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PhD Students

Students

Natyra

Natyra Agani (B.A, University of Pristina) has been a research assistant in child and adolescent mental health projects undertaken by the University of Illinois at Chicago (with the support of the National Institute on Mental Health) and the World Health Organization, and she has been trained as a family therapist. She also has worked as a volunteer in several community mental health projects in Kosova. During the summer of 2010, Ms. Agani did an internship with UNICEF in Tirana, Albania.

In January 2011, she obtained her license as a clinical psychologist from the Ministry of Health in Kosovo. Her research interests include school violence, perceptions of school safety, and bullying. Ms. Agani looks forward to work in helping children, families, and communities during the transition period after Kosova’s declaration of independence and its recovery from armed conflict.

Brad

Bradley Hornback (B.A. summa cum laude, Southern Wesleyan; M.P.A., Clemson) recently completed his master's degree in the Strom Thurmond Institute at Clemson. He is employed in the Serials Department in the library at Southern Wesleyan. After completing his undergraduate degree, Mr. Hornback worked as an English teacher for elementary-school and kindergarten children in South Korea. His concentration in the MPA program was on international organizations, and his capstone project was on effectiveness of economic sanctions against North Korea.

He has been active in organizing humanitarian assistance to an orphanage and school in Haiti. In summer 2011, he will begin work as coordinator of IFNL's program in Albania.

Students

Andrea

Andrea Morales (B.A. with Honors [cum laude], Loras College) double majored in Economics and International Studies (with a concentration in Asia) and minored in Sociology. As an undergraduate, Ms. Morales led the UNICEF Campus Initiative at her college, which focuses on educating, advocating, and fundraising for UNICEF programs. In the 2008-2009 academic year she was selected as one of the five UNICEF Campus Initiative National Council members. Ms. Morales is the recipient of the 2009 President’s Volunteer Service Award in recognition for her volunteer service in this initiative. Her involvement with UNICEF sparked in her a curiosity for human rights and international development. This curiosity has translated into an academic interest, particularly in children’s rights.

Currently, as a research assistant, Ms. Morales performs as a Mental Health Facilitator for the Center for Adolescent Research in Schools (CARS). This is a national project funded by the Department of Education that seeks to provide interventions to high schools to help students who experience social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties.
Ms. Morales is a native speaker of Spanish, fluent in English, and has some knowledge of Italian and Portuguese.

Lauren

Lauren M. Pinkston (B.S., Elementary Education, Freed-Hardemen University) is currently an elementary school teacher.  With extensive travel abroad, Ms. Pinkston has developed a passion for engagement with other cultures and people groups. Her travel and humanitarian work have taken her to Aruba, Haiti, Greece, Italy, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Peru.

She enters the program with a desire for personal growth and scholarly development toward her ultimate goal of extended work in Laos assisting women and children in the process of recovery from extensive exploitation. She is part of a team of six preparing for and planning to relocate to Laos in 2014.

Yira

Yira Vargas (B.A. Cum Laude Clinical Psychology UNIBE; M.Ed UNIBE ) has a background in Clinical Psychology and Superior Education. She completed a Pre-Doc Fellowship program at NYU-Bellevue Hospital.

Ms. Vargas currently directs the School of Psychology of the Universidad Iberoamericana, Dominican Republic, and coordinates a community mental health clinic for the same program.She also teaches Psychology Classes to medical and psychology students and works with local and international NGO’S in the DR that focus on education and children’s rights.

Cledenin

Clédenin Veras Díaz (B.A. with honors [summa cum laude], Early Childhood Education, UNIBE; MA, School Administration and Supervision, Centro de Estudios Villanueva) is a Trainer-Coach with the International Coaching Certificate program and the Dean of Early Childhood Education graduate program of UNIBE, both in the Dominican Republic. Ms. Veras was appointed by the Dominican government to serve as a member of the designated commission for the evaluation of the educational materials implemented in the Dominican educational system.

She has also served as a member of the designing and implementation team for UNIBE-AIDE ET ACTION and has held various teaching and administrative appointments within the educational system for Early Childhood Education practitioners. With extensive experience working with families and in investigation and development of teachers, Ms. Veras is interested in development of comprehensive educational systems that complement and strengthen families through development of schools as a space of family formation.

