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Administration, Finance & Marketing/Director of Research and Evaluation


Traci Shirachi

Vanderbilt University
University of California, Davis

Traci Shirachi is the CEO/President of SmartStart Evaluation and Research.  She is responsible for making key business decisions for the company to increase SmartStart’s abilities to address principal investigator (“PI”) needs, and help to continue to expand and grow the company.   Traci works with all the evaluators within the organization to deliver rigorous work and quality client service.  Traci has over 17 years of work experience with consulting companies of various sizes, including PricewaterhouseCoopers.  She received a B.A. in political science at the University of California, Davis, and an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt University.  

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Yu Zhang

Assistant Director
Indiana University
University of Maryland
Peking University

Dr. Zhang received her PhD in Public Affairs from Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs and MPA in Public Policy from University of Maryland College Park School of Public Policy. She has extensive research experience in environmental and energy issues by using both quantitative and qualitative methods, such as survey designs, focus group, experimental and quasi-experimental designs. Yu has been involved with large public opinion studies of emerging energy technologies both in the U.S. and China. Her interests are environmental and energy focused program evaluation, public opinion studies and outcome evaluation. She earned her dual BA degrees from Peking University, China in Urban Management and Economics.

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Jessica Martone

Director of Research and Evaluation
Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Martone received her PhD and her MSW from Loyola University Chicago’s School of Social Work.  Jessica was a research fellow and is currently a research affiliate for the Institute for Migration and International Social Work. Jessica has been involved with immigration and education focused research projects. Prior to SmartStart, Jessica was an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago teaching undergraduate and graduate level social work courses.  In addition she worked as a consultant conducting research and evaluation.

Senior Evaluators

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Aubrey Roy

Senior Evaluator
University of Oxford
University of California, Irvine

Aubrey Roy received her M.S. in Sociology from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom where she specialized in quantitative methods and focused the effects of macro-level education spending on the profession of teaching. She also received her B.A. in Sociology and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from University of California, Irvine.  Prior to SmartStart, Aubrey worked in trial and political consulting where she used both qualitative and quantitative methods.

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Carly Raasch

Senior Evaluator
John Hopkins University
California State University, Sacramento

Carly is a Senior Evaluator at SmartStart Evaluation and Research. She supports evaluation development and implementation of surveys, focus groups, interviews, document analyses for education-based programs. Her previous work experience involved project management, research, strategy development, and communication consulting for clients in a variety of industries, including healthcare, energy, environmental, and international development. Carly’s experience also includes researching target audiences through online surveys, interviews, and focus groups, analyzing data using both quantitative and qualitative analysis tools, and developing reports for senior level management. Formerly, she worked for the State of California Department of General Services conducting market research and data analyses to identify strategic sourcing opportunities. Carly received her M.A. in Communication, Applied Research from Johns Hopkins University, and her B.A. in Organizational Communications from California State University, Sacramento. Her research has focused on evaluating communication programs in healthcare and energy sectors.

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Harisharan Luintel

Senior Evaluator
Portland State University
Tribhuwan University, Nepal

Dr. Luintel received his PhD in Environmental Science, Management and Policy from Portland State University. He worked over 20 years in research, policy analysis, program/project evaluation, teaching, and capacity building in the field of natural resource management, environmental sustainability, and education in South Asia and the US. His research includes elucidating implications of national and international environmental, educational, and developmental policies and programs. Some of his notable research include monitoring performance of donor-funded forestry and livelihood programs in Nepal, assessing impact of Nepal’s community forestry programs, exploring potential implication of international climate change policy in developing countries, examining impact of different curricular strategies on educational performance in the US, and identifying implication of educational inputs on students’ knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy and workforce development in the US. He takes interdisciplinary approaches and uses robust quantitative and qualitative methods in his research/evaluation. He has authored/co-authored dozens of peer-reviewed papers, research reports, book chapters, policy briefs, and discussion papers that have been widely cited and used for policy/program review. He has been serving as an editor for the Journal of Forest and Livelihood and reviewer for several journals. Through these experiences, he developed professional interest and competency working in wide range of socio-economic, cultural, and developmental contexts collaboratively and independently.

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Joshua Yuen Penman

Senior Evaluator
Claremont Graduate University
Biola University
University of Oxford

Mr. Penman has a background in international development, management consulting, and intercultural competency development, and holds a Master’s degree in Evaluation and Organizational Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. Joshua’s professional focus is tighter integration of evaluation, program theory, and process improvement that lead to innovations in cost-effective evaluation. He has conducted applied research and evaluation in education, environmentally friendly construction technology, and startups. Prior to Smart Start, Josh led national and international projects at the intersection of health and media.

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Kartik Jha

Senior Evaluator
University of Arizona
Claremont Graduate University

Mr. Jha earned his M.A. in Organizational Behavior Psychology and Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University and his B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Japanese from the University of Arizona. His evaluation interests are focused on program evaluation with the goal of linking objectives to outcomes and improving educational projects that help underserved students receive access to college education. His previous work experiences include assisting on various types of evaluations, needs assessments, and organizational development.