The Center for Research on Families (CRF) is happy to welcome new Associate Director Gisele Litalien to our team. Gisele comes to CRF after twenty years of leading, developing and supporting nonprofit organizations that work with youth and families.
Gisele will oversee CRF’s daily operations, working closely with CRF Faculty Director Maureen Perry-Jenkins on a planned Springfield outreach initiative, supporting scholars in the CRF Family Research Scholars (FRS) program, and developing more resources for the Center.
Coming to CRF was a natural transition for Gisele, as her personal and professional passion has been to start new family-centered programs. She most recently served as the Director of the Northfield Mount Hermon Upward Bound Program. While there, she helped families navigate the process of applying for college and provided students the skills and motivation necessary to succeed in high school and college--from SAT prep and searching for colleges to mastering interviews and offering guidance for applying for financial aid.
Prior to her time at Northfield Mount Hermon, Gisele directed Community Action family support programs for teen parents and their children, homeless families, and families seeking a broad range of services. She has a background in administration, policy, clinical social work and mediation. Gisele received her MSW from Springfield College, a B.A. in Sociology from Smith College, and a B.M. in performance from Berkelee College of Music.
Gisele also served as the President of the Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Association where she led advocacy efforts on behalf of first generation, low-income students and families.
She sees working at CRF as an opportunity to get behind the policy that makes programs like the ones she has directed come to fruition.
“I am very excited about supporting research that makes a difference for families, both locally and nationwide. It is my first time working in higher education and I’m inspired by the creativity and scholarship of the faculty we work with.”
As Associate Director, she will also guide CRF’s Family Research Scholars as they hone their proposals and will assist with grant submission.
“It’s my goal to make sure that the FRS program continues to remain as successful and productive as it can be. Our scholars’ grant ‘hit rate’ is much higher than the national average, which is testament to the fact that the FRS program is a fantastic resource for UMass faculty.”
Gisele feels as though working to help support researchers will give her new insight into the process of supporting family programs.
“Being on the research end of the process allows me to complete the loop that I started on the community level—I’m now able to move from idea to implementation. By actualizing the research produced by the Center’s affiliates, we will be able to see the tangible impact on families.”