Speaker and Member Spotlights

Elliot Haspel

Check out Elliot Haspel and Dr. Dorian Traube's conversation on the childcare crisis here

Early childhood and K-12 education expert, Elliot Haspel, began his career in Arizona as a fourth grade public school teacher through the Teach for America Program after graduating from The University of Virginia. While teaching, he built on his passion for creating equitable opportunities for all children and became interested in the neuroscience path of child development, poverty, and the early childhood era. Haspel noticed that a child’s academic success might depend on what happens before the child even steps into a school building. These insights motivated Haspel to earn a Master’s in Education Policy Management from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

From there, Elliot worked for numerous education policy and advocacy organizations. Hewas selected to be an Education Advocacy Fellow for the nonprofit 50CAN and a Fellow for the New Leaders Council. He also went on to co-found the nonprofit Education Success Network and serve as the Policy Analyst for the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation for 2016-2018. Following that role, Haspel published his book “Crawling Behind: America’s Childcare Crisis and How to Fix It” in which he focused on advancing the conversation surrounding the cost of childcare and challenges that early childcare practitioners face. Currently, Haspel works as the Program Officer for Education Policy and Research at the Robins Foundation. In his February brown bag talk, he will use his expertise in early childhood care and education policy to hold a moderated Q&A with Dr. Traube that will discuss what the pandemic has revealed about childcare and how to move forward.

Throughout his notable career, Haspel has noticed that our American education system creates a large division between the ages of 0-5 and 5-15. This division has led to huge policy implications, especially in terms of funding that the U.S. allocates for early childhood education, for which the U.S. has the third lowest funding. Through his writing and policy work, Haspel aims to focus on families rather than just the children as the units of change and bring greater attention to the early childhood field. Looking forward, Haspel hopes to study family support systems in other countries such as Finland, New Zealand, or Australia in order to discover how the U.S. can transform its early childhood care and family systems.

Dr. Christine Beckman

Check out Dr. Christine Beckman's brownbag talk here

CCF member Dr. Christine Beckman is the Price Family Chair in Social Innovation and professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy. As an undergraduate psychology major at Stanford University, Dr. Beckman’s interests in gender studies and organizational behavior were first sparked when she took a course from one of the founding fathers in the field, James March.  From there, her fascination with how organizations like work, church, and nonprofits influence individuals’ lives led her to earn a Masters in Sociology and Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Stanford.

Dr. Beckman’s Center for the Changing Family talk will focus on her new book, Dreams of the Overworked: Living, Working and Parenting in the Digital Age. Co-authored by Melissa Mazmanian and published by Stanford University Press, Dreams of the Overworked details how American families are often stretched to the breaking point by combined work and home responsibilities. Beckman and Mazmanian studied nine families to highlight that while women in particular have made great strides in the workplace, their burdens of housework and childcare have not decreased, causing strains in the workplace and at home. While devoting three years to intensively observing these nine families, Beckman herself experienced some of these challenges, as she was raising two children at the time. She mentioned that she is lucky to have a supportive husband who values her work and acknowledges the sacrifices she has to make, as many women lack this encouragement.

Looking forward, Dr. Beckman hopes her work will shed light on how to disrupt gender patterns and find macro-level solutions that can help improve gender equity at home. While big policy solutions such as increased paid parental leave are necessary, she also mentions that smaller steps in individual households can be taken to break gender barriers like opening the door for honest conversations about household roles between couples. For those considering a career in organizational behavior studies, Dr. Beckman advises to try to learn from negative feedback rather than taking it personally and letting it demoralize you. She also encourages budding academics to have a supportive network and celebrate all of the little accomplishments along the way like submitting a paper for review.

Dr. Emily Smith-Greenaway

Check out Dr. Smith-Greenaway's brownbag talk here.

Dr. Smith-Greenaway, Associate Professor of Sociology and Spatial Sciences at USC, has completed a number of fascinating research projects on the effects of social inequalities on individual well-being at both the family and community level. Growing up in a small town in Virginia, Dr. Smith-Greenaway always had a “passion for learning math,” but yearned to “expand her worldview and travel around the world to learn about public health disparities.” During her pre and postdoctoral training, she received several grants and fellowships from distinguished organizations like the National Institutes of Child Health and Development (NICHD), which allowed her to study abroad in South Africa. 

Although her research is multinational, she focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, with her most recent project taking place in Malawi. There, in the small village of Balaka, she, along with her team of thirty researchers, investigated the lack of resources and high-quality healthcare available, which revealed global inequalities. Dr. Smith-Greenaway brought her two daughters to Malawi to share the data collection process with them. At USC, Dr. Smith-Greenaway both teaches a freshman year seminar in quantitative reasoning and mentors Ph.D. students. She “loves teaching students” and “watching the process of their learning.”

In her upcoming brownbag talk on November 10th, Dr. Smith-Greenaway plans to discuss population demographics such as fertility and mortality through a more experiential lens. She will specifically focus on how mortality conditions affect the surviving people’s lives, highlighting topics such as bereavement, child and sibling loss, and maternal-oriented projects. She will also cover her recent COVID-19 project in which her team generated a “bereavement multiplier to estimate how many people were left grieving in each COVID-related death.” Through her talk, she hopes to “shed light on how many people are affected in the family unit as a result of premature mortality.”