AC Groups High Achieving Schools Survey Support AC

Who We Are

Suniya

Suniya S. Luthar

Founder and Executive Director
Suniya leads AC Groups in-person and through video conferencing, and provides training and supervision for AC Group facilitators in different locations. Additionally, she oversees collaborations with schools and personally presents data and findings from HAS surveys to all partnering schools.

×

Suniya Luthar

Founding Director of Authentic Connections, Dr. Suniya S. Luthar is Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and Professor Emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Luthar's research involves vulnerability and resilience among various populations including youth in poverty, children in families affected by mental illness, and teens in upper-middle class families. Her recent research has been focused on motherhood, exploring factors that best help mothers negotiate the challenges of motherhood. Luthar is the mother of two adult children. She lives in Tempe, AZ.
Nina

Nina Kumar

Vice President, Operations
Nina leads strategy, outreach, and partnerships for HAS surveys and interventions in schools, as well as AC Groups for organizations and individuals. She also manages our technology and created this website :).

×

Nina Kumar

Nina Kumar is committed to fostering the welfare of girls and women. She has volunteered for mentorship programs benefiting middle school, high school, and college students, and at "My Sisters’ Place", a non-profit organization that works to end violence in intimate relationships and to reduce ill effects of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Nina graduated from Williams College with a BA in Computer Science and Psychology, and a concentration with Honors in Cognitive Science.
Nikki

Nicole Zillmer

Director of Research
Nicole oversees and manages all our research, from administering assessments to deriving recommendations for future work. This includes tracking assessments for AC Groups and HAS surveys, analyses of all data, and preparation of reports based on the findings.

×

Nicole Zillmer

Nicole Zillmer is a researcher committed to studying, first, how children develop insight into their own and others’ mental processes and, second, the individual and interpersonal psychological benefits of that insight. Prior to joining Authentic Connections, Nicole served as a Visiting Scholar at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and as a graduate research assistant at Columbia University’s Education For Thinking Institute. She completed her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her M.A. in Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University, and her PhD in Human Development at Teachers College, Columbia University. Nicole is the founder of SibLink, Arizona’s chapter of the Sibling Leadership Network, which connects siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Alex

Alexandra Ingram

AC Groups Facilitator and Researcher
Alex facilitates AC Groups and supports research into high achieving schools. She is currently a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Arizona State University (ASU).
×

Alexandra Ingram

Alex Ingram, M.A., is currently a sixth year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Arizona State University (ASU) and a facilitator of Authentic Connections Groups for working (and military-involved) mothers in the ASU community. As a clinician, Alex has diverse experience conducting assessments and providing psychotherapy with individuals across the lifespan and often utilizes interpersonal, family-systems, and cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches to treatment. She has specialized experience working with children aged 0-5 and their caregivers with extensive trauma histories and system involvement (e.g., children in foster care, mothers in residential substance abuse treatment with significant comorbidities, etc.).
Alex’s research interests include identifying risk factors for maladjustment and developing interventions to promote resilience in children who face difficult family transitions and early adversity across development. Along with Dr. Suniya Luthar, she is currently studying rates of Antisocial Personality Disorder among affluent young adults as well as factors associated with the diagnosis. Alex also maintains an active role in influencing government policy by contributing to translational research on the use of science and evidence-based practices in legislation and engaging in local advocacy efforts on behalf of vulnerable children and families.
Ashley

Ashley Ebbert

Senior Analyst and Researcher
Ashley analyzes data for the HAS Surveys and helps prepare findings for school stakeholders and communities. She is currently a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Arizona State University (ASU).
×

Ashley Ebbert

Ashley Ebbert, MA, is a 3rd-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at ASU and a current Resident Therapist at the Clinical Psychology Center, working predominantly with adolescents struggling with anxiety and depression, but also with adults with a wide range mental health issues. Ashley's clinical work takes a person-centered and tailored approach, incorporating a variety of interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), and Authentic Connections Groups (AC Groups).
Ashley has worked and trained with Dr. Suniya Luthar on IPT and AC Groups, focusing on fostering resilience and building authentic and supportive relationships. She has also worked with Dr. Luthar on studies examining the influence of parent attachment on internalizing symptoms of anxiety and depression among adolescents. Ashley's clinical and research experiences have helped her establish a focus on tracking the course of internalizing disorders across major developmental transitions from adolescence through adulthood and how this course may be differentiated by gender.
Renee

Renee Benoit

Communications Specialist and Researcher
Renee supports research efforts for the HAS Surveys and AC Groups. She also assists with our digital outreach efforts and monthly newsletters. She is currently a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology at Arizona State University (ASU).
×

Renee Benoit

Renee is a researcher interested in risk and resilience and how the various contexts in which individuals exist can impact them on both a small and large scale. Renee graduated from the University of Vermont with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Special Education and is currently a first-year PhD candidate in the Developmental Psychology program at Arizona State University.
Suniya

Suniya S. Luthar

Founder and Executive Director
Suniya leads AC Groups in-person and through video conferencing, and provides training and supervision for AC Group facilitators in different locations. Additionally, she oversees collaborations with schools and personally presents data and findings from HAS surveys to all partnering schools.

Nina

Nina Kumar

Vice President, Operations
Nina leads strategy, outreach, and partnerships for HAS surveys and interventions in schools, as well as AC Groups for organizations and individuals. She also manages our technology and created this website :).

Nikki

Nicole Zillmer

Director of Research
Nicole oversees and manages all our research, from administering assessments to deriving recommendations for future work. This includes tracking assessments for AC Groups and HAS surveys, analyses of all data, and preparation of reports based on the findings.

Alex

Alexandra Ingram

AC Groups Facilitator and Researcher
Alex facilitates AC Groups and supports research into high achieving schools. She is currently a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Arizona State University (ASU).
Ashley

Ashley Ebbert

Senior Analyst and Researcher
Ashley analyzes data for the HAS Surveys and helps prepare findings for school stakeholders and communities. She is currently a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Arizona State University (ASU).
Renee

Renee Benoit

Communications Specialist and Researcher
Renee supports research efforts for the HAS Surveys and AC Groups. She also assists with our digital outreach efforts and monthly newsletters. She is currently a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology at Arizona State University (ASU).

Board of Directors

  • Susan Budinger - President
  • Nikhil Kumar - Vice President, Treasurer
  • Judith Benenson - Secretary
  • Suniya Luthar - Board Member
  • Nina Kumar - Board Member
  • Tom Benenson - Board Member
  • Elise Geithner - Board Member

Additional Team Members

  • Jackie Humphreys, LICSW, MA - AC Groups Facilitator
  • Judith Engelman, MD - AC Groups Facilitator
  • Sherry Chesak, Ph.D., M.S., RN. - AC Groups Facilitator
  • Susanne Cutshall, APRN, CNS, D.N.P. - AC Groups Facilitator
  • Katherine Mooney - Logo Designer