People & Partners

The Penn Futures Project was launched in 2016 as a cross-disciplinary initiative spearheaded by the Deans of all three schools—Penn School of Nursing, the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), and the Graduate School of Education (GSE). As the program evolved, Penn Futures hired an Executive Director in 2019, Dr. Christopher Ashford, and appointed two Faculty Directors, Dr. Vivian Gadsden of the Graduate School of Education, and Dr. Terri Lipman of the School of Nursing, to lead Penn Futures and oversee its five exciting projects to date.

The Deans of all three schools, Dean Pam Grossman of GSE, Dean Sara Bachman of SP2, and Dean Antonia Villarruel of the School of Nursing, continue to guide the work of Penn Futures, while affiliated faculty and staff members across the three schools work to fuel its various projects. Penn faculty and staff collaborate with community partners, stakeholders, and government agencies to implement these innovative programs aimed at addressing the complex issues facing Philadelphia children and families.

Leadership Team

Christopher Ashford, PhD

Executive Director, Penn Futures

Christopher Ashford holds a Ph.D. in education and human development from the University of Pennsylvania’s…

Vivian Gadsden, PhD

Faculty Director, Penn Futures; William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education

Terri Lipman, PhD, CRNP, FAAN

Faculty Director, Penn Futures; Miriam Stirl Endowed Term Professor of Nutrition; Professor of Nursing of Children; Assistant Dean for Community Engagement; Interim Program Director, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program


Sara S. Bachman, PhD

Dean, School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2)

Sara S. Bachman, PhD is Dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at…

Pam Grossman, PhD

Dean, Graduate School of Education; George and Diane Weiss Professor of Education

Pam Grossman is the Dean of the Graduate School of Education and the George and…

Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing; Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics; Director of the School’s WHO Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Leadership

Dr. Villarruel’s research focuses on interventions to reduce sexual risk behaviors among Mexican and Latino…

Graduate School of Education

Maggie Hart, MS Ed.
Project Manager, Penn Futures
Katherine Barghaus, PhD
Executive Director, Penn Child Research Center; Senior Research Investigator, Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy Network
John Fantuzzo, PhD
Albert M. Greenfield Professor of Human Relations
Kate Kinney Grossman, MA
Associate Director, Teacher Education Program
Erin Cross, PhD
Senior Associate Director, Penn’s LGBT Center; Lecturer, Graduate School of Education; Senior Fellow, Nursing’s Center for Global Women's Health
Michael Johanek, EdD
Senior Fellow; Director, Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership; Director, Penn Educational Leadership Simulations Program (PELS)
Marsha Richardson, PsyD
Lecturer, Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division
Jeanne Stanley, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Caroline Watts, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Director of School and Community Engagement, Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division

School of Nursing

Deborah Becker, PhD, ACNP, BC, CHSE, FAAN
Practice Professor of Nursing; Director, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program, Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist program, & Adult Oncology Specialty Minor
Cynthia Anne Connolly, PhD, RN, FAAN
Rosemarie B. Greco Term Endowed Associate Professorship in Advocacy Associate Professor of Nursing; Co-Faculty Director, Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research, School of Social Policy & Practice; Associate Director, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing; Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
Janet A. Deatrick, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor Emerita of Nursing
Catherine C. McDonald, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor of Nursing; Assistant Professor in Nursing in Pediatrics, School of Medicine

School of Social Policy & Practice

Amy Castro Baker, PhD
Assistant Professor
Dennis P. Culhane, PhD
Professor; Dana and Andrew Stone Chair in Social Policy; Co-Principal Investigator, Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy; Director of Research, National Center for Homelessness Among Veterans
Antonio Garcia, MSW, PhD
Assistant Professor; Co-Director, Child Well-Being & Child Welfare (CW2); Specialization Chair, Racism Sequence
Amy Hillier, PhD
Director, MS in Social Policy Program; Associate Professor, School of Social Policy & Practice; Associate Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning, PennDesign
Anne Weiss, MSW, LSW
Director of Field Education
Allison Werner-Lin, PhD, AM, LCSW
Assistant Professor; Adjunct Investigator, National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Epidemiology And Genetics; Director, Social Work in Health Care; Specialization Chair, Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice