Our Alumni

Welcome to our page for featuring current work of our Education Studies Concentration alumni! 

Our current feature: Maia Connors, AB ’07, PhD ’15 (from NYU)

As an undergraduate at Brown, I concentrated in Education Studies (Human Development track) and Sociology. As is true for many students, my time at Brown was deeply interdisciplinary. With an interest in young children’s social-emotional development, I worked closely with faculty in the Education Studies, Sociology, and Cognitive Science departments. With their expert guidance, and the unwavering support of my mentors, Education Studies Professors Jin Li and Cynthia Garcia-Coll, my undergraduate experience culminated in an honors thesis titled “To intervene or not to intervene: Supporting preschoolers’ social play in a public setting.”

After graduating from Brown, I began my career as a toddler teacher in a child care program. As I struggled to piece together a high quality toddler classroom and watched my colleagues do the same, it became clear just how essential professional development and support systems are for early educators' success—even for those of us who were fortunate enough to have the very best education to build from. Since then, my work has focused on a singular goal: to build the supportive resources and policies that I needed—but, like many, didn’t receive—as an early educator.

This path led me to the Psychology & Social Intervention program at New York University, where I earned my Ph.D. in Applied Psychology. My research focuses on early childhood care and education policy, systems’ support of high quality early education and professional learning, and adults' support of young children's development. I draw on interdisciplinary theory and rigorous quantitative methods to understand and improve how early education policy works as an “intervention” within early childhood settings and translate findings into policy and practice.

Previously, I have managed a research project designed to help New York City “take the pulse” of the roll-out of its landmark Pre-K for All Initiative; consulted on early childhood school accountability standards at the New York City Department of Education; collaborated as part of the Secondary Analysis of Variation in Impacts of Head Start (SAVI) Center to investigate questions left unanswered by the Head Start Impact Study; and designed and implemented programs and resources to support high quality preschool throughout California at WestEd’s Center for Child & Family Studies.

Currently, I am Senior Research Associate, Research & Policy Initiatives at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, where I serve as a liaison between research, policy, and practice within the organization. Specifically, I work to identify promising policy and practice levers for improving preschool quality at scale, and inform the decisions of city and state departments of education regarding early childhood school accountability, expansion, and improvement.