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Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

TCRC Steering Committee

The Tisch College Community Research Center is run by a steering committee composed of community leaders and Tufts faculty and staff. The committee meets regularly to plan the Center's work, evaluate proposals, and otherwise strengthen relationships and collaboration between Tufts researchers and local communities.

The current members of the committe are:

Community Representatives

Ben Echevarría

Co-chair, TCRC; Executive Director, The Welcome Project

Ben Echevarría is the Executive Director of The Welcome Project (TWP), a community-based organization in Somerville, MA, that works to build the voice and collective power of Somerville immigrants to participate in and shape community decisions. To maximize TWP’s impact, Ben has partnered with faculty, students, and staff at Tufts and other institutions to facilitate community-led and community-engaged research, education, and advocacy projects. Aside from TWP, Ben is a Pastor for El Luz Del World Ministries.

Debbie Chen

Community Planner, Asian Community Development Corporation

Debbie Chen is the Community Planner at Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), a Chinatown community-based organization that has developed over 300 affordable homes for residents of Boston’s Chinatown and its “satellite Chinatowns” of Quincy and Malden. Previously, Debbie conducted research and analysis for the Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition’s needs assessment, the San Francisco Chinatown Community Development Center’s business clustering project, and the Harvard Business School U.S. Competitiveness Project. Debbie received her Masters from Harvard University, where she studied Urban Policy, and her B.A. in Economics,magna cum laude, from Wellesley College.

Annie Chin-Louie

Project Manager, ADAPT

Annie joined Tufts CTSI in November 2015 as the Project Manager for ADAPT (Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations through Translational Research), a community-academic partnership whose mission is to assess, improve and promote health and well-being among underserved Asian-American communities in the Greater Boston area through research, education and advocacy. Prior to joining Tufts CTSI, Annie worked as Director of Community Impact at the United Way of Massachusetts and Merrimack Valley.  Annie holds a B.A. from Smith College and an MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management.

Susan Chinsen

Susan Chinsen was raised in the Greater Boston area and graduated from Tufts University where she majored in American Studies with a focus on Media and Asian Americans. In 2013, she joined the Chinese Historical Society of New England as the Managing Director, focusing on documenting, promoting and preserving the experiences of Chinese in the region–with a primary focus on Boston’s Chinatown. She is the establishing director of the Boston Asian American Film Festival/BAAFF (a project of Asian American Resource Workshop), seeking to use films to expand awareness of issues impacting Asian Americans. 

Alicia Hunt

Director of Energy & Environment and Environmental Agent, City of Medford

Alicia is the Director of Energy & Environment and Environmental Agent for the City of Medford. Alicia runs the GreenUp CleanUp program on behalf of Grace Church, which partners with organizations and residents throughout the City to clean Medford’s park and open spaces. As the City’s Energy Director, Alicia works frequently with environmental and civically minded organizations throughout the city and enjoys connecting people and groups and groups to each other in order to strengthen community throughout Medford.

Alex Pirie

Coordinator, Immigrant Services Provider Group/Health

Alex Pirie is the Coordinator of the Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health in Somerville, MA, the Co-Principle Investigator on “Assessing and Preventing Obesity in New Immigrants”, a coordinator on “Assessing and Controlling Occupational Health Risks for Immigrants in Somerville, MA”,  and was a consultant on a Harvard Catalyst Pilot grant examining the consequences of ICE Raids and law enforcement behavior on immigrant health in Everett, MA. He serves on the steering committees of the Tufts Community Research Center, the Somerville Youth Workers Network, and the Asian Data Working Group and serves as an advisor to Save Our Somerville, a youth led advocacy group. 

Ellin Reisner

President, Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership

Ellin Reisner, Ph.D. is the President of the Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP), an organization of community residents working to improve transportation and air quality for residents and workers in Somerville. She is a co-author of the Family Caregiving Handbook: Finding Elder Care Resources in Massachusetts. Ellin recently completed a study for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) on Benchmarking Human Resource Activities in state Departments of Transportation and she is now working on another TRB project: Tools to Aid State DOTs in Responding to Workforce Challenges.

Jennifer Taub

Heading Home, Inc.

Jennifer Taub received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Vermont in 2000 and moved to Boston to complete her postdoctoral fellowship at Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School in 2002. She is a licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in children and families, and has over 15 years of experience in program evaluation in human services, including work in schools, health care, and community programming with low income and immigrant populations. She can be reached at


Tufts Representatives

Doug Brugge

Co-Chair, Tisch College Community Research Center
Phone 617.636.0236

Prof. Doug Brugge has a PhD in Cellular and Developmental Biology from Harvard University and a MS in Industrial Hygiene from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is a professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, with secondary appointments at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences, and the School of Engineering. He is Director of  the Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health (CAFEH), a series of community-based participatory research projects funded by NIEHS, NHLBI, NLM, EPA, HUD and the Kresge Foundation. CAFEH has published academic papers on traffic-related ultrafine particle pollution and their association with health in the Boston area. He also directs the Tisch College Community Research Center. He has worked in community-collaborations with many neighborhoods, including Boston's Chinatown and the City of Somerville. He has over 150 publications on how traffic-related pollution, secondhand tobacco smoke, housing conditions, uranium mining, and other environmental exposures affect health.

Peter Levine

Associate Dean
Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs
Phone 617.627.2302

Peter Levine is the Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life. He has secondary appointments in the Tufts Philosophy Department and the Tufts Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. He was the founding deputy director (2001-6) and then the second director (2006-15) of Tisch College’s CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which he continues to oversee as an associate dean. In addition, Levine oversees the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) and its National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE); the Tisch Summer Institute of Civic Studies; the Tufts Community Research Center; the Tisch Faculty Fellows; the Tisch Senior Fellow in the Humanities; the Tisch Senior Fellow for Civic Science; the annual Frontiers of Democracy conference; and related scholarly activities at Tisch College.

