Welcome to the Dawn Chorus Group
Where Ideas and Communities Thrive
At the Dawn Chorus Group, we’re not just a team; we’re visionaries. Founded in 2019, our dream is to cultivate a world where good ideas don’t just exist, they flourish in vibrant communities. Our diverse team, including psychologists, sociologists, technologists, geographers, and more, is united by a shared passion for equity and justice. We’re driven by the desire to make a tangible impact in social, environmental, and well-being sectors.
What Sets Us Apart?
- A Melting Pot of Expertise: Our multi-disciplinary team is our strength. We bring together a rich tapestry of knowledge to tackle challenges from various angles, ensuring comprehensive and effective solutions.
- Empowerment Through Data: We believe in the power of data to transform. By empowering individuals and organizations to effectively manage and understand their data, we equip them with the means to make insightful, data-driven decisions.
- Curiosity at Our Core: Our team thrives on curiosity. We delve deep, exploring hidden insights and asking critical questions to fully grasp our clients’ unique needs and challenges.
- Collaboration is Key: We’re all about cool collaborations. By forging strong partnerships, we create innovative and impactful solutions, ensuring our clients’ success.
- Humanizing Data: We go beyond numbers. Our approach to data humanizes it, bringing out the stories and meanings behind statistics to make them relatable and actionable.
Join us in our journey to build stronger communities, foster innovative ideas, and create a brighter, more equitable future for everyone.
Research and Evaluation Team
Meghan Blevins, MA Research Associate
Meghan Blevins, MA
Meghan has over 15 years experience in healthy youth development, and community enhancement, including juvenile justice, prevention science, coalition building and maintenance, needs assessments, and data-driven decision-making for improved community outcomes. She started her journey of community enhancement as a Juvenile Justice programming supervisor at the Olivet Boys & Girls Club and with Berks County Juvenile Probation in Reading, PA, as a programmatic (and fun!) alternative for adjudicated youth who may otherwise be heading to placement. Seeing the changes in youth during the duration of programs, but wondering if there was data to validate the youth improvements led her to work as a Systems Change Specialist at Penn State University’s Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center’s EPISCenter. In this role, she helps guide communities through the Communities That Care (CTC) process as a certified CTC coach, and support local and state prevention collaboration.
She has had the honor of presenting a numerous Pennsylvania- based conferences, as well as the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development conference, CADCA’s 28th National Leadership Forum, developed and presented “Organizational Elements for Effective Coalitions” Enhanced Prevention Learning Series through the Prevention Enhancement Technology Center (PTTC) funded through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Meghan serves/served on the board for the PA Youth Survey, PA Coalition on Domestic Violence, Reading Beautification, Inc., and The Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health, as well as a guest lecturer and field instructor for multiple colleges and universities.
Looking to further improve community health, Meghan earned her Master of Arts degree in Community Psychology and Social Change from Penn State University and likes to dance, all activities on the water, and time at the beach.
Mel Cronin Chief of Staff
Mel Cronin has extensive experience working with nonprofits and has served in a variety of roles specializing in project and program management. Mel brings her experience to the Dawn Chorus Group as the Project Manager. In this role, Mel will help facilitate the successes of the partnerships with the amazing organizations DCG is working with.
Mel received her BA in Sociology and Graduate Certificate in International NGO Management from James Madison University. She received the 40 Under 40 Award recognizing her work building a new Home Delivery program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting many community members’ ability to access food.
In her free time, Mel enjoys watching birds, sitting around campfires, puzzling, and exploring new places.
Allison Herb Research Assistant
Allison Herb is a research assistant who started with The Dawn Chorus Group as a research and evaluation intern in February of 2021. She has a passion for working on projects that aim to build equitable communities, specifically working with those populations who have been historically marginalized. Allison received her BS in psychology with a minor is women and gender studies from Alvernia University and graduated with magna cum laude honors. Allison’s interest in research sparked when she was awarded a student undergraduate research fellowship grant from Alvernia University. This grant provided her the opportunity to design and study a research project that investigated the effects that music, sound, and video has on mood. In addition, that experience strengthened her desire to continue to learn and grow in the field of research science. Allison is currently pursuing her MS degree in applied psychology at Shippensburg University.
Jon Scaccia, PhD Principal and Scientific Advisor
Jon Scaccia, PhD
Book a meeting with Jon by clicking on this link!
