Our Team

The Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center at The Ohio State University is a leader in the field of family, school, and community engagement. We are located at the Center on Education and Training for Employment, a translational research center within the College of Education and Human Ecology.

Our mission is to support the development and academic achievement of children by providing tools and trainings to Ohio families and schools for building effective family-school partnerships.

We acknowledge that we have a critical sphere of influence in training educators, guiding individuals and school systems in addressing inequities in power, accessibility, and privilege in relations between schools and families. Read our full Commitment to Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center Logo

1900 Kenny Road
Suite 1036
Columbus, OH 43210


Barbara Boone

Barbara Boone, Ph.D., is the Principal Investigator and Director of the federally funded Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center at the Center on Education and Training for Employment (CETE).  In this role, Barbara leads a team conducting family engagement initiatives creating professional development, tools, and processes for families, school personnel, and organizations.   

A sought-after trainer and speaker, Barbara’s past experiences as a Director at the Ohio Department of Education, education consultant, program evaluator, college instructor, parent educator, and early childhood educator allow her to leverage skills and understanding from multiple perspectives. Her work has focused on improving partnerships between home, school and communities for children of all ages through research, developing tools and resources, facilitating professional development, and leading state and local initiatives.  Barbara has enjoyed helping thousands of families and educational professionals grow, and her own family of five, and local schools too. A New Jersey native, Barbara is an avid hiker and beekeeper.

You can reach her at boone.32@osu.edu, find her on Twitter at @boonebbuzz, or, follow the family engagement center at @OhioEngage

Meredith Wellman, Ph.D., is Co-Principal Investigator and Project Lead for Ohio’s Statewide Family Engagement Center at the Center on Education and Training for Employment (CETE).  Since 2014, she has worked at CETE to support strong family-school-community partnerships within Ohio’s education system. She is co-author of a training series for school districts called Partnerships for Literacy. Dr. Wellman also conducts program evaluations. As a Community Psychologist, Dr. Wellman specializes in research and evaluation of services for specific populations, such as survivors of human trafficking, immigrants and refugees, and indigenous groups.

Meredith lives in Westerville, OH with her husband and two children, and enjoys biking, hiking, and baking pies.

You can reach her at wellman.87@osu.edu (614-688-1522) and find her on Twitter @MWellmanOSU.

Headshot of Meredith Wellman

Kristin Meek-Hennon

Kristin Meek-Hennon is a Program Coordinator for the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center (OhSFEC) project, which is focused on equity and access in family engagement for all families in Ohio with school age children, K-12.  Kristin received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN.  Prior to working at CETE, she worked for over 18 years in the private sector as an office manager with a focus in project management, HR, and fiscal services.  Kristin brings her experience to CETE as she is responsible for planning and coordinating all professional development events and meetings, managing time lines, and monitoring budget and fiscal needs associated with state and federal grants.  Kristin also plays an important role as the lead coordinator of the OhSFEC State Advisory Council, collaborating with family and organizational members all across Ohio and creating meetings rich in family engagement content that can be shared across their communities.

When she’s not at CETE, Kristin is busy with her family of 6.  She enjoys anything Italian including cooking it, planning trips, and home decorating.

You can reach Kristin at meek-hennon.1@osu.edu.

Thomas Capretta is a Family Engagement Project Coordinator. Tom previously worked for the Ohio Department of Education where he supported schools and districts in their efforts to serve students in foster care and other vulnerable student populations. Additionally, Tom worked with Dr. Barbara Boone and Dr. Meredith Wellman to support the implementation of effective family and community engagement strategies in education settings across Ohio.

Tom, a Cleveland, OH native received a B.A. in religious studies and applied ethics from Seton Hall University, and as a 2012 Teach for America Mississippi Delta Corps Member, taught 4th and 5th grade math and science for three years. Tom then received a M.P.A. from the John Glenn College and is excited to return to the Ohio State University.

Tom lives in the Olde Towne East neighborhood of Columbus with his cats, Maude and Jasper, where they enjoy an extensive collection of records. Tom also enjoys eating out around town and frequenting the city’s many local festivals and events.

Tom can be reached at capretta.29@osu.edu and @ThomasCapretta on Twitter.

