Search Institute Team
Learn more about the roles each of our staff members has at Search Institute.
Search Institute Team
Listed in Alphabetical Order
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.
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
Ashley Boat, Ph.D.
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.
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.
Samantha Holquist, PhD
Samantha (or Sammy) is an applied research scientist. Her work focuses on how student voice and youth-adult partnership practices support youth learning and wellbeing. Her work intersects with topics of educational equity, culturally responsive leadership and teaching, and developmental relationships. Her work is rooted in the belief that youth can and should be partners in decisions that impact their learning and development.
Samantha’s experiences as a youth worker, educator, and nonprofit leader shape the ways she approaches research. She uses mixed methods approaches and partners with youth to conduct her research. Her research is empirically rigorous and practically actionable by youth and adults.
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.
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.
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.LEARN MORE
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.
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. She has over 22 years of experience in Human Resources, 14 of those years in the nonprofit sector. Melissa is passionate about children and mission/outreach work.
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.LEARN MORE
Nanyamka Redmond, PhD
Nanyamka Redmond is an applied developmental scientist with years of experience working with adolescents as a high school teacher, track coach, therapist and mentor. Her research focus is on the impact of social support networks on adolescent wellbeing and sports performance.
As a former athlete and coach, she has unique access to the psychological impact of the relationships formed in sports on youth development, especially BIPOC youth. She is deeply committed to social justice for marginalized communities through empowerment and robust research.
Nanyamka is dedicated to making psychological research relatable and understandable on as well as bridging the gap between psychological science and practical applications for families and youth workers. Her personal mission is to support thriving in everyone by helping people recognize the importance of a supportive community.
Eugene Roehlkepartain, Ph.D.
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.LEARN MORE
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 leadership for Search Institute’s survey services and data-focused applied partnerships. He also supports schools, programs, and other youth-serving organizations with their research integration and utilization efforts.LEARN MORE
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.LEARN MORE
Peter C. Scales, Ph.D.
Peter C. Scales, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist, researcher, author, and speaker who is an internationally recognized authority on the positive development of children and youth, who has been with Search Institute since 1995. 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 child and adolescent development, and the development of healthy families, schools, and communities where all children and youth can equitably thrive. A U.S. Professional Tennis Association-certified tennis teaching pro, he works directly with young people as a high school tennis coach for boys and girls, and a mental strength consultant for men’s and women’s college tennis teams. He has a special focus on the preparation of youth sports coaches to promote positive youth development through sports.LEARN MORE
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.
Terri Sullivan, Ed.D.
Senior Research Fellow
As a Senior Research Fellow, Sullivan provides senior-level scholarship for major research initiatives and leads collaborative efforts to integrate learning from research with field- and practice-building partnerships, tools and other resources. She rejoined the Search Institute team in 2011, after completing her Doctorate in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She first joined Search in the late 1990s as a researcher and senior consultant with a focus on building statewide youth development initiatives..LEARN MORE
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.LEARN MORE
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.
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.
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
Chen-Yu provides research and data management support to the Research & Practice team. His primary responsibilities include developing and refining organizational data management processes, and monitoring projects to ensure compliance with these processes as well as IRB-mandated reporting and oversight requirements; designing and constructing surveys; performing quantitative data analysis; and supporting Search Institute partners and collaborators – as well as external researchers – with technical support on running data collection efforts in the field, as well as on conducting secondary quantitative data analysis.LEARN MORE