about us
Current News
21C Components
Guiding Principles
Related Programs
Arkansas Initiative
Research at 21C
Benefits of 21C
CT FRC Evaluation
Independence, MO
Mental Health
National Conference
get involved
Why Join 21C
Getting Started
Mailing List
contact us
How To Reach Us

Faculty, Staff and Students

The School of the 21st Century is located in the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University. In addition to Yale faculty, there are a number of staff members, affiliates and peer trainers, and current research assistants working with 21C.


Edward F. Zigler, Ph.D.
Sterling Professor of Psychology at Yale, Emeritus

Edward Zigler, Sterling Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Yale University, is the former Head of the Psychology Section of the Child Study Center at Yale’s School of Medicine and founder of the Center in Child Development and Social Policy. The Center has been renamed in his honor and is now known as The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. He is the founder of the School of the 21st Century, which has been adopted by more than 1,300 schools nationwide.

Dr. Zigler regularly testifies as an expert witness before congressional committees and has served as a consultant to a number of cabinet-rank officers. He was one of the planners of Project Head Start and President Carter later named him chair of the 15th anniversary analysis committee. 

From 1970 to 1972, Dr. Zigler was the first director of the U. S. Office of Child Development (now the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families) and chief of the U. S. Children’s Bureau. He was also a member of the Advisory Committee on Head Start Quality and Expansion and of the planning committee for the Early Head Start program for families and children ages zero to three.

He continues to work full-time on his scholarly efforts and is currently conceptualizing a new role for Head Start where universal public preschool becomes a reality.

Dr. Zigler’s many honors include awards from the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Research in Child Development, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy on Mental Retardation, the American Orthopsychiatric Association, the National Head Start Association, the Heinz Foundation, and Teachers College, Columbia University. Among his many honorary degrees are ones from Boston College and McGill University in Canada.

Matia Finn-Stevenson, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Associate Director, Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy
Director, The School of the 21st Century


Matia Finn-Stevenson is a research scientist at Yale University, Child Study Center, where she is also associate director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and the director of the School of the 21st Century. She developed the social and emotional learning model that is the basis for the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, conceptualized by the Pet Savers Foundation, and the integration of Mutt-i-grees to teach social-emotional skills. Dr. Finn-Stevenson is also directing Yale's efforts in the study of pets in the lives of children. Her previous work focused on research in child development and school-work-family life issues, including studies on the impact of demographic and other changes on schools and the involvement of schools in childcare, family support and other interventions.

Dr. Finn-Stevenson is the author and co-author of numerous publications, the most recent of which are related to school reform, evaluation of school-based support services, and program development social policy. Among her publications are books entitled Children in the Changing World; The School of the 21st Century: Linking Child Care and Education; Child Development and Social Policy; and The First Three Years and Beyond: Brain Development and Social Policy. She has been an advisor on domestic policy issues to the staff of the White House Office of Policy Development and a consultant to the Connecticut legislature's Committee on Work and Family, the Committee on Education and Labor, the U. S. House of Representatives, and the U. S. Senate Subcommittee on Children, Youth, Families, Alcohol, and Drug Abuse. She regularly advises school districts and state departments of education on programs and services for children and serves as a consultant to state and federal policymakers and foundations. Dr. Finn-Stevenson earned her doctorate from Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.


Vanessa Joy Bravo , M.A. and Ph.D. Candidate
Research Fellow/Instructional Technology

Vanessa Bravo works on program development and evaluations pertaining to 21C. She received her B.S. in Computer Science from Siena College, and an M.A. in Elementary Education from Saint Joseph College with a focus on Media & Technology. She is also certified to teach grades K-6 in the State of Connecticut.

Vanessa is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Technology at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include, Wikipedia (and public wiki) use in Higher Education, “new literacies,” and gender differences in educational technology. In addition to her work on 21C, she teaches graduate educational technology courses at Saint Joseph College and the University of Connecticut, and provides professional development workshops on learning technologies.

Misty Ginicola , Ph.D.
Training and Evaluation Associate for Mutt-i-grees
Senior Associate/Special Projects and Evaluation Studies


Misty Ginicola’s research has focused on using a developmental lens to understand the varying experience of depression in children. More broadly, she is interested in the experience of mental health problems in school settings, and the development of empirically based interventions which can be utilized in a school setting. Misty is currently an Assistant Professor, Counseling and School Psychology at Southern Connecticut State University and Senior Associate for Research and Evaluation for The School of the 21st Century, where she works on several evaluation projects, including Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum, 21C efficacy studies, and 21CCLC impact study in Independence, Missouri.