Hadley Bachman

Hadley Bachman is a Family Engagement Researcher at the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center, where she spearheads efforts to advance research, professional development, and the acquisition of grants and sponsored projects. In her role, she has led the development of online courses and webinars for family-facing professionals and has delivered conference presentations and workshops nationally. She is also the lead writer for the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center’s News & Guidance, an e-white paper with over 1,600 subscribers. In addition, she has published several articles for practitioners and scholars about family engagement and parent advocacy, most recently in Educational Leadership and West’s Education Law Reporter. Hadley also serves as a member of CETE’s Steering Team for the Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) Movement.

Hadley is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Studies with a specialization in Educational Administration in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University. Her dissertation research focuses on educators’ efficacy beliefs for engaging with families. Before joining Ohio State, she was an English teacher in middle and high school and a middle school principal in the Columbus area, serving in these roles for 14 years. She also earned her Teacher-Leader Endorsement (2016) and Master of Education (2007) from OSU and her Bachelor of Arts in English (2003) from Goshen College. She is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (2003-2005) from the Republic of Cabo Verde, where she taught English as a foreign language and supported her colleagues with grant writing and professional learning.

When she’s not working or writing, Hadley can be found adventuring outdoors with her husband, daughter, and dog. You can reach her at bachman.33@osu.edu and find her on Twitter @HadleyBachman.

Yesenia Alvarez Padilla, MSW is a Family Engagement Researcher with the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center at the Center on Education and Training for Employment (CETE). In this role, she develops resources and cultivates a network to support English Language Learners and their families, including the development of a roadmap to help families navigate ELL learning. She is also currently a PhD candidate at the Ohio State University, College of Social Work. Prior to her current role, she was a graduate research associate at CETE, where she developed online financial education Money Talks modules for parents and caregivers. Money Talks modules include tools and strategies for families to speak with their middle school children about financial topics. In addition, she capitalized on her bilingual skills to make a Spanish version of the Money Talks modules (Conversaciones sobre el dinero) for Spanish-speaking parents and caregivers as evidence of her ongoing commitment to serving immigrant and Latinx communities.

Yesenia obtained her Masters in Social Work (2018) at the Ohio State University College of Social Work after completing a Bachelors of Social Work from the University of Nevada, Reno. Yesenia has teaching experience as an instructor and tutor for adults pursuing high school equivalency as well as adults learning English as a second language.

Yesenia’s research interests center around promoting the well-being of Latinx, immigrant and refugee communities as well as financial socialization and education.

Yesenia can be reached at alvarezpadilla.1@buckeyemail.osu.edu.

Headshot of Yesenia Alvarez Padilla smiling with her chin resting on her hand

Patrick Cunningham is a graduate research associate for the Center on Education and Training for Employment (CETE), working with the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center. He will be conducting literature reviews, developing resources for educators and families, and working on projects related to family-school partnerships.  

Patrick has a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and has been working as a school counselor for the past six years. He has experienced a wide spectrum of school communities through his work as a school counselor, working in a large public high school in Raleigh, North Carolina and two smaller, private, international schools in Dubai and South Korea. Through his work in these settings, he has developed a passion for supporting diverse groups of students and families. Starting in Fall 2020, Patrick entered his first year of a PhD program in Counselor Education. His primary research interests are multicultural school counseling competencies, data-informed school counseling practices to address the achievement gap, and social justice in school counseling. 

Patrick enjoys cooking, traveling, crossword puzzles, and spending time with his family. He is originally from Long Island, New York and is a big fan of the New York Mets. 

Patrick can be reached at cunningham.1062@buckeyemail.osu.edu.

Sarah DeShon joined the Center on Education and Training for Employment as a Family Engagement Learning Coordinator with the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center.  As a learning coordinator, her primary role is designing and facilitating research-based professional development for out-of-school-time personnel and other family-facing professionals.  She seeks to build their capacity for equitable family engagement.  As a former classroom teacher, Sarah has learned and experienced the important role all families, schools, and communities play in the success of student achievement and wellness.

Sarah received a BA in elementary education from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.  She has 14 years of classroom teaching experience at the elementary level (K-6) with multiple public school districts in northern Indiana.  As part of the Teaching and Learning Committee and the School Leadership Team at an Expeditionary (EL) school, she brings her knowledge and experience collaborating with teachers, staff, and community leaders when designing engaging curricula.  Likewise, she brings her skills as a trained Lead Teacher of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), when developing and facilitating professional development for adult learners.

Sarah currently lives in Dublin, Ohio with her two cats Brynn and Elliott.  She enjoys outdoor activities such as running, hiking, and biking, especially when it involves her family.  She is the “fun aunt” and loves exploring and creating entertaining (and sometimes messy) STEM projects with her nieces and nephews. 