Dr. Jonathan Scaccia, a community psychologist and evaluator with over two decades of experience, stands at the forefront of transforming public health practices. His journey began with a deep-seated commitment to substance abuse counseling in North Philadelphia. Here, he realized the profound impact of community-based treatment, propelling him toward advanced studies at the University of South Carolina. Earning a Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology in 2014, his dissertation explored the intricate dynamics of organizational readiness in public health systems. His hands-on experience with policy development in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health complemented this academic pursuit, enhancing his expertise in public health system finance and quality.
Before his doctoral studies, Dr. Scaccia honed his skills in counseling psychology and human relations at Villanova University, culminating in a Master’s degree in 2008, where he was deeply involved in child and family behavioral health. This foundation was built upon a solid undergraduate background in psychology from the same university, marked by cum laude honors and a minor in Theology.
Dr. Scaccia’s current role as the Principal of The Dawn Chorus Group, since October 2018, showcases his remarkable ability to spearhead innovative public health initiatives. His work includes coordinating extensive vaccine equity programs and developing pioneering evaluation and research projects that cater to underserved communities. A notable achievement is his role as the Principal Investigator for two projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, reflecting his commitment to health equity and innovation.
In addition to The Dawn Chorus Group, Dr. Scaccia’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish Layr Research, where he developed an AI-based tool to synthesize scientific abstracts, further demonstrating his expertise in merging technology with public health. This venture birthed the website “This Week In Public Health,” a testament to his dedication to making scientific information accessible and engaging.
Dr. Scaccia’s association with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as a faculty member since 2015, his contributions to the Finger Lakes Social Policy and Health Center since 2017, and his foundational work at The Wandersman Center, highlight his multifaceted role as an evaluator, researcher, and consultant. These roles have enabled him to influence a wide range of public health initiatives, from enhancing aging plans in hospitals to developing readiness measures for school safety.
His past experiences, including a significant role as a Senior Public Health Analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as an instructor at the University of South Carolina, have been instrumental in shaping his comprehensive understanding of public health challenges and solutions.
Throughout his career, Dr. Scaccia has consistently focused on bridging the gap between scientific research and practical implementation in community health settings. His commitment to this cause is evident in his leadership roles, including serving as Chair of the Board for Conexio Care and Coras Wellness, chair of the Global Implementation Society‘s 2024 International Conference, and his innovative approaches to integrating technology and community psychology,
Dr. Jonathan Scaccia is a visionary leader whose extensive background in community psychology, combined with his innovative approach to public health, makes him an invaluable asset in the field. His dedication to advancing community-wide health and wellness, through both his academic and professional endeavors, underscores his commitment to improving public health practices globally.
Book a meeting with Jon by clicking on this link!
The Layr team is passionately dedicated to enhancing the accessibility of high-quality scientific information for a diverse audience, including researchers, educators, and the broader public. At the heart of our mission is the conviction that science is not just an academic pursuit but a public good, essential for the advancement and well-being of society. We endeavor to bridge the gap between complex scientific knowledge and its practical application and understanding by the general populace.
Our approach is multifaceted. We focus on distilling and simplifying complex scientific concepts and data into more digestible formats, making them more approachable and understandable to non-experts. This process involves leveraging cutting-edge technology and innovative communication strategies to tailor the dissemination of scientific findings to various audiences’ needs.
Furthermore, we recognize the importance of tailoring our messaging to resonate with different groups, from academic circles to grassroots communities. Our team invests in understanding these diverse groups’ unique informational needs and preferences, ensuring that our efforts in making science accessible are as inclusive and effective as possible.
In addition to our focus on content, we strongly emphasize the mediums and channels through which scientific information is shared. We explore and utilize a range of platforms – from digital media to community outreach programs – to ensure that the fruits of scientific research reach and benefit a broad spectrum of society.
The Layr are more than just communicators of science; we are advocates for democratizing scientific knowledge. We strive to empower individuals and institutions with the information they need to make informed decisions, drive innovation, and foster a more scientifically literate and engaged society. Our commitment to making science a public good is at the core of all our endeavors, driving us to continuously innovate and improve how we share and message the wonders and utility of science.
Kathie Jushchyshyn Science Communicator
Kathie Jushchyshyn is an experienced communications professional skilled in journalism, publishing, corporate communications, digital marketing, and instructional development. Her career has included roles in the publishing, energy, and education sectors.
She supports leadership development and employment opportunities for adults and transition-aged youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities as an at-large director with Integrate for Good. In addition, she has advocated for education that meets the diverse needs of gifted and twice-exceptional learners.
She helps Dawn Chorus with our instructional design and training development.
