Gwendolyn Harris, Ph.D.
Gwendolyn Long Harris, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut and her Masters from the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago. She completed her doctoral work at the Rutgers University, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. Her professional career has concentrated on addressing the issues faced by underserved people and places through policy and programmatic intervention.
She has had an extensive career in community development, social services, and government, highlighted by founding Newark Emergency Services of Families, Inc. almost 40 years ago, as well as serving as Chief of Staff, Business Administrator and Department Director during the Palmer Administration in Trenton, New Jersey, and as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services during the McGreevy administration.
As Executive Director of Rand Institute she has worked to expand the Institute’s involvement in Southern New Jersey through applied research, neutral convening and community development. In doing so she has more than doubled both the amount of the Institute’s budget and the number of full time staff and the Institute has active projects in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Atlantic, and Cumberland Counties.
She is immediate past Chair of the Board of Trustees for Mercer County Community College where she has served as a trustee since 2004. She is also Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Capital City Redevelopment Corporation.
Darren Spielman, Ph.D.
Darren Spielman has twenty years of leadership experience in the nonprofit and education sectors, where he has worked to improve the lives and life chances of our region’s most vulnerable residents. He has served as president and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund, vice president of workforce development at Philadelphia Youth Network, executive director of Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, and director of adolescent outreach and research at Congreso de Latinos Unidos. As a principal with Rodriguez-Lavergne Consulting, Darren has consulted for prominent research, advocacy, social service, and education organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region and Puerto Rico.
He sits on the board of directors of Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia and has served as vice president and secretary of the board of trustees of The Philadelphia School and as treasurer of the board of directors of Public Citizens for Children and Youth.
Darren holds a BA in psychology and sociology from Wesleyan University and a PhD in psychology (social and personality) from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Tracy A. Swan, MPA, MCJ
Senior Project Administrator
Ms. Swan has worked at the Walter Rand Institute since 2004. She manages a diverse portfolio of projects at WRI. Her program evaluations include a newly established peer recovery center, mental health services for a local school district, a county-wide at-risk youth case management effort, a local police department, and a statewide parole employment placement program. Her needs assessment involves determining legal needs for medical patients. Her conferences include a recently held forum on public health coalitions in South Jersey and two separate educational and employment opportunities forums for at-risk and court-involved youth.
Ms. Swan’s largest project is the NJ Attorney General’s funded juvenile delinquency prevention effort in Cumberland County, where she and her team provide assistance to over 100 county stakeholders in developing and implementing delinquency prevention and positive youth development strategies. Ms. Swan recently secured a similar contract for Burlington County, which will officially kickoff in January 2016.
Ms. Swan is the Chair of Board for the local United Way of Cumberland County; a Board member of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey Public Policy Committee; and member of UWGPSNJ’s Leadership Council. She received her BA in Psychology from Oberlin College, holds a master’s in Public Administration and a master’s in Criminal Justice from Rutgers–Camden. Ms. Swan also serves as an adjunct professor in the Criminal Justice Undergraduate Department of Rutgers University.
Kristin Curtis, MA
Senior Project Coordinator
Kristin Curtis obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Rutgers University- Camden Campus and Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University-Camden.
In 2008, Ms. Curtis served as the Walter Rand Institute’s Graduate Assistant. She was then promoted to Research Project Assistant in 2009, where she led data analyst on the PRI-RESPECT, PRI-CORP, and Municipal Prevention Projects at the Walter Rand Institute. Ms. Curtis is the Project Manager of the South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative Evaluation and she is also working on the Food Bank of South Jersey’s Healthy Living Initiative Evaluation.
Ms. Curtis has presented findings on residence restrictions for sexual offenders with Drs. Michelle Meloy and Susan Miller at the American Society of Criminology and published an article in the American Journal of Criminal Justice. Her research interests include offender re-entry, juvenile delinquency, sexual offenders, sex crimes, and victim’s issues.
Paul Smith, MPA
Research Project Coordinator
Paul Smith holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University- Camden, and is a graduate of the MPA program (December 2009) at Rutgers University–Camden. He was hired as a Research Project Assistant at WRI in April 2010. Prior to being hired as a full- time staff, Paul served as a Student Project Assistant and Graduate Fellow at WRI.
Mr. Smith has worked on numerous projects including Regional Planning and Growth Fit, Affordable Housing in South Jersey, an analysis of Camden’s Special Services District, Municipal Planning & Prevention, Operation CeaseFire and PRI-CORP.
In his current role as Research Project Coordinator, Paul is primarily working on WRI’s Strengthening Family Initiatives project.
Research Project Assistant
Dennis Pelaez-Robles graduated from Rowan University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Currently, he is leading the research and evaluation of the Cumberland County Collaboratives as part of the South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative funded by the Pascale Sykes Foundation. Mr. Pelaez-Robles plans to pursue a Master’s of Business Administration.
James Morgante, Ph.D.
James Morgante received his B.S. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University in 2002, M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago in 2003, and Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 2010. Over the past several years, he has published empirical reports in scholarly journals within his field and taught undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in developmental psychology and learning science. Dr. Morgante’s research program has centered on cognitive and physical development in infancy and early childhood. Currently, Dr. Morgante is exploring the impact of incarceration and reentry on children and families.
Karen Rosado obtained her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University–Camden in 2007. Mrs. Rosado has worked on various projects and initiatives since October 2011. She was the lead coordinator on the North Camden Civic Engagement Project in which she engaged community stakeholders on projects such as community greening. She was the lead researcher for Cumberland County as part of the Pascale Sykes’s South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative, a project which examines the impact of social service organization collaboration on child well-being, financial stability of families, and relationships between children and their caregivers.
She is currently a lead on the Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition. The Coalition is a cross sectorial approach to developing strategies for decreasing juvenile delinquency and is part of the Municipal Prevention Planning Initiative that is funded by New Jersey’s State Attorney’s Office. Mrs. Rosado’s policy interests include social service delivery, juvenile delinquency, community development and engagement, and secondary education achievement.
Research Project Assistant
Jessica McConnell graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 2013 and an MA in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University–Camden in 2016. As a Student Project Assistant at WRI, Ms. McConnell worked with the United Way of Salem County and the Pascale Sykes South Jersey Families Initiative, the latter of which she continues to work on now as a full-time Research Project Coordinator.
Kurt Schmenger graduated with a BA in Psychology from Lehigh University and MA in Experimental Psychology from Appalachian State University. He has been an English teacher in Madrid, Spain, and a Health Outreach Worker for Hispanic Farm Workers. Mr. Schmenger is currently working with the Strengthening Family Initiatives. He enjoys speaking Spanish and playing golf.
Angelyce Purnell graduated with a BA in Spanish from Temple University. She is currently working with WRI’s Strengthening Families Initiative.
Monica Rears received her bachelor’s degree in Economics with a concentration in Accounting from Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She handles grant budgets and reconciliations as well as the Walter Rand Institute’s events and website. She comes from a diverse accounting background where she handled Payroll, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and General Ledger operations.