AC Groups High Achieving Schools Survey Support AC

Who We Are

Suniya S. Luthar

Founder and Executive Director

Suniya leads AC Groups in-person and through video conferencing, and provides training and suprvision 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.
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Suniya S. 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 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 :).
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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 is a Product Manager at IBM Watson Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated from Williams College with a BA in Computer Science and Psychology, and a concentration with Honors in Cognitive Science.

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.
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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.

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

Additional Team Members

  • Jackie Humphreys, LICSW, MA - Group Facilitator
  • Alexandra Ingram - Graduate Student Group Facilitator
  • Katherine Mooney - Designer