Subject Matter Experts
Community-based learning is a dynamic and multifaceted field, encompassing various approaches and methodologies. Recognizing the complexity and diversity of this domain, we at Layr understand that our extensive knowledge is not all-encompassing. Community engagement and education’s ever-evolving nature necessitates continuous learning and adaptation.
In this journey, we are fortunate to have a robust network of colleagues and friends, each bringing their unique expertise and experiences to the table. This deep bench of professionals is not just a resource; it’s a vibrant community of thought leaders, innovators, and practitioners who enrich our understanding and capabilities. They offer invaluable insights into specialized challenges, emerging methods, and complex problems in community-based learning.
Our approach to collaboration is holistic and inclusive. We engage with experts from various disciplines – social sciences, technology, public health, and educational design. This interdisciplinary collaboration allows us to develop and refine our methodologies, ensuring they are effective, culturally sensitive, contextually relevant, and sustainable.
Moreover, this network of collaborators is critical in helping us navigate the unique nuances of different communities. They bring local perspectives, specialized knowledge about particular societal challenges, and innovative problem-solving techniques essential for impactful community-based learning.
We believe that our network’s collective wisdom and collaborative effort are crucial in designing and implementing effective community education and engagement strategies. We continuously seek to expand and deepen these connections, fostering a culture of shared learning and mutual support. This collaborative ethos enhances our capacity to address complex community needs and embodies our commitment to building a more informed, engaged, and empowered society.
Kalie Mayberry, MPA
Kalie Mayberry, MPA
Kalie Mayberry is a social impact researcher and educator, working at the intersection of public and private for the last decade. She is currently the Senior Research Coordinator for the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
Her research explores activism practices of workers and policies of corporations, specifically through digital and online communities. She has also held positions as a research fellow at Columbia Business School and Wharton School of Business.
Prior to working in academic research, she spent a decade working in inclusive community engagement, project management, and advocacy communications for academic and nonprofit organizations, including Temple University, Urban Affairs Coalition, and The Food Trust. Originally hailing from California, Kalie holds a double Bachelors of Arts from the University of California Santa Barbara in Communications and Sociology, as well as a minor in Professional Writing. She served for two years as an AmeriCorps public servant before enrolling in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, where she received a Masters in Public Administration with a focus in nonprofit management and economic development.
She received Fel’s 2017 Student Public Service Award for her commitment to public service during her degree work. Currently, she serves as a mentor for high school students bridging to college, and is an advocate for civic engagement and hunger alleviation. Learn more about her work at kaliewertz.com or contact her at email@example.com
Blogs by Kalie
Elena Tamanas Ragusa, PsyD
Elena Tamanas Ragusa, PsyD
Dr. Elena Tamanas Ragusa, President and Founder of Drive Evaluation Studio, is an organizational and community psychologist. Elena built Drive Evaluation Studio out of a desire to partner with communities to strengthen the systems in which they live, work, learn, and play — and out of a need to make research and evaluation accessible to people doing important work in these spaces. The Studio works with nonprofits, foundations, and universities to use data to inform their work, determine and build on what is working in their practices, and tell the story about their impact in their community.
Elena has extensive experience in quantitative and qualitative research methods, program assessment, systems evaluation, organizational strategy, and evaluation coaching. As a consultant, she serves as a capacity builder, evaluator, critical thought partner, and coach. Elena stays connected to students and theory in the classroom, serving as adjunct faculty whose teaching includes community psychology, group dynamics, industrial/organizational psychology, social psychology, and program evaluation methods at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Before building out the Studio, Elena was the senior executive director of enrollment strategy and analytics for Rutgers University–New Brunswick, where her work focused on using data to design and execute collaborative strategies to enroll, retain, and graduate a diverse and accomplished student body at the university. Prior to that, Elena designed, managed, and directed the research and evaluation of college access programs for Rutgers University’s pre-college program portfolio. And before her 10 years at Rutgers, she served as a project manager at OMG Center for Collaborative Learning (now Equal Measure) – a national research and evaluation consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA. She has worked in Human Assets at Teach for America’s national headquarters and consulted to New Jersey public school districts on issues of organizational effectiveness and on the development of college preparatory research methods courses for high school students.
Elena holds B.A.s in psychology and sociology from Rutgers University, and she earned an M.A. and doctorate of psychology in organizational psychology – with a focus on communities – from Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology.
Jason Turi, RN, MPH
Jason Turi, RN, MPH
Jason Turi, RN, MPH
Director of Field Building and Resources for the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs, an initiative of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.
