CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Contact Staff

Main Office Information

Fax: 617-627-3401

For questions or requests email Abby Kiesa, Director of Impact at CIRCLE.

Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life
Lincoln Filene Hall
Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155


(click for staff biography and contact information)

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Director of CIRCLE
Noorya Hayat, Researcher
Rey Junco, Senior Researcher
Abby Kiesa, Director of Impact
Kathy O’Connor, Office Manager

Peter Levine, Associate Dean for Research at Tisch College; Former Director of CIRCLE

Staff Biographies

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Ph.D.
Phone: (617) 627-2529

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg became the Director of CIRCLE in April 2015, after joining CIRCLE in 2008 as the Lead Researcher and serving as Deputy Director since 2013.  Kei directs CIRCLE’s mission and strategies by working with various stakeholders and overseeing CIRCLE’s key research and dissemination efforts.  Kei was a key author of CIRCLE reports such as Taking the Lead: How Educators Can Help Close the Gender Leadership Gap (with NEA and AAUW), All Together Now:  Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement, Pathways into Leadership: A Study of YouthBuild Graduates (with YouthBuild USA), and Civic Health and Unemployment II: The Case Builds (with NCOC), and has published in various peer-reviewed journals and books.  Her curriculum vitae can be found here.

Kei applies her expertise in positive youth development and community psychology to youth civic and political development, and how diverse young people interact with the community and cultural contexts as they learn to participate in civic life.  Kei is especially interested in providing people, organizations and communities with research that would help increase civic and political engagement opportunities for diverse and marginalized youth. Kei earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with specialization in Family and Children from Loyola University Chicago.

Before coming to CIRCLE, Kei was involved in a major meta-analysis of social-emotional learning programs for children and adolescents.  At the same time, she worked directly with marginalized youth in Chicago, both within a public high school as an evaluator for a drop-out prevention program, and as a clinician working with diverse youth and their families.  She also taught at Knox College, in Galesburg, IL, where she participated in the founding of a citizen-led community center while engaging students in community-based learning.

Kei is a proud member of Nonprofit Vote’s Leadership Council.  Kei finds working at CIRCLE an extreme privilege and honor, and especially enjoys connecting with, and learning from diverse colleagues who work to narrow civic opportunity gaps.

Rey Junco, D.Ed.
Senior Researcher

Rey Junco is a Senior Researcher at CIRCLE, where he applies his extensive experience in quantitative social science research to study various aspects of youth civic and political engagement.

Rey has a rich background in several interconnected fields like education, cognitive science, and the use of technology. Before joining CIRCLE, he was a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where he worked on the Youth & Media and the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence projects.

Rey has done pioneering work on young people’s social media use, especially as it relates to their psychosocial development and their potential political engagement. His experience with big data, machine learning, predictive algorithms, and other research tools and methodologies allows him to make forecasts about voting and other youth behaviors.

At CIRCLE, Rey is excited to focus on efforts to study and improve equity in civic and political engagement. He is also deeply interested in the role of social-emotional learning in education, which is the focus of a new initiative at Tisch College, CIRCLE’s parent organization.

Rey has a Master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and he was a licensed, practicing counselor for a number of years. He also has a D.Ed. degree from Penn State.

Noorya Hayat, Ed.M.

Noorya squareNoorya Hayat joined CIRCLE as a researcher in January 2016. She is currently working on projects that help promote civic learning and engagement in the k-12 education system and beyond, as well as researching the impact of national service on employment opportunities. She is interested in the intersection of education, both in formal and informal settings, and civic learning and awareness in youth, particularly from marginalized and diverse ethnic backgrounds.

She has experience working in the U.S. and abroad in teaching and educational research. Prior to CIRCLE, Noorya worked as an international researcher and coordinator in public health and nutrition awareness in the developing world. She has experience teaching and mentoring students from diverse backgrounds and grade levels, and worked as an early childhood educator in Boston. She holds an Ed.M. in international education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a focus towards global education and citizenship for the 21st century, monitoring and evaluation for improving education systems, and applied data analysis. She also has a background in economics and anthropology.

Noorya is passionately interested in narrowing gaps in civic education, awareness, and life-opportunities for under-resourced communities by providing evidence-backed research for decision-making and policies. She considers being part of the CIRCLE team and Tisch College a great privilege and platform to learn and contribute to excellence in research for civic youth development and engagement.

Abby Kiesa, M.A.
Director of Impact

Abby joined CIRCLE in 2005 and is based in the DC area. As Director of Impact at CIRCLE, Abby serves as liaison to practitioner organizations across the country to maintain a conversation between research and practice. She also provides leadership for CIRCLE’s election strategies as well as communications, and works on other research and evaluation projects, including two major national studies: Millennials Talk Politics: A Study of College Student Political Engagement and “That’s Not Democracy”: How Out-of-School Youth Participate in Civic Life and What Stands in Their Way. In addition to CIRCLE’s youth engagement work, Abby also engages in research related to Tisch College’s civic renewal efforts.

She is versed in the wide range of youth civic and political engagement efforts and practice, as well as topics such as youth political engagement, and the democratic work of higher education. She is particularly interested in topics such as the infrastructure that supports civic life and democracy, as well as the relationship between inequality and impact as related to democratic participation.  Abby holds an M.A. from the University of Maryland.

Previous to her work at CIRCLE, Abby organized students across the country through Campus Compact as part of a national campaign to increase youth involvement in public life. Her writing on youth political engagement has been featured in several publications and she co-edited the book Raise Your Voice: A Student Guide to Making Positive Social Change.

Abby serves on the board of the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement and on the steering committee of the American Democracy Project (an initiative of AASCU).

Kathy O’Connor
Office Manager
Phone:  617-627-4710

Kathy O’Connor joined CIRCLE in August of 2010. She is the Office Manager for Tisch College, and works closely with CIRCLE. Kathy handles the organization and processing of daily functions and various projects. She is responsible for the administrative activities and staff who provide support to Tisch College. She handles financial paperwork, and helps in the preparation of events throughout the year. Kathy’s background includes administrative duties in various companies. She was active in volunteering with the youth in her community and, before joining CIRCLE, she was employed by and involved in her local YMCA’s afterschool program.



Peter Levine
Associate Dean for Research, Tisch College; Former Director of CIRCLE
Phone: (617) 627-2302
Website (with blog and publications):

Peter Levine is the Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tisch College. He was the founding deputy director (2001-6) and then the second director (2006-15) of CIRCLE, and remains involved both as a researcher and as the dean who oversees CIRCLE. He is the author of We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, 2013) and six previous books.  A philosopher who worked for 15 years in the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, he contributes normative and policy analysis. He has served on the boards or steering committees of nonprofits related to CIRCLE’s mission, such as the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, AmericaSpeaks, the Street Law Inc., the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, Discovering Justice, the Kettering Foundation, the American Bar Association Committee’s for Public Education, the Paul J. Aicher Foundation, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.