Graduate Research Assistants

Ofa Ejaife, PhD student

Ofa Ejaife is a doctoral student in the Assets and Inequalities concentration at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Her research primarily focuses on the psychosocial issues of racism, sexism, and social justice, and on forms of structural, direct, and symbolic racism and sexism endemic to U.S. society, through an intersectionality framework. Ofa has a BA in Psychology and an MA in Community Psychology, both from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. With interdisciplinary training—utilizing critical qualitative and quantitative methods—her research is committed to understanding and alleviating various forms of subjugation influencing social realities. Currently, she is involved in research examining racial and gender economic disparities in the healthcare industry and on various community-based projects including: financial empowerment; credit building initiatives; and providing resources to develop, implement, and sustain policies and programs aimed at promoting housing stability.
Teresa Kroeger

Teresa Kroeger, PhD student

Teresa Kroeger is a doctoral student in the Assets and Inequalities concentration at the Heller School. She researches policies that affect the lives of socioeconomic disadvantaged individuals and families and those who are subject to gender and racial discrimination. At IASP, Teresa's work focuses on occupational segregation and racial wealth gaps. Prior to joining the Heller School, Teresa conducted research at the Economic Policy Institute, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the American Institutes for Research. Her recent research and publications focused on minimum wage violations, paid sick leave, collective bargaining, and the labor market for young graduates. Teresa holds a BA in Economics and Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Madeline Smith-Gibbs

Madeline Smith-Gibbs, MPP'19

Madeline Smith-Gibbs is a Master of Public Policy (MPP) candidate with a concentration in poverty alleviation. Prior to Heller, she coordinated the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council, connecting Philadelphians with their local government to create a more just food system. Madeline also has experience working in incarceration and reentry advocacy and volunteering at a nonprofit that sends free reading material to people in prison. Recognizing the transformative role assets can play in the lives of low-income families, Madeline is excited to be part of the Children's Savings Accounts research team at IASP. 

Yuqi Wang, MPP candidate

Yuqi Wang is a dual Master of Public Policy (MPP) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) candidate with a concentration in poverty alleviation. Prior to Heller, she worked as a policy analyst at UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza) on issues pertaining to workers' rights and tax and labor policies that impacted the Latino community. Yuqi also has experience conducting advocacy evaluations using Participatory Action Research, and organizing high school youth in Malden, MA. In her current role as Graduate Research Assistant, Yuqi is working on Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs in Maine

Kaitie Chakoian-Lifvergren, PhD student

Kaitie Chakoian-Lifvergren is a doctoral student in the Assets and Inequalities concentration at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Her research primarily focuses on The Intersections of Gender and Violence.  Kaitie has a BA in Psychology and Social Justice from Simmons College and an M.Ed in Higher Education from Northeastern University.  Currently, she is involved in research through IASP examining credit building in Boston, the experiences of home health workers, and evaluation of a national training and technical assistance organization, doing work to support survivors of human trafficking.

Lindsey T. Stranc, MPP candidate

Lindsey T. Stranc is a Master of Public Policy (MPP) candidate with a concentration in poverty alleviation. Prior to Heller, Lindsey worked as a housing counselor in Chicago for a national nonprofit and dedicated her time as an advocate for the homeless. She earned her BA in Political Science with a concentration in Visual Arts from Albion College. Presently, her research areas include low-income housing, homelessness, workplace democracy, and economic justice. Lindsey is excited to join the Children’s Savings Accounts research team at IASP as a contributor in lifting up economic opportunities for low-income families.

Snehalatha Gantla, PhD student

Sneha is a doctoral student in the Assets and Inequalities concentration at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Her primary aim is to work at the intersection of sociology and policy, by completing the Joint PhD program in Social Policy and Sociology. She received her BA in Sociology and English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She then went on to obtain her Master of Public Policy from Oregon State University. Sneha has a deep background in social science research, with a broader research agenda to investigate how symbolic and social boundaries function to maintain social inequities. Further, she plans to partner with community organizations to lift-up projects that transform these boundaries and produce equity, social mobility and citizenry. Her main area of interest is Immigration, Race/Ethnicity, and Citizenship Rights. Presently, Sneha is working at the Institute of Assets and Social Policy and Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy on Immigrant Integration and Empowerment Economics. 

Naomi J. You, MPP ‘19

IASP Graduate Research Assistant

Naomi You is a Master of Public Policy (MPP) student in the Poverty Alleviation concentration at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. At IASP, she works with a small team of researchers on Empowerment Economics, a culturally relevant and multigenerational financial capability model by and for low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. At Heller, her research has focused mostly on communities of color, systemic barriers to wealth building practices, the Asian American and Asian immigrant story, racial and ethnic inclusivity, and analysis of public narratives within historical and political contexts. Prior to Heller, Naomi worked in the Massachusetts State Senate as a Communications Director for over 6 years. She holds a BA in Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy from Boston University.