Students

Mirela

Mirela Arqimandriti earned a Master Degree in Business Administration (EMBA) at the Sheffield University, England. She received her Bachelor's degree from the School of Natural Sciences, Department of Physics, at the University of Tirana – Albania. Mrs. Arqimandriti graduated during the year of the regime change of 1990, therefore she pursued her profession as a physics teacher only for three years. For ten years, she was involved in her family business of imports and sales.

In 1997, she began working as a volunteer for one of the vanguard non-government organizations, which promoted the protection of women’s rights and the advancement of gender equality in Albania. She has been with this organization ever since and was able to advance her career.

She has a proven track of excellent manageral and planning skills. Mrs. Arqimandriti went though several training courses in her country and abroad. These courses were related to Gender Mainstreaming, Knowledge Management, Project Management, Leadership, Financial Management, Monitoring and Evaluation, Human Resource Management, etc. She is also the co-founder of the Center for SMEs in Albania and a co-partner in her family business. Mrs. Arqimandriti is currently the Executive Director of GADC and represents a solution oriented executive professional with a successful record in the development and implementation of many projects for the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality in the Albanian society.

Ida

Ida M Hadoto (B.A. Kyambogo Uganda, M.A. Reading University UK, M.Sc. Aberdeen University UK) taught chemistry and physics in secondary schools between 1978-1991. In 1992, Ida became a coordinator for the women’s organization called "Daughters of the King".  Since 1995 Ms Hadoto has been working for  "Send a Cow Uganda," an organization that works with local partners in different African countries to build resilient communities.

She has acquired immerse knowledge through her work experience and also different trainings that include project management, gender mainstreaming, leadership, management in practice, sustainable livelihood framework, monitoring coaching and managing developmental projects, communication, and team building.

Her expertise is in the area of designing and managing livelihood projects, monitoring and evaluation, training, coaching, mentoring and building effective teams that are fair and just and are sensitive to the needs of different categories of people in society especially the disadvantaged including girls and women.

Traci

Traci Hefner (B.A., Fairmont State College; MSW, West Virginia University; Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies, University of South Carolina) is a licensed master social worker with extensive experience in program and policy development for children and families. Formerly a senior analyst and writer for the National Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Resource Center in Arlington, VA, Ms. Hefner assisted with program analysis, report writing, as well as the development and implementation of national training events on initiatives pertaining to early literacy, fatherhood, and child abuse and neglect. In 2000, Ms. Hefner was selected for the National Head Start Fellowship program, a year-long work study in the Office of Head Start for emerging leaders in the fields of early childhood and family services.  As a Fellow, Ms. Hefner acted as a guest editor for several Head Start Bulletin publications on topics such as professional development, oral health, and screening and assessment in Head Start. She also assisted with federal reviews of Head Start programs to ensure compliance of federal regulations. 

Recently, Ms. Hefner taught English at Changzhou Institute for Mechatronic Technology in Changzhou, China. She also has been an international volunteer, working with vulnerable children in Rabat, Morocco, as well as Robertson, South Africa.  

Artilda

Artilda Lala studied in Greece at the Institute of health care professionals. She has been a lecturer at a private American University in Albania for the last two years.Altilda also serves as the director of a medical laboratory, where in collaboration with a non-governmental association (Humanitarian society for battered women), she is providing counseling to children.

In 2006 she was employed by the Oncology Hospital in Greece, Piraeus, in a health support position. She is also providing help for in a society working with Roma communities.

Her interests include: human developmental courses, prevention and treatment of children and abused women, mental health, psychopathology, psychology, professional practice, psychotherapy. 

Blerta

Blerta Perolli Shehu holds a Master of Science Degree in Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology/School Psychology from Prishtina University and has completed Post Graduate Studies in Academic Practice at the University of Bedfordshire, UK. Her professional aspiration towards family and community studies derives from her direct experience in this field. For the last seven years, Blerta was involved in designing community programs which focus on the care and support of orphans and vulnerable children throughout Kosovo. She has prepared, launched and headed integrated programs aimed at prevention of children abandonment and care and support for children who have already lost the care of their parents. As of October 2009, she holds the position of Program Development Director in the SOS Children's Villages Organization. The organization focuses on developing responses to the situation of the children, together with other stakeholders. These responses ensure that children have access to essential services and families become strong and self-sufficient through support. The ultimate goal is to help provide a caring family environment for children’s development and strengthening community support systems, by always building on existing capacities and initiatives within the community. 

