Evaluation and Research Team

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Welcome to the Evaluation and Research Team

About the Evaluation and Research Team

The Evaluation and Research Team is a multi-disciplinary unit dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through evaluation and research partnerships with both local and national nonprofit organizations.

We utilize a mixed-methods, partnership-based approach throughout data collection, interpretation, and reporting. Our team is committed to supporting our research and evaluation partners through ongoing communication and collaboration.

The Evaluation and Research Team members have backgrounds in research and practice related to early childhood, K-12 education, and social work. Your project will be guided by an Evaluation and Research Manager who has a Ph.D. in a related field and extensive experience working with community and research organizations.

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We Value:

  • Listening to family and community voices
  • Understanding and reducing disparities, inequities, and opportunity gaps
  • Being research-based and innovative
  • Letting community needs drive our agenda
  • Bringing respect for families and communities, and rigorous research together
  • Taking an ecological approach across contexts and the lifespan
  • A commitment to community capacity-building

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Who We Are


Photo of Amanda Cross, a woman with light brown hair, black rimmed glasses, and a blue-patterned shirt. Trees and bushes are in the background.Amanda Brown Cross, PhD, Director of Research and Evaluation. Amanda received a doctorate in Criminology from the University of Maryland. Her research interests and experience are in school-and community-based prevention and intervention and in experimental methods and program evaluation. She has been particularly involved in work with high-risk youth. Amanda has extensive experience working closely with community-based youth- and family-serving agencies in the Pittsburgh region. She has published peer-reviewed research on both qualitative and quantitative analysis of community- and school-based programs.


Headshot of Abby Chen, a woman with light brown hair, wearing a purple shirt, with trees in the background.Abby Chen, MAT, Senior Research and Evaluation Coordinator. Abby earned her master’s in teaching from Chatham University and is a certified PreK-12 teacher who has taught students of all ages in school, outdoor, and online programs, with a focus on math, science, and the environment. She supports ERT's research and community programs with her technical skills in editing, project coordination, and data collection.


Andrea Lown, M.Ed., Evaluation Manager, Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning. Andrea is certified as a PreK-12 Principal and Level II Elementary and Early Childhood Educator in Pennsylvania.  She completed her principal certification coursework through Point Park University, and she earned a Master of Education Degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Penn State University.  Her experience includes serving as a Head Start supervisor and instructional coach and teaching education courses at a community college.  She worked as a supervising teacher in a program with children birth through age 5, and she has taught at the elementary level. Her grant work has focused on developing partnerships with families,  promoting effective teacher-child interactions, and supporting early childhood professionals with high quality instructional practices and curriculum implementation.


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Contact ERT

Abby Chen
ERT Coordinator

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Learn More About the Evaluation and Research Team

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