Renée Spencer

Photo of Renee Spencer
Associate Professor
Chair, Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Phone: 617-353-4611


BA (psychology), Austin College
MSSW (direct practice), University of Texas at Austin
EdD (human development and psychology), Harvard Graduate School of Education

Courses Taught

HB 720   Human Behavior in the Social Environment
CP 801    Clinical Practice with Adolescents in Social Context
SR 906   Qualitative Research Methods

Scholarly and Practice Interests

Youth mentoring; adolescent development; gender.

Selected Publications

*Denotes graduate student co-author

Spencer, R., *Tugenberg, T., *Ocean, M., *Schwartz, S., & Rhodes, J. (Accepted for publication). “Somebody who was on my side”: A qualitative examination of youth initiated mentoring. Youth & Society.

Spencer, R., & *Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (In press). Termination and closure of mentoring relationships. In D. L. DuBois & M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring (2nd Ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Spencer, R., Pryce, J. & *Walsh, J. (In press). Philosophical approaches to qualitative research. In P. Leavy (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of qualitative research methods. New York: Oxford University Press.

Liang, B., Spencer, R., *West, J., & Rappaport, N. Expanding the reach of youth mentoring: Partnering with youth for social change. Journal of Adolescence.35, 257-267.

Spencer, R. (2012). A working model of mentors’ contributions to youth mentoring relationship quality: Insights from research on psychotherapy. LEARNing Landscapes, 5, 295-312. (Invited)

Spencer, R., *Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & *Lewis, T. O. (2011). Working to make it work: The role of parents in the youth mentoring process. Journal of Community Psychology, 39(1), 51-59.

Spencer, R., Collins, M. E., *Ward, R., & *Smashnaya, S. (2010). Mentoring for youth leaving foster care: Promise and potential pitfalls. Social Work.55(3), 225-234.

Spencer, R., Collins, M. E., Ward, R., & Smashnaya, S. (2010). Mentoring for youth leaving foster care: Promise and potential pitfalls. Social Work.55(3), 225-234.

Rhodes, J. E., Liang, B., & Spencer, R. (2009). “First, do no harm”: A call for ethical guidelines in youth mentoring. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.452-458.

Deutsch, N., & Spencer, R. (2009). Capturing the magic: Assessing the quality of youth mentoring relationships. New Directions in Youth Development: Theory, Practice and Research, 121, 47-70.

Spencer, R., & Liang, B. (2009). “She gives me a break from the world”: Formal youth mentoring relationships between adolescent girls and adult women.Journal of Primary Prevention, 30, 109-130.

Spencer, R. (2007). “I just feel safe with him”: Close and enduring male youth mentoring relationships. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 8(3), 185-198.

Spencer, R. (2007). “It’s not what I expected”: A qualitative study of youth mentoring relationship failures. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22(4), 331-354.

Spencer, R. (2007). Naturally occurring mentoring relationships involving youth. In T. D. Allen & L. T. Eby (Eds.), Handbook of mentoring: A multiple perspectives approach (pp. 99-117). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Spencer, R. (2006). Understanding the mentoring process between adolescents and adults. Youth & Society, 37(3), 287-315.

Spencer, R., & Rhodes, J. E. (2005). A counseling and psychotherapy perspective on mentoring relationships. In D. L. DuBois & M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Gilligan, C., Spencer, R., Weinberg, M. K., & Bertsch, T. (2003). On the Listening Guide: A voice-centered relational method. In P. M. Camic, J. E. Rhodes & L. Yardley (Eds.), Qualitative research in psychology: Expanding perspectives in methodology and design (pp. 157-172). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.

Spencer, R. (2000). A comparison of relational psychologies. Project Report, No. 5. Wellesley, MA: Stone Center Working Paper Series.


*Denotes graduate student co-author

Spencer, R., & *Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (2013, April). Practitioners’ perspectives on family involvement in youth mentoring programs. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting (N. Deutsch, Poster Symposium Chairperson), Seattle, WA.

Spencer, R. (2012, November). Keynote speaker. Realizing the promise of youth mentoring. Australian Youth Mentoring Conference, Queensland, Australia.

Spencer, R. (2012, November). Presenter. Current trends and issues in youth mentoring. New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network, Auckland, New Zealand.

Spencer, R. (2012, October). Presenter. First, Do No Harm: Ethical Considerations for Youth Mentoring Relationships. Pushing the Limits: New Ways to Build Family and Mentor Connections for Vulnerable Youth, United Way Calgary and Area, Alberta, Canada.

Spencer, R. (2011, March). Keynote speaker. Making a difference through mentoring: Current research and best practices. Keynote address presented at the National Youth Mentoring Conference, National Youth Council, Singapore.

Spencer, R. (2010, June). Ethics in mentoring. Workshop presented at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada National Convention, Toronto, Canada.

Lederer, J., Basualdo-Delmonico, A., Spencer, R. ., & *Wasserman, R. (2009, November) Barriers, bumps and bridges: How cultural differences shape the youth mentoring process over time. Paper presented at the 137th American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Spencer, R., Lewis, T. O., Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (2009, January). Mentoring across differences:
How race and class shape the youth mentoring process. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work Research Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.

Spencer, R. (2007, September). Promoting high-quality youth mentoring relationships: Current research and best practices in the United States. Keynote address presented at the National Congress of the Netherlands Big Brothers Big Sisters Association, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Spencer, R. (2007, July). Promoting and sustaining high quality mentoring relationships and understanding and preventing mentoring relationship failures. Presented at the Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring, Portland State University, Portland, OR.

Selected Grant Activity

Spencer, R. (Co-Principal Investigator), & Keller, T. (Principal Investigator), Prediction and prevention of premature closures of mentoring relationships: A prospective study of participants, processes, and program practices. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2012-2015.

Spencer, R. (Co-Principal), & Liang, B. (Principal). 21st Century Athenas: Aligning Achievement and Well-Being A study of stress and well-being in adolescent girls. Sponsored by Laurel School, Shaker Heights, OH.

Principal Investigator, Understanding the mentoring process: A longitudinal study of mentoring relationships between adolescents and adults, William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Award program, 2005-2010.

Principal Investigator, Getting to the Heart of the Mentoring Process: An In-Depth Interview Study of Successful and Unsuccessful Mentor Relationships Between Adolescents and Adults, Robert S. and Grace W. Stone Primary Prevention Initiatives Grant Program: Empowering Children for Life, Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, 2003-2005.

Consulting and Professional Activities

Feature Editor. The Chronicle of Evidence Based Mentoring, 2012-present

Expert Review Panel Member. Impact Evaluation of the Young Parents Demonstration Grant, Round I, II, and II, United States Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, 2012-2014.

Member, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Research Advisory Council. 2009-present

Member, Mass Mentoring Partnership Quality Based Membership Initiative Advisory Committee. 2007-2009

Member, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership Research and Policy Council, 2006-present.

Awards and Honors

Irene Stiver Dissertation Award, Jean Baker Miller Training Institute, Wellesley College, 2004.

Adolescent and Youth Dissertation Award, Henry A. Murray Research Center of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, 2001.

Spencer Foundation Apprenticeship Grant, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1998-1999.

Licensure and Certifications

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW): Board of Social Workers, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts