CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
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The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Contact Staff

Main Office Information

Fax: 617-627-3401

For questions or requests email CIRCLE Youth Coordinator & Researcher Abby Kiesa (

Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service
Lincoln Filene Hall
Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155


(click for staff biography and contact information)

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Deputy Director
Abby Kiesa, Youth Coordinator & Researcher
Peter Levine, Director
Kathy O.Connor, Administrative Coordinator
Felicia M. Sullivan, Senior Researcher
Nancy Thomas, Director of CIRCLE’s Initiative for the Study of Higher Education and Public Life

Staff Biographies

Dr. Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg

Deputy Director, CIRCLE
Phone: (617) 627-2529

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg is the Deputy Director of CIRCLE.  Kei oversees CIRCLE’s core research projects and produces resources and reports for various audiences, including peer-reviewed articles, reports, and fact sheets.  With a background in positive youth development and interest in diverse and marginalized youth, Kei is especially interested in providing organizations and communities with research that would help increase civic and political engagement opportunities for diverse groups of youth.  Kei also works with practitioners by providing consultation to staff at Tisch College and community partners about community-university collaboration and community-based research.  Kei earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University Chicago and has extensive experience in working with youth of diverse backgrounds both as a researcher and practitioner.

Abby Kiesa
Youth Coordinator & Researcher

As Youth Coordinator & Researcher at CIRCLE, Abby serves as liaison to practitioner organizations across the country.  She communicates research findings and tracks recommendations from young people, youth-serving organizations, and educators for future research. Abby also works on CIRCLE’s qualitative research and selected evaluation projects. She has worked extensively on CIRCLE’s ongoing research focused on young people who do not have college experience. Through this project and others she has moderated many focus groups and interviews.  Before coming to CIRCLE, Abby organized students around the country as part of a national campaign of Campus Compact to increase youth involvement in public life. She has contributed to several publications and co-edited ‘Raise Your Voice: A Student Guide to Making Positive Social Change’. In 2007 Abby was named an Emerging Leader in Service-Learning, “a two-year intensive experience designed to elevate and prepare a new, culturally diverse generation of service-learning leaders committed to working with traditionally under-served populations, schools, and communities.” In addition to working at CIRCLE, she is a graduate student in American Studies at the University of Maryland College Park.

Abby currently serves on the Board of Directors of IARSLCE (the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement), the American Democracy Project Implementation Committee (a project of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities), and is on the Leadership Team of the Generational Alliance.

Peter Levine
Director, CIRCLE
Associate Dean for Research, Tisch College
Phone: (617) 627-2302
Website (with blog and publications):

Peter Levine became Director of CIRCLE in January 2006, succeeding Bill Galston. He is also the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. Outside of Tufts, he is involved with:

  • The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools (steering committee member, former chair)
  • The Charles Kettering Foundation (director)
  • Deliberative Democracy Consortium (steering committee member)
  • Everyday Democracy (as board member of the J. Paul Aicher Foundation, which oversees it)
  • Street lLaw, Inc. (member of the Board of Directors and Program Committee chair)
  • AmericaSpeaks (board member)
  • Discovering Justice
  • Current advisory board service: America’s Promise Research Council; Advisory Board; eJournal of Public Affairs (since 2011); MTV’s Democracy Class; Generation Citizen; Fair Vote Research Advisory Committee; The Democracy Imperative; Cambridge University’s Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy International Advisory Group; Center for Engaged Democracy, Merrimack College; Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Action Network Steering Committee; Council of the American Commonwealth Partnership; Youth Service America Academic Council ; California Civic Engagement Project; Campus Election Engagement Project.

Levine’s books are:

Levine updates his blog every weekday.

Kathy O’Connor
Administrative Coordinator
Phone:  617-627-4710

Kathy O’Connor joined CIRCLE in August of 2010. As the Administrative Coordinator she handles the organization and processing of daily events and various projects. She provides support to staff, processes financial paperwork, arranges travel and helps in the preparation of events throughout the year. Kathy’s background includes Administrative duties in various companies. She was active in volunteering with the youth in her community and before joining CIRCLE she was employed by and involved in her local YMCA’s afterschool program.

Felicia M. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Senior Researcher


Felicia Sullivan joined CIRCLE as Senior Researcher in the summer of 2012. Felicia works on a range of analytical projects and co-produces reports for various audiences. Felicia is particularly interested in supporting groups and organizations that seek to create new environments that enliven and support civic participation and political empowerment. Felicia has a doctorate in public policy from the University of Massachusetts Boston and holds Master degrees in media studies and public policy. Her current research looks at out-of-school time program design and teen political engagement attitudes. Prior to CIRCLE, Felicia worked for nearly 20 years in a range of community-based settings as a media advocate, educator, consultant and researcher supporting diverse individuals in multi-ethnic urban settings. She is also adjunct faculty at University of Massachusetts Boston, teaching graduate and undergraduate students in the College of Public and Community Service, the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Liberal Arts. The use of communications and media in community-building, political engagement, and personal change are her areas of particular expertise.

Nancy Thomas
Director, CIRCLE’s Initiative for the Study of Higher Education and Public Life

Nancy Thomas directs CIRCLE’s Initiative for the Study of Higher Education and Public Life and Campus Counts, a national study of college student voting rates and patterns. She joins CIRCLE after five years as director of the Democracy Imperative, a national network of academics and civic leaders working to strengthen democracy in and through higher education. She is also a senior associate with Everyday Democracy and serves on boards for the American Commonwealth Partnership, the Campaign for Stronger Democracy, and others. Her interests are in deliberative democracy in public life, student civic learning and political engagement, and free speech, civil discourse and academic freedom on campus. She has published many chapters and articles on educating for democracy. She holds a doctorate in administration, planning, and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a JD from Case Western Reserve University.