023.  

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Lauren Krieger
(Project Manager/Junior Research Scientist)

Lauren Krieger has a multidisciplinary educational and professional background with experience in early childhood education and intervention, language development, public health and child protection. She worked as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of schools, home environments and early childhood programs across New York City for more than 10 years, and has worked in the non-profit sector at Doctors Without Borders USA and UNICEF headquarters in New York City. She feels that literacy is a public health issue, and is passionate about supporting research and interventions for equitable and inclusive high-quality early education programs.  

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