Sarah can be reached at deshon.8@osu.edu.

Sarah DeShon

Jingyang (Max) Zhang is a graduate research associate for the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center (OhSFEC), where he will be writing literature reviews, developing resources and tools for educators and families, and assisting with research. He is particularly interested in the roles and impacts of students in family-school partnerships.

Max is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Educational Psychology program at OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology. Besides family engagement, he is also interested in academic motivation and social-emotional development. Max has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology and Human Development from Boston College and a Master’s degree in Human Development and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has experience working with students of various age groups and their families both in China and in the U.S. in schools and community settings.

When he is not working, Max enjoys watching sports, traveling, listening to podcasts, and spending time with his girlfriend Evelyn. He is originally from Guangzhou, China and is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. 

Max can be reached at zhang.7917@buckeyemail.osu.edu or @maxzhangjy on Twitter.

Jhuma Acharya, MSW, M.Sc., is a Graduate Research Associate at the Center on Education Training for Employment, working with the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center at the Ohio State University. Jhuma will be working with Dr. Barbara Boone and Yesenia Alvarez Padilla on developing a comprehensive resource guide for English Language Learners and their families. 

Mr. Acharya is a first-year social work Ph.D. student at the Ohio State University. He received a Master’s in Social Work degree from the Ohio State University in the spring of 2021. Before entering the MSW program, Mr. Acharya had received an undergraduate honors degree in Biology from India and a Master of Science (Parasitology) from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. Mr. Acharya taught in Nepal for over 15 years before moving to the United States in 2011 through the auspices of the U.S Refugee Resettlement Program. He has a decade-long experience working with a diverse refugee and immigrant population in Central Ohio as a Reception and Placement Program Case Manager at Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS).

Mr. Acharya’s experience includes advocacy work at the local, state, and national levels for equity, advocacy, and empowerment of refugees and immigrants. He has served as a board member of the Bhutanese Community of Central Ohio and is the organization’s current board chair. Mr. Acharya’s area of interest stems from his decade of work with school-system and serving underserved diverse populations. His research interest focuses on strength-based School-family engagement and developing a comprehensive resource guide for students learning English and their families. 

Mr. Acharya likes reading books and exploring the local parks and historical sites.  He lives in Blacklick, Ohio, with his wife and eight years old son, who attends Licking Heights School “Go Hornets”!!!

Jhuma can be reached at acharya.86@buckeyemail.osu.edu.

Headshot: Jhuma Acharya

Greg Nagy is a Technology Engineer at the Center on Education and Training for Employment (CETE), working with the Family Engagement Team to provide technology support like creating this website, editing and posting all webinars, and posting much of this website’s content. Greg has worked over 20 years at CETE sharing his technology expertise on many different state and federal projects.

He has many interests including wanting to implement VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) in education. He has a BS in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering from The Ohio State University. Both of his kids are currently attending The Ohio State University.

Greg can be reached at nagy.8@osu.edu.

More About Us

Ohio’s Statewide Family Engagement Center is a federally funded Center at The Ohio State University providing resources for Ohio schools, families, and other partners to improve family-school partnerships for student success. It is housed within the Center on Education and Training for Employment, which is within OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $4.2 million to Ohio to create the Ohio Statewide Family Engagement Center. Directed by Dr. Barbara Boone, the Statewide Family Engagement Center partners with the Ohio Department of Education to empower teachers and parents/caregivers to create strong relationships with one another to support the educational success of K-12 students.

The Statewide Family Engagement Center provides training and technical assistance for educators and organizations about how to engage in family-school partnerships, and parent/caregiver education opportunities as well. The Ohio Department of Education’s 16 State Support Teams already in place in each Ohio region are key partners in helping to share the Center’s resources and tools with schools and families, and to provide coaching in select districts.

A 50-person state-level advisory council was created in 2019 to guide the efforts of the Center, and includes 25+ parents/caregivers and students, along with organization/school leaders from around Ohio. The council provides families and organizations serving families with a voice in how these federal funds are used to support family engagement in education in Ohio.

The Center selected one evidence-based family engagement model to implement and evaluate in 96 schools within 48 school districts between 2020-2022, called the National Network of Partnership Schools Model. The goal of implementing and researching this model is to build the nation’s strong evidence base of best practices.