She is passionate about family and community studies with firsthand experience and field knowledge on strengthening communities’ capacity for family support, meaningful participation and strong relationships. She has also been a Teaching Assistant in School of Education at the Hasan Prishtina State University since October 2006. Blerta is dedicated to transferring her experience, knowledge and skills she gains in this doctoral program into shaping future professionals in this field.

Ana

Ana Uka (B.A. with honors, Educational Sciences/Counseling Psychology and Pedagogy, Istanbul University; M.A., Education and Child Studies/Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands) has been working as a school counselor in a private school in Albania. She has completed two training programs: one through CIPUSA in the field of social work in Michigan and the other training through CIP Columbus in Special Education in Ohio. She has been a guest student for one semester in the graduate school of social work in Western Michigan University. Her work experience is focused on  children’s academic and socio-emotional problems and the strengthening of families and schools partnerships. She has also worked with vulnerable families from Turkish minority living in the Netherlands.

Since February 2012, Ms. Uka has been a full-time faculty member at Beder University working  as a bachelor and master program coordinator in the Counseling Psychology and Pedagogy program. She also teaches Psychology, Counseling and Statistics Classes to counseling psychology students and she works with local and international NGOs  in Albania which focus on education, domestic violence children’s rights and women’s rights. She is Albanian and she is fluent in Turkish, English and Italian.

Students

Venera

Venera Balidemaj B.A., Psychology, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minn.

As an undergraduate, Ms. Balidemaj alongside administrators, helped create and launch required first year undergraduate courses through the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts that utilized a multidimensional support model. She also worked to lead, teach, and sustain the program. She was recognized for demonstrating a strong foundation in student development outcomes. Her involvement with first year programs sparked interest for mentorship. As a current graduate research assistant, Ms. Balidemaj works with Momentum Bike Clubs mentoring middle school students who experience social, behavioral, and financial hardships.

Ms. Balidemaj also worked as a case manager at a culturally specific mental health treatment center. She provided assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation, and advocacy for options and services for clients in under served populations. Due to her interest in working with vulnerable populations, Venera volunteered at mental health institutions while residing in the United States and while abroad in Europe to get an international perspective on mental health prevalence and needs in various contexts.

Venera’s capstone project focused on substance abuse and mental health in the immigrant population. Her research interests include immigrant and minority rights, substance abuse in immigrant populations, and effects of voluntary migration on transnational families. Ms. Balidemaj is from Kosovo and a native speaker of Albanian. She is also fluent in English and French. Currently, Venera is spends most of her time working with the Momentum Bike Clubs at Clemson University.

In January 2011, she obtained her license as a clinical psychologist from the Ministry of Health in Kosovo. Her research interests include school violence, perceptions of school safety, and bullying. Ms. Agani looks forward to work in helping children, families, and communities during the transition period after Kosova’s declaration of independence and its recovery from armed conflict.

Melody

Melody Harper (BA Samford University, MSW University of Alabama) has been the department Chair for the undergraduate Global Studies program at Liberty University. Melody has been to 36 countries and to every continent. As the new chair, Harper teaches Global Studies classes and coordinates the course development of the Global Studies degree program.  Ms. Harper went on her first international missions trip when she was in the ninth grade. Though she would not disclose the location, the trip not only caused her to expand her view of the world, but to delve into Scripture and realize that “from Genesis to Revelation God has called us to spread the Gospel.” Melody works closely with Liberty's Center for Global Engagement, which brings together the academic Global Studies program through the School of Religion and the extra-curricular global opportunities Liberty offers, including trips, retreats, internships, and Global Focus Weeks.

Amanda

Amanda McDougald Scott, M.S. has a Master of Science in Applied Experimental Psychology from Augusta State University (now Georgia Regents University) and Bachelor of Arts in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina. While Amanda was pursuing her Masters degree, she served as a Georgia Governor’s Intern, where she was assigned as a legislative assistant to the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources. Prior to joining Clemson, she worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and the Center for Health Services Research as a Program Coordinator for the Effective Health Communication Core. Prior to Vanderbilt, she worked for the Georgia Prevention Institute (GPI) at the Medical College of Georgia (now Georgia Regents University) as a Research Associate performing cognitive assessments on children in a childhood obesity study. While employed at GPI, she founded Healthy Augusta, a non-profit that endeavors to implement childhood obesity research at Georgia Regents University into policy, action, and evidence-based practice in the Central Savannah River Area. 