Jason Turi is a registered nurse and public health practitioner specializing in integrated healthcare and social service delivery for complex, vulnerable, and marginalized populations. Currently, he serves as Director of Field Building and Resources at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers and the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs in Camden, NJ where he plans, organizes, and leads technical assistance, model co-design, multisector coalitions, evaluations, and curriculum development focused on advancing the field of complex care and addressing inequities in health outcomes.
He has bachelor’s degrees in Nursing from William Paterson University and English Literature from Union College and received a master’s degree in Public Health, with an international health concentration, from the Boston University School of Public Health. Currently, he is a doctoral student in Public Health at the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health in the Global Health Leadership Program.
Prior to his current role he served as Vice President of Population Health and Clinical Integration for Centerstone, the nation’s largest community-based behavioral healthcare organization. He provided leadership and expertise for population health management initiatives, complex care innovation, integrated primary, behavioral health, and addiction services, as well as data analytics, and value-based care readiness. Previous to Centerstone, Jason served at New York City Health + Hospitals, the largest municipal health system in the nation, as Associate Executive Director of the Health Home program, where he oversaw the administration of both a city-wide health home care management agency and a New York State designated health home network engaging over 20,000 individuals – additionally, he worked at the health system’s Accountable Care Organization as Senior Director for Innovation Strategies where he focused on building clinical and operational capacity to effectively engage and manage high-need, vulnerable populations throughout New York City in collaboration public agencies and non-profit partners.
Earlier in his career, he was Associate Clinical Director at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers where he led strategy, design, implementation, and evaluation of the Coalition’s nationally recognized hospital and community-based multidisciplinary care management teams in collaboration with multiple regional health systems, multisector service providers, and community-based organizations. Prior to that, he worked at Pathways To Housing NYC as a Registered Nurse Care Manager on the Assertive Community Mental Health Treatment and Housing First team in Central Brooklyn, a model harm reduction-based initiative.
He currently serves as an advisory panel member for Indiana University’s Addiction Grand Challenge Research Initiative and has been actively involved in several of the initiative’s research projects. His doctoral research focuses on evaluating the mechanisms of multisector community networks to impact inequities in health and social outcomes. He is collaborating with students and faculty at Indiana University to advance the Doctor of Public Health program to better address racism, bias, discrimination, and xenophobia as a global public health leadership competency and is part of joint student-faculty organizing efforts to institutionalize a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee at Indiana University’s Fairbanks School of Public Health. Additionally, he is an active member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Scott, PhD
Victoria Scott, PhD
Dr. Victoria Scott earned her Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology and Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the University of South Carolina. Focused on systems-level capacity building and organizational development, her research involves interdisciplinary approaches to promote individual and collective wellness. Dr. Scott works primarily with healthcare systems and community-based organizations. She is particularly interested in a) supporting breastfeeding through community, healthcare system, and workplace interventions; b) building organizational readiness in non-profit and for-profit organizations; c) the science and art of implementation science and quality improvement.
In 2015, Dr. Scott received the Society for Community Research and Action Early Career Award in honor of her commitment to developing and promoting the field of community psychology. She also received the Don Klein Publication Award to Advance Community Psychology Practice for her co-edited book: Community Psychology: Foundations for Practice, which aims to further the competencies of professionals who work in community settings.
David Zimmerman Web Magician
Rebecca Sax, MPH
Rebecca Sax, MPH
Matt Scaccia Customer Relations Guru
Matt Scaccia has 15 years of expertise in customer experience and customer relations. He helps Dawn Chorus maintain its wide network of relationships by providing above industry standard methods of engaging new customers and retaining existing customers.
Matt prior background was in soccer merchandizing, and he is ready for the 2026 World Cup in Philly.
Christina Richter, MA
Christina Richter, MA
The nursing cap was first worn in the 1800s by Florence Nightingale. It quickly became the symbol around the world of” providing help and service to those in need.”
Just as Nightingale became know as the “The Lady with the Lamp,” Christina is a dedicated, non-profit thought leader with over 28 years experience. She offers a dedicated light of service, guidance, and solutions to all her clients. Armed with her ability to see the big picture, build relationships, her skills build long-term solutions that build healthy results. She is a coach and builds teams that can lead to a better donor experience.
MANTRAS: Service-above-self. Daring greatly. The rich tapestry of diversity weaves a beautiful fabric.
Community advocate and volunteer.
Marathon runner with a purpose to change lives one step at a time. Lover of the beach, nature, biking and kayaking. Always has a stack of books. Still listens to record albums. Trying her hand at learning to play the piano—“take each day with gratitude to learn something new.”
