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Yale Team


  • Executive Director

    Hilary Hahn, EdM, MPH, is the Executive Director of Elevate Policy Lab in the Office of Public Health Practice at the Yale School of Public Health. Ms. Hahn comes to the Elevate team from the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale, where she was the Project Director for Yale’s site of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Dedicated to early intervention and a strong believer in building innovative forms of social support, Ms. Hahn has led training initiatives in trauma-informed policing and supported national dissemination of the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI). Ms. Hahn holds a Master’s in Educational Administration and Social Policy from Harvard and a Master’s in Public Health.
  • Senior Research Scientist

    B. Suzi Ruhl, JD, MPH, is a Senior Research Scientist at Elevate Policy Lab and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale Child Study Center. Ms. Ruhl joins Elevate from her previous position, Senior Counsel for the US EPA Office of Environmental Justice, where she served as Co-Chair of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Committee of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJIWG), Co-Chair of the Rural Communities Committee of the EJIWG, and as Chair of the Subcommittee on Place Based Efforts for the EJIWG. Her work has focused on advancing triple bottom line (i.e. environmental, health and economic) justice by integrating environmental justice in agency decision-making, supporting community-based action, and fostering administration wide action that promotes healthy, equitable, resilient, and sustainable communities for overburdened and underserved populations. Ms. Ruhl co-founded Brownfields to Healthfields (B2H), a community driven, multi-stakeholder approach to transform contaminated properties into community spaces that meet essential needs (e.g. health care, food security, physical activity).  She also co-produced an analytical methodology for advancing consideration of environmental justice, including the human environment, in environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. See Promising Practices for EJ Methodologies in NEPA Reviews.  Suzi brings her expertise on triple bottom line and community driven approaches to the Elevate team with a focus on centering environmental justice in the lab’s mission to promoting social and economic mobility for families living in poverty.     In addition to her law degree, Ms. Ruhl has a master’s degree in Public Health (Epidemiology). She is admitted to the bars of the Northern District of Florida and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Elevate-Affiliated Researcher

    Rachel Ebling, Ph.D., is the Director of Research, Evaluation, and Learning for Elevate Policy Lab, within the Yale Child Study Center. In this role, Dr. Ebling oversees all research and evaluation activities, which are closely integrated with Elevate’s efforts to scale the MOMS Partnership® model. Dr. Ebling is a licensed clinical psychologist, who is experienced in the development, adaptation, and evaluation of manualized interventions, including a suite of programs for mothers/caregivers that belong to the MOMS model. She has expertise in treatment fidelity assessment, program evaluation, observational coding, and mixed methods research. She has worked for many years at the intersection of intervention and research on programs targeting maternal mental health, parenting, co-parenting, CBT skills, and emotion regulation.

Core Staff

  • Maria Awwa, MA, is the Program Administrator for the Elevate Policy Lab and the MOMS Partnership ®. In this role, Maria collaborates with the Elevate team on multiple special projects, helps to manage internal changes and improvements, and serves as a liaison for administrative functions. She holds an MA in school psychology from the University of Connecticut and a BA in psychology from Barnard College. Previously, Maria has worked in the mental health field in the capacity of clinical, developmental, and educational research, as well as in school psychology and private practice. Throughout her career, Maria has developed a strong passion for championing and bettering mental health access and services for all, particularly in underserved communities. She is excited to be part of Elevate’s vision of finding solutions to advance maternal mental health care as a pathway to economic and social mobility for families.
  • Operations Manager

    Kari Cifarelli, MPH, is the Operations Manager for Elevate Policy Lab and the New Haven MOMS Partnership℠. Kari has worked in the research field for the past 12 years focusing on women’s mental health. Kari manages the overall operations of the office, and is responsible for supporting organizational processes, and to assist with the quality, productivity and efficiency of Dr. Megan Smith’s programs. Kari also supervises the research mission of the New Haven MOMS Partnership and works to provide the utmost of leadership to research staff. Kari is passionate about this work because she believes that mental health is critical at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence, through adulthood.
  • Project Specialist