Amanda was selected as a 2015 Presidential Scholar for the AcademyHealth Institute on Advocacy and Public Policy, where she serves as Secretary for the Advocacy Interest Group. She also serves on the Society for Community Research and Action Practice Committee. Amanda will serve as Chair for the 2015-2016 Greenville Junior League Kids in the Kitchen committee, and is actively involved in the Transfer and Home Run for Healthy Kids committees. She also serves on the Community Connects Committee for a Greenville young professional organization (PULSE). In the Nashville Junior League, Amanda served as the Chair of the Advocacy and Public Awareness Committee and a member of the Tennessee Advocacy and Public Advocacy Committee.

Amanda’s research interests include patient in context, improving access to healthcare, health literacy, social justice, dissemination and implementation, community based participatory research, health services, health policy, and action research. She has experience in community engagement, non-profits, patient interviewing, cognitive assessment, development and implementation of patient-facing online disease management tools, patient health portals, research methods, and health literacy. She intends to focus on advocating and promoting the understanding of healthcare as a global goal through understanding patients in context and increasing engagement using health information technology.

Merita

Merita Mece 

Shuiping

Shuiping (Corona) Jiang, B.A., M.A.,currently a Ph.D. student in International Family and Community studies at Clemson University, received her Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Shandong University of Technology (China) and a Master's degree in Environmental Economics from Qingdao University (China). Before she enrolled into the Ph.D. program, Corona worked as director of International Development and Programs at Qingdao Agricultural University (China) for nine years and as an Asian Specialist at Murray State University (KY, USA) for one year. Shuiping currently serves as the Assistant Director of International Admissions and Recruitment at Youngstown State University.

Lyudmyla

Lyudmyla Tsykalova (BA & MA in International Economics, MA in Cooperation for Development, and MA in Cultural Heritage); currently is a graduate student working with community service student organization and a professor of Italian in the Languages department at Clemson.
Lyudmyla has an over ten years experience in humanitarian field working with children and families around the world. She served as the Vice President of the international organization “Speranza” that worked with Ukrainian orphans, and helped hundreds of children to find new families. Lyudmyla worked with the UN in Israel and Palestine on heritage and food security; she monitored social projects for the European Union in Eastern Europe and Russia, and worked for non-governmental organizations providing school catch up projects in problematic neighborhoods in Italy, and developing projects to prevent human trafficking in South East Asia.
Lyudmyla’s current research interests regard rights and wellbeing of children and youth.

Janelle

Janelle Williams serves as the Senior Associate for Family Economic Success and Research with The Anne E. Casey Foundation. Williams is based in the Atlanta Civic Site unit which works to deploy a place based strategy to support a set of five neighborhoods of highly concentrated poverty called Neighborhood Planning Unit V or NPU-V. Williams manages grants that advance results for the Family Economic Success strategy to ensure Neighborhood Planning Unit V families are employed and on a pathway to family-supporting careers, accessing work supports and building assets and wealth. Her work also supports an influence agenda that create system changes to help connect low income families to the economic mainstream. Additionally, Williams leads the performance management process to increase ACS and partners’ capacity to understand and use data for learning and assessment.

Prior to joining the Atlanta Civic Site, Williams served as the Chief of Research and Policy at The Center for Working Families, Inc. — a community-based service provider that helps adults work toward economic stability. For almost five years, she led efforts to incorporate data analysis and evaluation into the organization’s program design and implementation to promote policies that support families. She also directed the integration and implementation of best practices that align with the organization's strategic and operational plans. Williams has extensive research experience in an array of socioeconomic and international issues. Before coming to The Center for Working Families, Inc., she helped assess the statewide implementation of the Reading First curriculum in kindergarten through third grade at the University of Georgia. Williams also served as a congressional fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, conducting policy research and analysis on issues tied to education, health, workforce development and immigration. As a fellow, she was part of a team that drafted federal legislation that was unanimously adopted as an amendment to the College Opportunity and Affordability Act to promote a community-centered approach to deterring gang violence and reducing recidivism rates among former juvenile offenders. She has also conducted and presented a range of international research issues including the implementation of economic sanctions, ethnic based conflict and the Caribbean Single Market Economy.

