Gretchen Brion-Meisels, Ed.D., is a Lecturer on Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Born and raised in Cambridge, MA, she feels lucky to have been brought up in a community of activist educators who pushed her to think carefully about her own identity, her relationships to others, and the complicated world around her. These early conversations nurtured Gretchen’s commitment to challenging systems of inequality through dialectic learning and collective action.
Gretchen began her career as a middle school humanities teacher, working in Baltimore, MD, Cambridge, MA and Berkeley, CA. The young folks with whom she worked honored her with their questions, stories, insights and frustrations, providing generous opportunities for Gretchen to learn with–and from–their wisdom. In 2007, Gretchen arrived at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to explore successful models for holistic student support. Quickly realizing that she needed to go back to the source, she began learning and practicing participatory action research.
Over the last twelve years, Gretchen has studied adolescent development from the perspective of a developmental psychologist and a critical educator. Her research seeks to support educators and youth as they partner cross-generationally to improve school culture and climate. To this end, she has conducted two intergenerational critical participatory action research projects, one of which is ongoing (2015-current). Her courses focus on supporting positive youth development, creating loving educational spaces, and partnering with youth in educational research and practice.
Gretchen received her B.A. in American Studies from Harvard College. She graduated from Harvard University with an Ed.M. in Prevention Science and Practice, and an Ed.D. in Human Development and Education. Gretchen is an editor of the volume Humanizing Education: Critical Alternatives to Reform (2010) and an editor of the publication Planning to Change the World, published annually by Rethinking Schools. Her work has been published in Teachers College Record, Harvard Educational Review, Urban Education and Educational Leadership.
Jessica Tseming Fei
Jessica Tseming Fei leverages the tools of research, education, art, and activism to partner with youth and communities towards a more just world. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Jessica is proud to be a child of immigrants and a member of the Chinese diaspora. Jessica currently works at the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, an organization that supports the critical consciousness of young women and gender-expansive youth of color in New York City and Newark, New Jersey. Since Jessica began her professional journey as an educator over ten years ago, she has worked with adolescents and young adults in wide range of settings, including urban public schools, elite universities, arts agencies, and community-based organizations. Her approach to education is deeply informed by her background as an English teacher and a teaching artist, and by the wisdom and visions of her former students in East Harlem and the Bronx.
Through her academic studies and various teaching experiences, Jessica has built extensive knowledge on critical, culturally-responsive, and place-based pedagogies. Drawing upon qualitative methodologies and frameworks of critical participatory action research, she investigates how social structures, culture, and geography shape the identities, lived experiences, and civic participation of young people in cities. As a Presidential Scholar and an Early Career Scholar in New Civics at Harvard University, Jessica conducted research on the neighborhood narratives of students involved in international online communities, and completed a portraiture study of an urban community art studio focused on critical and creative placemaking initiatives with youth. Her work has been published in Educational Researcher and Toward a Positive Psychology of Relationships: New Directions in Theory and Research.
As a scholar, practitioner, and independent consultant, Jessica collaborates closely with other researchers, educators, activists, and artists on initiatives that foster equity and inclusion, and that center youth and communities of color. In the Boston area, Jessica has worked with community members to develop place-based curriculum for high school students, conduct case studies on a teen recreation center, research issues of inequity in their schools and communities, and plan conferences on topics at the intersection of arts, education, and justice. As an advisor for Harvard College students, Jessica leads programs that cultivate social consciousness, foster healing and reflection, and build connection and community. She has won numerous awards for her work with undergraduates, including the 2018 Star Family Prize for Excellence in Sophomore Advising.
Jessica received her B.A. in Literature and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration from Yale University. She graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology, and an Ed.D. in Culture, Communities, and Education.
DeepA sriya Vasudevan
Deepa began her career as a youth worker and researcher in Philadelphia, where she worked in support of a vast and vibrant landscape of youth programs across the city. She first worked with young people at a student program center at Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice. Subsequently, she worked at the Out-of-School Time Resource Center, a professional hub for youth workers that offered program tools, training opportunities, and evaluation services. Deepa has served on the board of Seybert Foundation since 2011 and was previously the board chair of the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, a nonprofit focused on experiential and apprentice-based maritime learning for youth. Her early experiences in Philadelphia continue to ground and guide her ongoing commitments to community-based research and educational practice.
As a scholar, Deepa’s research is guided by sociological and cultural inquiry into the role of adults in community-based organizations, constructions of care work in education, and adolescent experiences in out-of-school time settings. In particular, she explores the experiences and meaning making of youth workers and adolescents through qualitative methods. Through the lens of narrative inquiry, she has examined the occupational identities and persistence of experienced youth workers in a field fraught with issues such as financial precarity and social undervaluation.
As a graduate student, Deepa served as an editor for the Harvard Educational Review and co-chair for the Student Research Conference. She has developed and taught courses on youth work and community-based youth programs. Additionally, she researches and writes about the experiences of undocumented youth through the National UnDACAmented Research Project. Deepa has work published in volumes such as The Changing Landscape of Youth Work: Theory and Practice for an Evolving Field, Dilemmas of Educational Ethics, and Toward a Positive Psychology of Relationships: New Directions in Theory and Research. She was the 2018 recipient of the Emerging Scholar Award from the Out-of-School Time Special Interest Group at the American Educational Research Association and the John Schmitt Award for Outstanding Graduate Research from the New England Educational Research Organization.
Deepa is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Wellesley College, where she teaches courses on schooling, educational policy, and community-based youth programs. She completed her Ed.D. in Culture, Communities, and Education as well as an Ed.M. in Educational Policy and Management at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She received her B.A. from Haverford College with an English major and Cultural Anthropology minor.