Who are we?

Audrey Trainor, PhD

Principal Investigator

Audrey A. Trainor, PhD, is an associate professor of special education, Department of Teaching and Learning, New York University.  The focus of Audrey’s work is equitable postschool outcomes for students identified with disabilities in transition to postsecondary education, employment, and community engagement. Audrey’s previous projects, in Texas, Wisconsin, and Louisianna, have aimed at understanding how students with IEPs get jobs or enroll in college after high school. She’s interested in equitable education opportunities. Audrey also studies the role of research in shaping equitable education opportunities for all students. She often uses critical theories to conduct research, examining issues of cultural and linguistic diversity and the cultures of special education processes. In her role as a university faculty, she teaches courses in teacher preparation and she leads her departmental programs in special education. She also has taught graduate courses in qualitative study design and data analysis. Audrey was the 2012-13 president of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) and she received the Patricia L. Sitlington Research in Transition Award from DCDT in 2015. Previous to her university career, she was a high school special educator in North Carolina for nearly 10 years.

Lynn Newman, EdD

Co-Principal Investigator

Lynn Newman, Ed.D., Senior Education Researcher in SRI International’s Center for Learning and Development, has more than 30 years of experience in education and social science research focused on the secondary school, transition, and postsecondary school experiences of youth with disabilities. As principal investigator of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012), Phase II, Dr. Newman provides intellectual direction on this large-scale study of the experiences and outcomes of a nationally representative sample of youth with disabilities. Dr. Newman has served as a principal analyst on several other large-scale studies, including the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), as well as a portfolio of grants focused on identifying factors associated with positive outcomes for youth with disabilities. Dr. Newman’s research is particularly focused on families’ involvement in their children’s education, as well as on better understanding the types of supports and experiences that may positively impact postsecondary education enrollment and completion. Dr. Newman has made significant contributions to important policy issues in special education, having written numerous reports and papers for a range of audiences, on the experiences and outcomes of students and youth with disabilities. She also is a frequent presenter at national professional conferences and is on the board of national organizations focused on the transition of students with disabilities.  

Heather Woodley, PhD

Project Director

Heather Homonoff Woodley, PhD, is an educator, researcher, writer, and activist. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor of TESOL, Bilingual Education, and Foreign Language Education in the Department of Teaching & Learning at NYU Steinhardt. Her research and teaching focuses on meeting the academic, linguistic and social-emotional needs of emergent bilinguals and creating inclusive classrooms. Heather has published work exploring multilingual classroom practices and supporting Muslim immigrant youth, and received a 2014 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the National Association of Bilingual Education. Heather was a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco, earned her PhD in Urban Education at The Graduate Center, CUNY, her MS in TESOL Education at City College, CUNY and her BA in History at Wesleyan University. She was a writer and Research Assistant with the CUNY – NY State Initiative for Emergent Bilinguals. Prior to this, she taught middle and high school in the Bronx and Washington, DC, and was a teacher-educator at CCNY and with the NYC and DC Teaching Fellows. Heather serves on the national planning committee for Free Minds, Free People conference for transformative education and is a regional delegate for NYSABE.

Rachel Elizabeth Traxler, MA

Research Assistant

Rachel Traxler is a PhD student in Special Education at NYU.  Rachel has worked within higher education with students with learning disabilities, AD/HD, and Autism Spectrum for the last five years.  Her research interests include postsecondary planning for students with disabilities, academic interventions for students with a diagnosis, and needs and challenges of students with disabilities within higher education.  Originally from Texas, Rachel graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in History/Anthropology and a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies.  Rachel enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking, watching controversial documentaries, and spending time with her dog, Syrah.

Lilly Padía, MS

Research Assistant

Lilly Padía is a PhD student in Special Education at NYU.  She is from Oakland, California and taught Special Education to students in grades K-8 in the Bronx for 7 years and worked as an Instructional Coach for 2 years helping other teachers develop their classroom practice. She teaches first-year English as a New Language (ENL) teachers at CUNY's City College of New York.  She believes that we are all life-long learners and that ongoing collaboration between students, their families and communities, and educators is the key to success.

Nicole Deschene, MEd

Research Assistant

Nicole Deschene is a PhD student in Bilingual Education at New York University. She was a high school teacher in New Jersey public schools for seven years. She received her Master of Education from William Paterson University and was the recipient of the Graduate Award for Excellence in Bilingual/ESL Studies.

Elisa Garcia, PhD

Elisa Garcia, PhD, is an early childhood researcher at SRI International’s Center for Learning and Development. Her research interests focus on how the classroom context can support the academic and socioemotional development of children from ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Her current research at SRI includes an evaluation of a social problem solving intervention for elementary students, and an evaluation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Ready to Learn transmedia program. Prior to joining SRI, Dr. Garcia conducted analyses of nationally representative datasets, to examine the early vocabulary development of low-income dual language learners attending Head Start, and worked with San Francisco Unified School District to help the Early Education Department model and understand early literacy achievement. Dr. Garcia earned her Ph.D. in developmental and psychological science from the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Lindsay Romano, MS

Research Assistant

Lindsay Romano is a PhD student in Special Education at NYU.  Lindsay previously worked as a high school special education teacher in NYC. Her research interests include postsecondary transitions for students with disabilities, growth mindset interventions for students with disabilities, and mindfulness and special education. Lindsay is originally from Delaware and graduated from the University of Delaware with a BA in International Relations/Political Science prior to attending Hunter College for her MS in Education. She enjoys spending time with her family, running and exercising outdoors, and doing yoga in her free time. 

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