Williams earned a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Georgia, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Florida Memorial University, where she was valedictorian. Williams is an active community volunteer and is an alumnus of Atlanta Leaders for Results and LEAD Atlanta. She is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and resides in Georgia with her husband and daughter.

Valeza

Valeza Ukaj is a PhD Candidate at Clemson University, South Carolina, USA, and a former Master of Law (LLM) student of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. She finished her Master Degree with “Cum laude” honors. Her master thesis is entitled: “Legal Obstacles Facing Kosovo Towards its Integration to the European Union”. 

She has participated in many international and national academic conferences and trainings. Her latest participation was in the First and Second Balkan Summer University in September of 2014 and 2015. The conferences were in cooperation with Université Paris Ouest - Nanterre La Defense, Univeristé franco-allemande Deutsch-Französische Hochschule, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, and the University of Prishtina. Her paper in the first conference was entitled: “Engaging non-state actors towards building a post-war stable state - the Kosovo case”, and her paper in the second conference was entitled: "Kosovo’s institutional framework efforts for respect of Copenhagen political criteria".

Her latest publication is: “An Empirical Study of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in a Post-Conflict Country: The Kosovo Case”, Balkan Social Science Review, Volume 6, 2015.

Valeza's research interests include international human rights of women, children, immigrants and minority rights from the international law perspective.

Students

Suzanne

Suzanne Falconer (B.S., Biology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.; M.A., Secondary Science Education, Rockford University, Rockford, Ill.) is currently Team Trainer and Consultant for ReachGlobal, Office of GlobalFingerprints, a child sponsorship program with multiple global sites.  Suzanne has extensive experience as a leader in non-governmental organizations in multi-cultural settings and 15 years of experience in international settings including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Côte-d’Ivoire, and Cameroon with extended work stays in France, Haiti, South Sudan, and West Bengal, India. She and her husband founded a center of community development in conjunction with regional agricultural and public health efforts in DRC. She developed training methods for international partners working with children in adversity, as well as established baseline and ongoing metrics to ensure quality assessment and excellent care for all children reached by affiliated sponsorship programs.

Matt

Matt Flege (B.A., Global Development Studies, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL; Master of Nonprofit Management, Regis University, Denver, CO) has been Management Associate with St. Vincent de Paul in Cincinnati, Ohio, since 2008 where he has filled multiple roles, including Strategic Initiatives Manager, Interim Director of Member and Volunteer Services, Area Stores Manager, Interim Director of Development, and Assistant Director of Programs. Matt served in the Peace Corps in Jamaica from 2006 to 2008.

Matt has been actively involved in several leadership development and civic engagement programs, most recently leading a community-wide study and planning process to better address family homelessness in the Cincinnati area, as well as a project designed to change welfare work-requirements in the state of Ohio.  Matt looks forward to building upon these experiences and deepening his research skills at Clemson's Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life.

Rachel

Rachel Lang-Balde (B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, Goleta, CA; MPH, Global Health Nutrition, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.) is Adjunct Health Instructor at AB Tech Community College, Asheville, N.C. In 2002, Rachel went to Guinea on a Fellowship with the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help and remained in Guinea until 2005 working with women’s nonprofits, local cooperatives, and international educational development firms.  While completing her MPH, Rachel worked with a variety of community organizations in the Atlanta area serving immigrants and refugees, teaching English as a second language, and facilitating seminars on healthy marriages. Rachel’s Master’s thesis was a highly innovative participatory video documentary of refugee women. Following her Master’s program, Rachel worked as outreach coordinator for a statewide environmental justice non-profit in North Carolina. She has been an adjunct instructor of health for the past three years.

Students

Noha

Noha Ekram Hassan is an Egyptian School Principal. She has a particular interest in protecting child rights in education as a holder of Child Rights and Schools Management Diploma at Lund University, Sweden. She is conducting change project in Egypt to promote child rights at schools. She started her career as a community development and gender focal point in World Bank rural development and gender empowerment project implemented in Egypt. She conducted some special studies (Diploma certificate) in translation, TEFL, computer sciences, and Management Information System. When she started her career in an international K-12 school she taught courses to high school students of soft skills, critical thinking and IT then she was promoted to be a Principal. Noha participated in many international workshops, conferences and training programs in Tunisia, Italy, Spain, UK, Sweden, Jordan, Amman, Vietnam, Cambodia, Dubai, Denmark, and US . One of those programs was International Leaders of Education Program (ILEP) which was implemented in Clemson University for a semester in 2012. She got her Masters in Business Administration in 2015. 

