Cindy Tananis, Ed.D.


Cynthia A. Tananis, Ed.D., founded CEAC and serves as its director. She is an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education and teaches in the School Leadership Program. She has 31 years of experience in evaluation. Her expertise focuses on using participative evaluation designs with involved stakeholders, helping people make sense of and benefit from the evaluation process through collaboration, and linking evaluation studies and school reform policy. Her research interests relate to theories, forms, and practices of evaluation, as well as school reform, professional development, and educational policy.


Keith Trahan, Ph.D.

Assistant Director  

Keith Trahan, Ph.D., Keith Trahan serves as the Assistant Director of the Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity (CEAC) in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. He has six years experience as an evaluator. Keith has been lead evaluator for a variety of programs in the areas of K-12 math and science reform and school leadership, IHE STEM curriculum, instruction, and learning, IHE international education, and community based human services. He holds a B.A. in government and a B.A. in sociology from McNeese State University and an M.A.T. from Charleston Southern University. Before joining CEAC, Keith worked as a support enforcement specialist for the State of Louisiana, project director at the Canon Street YMCA in Charleston, SC, and teacher and coach for the Charleston County School District. Keith has earned his Doctor of Philosophy in the Social and Comparative Analysis program at the University of Pittsburgh.


Everett Herman, MS.Ed.

Lead Evaluator

Everett Herman, M.S.Ed. serves as an evaluator for CEAC and comes to us from the University of Pennsylvania where he earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, and an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Management. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include integrating community service and encouraging civic engagement through K-20 education, and the impact of social capital on educational outcomes.


Christian Ulysse, B.S.


Christian Ulysse is a Master's student at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is pursuing his degree in Higher Education Management. Christian earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree from the Ohio State University, where he majored in history. He is currently serving as a Graduate Student Researcher and Evaluator for CEAC. Christian's interests include higher education abroad and international education collaboration.

Stephanie Romero, Ed.D.



Stephanie Maietta Romero, Ed.D., serves as a researcher and evaluator for CEAC. She received her doctorate in Education Leadership and her MA in Linguistics from the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a B.A. in Spanish and Anthropology from Arizona State University. Stephanie has over twenty years of experience in teaching all levels: from elementary, middle, and high schools to college. Stephanie's research and professional interests include bringing mindfulness-based social and emotional learning to educational and social institutions in order to transform systems and individuals.

Taylor Wade

Evaluation Assistant 


Taylor Wade is an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying mathematics and neuroscience.  She plans to attend medical school after graduation.  Taylor first joined the CEAC team in January 2014 on the Peg + Cat project as a part of the First Experiences in Research program and continues to work as an undergraduate research assistant.

Tracy Pelkowski, Ph.D.



Tracy Pelkowski earned her Ph.D. and M.Ed. in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 and 2009 respectively. Currently an affiliate for Collaborative for Evaluation and Assessment Capacity (CEAC), Tracy was a program evaluator with CEAC from 2007-2011 and a teaching fellow in Pitt’s Department of Instruction and Learning from 2011-2015. Presently, Tracy also serves as an instructor for the State University of New York Buffalo in its International Program for Educators. Tracy’s research interests include teacher education in diverse contexts and culturally responsive pedagogy. 



Gina A. Garcia, Ph.D.

Faculty Associate 

Dr. Gina Garcia is an assistant professor in the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies where she teaches master’s and doctoral students pursuing degrees in higher education and student affairs. She received her Ph.D in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her dissertation titled “Challenging the ‘manufactured identity’ of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs): Co-constructing an organizational identity” looked at the organizational identity of HSIs and the ways in which this identity goes beyond the label assigned by the federal government and becomes more deeply rooted in the culture and practices of the institution. Her research interests center on issues of equity and diversity within higher education with an emphasis on the organizational culture and identity of HSIs and the retention, success, and identity development of Latina/o college students. She uses organizational theory, student development theory, and critical race theory as well as multiple methods of inquiry to guide her work, with a focus on strengths based approaches to studying traditionally underserved communities and institutions of higher education. While at UCLA, Dr. Garcia was a research analyst at the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) where she examined the curricular and co-curricular experiences that foster success for Students of Color pursuing STEM degrees. As a student affairs professional, Dr. Garcia worked with federally funded grants in order to establish programs that foster retention and success for Students of Color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and careers. In this capacity she advised and counseled students through their first year of college and developed a mentoring program and first-year experience cohort for students. She has also been a resident director and a coordinator for large-scale campus programs.

Thomas Akiva, Ph.D.


Thomas Akiva, Ph. D., is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and teaches courses in Applied Developmental Psychology, Psychology in Education, and Learning Sciences and Policy. He received his B.A. in English from Alma College in 1995, his M.A. in Educational Studies from University of Michigan in 2003, his M.S. in Psychology from University of Michigan in 2009, and his Ph.D. in Education and Psychology from University of Michigan in 2012. His research focuses primarily on understanding and improving out-of-school time (OST) programs for children and youth.




Mehmet Demir, Ph.D.


Mehmet Demir is a visiting scholar from Turkey through the Institute of International Studies in Education.  He is working towards his Ph.D. at the University of Inonu to build upon his masters degree in curriculum and instruction. His research interests include program evaluation, formative and online assessment.  In the past, Mehmet worked as a principal for two years and taught for five years at an elementary school.   He also worked as a research assistant at the University of Adiyaman.  

Join Our Staff! We are seeking two undergraduate students to join the CEAC team. See descriptions to the right and contact us if interested. 

Evaluation/Research Assistant: The position offers a flexible work schedule and is perfect for an undergraduate looking to gain experience in the field of educational research. We are looking for an organized and professional undergraduate student who will be responsible for editing reports and documents, entering and verifying data collection, and survey development and analysis. Students will gain experience with computer and data analysis but most importantly with valuable research skills.

Administrative Assistant: The administrative assistant position offers undergraduate students the opportunity to learn a wide variety of management skills. The position seeks a first-year student who is oganized and attentive. They will be responsible for tasks such as liaising to the technology department, organizing paper and digital files, handling reimbursement requests, and managing the purchase of office supplies.