Christina is formerly the Chief Development Officer of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League. She has worked in higher education at Temple University, and as a Senior Major gift officer in a major healthcare system—Virtua Healthcare in Southern NJ. She has also served as the Chief Development Officer of the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. She has served as interim Chief Development Officer at clients such as the Kimmel Center Performance Arts, Bancroft, and assisted with major gifts at the Special Olympics of PA.
She has a strong knowledge of the healthcare sector and its changing landscape. She has implemented and led capital campaigns, major gift strategies, grants, special events, annual fund. She is very relationship focused in her approaches and is interested in building a culture of philanthropy that is donor-centric. She sees the big picture for organizations and is a connector and makes things happen to collaborate.
Christina has a B.A. from Clarion University in Communications, and a M.A. from Point Park University in Marketing Communications.
She also serves on the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Services of Delaware and is a volunteer at the Mary Campbell Center, a residential center for people with disabilities. She also serves on the Alumni Board of Point Park University.
Aida Guhlincozzi, PhD Geographer
Aida Guhlincozzi, PhD
I study healthcare accessibility for Spanish-speaking and non-Spanish-speaking Latinas in the Chicago suburbs. My work incorporates community geography, Latinx geographies, feminist geographies, and qualitative GIS theory and methodologies. I also study justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Geosciences, especially around the recruitment and retention of students of color, and dismantling structures of oppression and white supremacy in academia.
Mary Mitsdarffer, PhD
Mary Mitsdarffer, PhD
Mary’s research is focused on ethno-racial health disparities, U.S. policy, and structural racism. She is trained as an interdisciplinary researcher with a research agenda centered on ethnic and racial health disparities driven by U.S. and institutional policy. In her work, she employs qualitative, quantitative, and archival methods, specifically focusing on demographic and community-based participatory research. As an investigator and research assistant, she has worked on several universities and privately funded grants, focusing on community health needs for marginalized and minoritized persons.
Through her dissertation work and commitment to acquiring advanced statistical skills, she has laid the groundwork for understanding the impacts of interior immigration enforcement policy on Latinx maternal and child health, by developing a policy dataset with interior immigration enforcement policies at a county level over the last 20 years, acquiring restricted level natality data from the National Center for Health Statistics and by establishing strong methodological skills working with large datasets and panel data.
Brittany Cook, PhD
Brittany Cook, PhD
Brittany S. Cook, PhD, a senior managing partner of the Wandersman Center, has extensive experience in evaluation, project management and coordination, qualitative methodology, and implementation support, particularly in educational, youth serving, and community health organizations. As one of the founding authors of the R=MC2 readiness model, her research focuses on differences in organizational readiness, including variations by individuals’ roles and levels of engagement in an innovation, as well as change management for readiness strategies.
Brittany was involved in the formative evaluation work that received the American Evaluation Association’s 2017 Evaluation of the Year Award. She is also a faculty member with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and earned her degree from the University of South Carolina’s clinical-community psychology program.
Toni Lewis, MPH
Toni Lewis, MPH
Toni Lewis, MPH, HO, PCC, is an executive leadership coach that empowers people working collectively across diverse sectors to achieve long-term equitable opportunities to be healthy. Achieving equity requires removing obstacles to health, such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care. Most recently, she coached hundreds of RWJF grantees and their partners to successfully advance health initiatives at the community level. Her work as a Community Health Strategist represented an investment of 18 million dollars from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations and a partnership between the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, New Jersey Health Initiatives, and the National Network of Public Health Institutes. Her interest in working with communities began when she worked as a Project Director, achieving the first countywide community participatory health assessment and plan. After that, she worked in development at various non-profit organizations, primarily in the quality of health care, education, and maternal and child health. An entrepreneur at heart, Toni brings a unique fiscal and administrative view to public health policy work from earlier work experience as a business owner. During the 2020 Pandemic, Toni was deployed as a health officer and environmental health specialist assisting local public health with vaccine efforts and jurisdictional recovery. Toni is a Professional Certified Coach from the distinguished International Coaching Federation. Toni received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Ramapo College and a Master of Public Health, Health Policy and Administration from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
David Filiberto, PhD
David Filiberto, PhD
David Filiberto is the executive director of the Finger Lakes Law & Social Policy Center, Inc, a non-profit program evaluation consultancy specializing in investigating and managing all aspects of social policy evaluation efforts, while providing non-profit fiscal management services for independent evaluators leading their own projects.