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LCI Team & Biographies

Crystal Lee

PI, Project Director

Crystal Chen Lee (Ed.D.) is an associate professor of English language arts and literacy in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Her research lies at the nexus of literacy, teacher education, community engagement and marginalized youth. She is the founding director and PI of the Literacy and Community Initiative (LCI), a collaboration among the College of Education, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and youth-serving community organizations. Dr. Lee also has two appointments as a faculty fellow of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and an NC State Community Engaged Fellow.

Her work has been featured nationally and internationally, and she has published in books and journal articles such as Urban Education, Teachers College Record, Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Literacy Research, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, English Journal, Teaching and Teacher Education and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. Her current work has been supported by grants from the National Council of Teachers of English, Engaged Scholarship Consortium and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Lee began her teaching experience as a high school English teacher in New Jersey and a literacy instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University and Montclair State University. She received her Ed.D. in curriculum and teaching from Columbia University.

Jose Picart

Co-PI, Co-Project Director

Dr. Jose Picart serves as a senior faculty fellow at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University.  He also serves as a professor of counselor education in the College of Education and as the executive director of the Wake Promise. The Wake Promise is a cross-sector community collaborative in Wake County with the mission to help increase the number of under-resourced youth in Wake County who graduate from high school and earn a postsecondary credential. Dr. Jose Picart completed his undergraduate degree at West Point, the United States Military Academy, where he majored in engineering and humanities.  Following his graduation from West Point, Dr. Picart served his country as a commissioned military officer for 28 years, rising through various command and staff positions to the rank of colonel. He earned his master of science and doctoral degrees in experimental cognitive psychology from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. In addition to his distinguished service in the field Army, Dr. Picart served for over 16 years on the faculty in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point, culminating with his appointment as the director of psychology studies. In 1994, Dr. Picart was the recipient of a prestigious American Council on Education (ACE) fellowship. At NC State University, Dr. Picart has served in various leadership positions including the vice provost for academic programs and services, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, interim dean of the College of Education, and special assistant to the provost for university outreach and engagement. In 2015, Dr. Picart was recognized as a professor emeritus and distinguished faculty alumnus in a ceremony at West Point. His current research and writings are focused on intrinsic motivation, self-determination theory, and leadership for campus diversity.

Heysha Carrillo

Graduate Research Assistant

Heysha Carrillo is a doctoral student in the educational equity program at NC State. She is a Puerto Rican bilingual educator who has worked in North Carolina for eight years, teaching in schools and facilitating programs in community-based organizations. She received her M.Ed. in early childhood intervention and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her B.A. in elementary education with a concentration in teaching English to Spanish speakers and a minor in Italian and French from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras. As a doctoral student, her research focuses on community-based organizations, affinity groups and extracurricular programs as spaces for belonging, empowerment and activism.

Katie B. Peachey

Graduate Research Assistant

Katie Peachey is a first-year doctoral student in the Literacy and English Language Arts PhD program at NC State University. Before starting graduate school, she taught 8th grade and 12th grade English in a small public school in Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and English from Bloomsburg University. She also obtained her ESL certification and minored in Spanish during her undergraduate studies. While teaching, Katie also obtained her Master of Education in Literacy from Wilkes University. Katie’s research interests include: English Language Learners in the ELA classroom, writing and student voice, student wellness/SEL, and linguistic diversity.

Haven Hall

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Haven is a senior at NC State University studying secondary English education. She is in the English Honors Program as well as being a University Ambassador. In addition to these NC State programs, she has volunteered at Neighbor to Neighbor, a community center in downtown Raleigh that is focused on educational equity, for the past three years. Her time there has made her a firm believer in the importance of community spaces and student mentorship as a way to combat the effects of poverty.

Hannah Savariyar

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Hannah Savariyar

Hannah Savariyar is an undergraduate junior at NC State University in the Elementary Education program with a special education add-on. Originally from Cary, NC, Hannah aspires to be an elementary school teacher who promotes inclusion within her classroom and allows all her students to share their unique life experiences with their peers and the world. Hannah currently works as an undergraduate research assistant for the Literacy and Community Initiative.