Pennie Foster-Fishman, Director
Pennie G. Foster-Fishman is a professor in the Department of Psychology and a Senior Outreach Fellow in University Outreach and Engagement at Michigan State University. She received her Ph.D. in organizational/community psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests primarily emphasize systems change, particularly how organizational, inter-organizational, and community and state systems can improve to better meet the needs of children, youth, and families. Towards this end, she has investigated human service delivery reform, multiple stakeholder collaboration, comprehensive community initiatives, community organizing, and resident empowerment as vehicles for systems change.
Dr. Foster-Fishman has also worked with a variety of public sector agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and community and state-wide coalitions and institutions, aiming to improve their organizational capacity and the efficacy of their programmatic and systems change efforts. In her evaluation practice, she has conducted process and outcome evaluations of systems change efforts, comprehensive community initiatives, and coalitions. She often incorporates innovative (e.g., GIS mapping, social network analysis) and participatory (e.g., Photovoice) approaches in her research and evaluation efforts.
Dr. Foster-Fishman has published numerous journal articles on systems change and is known nationally and internationally for her work.
Erin Watson, Co-Director
Dr. Erin Watson received her Ph.D. in Community Psychology from Michigan State University. Her research and evaluation interests center on how organizations and communities can use systems thinking and participatory action-learning processes to design, implement, and evaluate transformative change efforts aiming to improve the lives of children and families. She has consulted with a variety of organizations, public sector agencies, community coalitions, and foundations around their efforts to promote place-based change, service delivery system reform, strategic alignment, and collaborative capacity. Dr. Watson specializes in understanding and supporting complex adaptive change, and her frameworks for systems transformation have been adopted by numerous communities both nationally and internationally.
Abby Wattenberg, Project Director
Abby Wattenberg received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Spanish from Skidmore College in New York. She received a Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Her graduate work focused on child welfare and youth leadership development. While in Cleveland, she was involved in community-based mediation and conflict resolution efforts, particularly in the field of homelessness prevention. She has worked for youth-serving non-profits in New York, Ohio, and Michigan in management and communications roles.
Katie A.V. Clements, Graduate Student
Katie A.V. Clements is a Ph.D. student of Ecological-Community Psychology at Michigan State University. Before this, she earned bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Criminology at the University of New Mexico. In New Mexico, she worked closely on the Refugee Well-being Project, a community-based mixed-method research project. She is interested in understanding the experience of immigrants (especially undocumented), particularly what contributes to successful youth outcomes and integration; and consequences or alternatives when unsuccessful integration occurs. In addition, her research concerns the intersections of migration and structures such as legal, health, and education systems. Most recently, her research has been a collaborative effort with a local resettlement agency to explore and address the needs of unaccompanied refugee minors in the mid-Michigan area.
Katie McAlindon, Graduate Student
Katie McAlindon is a Ph.D. student in Ecological/Community Psychology at Michigan State University. She received her B.S. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2010. Her research interests involve the use of a systems change approach to address service integration and collaboration among organizations catering to marginalized groups in communities. Specifically, her experiences have focused on improving collections of services dedicated to homeless individuals, poor families, and children.
Rome D. Meeks, Graduate Student
Rome D. Meeks is a Ph.D. student of Ecological-Community Psychology at Michigan State University. Before this, he earned bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Science and Technology studies at Michigan State University and a Master's in Human Development and Family studies also from Michigan State University. He is interested in understanding the effects of poor urban stress on the development of youth, specifically young men. In addition, Rome is particularly interested in community program development and evaluation.