Kay Hammerson
Mutt-i-grees Program Manager

Kay is the Program Manager and Librarian for the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum. She currently works as a liaison between Animal League America and the School of the 21st Century to develop, promote, and disseminate the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum. As the Librarian for the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum, Kay selects and reviews books included in each of the lesson plans and suggests additional resources on the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum website and Facebook page. Kay, who has a Master’s degree in Library Science, is leading a new initiative to promote the role of public libraries in children’s social and emotional development.

Valerie Vergato Zielinski
Senior Administrative Assistant/Events Coordinator

In addition to providing administrative and financial support for 21C, Valerie is the 21C Conference Coordinator.

Valerie has been employed at Yale since 1986; prior to working with 21C, she worked for the Provost of Yale reconciling grant accounts and preparing foundation budgets. She is a graduate of Branford Hall School of Business.

21C Affiliates/National Peer Trainers

Christopher Cerf
Senior Associate

Christopher Cerf is an author, record and television producer, composer-lyricist, editor, humorist, and co-founder and president of the educational television production company, Sirius Thinking, Ltd. Cerf played a pivotal role in the ongoing funding of the Sesame Street television show, through the creation, licensing and production of educational records, toys and books.

For over 30 years, he has also been a regular contributor of music and lyrics to Sesame Workshop productions, winning, in the process, two Grammy Awards and two Emmy Awards for songwriting and music production.

Before joining Sesame Street, Cerf spent eight years as a senior editor at Random House, where he worked with such diverse authors as George Plimpton, Andy Warhol, and Ray Bradbury, and helped to create an in-school reading program based on the famous Beginner Book series, edited by Dr. Seuss. In 1993, Cerf renewed his ties to Random House when he assumed the role of Chairman of the Modern Library.

One of Christopher Cerf's most acclaimed projects was the editing and production of Marlo Thomas and Friends' Free To Be...A Family book, album and TV special. The book reached #1 on The New York Times bestseller list within a week of publication, and the show received a prime-time Emmy as the year's outstanding children's special. Currently, Cerf serves as Creative Producer of Between the Lions, the multiple-award-winning children's literacy series his company, Sirius Thinking, created for PBS.

Christopher's father, the late Bennett Cerf, was co-founder and president of Random House, and nationally known as an editor, television personality, writer and humorist.

Chris Henrich
Research Affiliate

Dr. Henrich's interests focus on the social and motivational development of children and adolescents. Specifically, he is interested in school adjustment over key educational transitions (e.g., from elementary school to middle school) and what parents can do to promote their children's school success. Dr. Henrich is also interested in the effects of other contextual factors, such as peer groups and violence exposure, on school adjustment.

Dr. Henrich has been involved in the evaluation of several educational interventions to promote school adjustment and achievement. Most recently he has been working with researchers at the National Center for Children in Poverty on the evaluation of a school-based violence prevention program, and he also collaborates with colleagues at the Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy on a national evaluation of the Schools of the 21st Century.

Other of Chris' interests include the motivation of children with mental retardation and the policy implications/applications of developmental research.

Michael Levine
Senior Associate

Michael Levine is founding executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and senior associate at Yale's Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is a newly established educational media, research, and public dissemination organization housed within the offices of Sesame Workshop. The center will undertake and fund original research, forge partnerships with communications industry leaders to accelerate innovation in children's media, and conduct symposia and an information dissemination program for policymakers and the public. Until recently, Levine was at The Asia Society, where he oversaw interactive media and educational initiatives to promote global knowledge and understanding. He coordinated development of the first national network of international studies schools for low income and minority secondary students and leads a multi-state network to promote international education in US schools. Previously, Levine oversaw Carnegie Corporation of New York's work in early childhood development and primary grades reforms, where he won national recognition. Before joining Carnegie, Levine was in charge of dropout prevention programs for the New York City Board of Education and helped create a model interagency preschool program for at-risk children for Mayor Edward Koch. Levine received his BS from Cornell University and his PhD from The Heller School of Social Policy at Brandeis University. He serves as a frequent adviser to many nationally prominent companies.

Norma Meek

Senior Associate/21C National Peer Trainer

Norma Meek, Senior Associate, at the Zigler Center provides training and technical assistance to schools implementing 21C. She is also Curriculum Event Coordinator, District Reading Coach, Director of Parent Involvement, and Director of the summer Math/Reading program for the Boyd County (KY) School System.

She served for eight years as co-chair for a Leadership Forum for Directors of Child Care programs throughout the state at Asbury College each summer. Norma is a past president of the Kentucky Coalition for Family Resource Youth Services Centers and a past president of the Kentucky School-Age Care Coalition. She has also served on the Kentucky Prevention Child Abuse Board and has been a member of the Governor's Child Care Advisory Council.

