Meet Our Staff

The CTC currently employs 10 full-time staff members who work cohesively with our research team, school partners, and partner organizations to advance our mission of creating higher education learning environments that foster equitable student outcomes.

Our team works virtually across the United States and Canada and we prioritize building rich relationships in adherence with our organizational values. Visit our Careers page to learn about opportunities to join the CTC!

CTC STAFF

Amy Henderson

Position: Implementation Manager, Academic Standing Project

Location: Portland, OR

Educational background: Psychology, University of Wisconsin - Madison

What do you like most about working at CTC? I really love all of the people I get to work with - from the regular video calls with everyone on the staff, to catching up with the researchers who formed CTC from the ground up, to getting to know the different administrators we partner with and learn about their unique school cultures and student support efforts. Everyone is so passionate about helping students and learning about new approaches.

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What is your favorite board game? I enjoy hidden identity games, particularly The Resistance, which I was introduced to at a CTC team retreat. Shout outs to Pandemic, Splendor, and Bohnanza as well.

What is your favorite pastime? I spend most of my free time training for Ironman distance triathlon. I started racing triathlons as a kid with my mom and moved up to the full distance after watching my older brother Ted. I raced at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2016 and 2018. I love thinking about the psychology of racing in order to improve my performance!

Cassie Hartzog

Position: Senior Data Analyst

Location: Davis, CA

Educational background: Math, Pomona College; Computer Science, UC Berkeley; Sociology, UC Davis

What drew you to CTC? The opportunity to use my skills to advance equity in education. I am most fulfilled when the work I do aligns with my values.

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What do you like most about working at CTC? The growth potential for CTC and my position excites me. There are ample opportunities to develop new skills and take on new roles, and I learn something new every day.

What is your favorite board game? Pandemic, because I love the cooperative aspect of the game in the race against the clock to save the world.

What is your favorite book? Lately I’ve been reading books centered on race as a way to more fully grasp the way in which the legacy of slavery continues to shape race relations in the US. One of my favorites is the novel Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward. A non-fiction book by Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, made me think long and hard about the inequities in our medical system and society at large.

What is your favorite pastime?: My kids and I raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. It requires a lot of dedication and patience, but is fun and very rewarding.

Chaghig Walker

Position: Project Coordinator, Student Experience Project

Location: Bay Area, CA

Educational background: Civil & Environmental Engineering, UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Stanford (M.S.)

What drew you to CTC? I wanted to put my project management skills to use on work I can be passionate about.

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What do you like most about working at CTC? I’m grateful to be working with people who genuinely appreciate the value of different experiences and perspectives, who understand how important that piece is for the work that we are trying to do. I love how thoughtfully our team approaches all topics, from organizational norms/values to rigorous project design. And I so appreciate being around people who are passionate about their work and also super fun at an organization with a true commitment to work-life balance.

What is your favorite place you've been? This is hard because I love to travel. But I have to say my homeland of Armenia because of my deep connection to my roots, because it’s a beautiful country filled with the most resilient people, and because of that feeling I get every time I land my feet there.

What is your favorite pastime? I love to sing and play piano, but never in front of an audience and mostly pretty sad songs (according to my kids).


Chris Smith

Position: Executive Director

Location: New York, NY

Educational background: English Literature, Georgetown (B.A.) and Applied Developmental Psychology, Fordham (Ph.D.)

What do you like most about working at CTC? Working with an incredibly dedicated group of people (staff, PIs, partners, institutions) who are passionate about our mission and driven to help create more equitable outcomes in higher education.

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What is your favorite place you've been? I had an amazing vacation in Italy, particularly in Rome and Florence. I hope to go back at some point in the future, but there are so many other places I want to explore!

What is your favorite pastime? I’m a big sports fan, and I’m particularly passionate about basketball (I’m still a Chicago Bulls fan because of Michael Jordan). I also love to read and travel when possible.


Jen Coakley

Position: Research Coordinator, Student Experience Project

Location: Bay Area, CA

Educational background: Social Welfare, UC Berkeley, PhD

What drew you to CTC? After years of working with underrepresented/served youth and seeing their struggle with the transition into college, I was very interested in learning more about the impact of psychological experiences on college persistence.

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What do you like most about working at CTC? I feel very lucky to have joined the amazing team at CTC and be surrounded by people passionate about our mission.

What is your favorite place you've been? One of my favorite places to visit is Ano Nuevo State Park in California to watch the elephant seals - they always make me laugh.

