Renée Spencer

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

Download Professor Spencer’s CV




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
SR 907 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods

Scholarly and Practice Interests

Youth mentoring; adolescent development; gender.

*Denotes graduate student co-author

Spencer, R., *Basualdo-Delmonico, A., *Walsh, J., & *Drew, A. (In press). Breaking up is hard to do: A qualitative interview study of how and why youth mentoring relationships end. Youth & Society. doi: 10.1177/0044118X14535416

Spencer, R., Walsh, J., Liang, B. Lund, T. J., & Mousseau, A. M. D. (In press). Having it all?: A qualitative examination of affluent adolescent girls’ perceptions of stress and quests for success. Journal of Adolescent Research. doi:10.1177/0743558416670990

Spencer, R., *Tugenberg, T., *Ocean, M., *Schwartz, S. E. O., & Rhodes, J. E. (2016). “Somebody who was on my side”: A qualitative examination of youth initiated mentoring. Youth & Society, 48(3), 402-424. doi: 10.1177/0044118X13495053

Spencer, R., Pryce, J. & *Walsh, J. (2014). Philosophical approaches to qualitative research. In P. Leavy (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of qualitative research methods (pp. 81-98). New York: Oxford University Press.

Spencer, R., & *Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (2013). Termination and closure of mentoring relationships. In D. L. DuBois & M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring (2nd Ed.)  (pp. 469-479). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

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.

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.

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

*Denotes graduate student co-author
±Denotes undergraduate student co-author

Spencer, R., *Drew, A. L., *Gowdy, G., *Horn, J. P., Abrams, E., & Rhodes, J. E. (2017, April). “Well, that’s not how we do things”: Staff perspectives on implementing Youth Initiated Mentoring. Paper to be presented at the Society for Research on Child Development Biennial Meeting, Austin, TX.

Spencer, R., *Gowdy, G., *Drew, A. L., *McCormack, M., & Keller, T. E. (2017, January). Understanding and preventing premature closures of youth mentoring relationships: Mentor, parent and program staff perspectives. Paper to be presented at the Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, New Orleans, LA.

Spencer, R., *Gowdy, G., *Drew, A. L., *Horn, J. P., & Rhodes, J. E. (2017, January). “It just helps to have someone there:” Youth-initiated mentorship for former foster care youth. Paper presented in symposium G. Gowdy (Chair), Natural Mentorship for Foster Care Youth: Prevalence, Impact, and Programmatic Support at the Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, New Orleans, LA.

Spencer, R. (2016, November). Workshop Presenter. “Because she understands what I have been through”: A qualitative examination of youth initiated mentoring.” Presented at the National Mentoring Symposium, Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Spencer, R., Cavell, T. A., Slep, A., *Gowdy, G., *Ocampo, M. Heubach, J., & ± Strathdee, R. (2016, June). Keeping It safe and fun: Parent perspectives on school-based mentoring for military-connected youth. Poster presented at the Society for Prevention Research Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Spencer, R. (2014, November). Keynote speaker. Realizing the promise of youth mentoring. Presented at the one-day conference, Mentors in Schools: Research in Action. Sponsored by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.

Spencer, R., Basualdo-Delmonico, A., *Walsh, J. & ±Purcell, K. E. (2014, March). Unpacking empathy: A qualitative examination of mentor perspective taking and adaptability in youth mentoring relationships. Poster presented at the Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting, Austin, TX.

Spencer, R., Basualdo-Delmonico, A., *Walsh, J., & *Drew, A. (2014, January). Breaking up is hard to do: What we know about match endings and how agencies can help. Workshop presented at the National Mentoring Summit, Washington, DC.

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. (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.

Co-PI. (2014-2018. Developing a Model for Delivering School-Based Mentoring to Students in Military Families (PI: Cavell, T.). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences,

Co-PI. (2013-2016). Youth Initiated Mentoring: Investigating an Innovative Approach to Mentoring At-Risk Youth  (PI: Rhodes, J. E.). U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Co-PI. (2013-2016). Changing Youth Programs and Settings: An Experimental Evaluation of the Quality Mentoring Systems Initiative (PI: Keller, T.).William T. Grant Foundation.

Co-PI. (2012-2015). Prediction and prevention of premature closures of mentoring relationships: A prospective study of participants, processes, and program practices (PI: Keller, T.).  U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,

Co-PI. (2010-2014). 21st Century Athenas: Aligning Achievement and Well-Being, A Study of Stress and Well-Being in Adolescent Girls (PI:Liang, B.). Laurel School, Shaker Heights, OH.

Principal Investigator. (2005-2010). Understanding the Mentoring Process: A Longitudinal Study of Mentoring Relationships Between Adolescents and Adults. William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Award program,

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

2012-Present: Feature Editor. The Chronicle of Evidence Based Mentoring.

2012-2014: 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.

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

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

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

2004: Irene Stiver Dissertation Award, Jean Baker Miller Training Institute, Wellesley College.
2001: Adolescent and Youth Dissertation Award, Henry A. Murray Research Center of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
1998-1999: Spencer Foundation Apprenticeship Grant, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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