Who We Are


The STEM Learning and Research Center (STELAR) is led by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC).  EDC’s mission is to design, implement, and evaluate programs to improve education, health, and economic opportunity worldwide. Collaborating with public and private partners, we strive for a world where all people are empowered to live healthy, productive lives. EDC conducts 250 projects in 30 countries around the world. EDC is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization. Most fundamentally, this means that no profit accrues to any individual. Our work is supported through grants and contracts from a variety of sources, including U.S. and foreign government agencies, private foundations, nonprofit organizations, universities, and corporations. Goodman Research Group, Inc. (GRG), serves as STELAR's external evaluator, offering insights into how better to do our work and reach our goals.

  • Sarita Pillai, Principal Investigator, is Managing Project Director at EDC. She has extensive expertise in managing national resource centers, providing technical assistance, building and sustaining communities of practice, and developing powerful technology-based resources.  With her colleagues, Pillai has designed successful participatory design approaches to engaging underrepresented youth in STEM learning and future careers by placing them at the center of design and development efforts. She is coauthor of a book on gender and equity in education, More Than Title IX: How Equity in Education Has Shaped the Nation (2009).  She received a BS in computer science from Northeastern University and an MBA from Bentley University.

  • Joyce Malyn-Smith, Senior Advisor, is a national expert on STEM career and workforce development with a deep knowledge of how learners develop skills in formal and informal settings to prepare for productive and rewarding work life.  She has a special interest in the innovation economy and how technology and informal learning can spark creativity and cultivate and sustain interest in STEM careers. She received a BS from Universidad Interamericana in Puerto Rico, an MEd from Boston State Teacher’s College, and an EdD in Bilingual Education Leadership and Career Education from Boston University, where she was a U.S. Department of Education Fellow.

  • Brianna Roche, Project Staff, is a Research Associate at EDC. She has spent the last 8 years working in research and evaluation on a wide range of projects; from large federally funded evaluations to small developmental evaluations at non-profits. She is passionate about data and discovery and has dedicated her career to improving program services through thoughtful analysis. Brianna is excited to bring her knowledge of survey design, data collection, and analysis to the STELAR team.

  • Sarah MacGillivray, Project Staff, is a Project Associate with EDC.  She has seven years of experience in the coordination of projects that support the improvement of educational opportunities and access for disadvantaged youth.  In addition to supporting ITEST projects in her role as a specialist, Sarah manages STELAR’s social media channels and newsletter, coordinates webinars, and produces STELAR data briefs.

  • Melody Hachey, Project Staff, is a Technology Associate at EDC. She has worked at EDC for 13+ years on several grant-funded, tuition-funded, private-funded and for-profit projects.  Melody assists with a wide range of STELAR tasks, including maintaining and  implementing of new features on the STELAR website.

  • Clara McCurdy-Kirlis, Project Staff, has 10+ years of experience in project management in health and education fields at state, tribal, community, and international levels.  She has played lead roles in instructional design for adult learners, e-learning design and delivery, higher education curricula development, and interdisciplinary project coordination.  In addition to supporting the ITEST projects, Clara also designs virtual and face-to-face training materials, creates tools and one-pagers for dissemination, and coordinates and facilitates webinars and trainings.   She is passionate about the role of education in transforming society and bringing about positive change through intentional collaboration and commitment.

  • Kissy Canela, Project Staff, is a Project Coordinator at EDC. Kissy is a communications professional with over five years’ experience coordinating marketing projects and spearheading communications initiatives. In her current role, Kissy helps run STELAR’s social media channels and newsletter. She is passionate about marketing and is excited to bring and expand her knowledge of analytics to magnify the reach of ITEST projects and STELAR as a resource center. She is fluent in both English and Spanish.

  • Goodman Research Group, Inc. (GRG), External Evaluator, specializes in evaluating programs, materials, and services. Their expertise extends to all areas of evaluation and research, including feasibility studies and needs assessments, formative research, process evaluation, outcome evaluation, and summative evaluation, as well as related services such as consultation and workshops.