What is your favorite pastime? I spend most of my down time with my family, juggling our crazy schedules. I love being in the gym watching my kids play basketball.


Katie Mathias

Position: Research Coordinator, Social-Belonging and Academic Standing Projects

Location: New Hamburg, Ontario

Educational background: Psychology, University of Waterloo

What do you like most about working at CTC? I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with researchers at the top of their field. It’s also very rewarding to get to work with a group of like minded individuals who are passionate about equity and want to improve the educational landscape. The fact that our team is all-around kind, compassionate and fun is an added bonus that can’t be undersold.

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What drew you to CTC? I was excited by the blend that CTC offered of both engaging in rigorous & empirical research that also has the ability to positively impact students who can benefit from what we do now. It’s something that still excites me and keeps me motivated.

What is your favorite place you've been? Vermont- I have visited several times and the people there are so amazingly kind and friendly, plus there is also a great craft brew scene. I am also an avid hiker so love walking the Green Mountains.

What is your favorite board game? It’s a toss-up between Pandemic and Hanabi

What is your favorite podcast? Last Podcast on the Left


Krysti Ryan

Position: Implementation Manager, Student Experience Project

Location: Bay Area, CA

Educational background: Sociology (B.A.), Willamette University, Sociology (M.A., Ph.D.), University of California, Davis

What do you like most about working at CTC? I love that I get to do meaningful work that challenges me daily. I feel especially privileged to do this work alongside wonderful colleagues who care deeply about each other and our shared mission.

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What is your favorite pastime? I love to cook - and eat! There’s pretty much no food I won’t try at least twice, and I particularly enjoy exploring new cuisines with my two young daughters.

What is your favorite place you've been? There are many places I love to visit, but no other restores my soul quite like Medicine Lake in the Modoc National Forest. No cell reception, no internet, and nothing to do but enjoy the beautiful outdoors.


Manny Galvan

Position: Research Coordinator, Social-Belonging Project

Location: Bay Area, CA

Educational background: Psychology, University of Texas-Pan American; Master in Psychology, University of Texas San Antonio

What drew you to CTC? I am an advocate for educational equity because my family and my community has benefited so much from educational opportunities. My father went from being a migrant agricultural worker to working at NASA as a computer scientist, thanks to his hard work at the local Hispanic-serving University of Texas Pan-American. I also attended that university and developed a fascination with psychology as a means to promote prosocial change and equity. After getting a master’s degree in psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, I applied to the CTC still thinking this opportunity at Stanford was out of reach. I am honored and grateful to be working for an organization that cares about who we are and what we can do, not where we came from. Now, I do my part to help others from similar backgrounds achieve their potential through academia.

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What is your favorite board game? I like games that require the players take on roles. This is done in a really accessible way in a game like The Resistance, where you may be a “spy” acting like a non-spy. In the last couple of years, I have been enjoying the kind of freedom that comes from playing a true role-playing game like D&D.

What is your favorite pastime? I’m a musician at heart, so I love listening to and playing music. Sometimes I perform a bit at open-mics or karaoke and I love to attend concerts.

What is your favorite podcast? I love listening to many podcasts! Too many to list here, but I have been most influenced by Hidden Brain, Skeptics Guide to the Universe, and On the Media. I’m currently reading Biased by Jennifer Eberhardt, but the book that has been most influential on my thinking lately was Behave by Robert Sapolsky.


Mary Nowak

Position: Operations Manager

Location: Chicago, IL

Educational background: Educational Studies, Illinois Wesleyan University

What do you like most about working at CTC? How purposeful we are as an organization about being reflective and intentional in living out our values and the trust we have in one another as teammates

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What is your secret super power? Color-coding anything

What is your favorite pastime? I love doing yoga and cooking, especially when I get a chance to explore new ingredients and recipes. Both activities are very meditative for me!


Sara Woodruff

Position: Director of Research

Location: Washington, DC

Educational background:Economics and Spanish, Duke University (B.A.), Educational Psychology (M.A., Ph.D.), University of Georgia

What do you like most about working at CTC? I love working in a place that allows me to bring my full self to work, and there is a shared value in authenticity and honest communication. This transparency makes it easier to tackle the challenging work of reducing educational inequity in higher education. Last, but not least, we genuinely care about, and enjoy being around one another—whether over video conference or in-person.

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What is your secret superpower? Making new friends wherever I go!

What is your favorite place you've been? Victoria, British Columbia stole my heart. It is a majestic combination of water and mountains, the people are delightful, and the restaurants memorable. It also doesn’t hurt that there are stellar wineries with scenic views.