Meet the JFF Team
Contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Toshalis, senior research director at JFF, uses research and cross-disciplinary partnerships to help advance JFF’s goals and mission. Focusing primarily on translating research findings for educators and school leaders so that both may better understand and apply student-centered learning approaches in their work, his efforts support the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative and the Students at the Center Distinguished Fellows program. An award-winning public middle and high school teacher and university professor known nationally for his commitment to equity in the education of diverse adolescents and adults, he has served public education in multiple capacities over the past three decades as a mentor teacher, union president, teacher educator, community activist, curriculum writer, and researcher.
Dr. Toshalis is author of Make Me! Understanding and Engaging Student Resistance in School (Harvard Education Press, 2015) and co-author of Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators (Harvard Education Press, 2006). He has made extensive contributions to the literature in secondary-level teaching and learning including articles in The Urban Review, Educational Leadership, Harvard Education Letter, NEA Today, and the Journal of Curriculum Studies. Dr. Toshalis was also the lead author of the “Motivation, Engagement and Student Voice” white paper, part of JFF’s Students at the Center series.
Dr. Toshalis received his bachelor’s, teaching credential, and master’s of education from the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as his master’s of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School, and his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Felicia Sullivan, Associate Research Director
Felicia Sullivan joined JFF in 2018 as associate research director. She leads a Hewlett-funded research-practice partnership in New Hampshire and will also assist in the development of the JFF Research Unit. Dr. Sullivan previously worked with the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, where she served as Senior Researcher. She worked on a broad range of projects at CIRCLE, from program evaluation to quantitative and qualitative analysis. Felicia also has over two decades of teaching experience in a range of settings and a longstanding commitment to underserved populations.
Prior to her work at CIRCLE, Dr. Sullivan worked in community-based practices, primarily in multi-ethnic, urban settings. She developed innovative programs for diverse community needs through organizations dedicated to arts and culture, social justice, community communication, and education.
Dr. Sullivan’s non-work life is centered in Lowell, MA, where she is an active community leader in a number of educational, arts, and civic engagement organizations. She holds a doctorate of philosophy in public policy from the John W. McCormack Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a master of arts degree in media studies from the New School for Social Research.
Melanie Mulvey, Senior Program Manager
Melanie Mulvey is the senior program manager for Students at the Center at JFF. Ms. Mulvey manages the first-of-its-kind research collaborative that builds, defines, applies, and shares a robust evidence base for student-centered learning.
Ms. Mulvey previously worked as assistant director of programs at Achieving the Dream, leading funded learning initiatives and helping shape the strategy and direction for Achieving the Dream’s equity work. Prior to her time at Achieving the Dream, Ms. Mulvey served as assistant to Community Advocacy at Hampshire College, where she provided programmatic and administrative support to centers serving students from marginalized backgrounds.
Ms. Mulvey holds a B.A. in Global Relations & Advocacy with a minor in French Language and a certificate in Interpreting Studies (English and French).
Blythe Armitage, Program Manager
Blythe Armitage is a program manager for the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative, a first-of-its-kind initiative to build, define, apply, and share a robust evidence base for student-centered learning. In this role, Blythe supports the Collaborative in communicating research findings in field-friendly and actionable ways. She also contributes to the development of tools and resources designed to help policymakers and practitioners apply research on student-centered learning in their unique settings.
Blythe was most recently a public engagement associate at the Great Schools Partnership in Portland, Maine. There, she provided project management for a regional grant initiative aimed at increasing community engagement in New England public schools. She also developed a regional networking and capacity-building program for school-community engagement leaders across New England and supported the communications strategies for the Great Schools Partnership and the New England Secondary School Consortium.
Prior to working at the Great Schools Partnership, Blythe taught middle and high school English in southern Maine and worked in higher education admissions in New York.
Blythe earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from Purchase College, State University of New York, and a master’s degree in teaching and learning from the University of Southern Maine.
Thor Blanco-Reynoso, Program Associate
Thor Alberto Blanco-Reynoso is a program associate for the Students at the Center initiative at JFF. He plays an important role in supporting the team through his project management and communication skills. He is an educator dedicated to ensure equity for all with a strong drive for and extensive experience in serving immigrant students from marginalized backgrounds and non-traditional paths.
Mr. Blanco-Reynoso has experience supporting the Latino community through his volunteer work as an ESOL teacher and through organically grown mentorships. Before coming to JFF, he engaged in action-oriented psychology research to understand the resilience factors among Latino students. In the summer of 2016, he co-developed a curriculum for youth activities for the DREAM program in Boston to help close the opportunity gap for K-12 children in low-income housing. In addition, Mr. Blanco-Reynoso serves as a teaching assistant at Northeastern University College of Professional Studies in the undergraduate psycology class Stress and Its Management.
Mr. Blanco-Reynoso holds a bachelor of science degree in psychology with a minor in organizational communication from Northeastern University.