Meet Our Staff
Gail Sunderman is Director of the Maryland Equity Project and Senior Research Scientist in the College of Education. Her current research interests include the role of the state in education and the impact of policy on the educational opportunities of low income and minority students. Prior to joining University of Maryland, she directed the Mid-Atlantic Equity Center at The George Washington University where she spearheaded the development of the Equity Planning Tool, a research-based instrument designed to assist districts to assess equity. At the Harvard Civil Rights Project (CRP), she was lead researcher on a five-year study examining the implementation of No Child Left Behind and how this legislation influenced educational change in states and school districts. Dr. Sunderman has served as expert consultant on educational disparities for the U.S. Department of Justice and other organizations. She is a former Fulbright scholar to Afghanistan and received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago.
Ariel H. Bierbaum is an assistant professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Her research examines how community development and planning create places that support all residents, especially families with children, youth, low-income communities, and communities of color. Her current projects focus on public school closures and neighborhood change; transportation systems in the context of school choice and desegregation; and the relationships between housing development, school attendance zone design, and segregation in Maryland. Previously, Dr. Bierbaum served as the Program Director and Senior Researcher at the UC-Berkeley Center for Cities and Schools, a policy research and technical assistance center that promotes high-quality education as an essential component of creating equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities. Dr. Bierbaum brings over 20 years of experience in the non-profit and public sectors, working in public policy, community development, and community arts. She is a member of the American Planning Association Public Schools Interest Group, sits on the on the board of the 21st Century School Fund, and is an advisor to Active Voice Labs and its The Future of Public initiative. Originally from New Jersey, she earned her PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California-Berkeley, a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania. More on Dr. Bierbaum's current and past work can be found at www.arielhbierbaum.com.
Robert G. Croninger is the Research Associate for the Maryland Equity Project. He is the associate chair in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership in the College of Education and an adjunct associate professor in the Joint Program on Survey Methods at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Croninger teaches courses in education policy and quantitative methods, including courses in mixed methods and multilevel modeling. Prior to taking a position at the University of Maryland, Dr. Croninger was an associate director for the Programs for Educational Opportunity at the University of Michigan, where he worked with school districts and communities to implement desegregation plans and to address race-, gender-, and language-based inequities in schools. His current research focuses on the challenges of studying teaching and identifying instructional practices that affect learning, particularly for students who have been historically disadvantaged in elementary and secondary schools. His latest publications include “Equitable Public Education: Getting Lost in the Shuffle” with Kathleen Hoyer in Charting Reform, Achieving Equity in a Diverse Society, edited by Gail Sunderman, and a special issue of Teachers College Record, entitled “Researching quality in teaching: Enduring and emerging challenges” edited with Linda Valli and Marilyn Chambliss.
Cierra Kaler-Jones is a research assistant with the Maryland Equity Project and first year Ph.D. student in the minority and urban education program in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership. She received her M.A. in education and human development from The George Washington University with a focus on curriculum & instruction for elementary education. She earned her B.A. in social work from Rutgers University, with concentrations in women's studies and race studies. Her research interest focuses on arts-based curriculum as a tool to empower girls of color to be change makers and leaders through mindfulness and movement. Outside of researching current trends in education, Cierra is a professional dancer, teaching artist, and freelance writer.
Pamela is a research assistant with the Maryland Equity Project and a doctoral student in the Education Policy and Leadership Program. She received her M.S. in Education and Math Curriculum from Johns Hopkins University, where she won the graduate Student Achievement Award in 2016. Her research interests broadly focus on the intersection of schools and democracy, specifically on civics education and teacher preparation. Before graduate school, Pamela was a Teach For America Corps Member (D.C. Region ‘13) where she taught middle school math in Prince George’s County, Maryland and served as the math department chair. Her students continue to inspire her research and work in education.
Charlotte Healy is a research assistant with the Maryland Equity Project and a third year doctoral student in the Education Policy and Leadership Program in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership. Prior to joining the Equity Project she spent four years teaching middle school Language Arts and Math in a Title I school in South Carolina. Her research focuses largely on school finance policies and issues. Charlotte received her B.A. in Education from Furman University and M.Ed in Teaching and Learning from Clemson University.
Kayla is a research assistant with the Maryland Equity Project and a first year student in the Master of Public Policy program. She is interested in the role that equality of opportunity in education plays in local economic development, particularly for minority and ESL students. Before coming to the University of Maryland and MEP, she obtained Bachelors of Arts degrees in Economics and Spanish from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.