Search Institute Team

Learn more about the roles each of our staff members has at Search Institute.

Search Institute Team

Listed in Alphabetical Order

Henry Alexander

Research and Practice Communications VISTA

Henry is a recent graduate of Carleton College with a major in Sociology/Anthropology and a minor in Africana Studies. He has experience working with young people across a range of ages and experiences and is passionate about giving youth a platform to grow as leaders and better understand themselves. Through his senior thesis, Henry explored how wilderness counselors embody and “teach” masculinities to the young people in their care. Henry is excited to further explore deeper questions about youth development, community building, and developmental relationships in his role as a VISTA member. In his free time, Henry enjoys making music, cooking, and playing ultimate frisbee.

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Honorine Asoh

Project Manager

Honorine Asoh is a Project Manager offering a strong balance between business savvy and technical capabilities. She has 13 years of experience contributing to projects as a project supervisor, program manager and project manager. Honorine holds a MBA from Walden University with specialization in project management.

Honorine is able to communicate with project teams, management and clients equally well. She capitalizes on superior communication skills to establish and develop valuable client and vendor relationships.

Honorine has a strong passion and focus on youth development and enhancement, building and spearheading top-performing teams, providing guidance, training and support needed to ensure on-time and within-budget delivery of high-quality projects

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Ashley Boat, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Ashley is an applied research scientist with expertise in prevention, positive youth development, and family science. Her research seeks to advance our understanding of how developmental relationships promote the well-being of youth from historically marginalized communities. As a former teacher and program evaluator, she is passionate about conducting inclusive and practice-relevant research. She is well versed in a range of study designs and quantitative methods. She uses her analytical skills to develop empirically rigorous research to better meet the needs of all youth.

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Kristen Hartung

Office Manager

Kristen joins Search Institute as Office Manager. Throughout her career she has managed, streamlined, and organized processes, managed office/facilities, developed training materials, and facilitated customer service, sales, and behavioral style training.

Kristen has a heart for youth and mentorship and has had the opportunity to participate with and lead several mission teams within the U.S. and abroad. During these experiences, she discovered her ability to connect with and empower youth. Being part of the Search Institute team allows Kristen to use her professional knowledge while contributing to a mission she’s passionate about.

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Benjamin Houltberg, Ph.D., LMFT

Vice President of Research & Practice

Ben is a developmental scientist, former tenured faculty member and experienced licensed marriage and family therapist. He is widely published in topics such as the socialization of adolescent emotion regulation, promoting resilience through adversity, character and identity development in sports. Ben has a strong record of procuring grant funding and leading interdisciplinary research teams. His motivation to pursue his doctoral degree emerged from his clinical experience and desire to empower youth facing tremendous adversity due to socio-economic disadvantage and marginalization. As a result, he is passionate about linking research insights with practitioner wisdom to have maximum impact on the lives of youth.

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Gaby Keefer

Director of Product Management

Gaby Keefer has over 15 years of marketing, communications and product management experience. Throughout her career, she has developed and executed brand and product strategies across a wide range of industries, sectors and markets.

In her role as Director of Product Management, Gaby is focused on creating and delivering unique solutions and experiences that meet the needs of our clients and partners, and advance Search Institute’s mission.

Making a difference by empowering young people to thrive in life and career is her long-standing passion. Gaby joined Search Institute from Project Lead The Way (PLTW) where she led all brand and product marketing efforts, empowering PreK-12 students, districts and schools by providing access to transformative learning experiences and creating meaningful impact and connections with corporate and higher education partners. She has also managed product and marketing strategy at IU Health and CulturaLink.

Gaby also brings a multicultural mindset and international experience working with brands like Kellogg’s, Mattel, Unilever, Pfizer, Wyeth, Dow, DuPont, 3M, Lymphoma Coalition and Why Biotech, as an executive at Ketchum Argentina.

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Cheryl Mayberry, MBA

Chief Operating Officer

In her role as Chief Operating Officer, Cheryl ensures that Search Institute achieves its mission through performance excellence, efficient sustainable processes, and sound financial practices. Cheryl oversees the areas of human resources, information technology, facilities management, administration, communications and product sales and fulfillment. Cheryl also provides leadership on key strategic projects.


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Bill McCabe, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

As CFO, Bill oversees finance and accounting. Bill brings extensive business experience in both nonprofit and private organizations. Bill hold a BS Business from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio and a MBA from the University of Minnesota.

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Wuraola Olusanya-Oyebamiji

Staff Accountant

Wuraola joined Search Institute in 2019. She has over 8 years of progressive accounting experience in the Manufacturing, Food and Agricultural industry.

She also has two Bachelor’s degrees (B.S.) in Accounting and a Master’s Degree (M.S.) in Information Technology Management (ITM). Wuraola is passionate about developing positive behaviors and outcomes in children, youth, and adults.

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Melissa Orrey, PHR & SHRM-CP

Human Resource Manager

Melissa joined Search Institute in 2012 as the Human Resource Manager. She is a one-person department managing all aspects of human resources and payroll. She has over 19 years of experience in Human Resources, 10 of those years in the nonprofit sector. Melissa is passionate about children and mission/outreach work.

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Kent Pekel, Ed.D.

