About the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children

Student in lab

All children rely on relationships and systems of support to develop, learn, and thrive. The Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children (CTC) uses research and data to identify and evaluate strategies that successfully transform schools and communities into systems of opportunity for all students. By engaging in research and convening educators, policy makers, and community leaders, the Center is a catalyst for developing and implementing programs that are effective, systemic, and scalable. We conduct interdisciplinary research that builds on the strengths of both science and practice to understand what it takes to produce true opportunity for all, as well as consider the root causes of the achievement gap and a wide array of programs and practices that promote healthy child development. Our research helps to identify solutions that are sustainable and scalable. We share the results of our work, including best practices, with a broad spectrum of education leaders, policy makers, and community organizations to inform and improve programs, practice, and policy, and inspire decision makers to reconsider what is possible for all students.

Under the Center’s umbrella, City Connects puts research into practice by providing a network of care and supports around each individual student to ensure that they are ready to learn and engage in school. The intervention provides customized, comprehensive, coordinated and continuous student support in ways that are quantifiably impactful and cost-efficient.

On Sept. 1, Boston College and Dean Stanton Wortham of the Lynch School of Education and Human Development announced that Dr. Eric Dearing is the Executive Director and Dr. Claire Foley is the Associate Director of the Center. Dr. Mary Walsh serves as Executive Director of City Connects and is Founding Director and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Thriving Children.


What We Do

Our mission is to study and share the most effective ways to address the out-of-school factors impacting student learning and thriving in schools, and to support practitioners in implementing evidence-driven integration of school and community resources.

The Center serves as a national center for researchers, programs, and practitioners. We reach across multiple disciplines and approaches to share knowledge, promote best practices, test out innovations in the field via City Connects’ research & development platform, research impacts on student outcomes, and provide professional development, technical assistance, and resources to support effective integration of school and community resources at scale.


The Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children uses research and data to identify and evaluate strategies that successfully transform schools and communities into systems of opportunity for all students.


Eric Dearing Portrait

Eric Dearing
Executive Director and Professor

Madeline Gillespie Portrait

Claire Foley
Associate Director of the Center and Research Professor

Mary Walsh Portrait

Mary Walsh
Executive Director of City Connects, Senior Fellow of the Center, and Professor Emerita

Judith Alexander Portrait

Judith Alexander
Senior Manager of Learning & Development

Jen Bouckaert Portrait

Jen Bouckaert
Senior Manager of Coaching & Networks

Jillian Boudreau Portrait

Jillian Boudreau
Senior Manager of Coaching and School Partnerships

Tina Chen-Xu Portrait

Tina Chen-Xu
Director of Expansion and Operations

David Coleman Portrait

David Coleman
Communications Manager

Jennifer Coyle Portrait

Jennifer Coyle
Assistant Director for Reporting, Stewardship, and Administration


Sara Davey
Program Manager

Kathleen Drucker Portrait

Kathleen Trong Drucker
Senior Evaluation Researcher

Madeline Gillespie Portrait

Madeline Gillespie
Program Manager

Haibin Jiang Portrait

Rebekah Harris
Business & Expansion Manager

Haibin Jiang Portrait

Haibin Jiang

Daniel Triana Portrait

Jordan Lawson

Daniel Triana Portrait

Yan Leigh
Director of Research and Evaluation

Daniel Triana Portrait

Kevin Lopez Mader
Manager of Software Systems and Development


Daniel Triana Portrait

Brenda McCormick
Adminsitrative Officer

Daniel Triana Portrait

Illia Polovnikov

Daniel Triana Portrait

Cynthia Scheller
Director of Student Support Programs and Practice

Daniel Triana Portrait

Daniel Triana Alvarado
Program Systems Coordinator

Brian Ward Portrait

Joan Wasser Gish
Director of Systemic Impact

Nan Yang Portrait

Nan Yang
Survey Researcher

Jee Hun Yoo Portrait

Jee Hun "Mike" Yoo

Contact Us

For inquiries regarding the Mary E. Walsh Center for Thriving Children, please contact:

Brenda McCormick
Administrative Officer

Lynch School of Education and Human Development
Boston College
Campion Hall, Room 305D
140 Commonwealth Ave.
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467



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