Who We Are

Suniya Luthar

Suniya 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.

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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 Kumar

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 graduated from Williams College with a BA in Computer Science and Psychology, and a concentration with Honors in Cognitive Science.
Ashley Ebbert

Ashley Ebbert

Director of HAS Research
Ashley oversees and manages our HAS research. She works with each school to customize and administer the High Achieving Schools Survey (HASS). She also analyzes the data and derives recommendations for schools and communities.

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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 Benoit

Renee Benoit

Director of AC Groups Research
Renee manages our AC Groups research. This includes administering assessments, analyzing data, and preparing reports based on the findings. She also assists with our digital outreach efforts and monthly newsletters.

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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.
Alexandra Ingram

Alexandra Ingram

AC Groups Facilitator and Researcher
Alex facilitates AC Groups and supports research into high achieving schools.

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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.
Suniya Luthar

Suniya 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 Kumar

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 :).

Ashley Ebbert

Ashley Ebbert

Director of HAS Research
Ashley oversees and manages our HAS research. She works with each school to customize and administer the High Achieving Schools Survey (HASS). She also analyzes the data and derives recommendations for schools and communities.

Renee Benoit

Renee Benoit

Communications Specialist and Researcher
Renee manages our AC Groups research. This includes administering assessments, analyzing data, and preparing reports based on the findings. She also assists with our digital outreach efforts and monthly newsletters.

Alexandra Ingram

Alexandra Ingram

AC Groups Facilitator and Researcher
Alex facilitates AC Groups and supports research into high achieving schools.

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