President & CEO

Kent Pekel is an educational leader who has worked at the school, district, state, federal, and university levels. Throughout his diverse career, he has sought to bridge research, practice, and policy to help young people from marginalized communities learn and thrive.  Kent is currently President and CEO of Search Institute, an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization that conducts applied research and develops practical resources that enhance the capacity of schools, youth programs, and other organizations to help young people be and become their best selves.  Among other recent recognition, in 2018 Search Institute received the Award for Organizational Excellence in Research and Programming for Youth from the Society for Research on Adolescence.


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Eugene Roehlkepartain, Ph.D.

Senior Scholar

Since joining Search Institute in 1991, Gene has played key roles in shaping Search Institute’s pioneering work on developmental relationships, Developmental Assets, thriving and sparks, spiritual development, and community engagement. He collaborates with other team members to design and lead new initiatives that drive our current focus on developmental relationships. He also synthesizes findings across studies and guides our relationship-based family engagement agenda as well our work with diverse religious communities. Gene is author, co-author, or named editor of more than 200 publications, including 17 books and numerous reports, scientific articles or chapters, and articles for practitioners and the public.


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Justin Roskopf

Senior Research Strategist

Justin joined Search Institute in 2011 after working as a program evaluator at the regional and state levels. As a Senior Research Strategist, Justin provides qualitative and quantitative support for Search Institute’s research and development projects. He also assists schools, programs, and organizations with survey implementation and data utilization.


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Cecilia Saddler

Director of Practice

Cecilia Saddler is a lifelong educator whose twenty year career in Minneapolis Public Schools included service as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, Associate Superintendent, and Deputy Chief of Academics, Leadership, and Learning. Since leaving the Minneapolis schools in 2019, Cecilia has directed student teaching and fieldwork placements at Saint Catherine University. Cecilia’s work as D Chief of Academics, Leadership, and Learning in Minneapolis involved supervision of the departments of teaching and learning, multilingual education, special education services, extended learning, college and career readiness, student support services, early childhood education, community education, and career and technical education. Her responsibilities as Assistant Superintendent included supervising a portfolio of 20 schools from grades K-12 and extensive work with families and organizations in the communities that surround those schools. Cecilia served as principal at South High School, Anwatin Middle School, and Folwell School, which serves students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. As a teacher, Cecilia taught language arts, social studies, and African-American literature at the middle and high school levels. Cecilia holds a B.A. from the University of Iowa in English literature, and an M.A.T. from the University of Iowa in English education. She is currently a doctoral student at Saint Mary’s University studying educational leadership.

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Peter C. Scales, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow

Peter is a developmental psychologist, researcher, author, and speaker who is an internationally recognized authority on the positive development of children and youth. With the late Dr. Peter L. Benson, he became the world’s leading researcher on the role of Developmental Assets in the lives of children and youth. His expertise is in child and adolescent development, and the development of healthy families, schools, and communities where children and youth can thrive. Peter has been with Search Institute since 1996.


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Mary Shrader

Manager, Strategic Partnerships

Mary has been with Search Institute since 2012. She helps our clients and partners navigate and execute application of Search Institutes’ diverse resources and tools. Mary has over 25 years of experience in establishing, maintaining and enhancing client relationships.

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Terri Sullivan, Ed.D.

Senior Research Fellow

Terri is Director of Applied Qualitative Research and Community Mobilization. She leads a team of researchers who work with field partners using qualitative research to inform youth development goals, policy, practice, and quantitative measures in their own organizations and the field at large. She first joined Search in the late 1990s as a researcher and senior consultant with a focus on building statewide youth development initiatives. She rejoined the Search Institute team in 2011, after completing her Doctorate in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


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Amy Syvertsen, Ph.D.

Director of Research

Amy is an applied developmental scientist with expertise in developmental theory, positive youth development, and prevention science. Within these disciplines, her applied and empirical work intersects with topics of youth civic development, social-emotional competence, developmental relationships, and issues of equity. Her work also reflects a commitment to doing research that is both empirically rigorous and practically actionable. Amy’s experiences as an educator, youth worker, and first-generation college student shape the way she approaches research. Her work is built on the premise that all youth should be valued, known, and heard, and that young people are valuable contributors to our community.


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Jacob Timmons

Workshop Coordinator

Jacob joined Search Institute in 2021 and brings with him over ten years of experience in front-line youth work and youth program administration. He has worked with young people in a variety of environments including schools, parks, libraries, local nonprofits, and other community spaces. In addition to education and youth development, Jacob is also passionate about the Arts & Humanities and is a practicing theatre-artist in the Twin Cities.

Jacob received his BFA in Theatre Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and his MFA in Theatre Arts from Dell’Arte International School in Blue Lake, CA.

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Rick Trierweiler

IT & Database Manager

Rick first joined Search Institute as a programmer in 1990. As the IT Manager for Search Institute, Rick handles all of Search Institute’s technology, including network administration, programming, website maintenance and more.

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Kathy Weber

Workshop Manager

Kathy is focused on managing Search Institute professional development workshops. She has over 10 years of experience working with clients to bring research-based insights to life through inspiring workshop experiences. Prior to joining Search Institute in 2020, Kathy had an extensive consulting career helping a variety of organizations uncover research-led strategies and actions to drive tangible outcomes. She is committed to strengthening youth relationships by supporting empowering workshops.

Kathy received an MBA in Marketing from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a BSJ from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

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Chen-Yu Wu

Data Manager

Chen-Yu provides support for all stages of Search Institute’s quantitative research and development projects. His focus is on research design, survey construction, data collection and analysis and data technical assistance.


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