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. He is the primary author of Search Institute’s family engagement resource, Keep Connected: Strengthening Families by Strengthening Relationships.

Gene represents Search Institute in presentations, workshops, and consultations across the United States and internationally. He has served as an advisor or consultant to a variety of local, national, and international organizations, including the Ad Council; the Afterschool Alliance; MENTOR: The National Partnership for Mentoring; Office of the Mayor, City of Minneapolis; 21st Century Learning Centers, Minnesota Department of Education; Committee on Justice for Children and their Families, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA; and the Child Well-Being Task Force, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.



  • Integrating youth, family, and community development
  • Bridging research and practice
  • Family strengths and family engagement
  • Youth development in religious communities
  • Service-learning and youth philanthropy
  • Youth development in a global context



  • Ph.D. in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction (Family, Youth, and Community specialization), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • B.A., Journalism and Religion, Baylor University, Waco, Texas


Selected Publications

Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Blyth, D. A. (2020). Developmental assets. In S. Hupp & J. D. Jewell (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development: Volume 7: History, Theory, & Culture in Adolescence. New York, NY: Wiley.

Pekel, K., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Syvertsen, A. K., Scales, P. C., Sullivan, T. K., & Sethi, J. (2018). Finding the fluoride: Examining how and why developmental relationships are the active ingredient in interventions that work. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88(5), 493-502. doi:10.1037/ort0000333

Scales, P. C., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2018). The contribution of nonfamily adults to adolescent well-being: A global research and policy perspective. In J. E. Lansford & P. Banati (Eds.), Handbook of Adolescent Development Research and Its Impact on Global Policy (pp. 150-170). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2017; updated 2020). Keep connected: Strengthening families by strengthening relationships. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.

Roehlkepartain, E. C., Pekel, K., Syvertsen, A. K., Sethi, J., Sullivan, T. K., & Scales, P. C. (2017). Relationships first: Creating connections that help young people thrive. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.34486.09282

Scales, P. C., Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Shramko, M. (2017). Aligning youth development theory, measurement, and practice across cultures and contexts: Lessons from use of the Developmental Assets ProfileChild Indicators Research, 10(4), 1145-1178. doi:10.1007/s12187-016-9395-x.

Kehrwald, L., Roberto, J., Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Roehlkepartain, J. L. (Eds.) (2016). Families at the center of faith formation. Naugatuck, CT: Lifelong Faith Associates.

Spier, E. T., Britto, P.R., Pigott T., Roehlkepartain, E. C., McCarthy, M, Kidron Y, Song, M., Scales, P. C., Wagner. D., Lane, J., Glover, J. (2016). Parental, community, and familial support interventions to improve children’s literacy in developing countries: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews 2016:4. doi:10.4073/csr.2016.4

Pekel, K., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Syvertsen, A. K., & Scales, P. C. (2015). Don’t forget the families: The missing piece in America’s effort to help all children succeed. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.

Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2014). Children, religion, and spiritual development: Reframing a research agenda. In G. B. Melton, A. Ben-Arieh, J. Cashmore, G. S. Goodman, & N. K. Worley (Eds.). The SAGE handbook of child research (pp. 81-99). London: Sage.

Roehlkepartain, E. C. (2012). Peter L. Benson: Spinning youth development toward hope and thriving. Applied Developmental Science, 16(1), 31-35. doi: 10.1080/10888691.2012.642775.

Syvertsen, A. K., Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Scales, P. C. (2012). The American family assets study. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.

Roehlkepartain, E. C., Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C. (2011). Spiritual identity: Contextual perspectives. In S. J. Schwartz, K. Luyckx, & V. L. Vignoles (Eds.). The handbook of identity theory and research: Vol. 2—Domains and categories (pp. 545- 562). New York, NY: Springer.

Roehlkepartain, E. C., Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., Kimball, L., & King, P. E. (2008). With their own voices: A global exploration of how today’s young people experience and think about spiritual development. Minneapolis: Search Institute.

Roehlkepartain, E. C., King, P. E., Wagener, L. M., & Benson, P. L. (Eds.) (2006). The handbook of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Yust, K.-M., Johnson, A. N., Sasso, S. E., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (Eds.) (2006). Nurturing child and adolescent spirituality: Perspectives from the world’s religious traditions. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Mannes, M., Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Benson, P. L. (2005). Unleashing the power of community to strengthen the well being of children, youth, and families: An asset-building approach. Child Welfare, 84 (2), 233-250.

Benson, P. L., Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Rude, S. P. (2003). Spiritual development in childhood and adolescence: Toward a field of inquiry. Applied Developmental Science, 7 (3), pp. 204-212.


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