Rachel

Rachael Bowers, (B.A. Anthropology and History, University of Notre Dame; Master of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania) has worked as a Social Worker in a variety of community-based and residential programs serving children and families, including juvenile justice, foster care, community mental health, and pediatric primary care.  Most recently, she was the program manager for an innovative integrated behavioral health program in the pediatrics clinic at The Dimock Center, a community health center in Boston, MA. In addition to her clinical responsibilities, Rachael also worked on research projects on the topics of primary care usage for families living in shelters, practitioner perceptions of integrated models of care, methods of connecting families to resources related to social determinants of health, and program outcomes related to access and quality of behavioral health care in a primary care setting.

Rachael's research interests center on how program evaluation can assist non-profits and human service agencies to explain their work and impact to position them to be strong partners in the policy-making process.  Related to this, Rachael's work thus far has focused on developing a program evaluation plan with the Habitat for Humanity affiliates of South Carolina to explore the impact that home-ownership achieved through the Habitat program has on outcomes tied to the Habitat mission statement, namely building hope and community.  She is interested in the relationship between adequate, affordable housing and psychological well-being for both the homeowners and their children.  

Eljona

Eljona Boce Almazi is a development worker and social researcher from Tirana, Albania. She was born in a tough dictatorship, in the only atheistic country in the world at the time. Attracted early in life to the social causes, she chose to study psychology as part of the first generation of psychology students in the country and is involved since 2000 in projects improving lives of the most vulnerable children and communities in Albania and Western Balkans.

Eljona's research interest is in understanding the deep factors that cause the communities’ apathy in Albania and propose a model that can accelerate or trigger action for social justice in the country.

Alena

Alena Höfrová is also a third-year Ph.D. student in Management at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master's degree in Economic & Cultural Studies. As a current Clemson graduate research assistant, Ms. Höfrová works on the evaluation team for the TIGERS ADVANCE NSF grant which is transforming Clemson University through gender equity.

Alena’s research interest is in ethnic minorities including immigrant and indigenous minorities. Specifically, she is interested in the everyday life of minority communities and the processes by which they maintain their culture, language, religion, education, and customs. 

Laura

Laura Minor lives on a small lake in New Hartford, Connecticut, and works full time with undergraduates at Central Connecticut State University as an academic advisor and professor of Community Engagement.  Her passion is to see young people experience learning in high-impact contexts, both in the U.S. and abroad; she and her husband have also started a business offering culturally immersive post-high-school "gap year" programs as a means to that end.  She enjoys paddle boarding and kayaking on the lake, dinners with her husband and kids, and ridiculously sweet lattes from Starbucks.

Emily Schafer

Emily Schafer is founder and former Executive Director of 3Degrees Mentoring, an evidence-based Spartanburg, SC nonprofit that trains committed adults to show up and speak in to the lives of children in poverty. Previously, Emily and her husband Brandon, pioneered a program with the city of Virginia Beach for teenage girls in foster care with exceptionally high needs. Emily was transformed by the experience of mothering ten traumatized daughters. She speaks a little Russian from her time as a therapist and teacher in Ukraine, holds an MA in Clinical Psychology from Wheaton College, and loves celebrating every person's journey toward wholeness. She enjoys reading, running, snuggling babies and traveling (21 countries and counting!). She hates racism and pornography.  

Emily’s primary reach focus is how childhood trauma (ACEs) can be moderated to promote resilience. She also has an interest in the concept of 'institutionalized racism as trauma’ and the impact of technology on child development.

Marsida

Marsida Tafilica spent 6 years in Istanbul, Turkey where she got her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees with honors in International Relations. From 2004-2008, she served as the editor of the Turkish student Journal of International Studies.

In 2008, she took part in the Young United Nations Conference as a Delegate of Albania, holding the position of Secretary General. She is fluent in English, Turkish, Italian, and has some knowledge in German. Since 2011, she has been working as an assistant professor in the department of Education at the University of Shkodra, Albania. Marsida is also a full-time member of the Municipality of Shkodra.