    Devon McCormick, MACP, MARLSC, is the Implementation Project Specialist at Elevate. In this role, Devon supports activities related to the implementation of MOMS programming including program planning, training and technical assistance, research and evaluation, and planning for expansion and sustainability. Devon first earned her M.A. in Religious Leadership for Social Change from Starr King School for the Ministry, where she focused on countering racial injustice and poverty amelioration from an interfaith lens, worked for the non-profit Youth Spirit Artworks, an interfaith art jobs and job training program, and interned for the Anti-Racist Alliance of New York City. More recently, Devon earned her M.A. in Community Psychology from the University of New Haven, with a concentration in Program Development. While at the University of New Haven, Devon also served as the Prevention Programs and Training Director for the Tow Youth Justice Institute, a research and policy organization committed to youth justice reform, having also completed a Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform certificate program in School-Justice Partnership and Diversion Pathways. Devon is an International Institute of Restorative Practices licensed Restorative Practices trainer and has expertise in the theory and implementation of Restorative Justice at large. Previously, Devon earned her B.A. in Psychology from Roger Williams University. Devon is a strong advocate for social justice, with particular interest in systems of social stratification, alternative justice pathways, community care models, and resourcing parents. Devon is a survivor of an acute Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD) herself and hopes to imbue her work at Elevate with the learnings from her lived experience.
  • Polina Ovchinnikova, MS, is a Statistician 2 - Data Manager and Statistician at Elevate. Polina joins the team after studying health informatics and data science at the Yale School of Public Health. There, she served as a Database Curator for the ModelDB Curation Team at Yale University, where she managed the most extensive online collection of computational neuroscience models. She has also worked as a Statistical Consultant and Teaching Fellow in Biostatistics. Polina's research focuses on leveraging data-driven statistical analysis and health informatics skills to impact larger public health missions. She is proficient in R, SAS, and Python. Polina holds a Master of Science in Public Health with a concentration in Health Informatics from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Emmanuel College. She is excited to join the MOMS Partnership at Elevate, bringing her data science experience to support their mission.
  • MOMS Partnership® Research and Evaluation Administrator

    Caroline Posner, MA, is an Administrator of Research & Evaluation for MOMS Partnership® Scaling at Elevate, designing and carrying out research and evaluation activities related to scaling the MOMS model. Caroline has also worked as an evaluation & research consultant with the Chicago-based Parent Engagement Institute, the steward of Illinois schools's nationally recognized Parent Mentor Program. Caroline holds an MA in Social Work, Social Policy, and Social Administration from the University of Chicago and a BA in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience from Yale. Previously, she served as a Special Assistant at Elevate, contributing to research, communications, and administrative activities. Caroline is interested in the relationships between social services, mental health, and the social reproduction of inequality and is passionate about equitable and participatory approaches to research and evaluation. Outside of her specialization in program evaluation and implementation, Caroline has experience in social science research, policy analysis, and technical assistance.
  • Program Manager

    Maria Sperduto, MPH, is the Implementation Program Manager at Elevate. In this role, Maria leads the Elevate implementation team as they work with government and community partners to tailor, implement, and sustain the MOMS Partnership® model in their local context. Maria earned her MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Yale School of Public Health, during which she also worked for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to develop and conduct research on an app-based program for young adults. Previously, Maria was a Presidential Fellow at Dartmouth College, where she helped launch The Student Wellness Center to advance campus-wide, research-based, wellbeing interventions. She became the first Wellness Program Coordinator there. Maria is also a Program Consultant to the Good Life Center at Yale. She is interested in interventions to nudge psychosocial and democratic wellbeing, build social capital across identity divides, and transform population level trends in mental health. Maria holds a certificate in Political Psychology from Stanford University and a BA in Sociology modified with Global Health from Dartmouth College.
  • Associate Research Scientist

    Keitra Thompson, DNP, MSN, MHS, APRN, is an Associate Research Scientist at Elevate, contributing to the lab’s scaling and evaluation of the MOMS Partnership. She joins Elevate after completing a two-year post-doctoral fellowship as a VA scholar in the National Clinician Scholars Program at Yale School of Medicine. During her fellowship, Keitra served as an affiliated post-doctoral fellow with Elevate, leading efforts to qualitatively evaluate the MOMS Partnership at scaling sites across three different states. In her current role, she will primarily lead Elevate’s efforts to scale the MOMS Partnership to serve the needs of mothers and children impacted by the U.S. criminal legal system. As a dually board-certified family and psychiatric nurse practitioner, Keitra brings her insights providing community-based clinical care to the work of Elevate. She holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Executive Nursing Leadership from Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and a Master of Health Science in Health Services Research from Yale School of Medicine.
  • MOMS Partnership® Research and Evaluation Administrator

    Elizabeth Yeh, PhD, is a MOMS Partnership® Research and Evaluation Administrator at Elevate, where she helps drive the research and evaluation work of scaling MOMS outside of New Haven. She is a developmental psychologist with deep experience in research, assessment and program evaluation. During her career, Elizabeth has evaluated publicly funded programs for low-income populations in both the academic and private sectors. She earned a Ph.D. in Child Psychology at the Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She has co-authored several articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Child Development and Social Development. Elizabeth has a passion for using data to better the lives of parents and children in underserved populations.

Elevate-Affiliated Researchers

  • Elevate-Affiliated Researcher

    Samantha C. Holmes, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at City University of New York, College of Staten Island. Her research is focused on women’s experiences of trauma, particularly identifying protective and risk factors of mental health outcomes, developing and disseminating interventions for survivors with complex clinical presentations, and expanding the conceptualization of trauma to explicitly include oppression as a potentially traumatizing event. Through her continued affiliation with Elevate, Dr. Holmes works on projects that examine material hardship, trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other clinical outcomes among racially and ethnically diverse low-income mothers.