Levine graduated from Yale in 1989 with a degree in philosophy. He studied philosophy at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, receiving his doctorate in 1992. From 1991 until 1993, he was a research associate at Common Cause. From 1993-2008, he was a member of the Institute for Philosophy & Public Policy in the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. During the late 1990s, he was also Deputy Director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal. Levine is the author of We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, 2013)five other scholarly books on philosophy and politics, and a novel. He has served on the boards or steering committees of AmericaSpeaks, Street Law Inc., the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, Discovering Justice, the Kettering Foundation, the American Bar Association Committee’s for Public Education, the Paul J. Aicher Foundation, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

Shirley Mark

Director of Community Partnerships
Phone 617.627.3656

Shirley Mark directs Tisch College’s community partnerships. She works to create resources and opportunities to strengthen and build campus-community partnerships between Tufts University and the local communities of Boston, Medford, and Somerville. Prior to Tufts, Shirley worked in philanthropy and has extensive experience with community organizations and public agencies. Shirley received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampshire College and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Alex Blanchette

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Alex Blanchette, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the department of Anthropology. His research and teaching interests revolve around the politics of labor and nature, biotechnology, animal life, working class history, and industrialization. His current book project, tentatively titled Porkopolis: An Ethnography of Standardized Life, is based on two years of ethnographic research in the workplaces and wake of some of the world’s largest “factory” hog farms and slaughterhouses. He has also worked for many years as a community activist on issues ranging from food politics to labor justice.

Sara Folta

Assistant Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Sara C. Folta, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts. She has research interests in community-based interventions, public health nutrition, theories of behavior change, and obesity prevention. Current research projects include a pilot study to develop a six-month intervention for African American women that focuses primarily on civic engagement and secondarily on classic nutrition education, hypothesizing that women will improve their own health outcomes as they work together to create more systemic, community-level change. She is also co-Principal Investigator on a qualitative study, supported by a Tufts Collaborates seed grant, to examine African American women’s perspectives on how diet and physical activity behaviors and cardiovascular disease risk are affected by cultural and psychosocial processes, historical and social contexts, and physical and economic environments. 

Nicole Holland

Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

Nicole Holland, DDS, MS is a dentist, assistant professor, and Director of Health Communication, Education, and Promotion at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM). Her research interests include the intersection of health literacy, culture, and oral health as well as the impact of oral health messaging in the media. She currently is a member of the American Dental Association National Oral Health Literacy Advisory Committee and directs the TUSDM Health Literacy Intensive for pre-doctoral dental students. 

Penn Loh

Director, Masters in Public Policy Program and Community Practice, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Penn Loh, Ph.D. is Lecturer and Director of the Masters in Public Policy Program and Community Practice at Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. He holds an M.S. in environmental science and policy from Energy and Resources Group of the University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in electrical engineering from MIT. He has served on the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council’s Health and Research Subcommittee, the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, and on the boards of the Environmental Support Center, the Environmental Leadership Program, New World Foundation, and Community Labor United. He is currently a trustee of the Hyams Foundation and member of the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board and the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council.

Jayanthi Mistry

Associate Professor, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development

Jayanthi Mistry, Ph.D. received her doctorate in Child Development from Purdue University and is currently an Associate Professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University. Prior to joining Tufts University, she worked at the Center for the Development of Early Education at Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, where she was engaged in research and program development projects for early childhood education. Her research and teaching interests include: cultural perspectives on children’s development, with a focus on ethnic minority, immigrant, and under-represented communities in the United States; the development of cultural/ethnic/racial identities; and qualitative/interpretive methods in the study of children and families. 

Susan Ostrander

Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology

Susan Ostrander, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus in the Tufts Department of Sociology. Her most recent book is Citizenship and Governance in a Changing City, Somerville, MA, which is an ethnographic multi-year study of civic engagement in a local context. Ostrander has been recognized on campus and nationally for her teaching and research on civic engagement and higher education, and founded the Tufts University Civic Engagement Research Group in 2003 which she co-led the until 2008. Ostrander has co-chaired the board of the International Women’s Funding Network, and served as a board member of the Association for Research on Nonprofits and Voluntary Action. 

Cora Roelofts

Assistant Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts Medical School

Cora Roelofts is an Assistant Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts Medical School and teaches full time in the Community Health Program on the Medford Campus. She conducts occupational health research in collaboration with immigrant and refugee community organizations to better illuminate their experience and draw attention to the need to provide better protection, particularly for those exposed to chemical and safety hazards at work. Currently she is working with the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Lowell to survey Cambodian refugees who have worked as asbestos removers.

Barbara Rubel

Director of Community Relations, Tufts University

Barbara Rubel is Director of Community Relations for Tufts University and sits on the boards of directors of the Chambers of Commerce of both Medford and Somerville as well as Medford Health Matter, Community Action Agency of Somerville, and SCM Community Transportation, inc.  As a former Steering Committee member of The Chinatown Coalition, she also advises current steering committee members. She has a B.A. in English from Carnegie Mellon University, a M.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and a M.Ed. from Tufts University. 

Ninian Stein

Lecturer, Environmental Studies Program

Ninian Stein is an anthropological-archaeologist and an environmental scientist. Her current research draws on systems thinking, science and design to create new collaborative decision-making frameworks for communities seeking to increase their sustainability and more effectively utilize and preserve local environmental resources. She is also finishing a manuscript based on her environmental and anthropological study of a textile mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and its transformation into an artists’ community. The manuscript offers techniques for transforming old industrial buildings into vibrant spaces for community building.