Norma chaired a Kentucky Child 2000 Initiative and also chaired a Kentucky Work Group on the Governor's Early Childhood Initiative. Norma's Family Resource Center received the first Harry J. Cowherd Award for Excellence and in 1997 received the Kentucky Coalition's Ruth Lerman Fitzpatrick Award. In 2001, she received the YWCA Twin Award for Education. Throughout her career she was named Teacher of the Year twice. In 2010 Norma received Kentucky’s Champion Hall of Fame award for the Out-of –School Alliance.

Currently Norma is active in her community serving as a Director of United Way, Past President of Pathways Mental Health Board for ten counties, President of the Paramount Arts Center Board of Directors. Appointed by the mayor she is a Central Park Board Commissioner and a member of CASA (Court Appointed Student Advocate). She still finds time to serve as the first woman president of her local YMCA Board. She recently became a member of the National Early Literacy Advisory Council. She has made numerous national presentations on behalf of children and families. Norma is a Senior Associate at the Yale Zigler Center.

Patty Schumacher
Senior Associate/Coordinator of 21C Leadership Development

Dr. Patricia Schumacher joined the staff of the Yale Zigler Center in the summer of 2005 serving as senior associate and coordinator of leadership development. She has 32 years of public school experience ranging from classroom instructor, counselor, elementary principal, director of elementary education, to associate superintendent.

As principal, she successfully implemented a School of the 21st Century program at William Southern Elementary in Independence School District in 1988. In 1993, William Southern was named a National Blue Ribbon School and Patty was recognized as the Principal of the Year. As an Associate Superintendent in Independence, MO Patty was responsible for the expansion and quality of the School of the 21C Programs in all 14 elementary schools and at the district's Head Start Center serving over 1500 children a year. The Independence School District was recognized by Working Mother magazine and NBC's Tom Brokaw for its outstanding role in meeting the needs of children and families in the community.

Patty has been the recipient of several awards, most recently: Yale University Outstanding Public Service to Children and Families, University of Missouri College of Education Recognition for commitment to all children's learning, National PTA Honorary Life Member, and Who's Who among Outstanding Americans.

She currently serves on the board for the Independence Chamber of Commerce, Child Abuse and Prevention Association, University of Missouri Joanne H. Hook Center in Educational Renewal, Missouri Partnership for Educational Renewal, University of Missouri College of Education Alumni Board, and YouthFriends. Patty has served on numerous national boards and committees.

Deborah Swink
Senior Associate/21C National Peer Trainer

Deborah Swink received her B.S.E. in 1976 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the area of Special Education and her M.S.E. in Special Education in 1988 from the University of Central Arkansas. She completed her administrative certification in Special Education Administration while attending Northern Arizona University in 1993. Ms, Swink has 32 years experience in public school education including 15 years teaching in special education classrooms and 17 years of special education administration in Arkansas. Swink currently works as the LEA supervisor for three school districts in Van Buren County, Arkansas and oversees all aspects of the special education programs and school-based mental health programs for the districts. Deborah has been a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) since 1987 and has served on the executive board of the Arkansas Federation of CEC (AR-CEC) from 1998 - 2004 in the offices of CAN Coordinator, Vice President, President-elect, President, and Past Presi-dent. Ms. Swink currently serves as an appointed member of the Arkansas Advisory Council for the Special Education Unit of the ADE, President of the Arkansas Mental Health in Education (ARMEA) organization, and has been appointed by Governor Beebe to the Arkansas Developmental Disabilities Council. Swink is a member of Yale University-The School of the 21st Century Leadership Council and serves as a national trainer for the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum.

Lee Vent
Senior Associate

Lee Vent officially joined the Yale 21C Staff as a Senior Associate on October 1, 2009. Vent is the Superintendent in Clarendon, AR. A native of Arkansas, Vent began his educational career as a classroom teacher in Missouri. He soon returned to his home state in a number of administrative capacities, including assistant high school principal, middle school principal, and superintendent at the Clarendon School District. He also worked as director of career development for Phillips County Community College. In 1990, he moved to Paragould where, as superintendent, he initiated the first 21C program in the state in 1992. He brought 21C to Forrest City when he was superintendent beginning in 1996. Vent, who has more than forty years of experience in public education in the delta region of Arkansas and Missouri, has always been a strong advocate for preschool education, citing the need for upstream solutions to downstream problems related to both public education in America and society as a whole. He is a founding member of the AR21C Leadership Council.

Research Assistants


home | | print this page | contact us

© 2002 School of the 21st Century
The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy
310 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Phone: (203) 432-9944
Fax: (203) 432-9945