Mrs. Tafilica’s research interest are related to the field of migration, particularly the return migration to Albania. She is interested to focus her research studies on the challenges of reintegration policies among returnees. She participated in many national and international conferences. Her latest participation was in a conference held in Vienna with the topic "Globalization and International Migration: The Impact on Albanian Families".

Emily Winburn

Emily Winburn is originally from Charlotte, NC. She graduated from Clemson University with her Bachelor’s of Science in Spanish and International Health in 2014. After her graduation, she moved to Senegal, West Africa to participate in mission work including establishing health education groups for women and children in a rural village for a year before beginning the IFCS program.

Students

Linda

Linda Abazi-Morina 

Tony

Anthony (Tony) Catone. After beginning a legal career in litigation and trial practice, Tony shifted into public service with a focus on serving children and families in program development, legal affairs, advocacy, and risk management. He has served as General Counsel and legal director for a state social services agency, Associate Vice President for Public Service for a major research university, and Associate Executive Director for Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute, as well as teaching courses on non-profits at the graduate and undergraduate level. Tony earned his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law with a concurrent study in international business at the Moore School of Business, and he earned undergraduate degrees in political science and modern languages at Clemson University.

Tony’s research interests include human rights in child welfare systems, comparative child welfare systems, the role of faith-based organizations in child welfare interventions, and legal advocacy in child welfare. 

Jenneil

Jenneil Charles, zealously believes in the importance of community development, and its role in society's progress, therefore, chooses to contribute to this need through the means of education and servant-leadership. Thus far her educational attainment includes a B.A. in Community/Clinical Psychology, as well as, another B.A. in Applied Sociology - Family Studies, and her previous job post was in a Social Sciences organization where she served as a Program Performance Officer and the Professional Assistant to the Projects and Trainings Manager. She hopes to use her education as an active tool in solving real world problems.

Jenneil is particularly interested in examining, and through research optimizing, the relationship among civil engagement, sense of community and community intervention as a viable means of achieving sustainable community development. She is also ambitiously interested in developing a model, based on the aforementioned relationship, used to train NGO and CBO personnel in helping them maximize and actualize the potential of their community outreach efforts.

Jenni

Jenni Davis & her husband have lived in Doha, Qatar for two and a half years where she is a Child Life Supervisor at Sidra Medical & Research Center a new Women's & Children's Hospital. She has an undergraduate degree in Recreational Therapy from UNC-Chapel Hill, and a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Southeastern.  Her love for travel was nurtured while growing up in East Africa.  

She is currently doing research on perceptions of parenting infants and toddlers among Qatari and non-Qatari Arabs to inform parenting programing for the NICU and other areas of the hospital. In the future she hopes to explore how teaching coping skills (specifically emotional self-regulation/heart-rate variability) for parents/caregivers to use in proximity to hospitalized infants/toddlers impacts health outcomes.

Billy

William (Billy) Edwards, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from the University of Florida in 1996, and Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas in 1998.  Billy currently serves as the Director of the Clemson Center for Behavior Analysis.  On a daily basis, Billy oversees the development of service delivery systems for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) on the Clemson campus, regionally, and internationally, as well as the implementation of non-traditional educational programming for persons pursuing credentialing in Behavior Analysis.  

Billy is interested in builduing sustainable models of service delivery to marginalized populations in areas where services are sparsely available and access to care is limited.  Another interest is in evaluating and improving cultural awareness and acceptance for persons with disabilities in both developed and non-developed countries on a familial, community, and national level.

Jessica

Jessica Martin, currently serves as the director of the Student Services Center for the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities at Clemson University. She holds a BA and an MA in English and has conducted research in both the humanities and the social sciences. She lives in Greenville, SC with her husband, Todd, and son, Blay.

Jessica is interested in researching women’s entry into the workforce after having children, especially within the first year of giving birth. She is also interested a variety of women’s health topics, especially as they relate to mental health.

Jason Jason Pope 
Kayla

Kayla Weston served as an active duty naval officer for eight years, prior to staying home with her kids for the past decade. When the children became school-aged, Kayla began the next chapter in her professional life by completing a MS in Youth Development Leadership at Clemson University. Kayla enjoys recreational running and volunteering in the community.

Mrs. Weston's research interest is in the field of sexual health, particularly the positive effects of parent-child communication about sexuality. Other interests include the consequences of over-parenting and determining a healthy balance for youth with respect to technology use.