KPCEL Convenings

With the generous support of the Kern Family Foundation, in June 2019 the LifeCompass Institute and Boston University will host the first of three powerful conversations with representatives of educational leadership programs from around the country.

June 20-21, 2019: Character Education: What are We Aiming For and How Do We Measure It?
January 16-17, 2020: What Successful Programs Look Like & How They Stay on Track
June 11-12, 2020: Reporting on Best Practices & Next Steps

This exploration of program transformation includes virtual meetings and technical assistance between convenings to support each team’s design and implementation. Over the course of 18 months participants will:

  • Gain a deep understanding of and effective integration of character education and assessment in educational leadership programs;
  • Receive access to resources, research and models of excellence in character education and school leadership;
  • Develop programs, practices, and/or protocols to implement in their educational leadership programs; and
  • Contribute to a report on promising practices for integrating character education and assessment into ed leadership programs.

For more information, contact Emma Gleckel, Convening Coordinator at

June 20-21, 2019 Program

  • June 20, 2019, 4 pm: Ryan Symposium featuring Angela Duckworth, Founder and CEO of Character Lab, on What Builds Character.
  • June 21, 2019, 8 am – 4 pm: Presentations and panel discussions about the challenges of defining and assessing character; introduction to network improvement communities (NICs) to support effective program development and implementation.

Presenters include:

  • Karen E. Bohlin, Head of Montrose School, Director of the LifeCompass Institute for Character & Leadership, Senior Scholar at Boston University’s Center for Character & Social Responsibility
  • Hardin Coleman, Professor, Dean Emeritus & Director at Boston University’s Center for Character & Social Responsibility
  • Ariel Tichnor-Wagner, Assistant Research Professor in the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development
  • Robert McGrath, Professor and Director, Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Psychology, Director, Integrated Care for the Underserved of Northeastern New Jersey, Senior Scientist, VIA Institute on Character
  • Tenelle Porter, Visiting Scholar at Character Lab and postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Davis
  • Tyler VanderWeele, John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology, Department of Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard

June 20-21, 2019 Agenda

Character Education: What are We Aiming For and How Do We Measure It?
The First Convening of the Kern Family Foundation Partners in Character and Educational Leadership KPCEL, taking place at Boston University on June 20 and 21, 2019.

Convening Agenda

Thursday, June 20th
Location: 43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA 02446 (Ladd Room)

  • 4 – 5:30 pm: Ryan Symposium: What Builds Character, Angela Duckworth, Character Lab
  • 5:30 – 6:30 pm: Reception

Friday, June 21
Location: 43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA 02446 (Ladd Room)

  • 8 – 9 am: Breakfast
  • 9 – 9:15 am, at the BU Fenway Campus Alumni Center: Welcome & Introduction
    • Hardin Coleman, Professor Dean Emeritus
    • Beth Purvis, Kern Family Foundation
  • 9:15 – 10:15 am: Plenary & Discussion: Character Education: What are We Aiming For?
    • Karen Bohlin, Head of Montrose School and Director of the LifeCompass Institute for Character & Leadership, Senior Scholar BU’s CCSR
  • 10:15 – 10:30 am: Break
  • 10:30 am – 12:30 pm: Panel Discussion: Measuring Character: What do we Know? What do We Need to Know?
    • Robert McGrath, Director, FDU School of Psychology, Director, Integrated Care for the Underserved of Northeastern New Jersey, Senior Scientist, VIA Institute on Character,
    • Tenelle Porter, Visiting Scholar at Character Lab and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis.
    • Tyler Vanderweele, the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology, Department of Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard.
  • 12:30 – 1:30pm: Lunch
  • 1:30 – 3:30pm: Network Improvement Community (NIC) Initiation & Work Session
    • Ariel Tichnor-Wagner, Boston University
    • What is improvement science and how can network improvement communities drive effective change around character education?
    • Defining NIC aims and site-based problems of practice around integrating and assessing character education in educational leadership programs.
  • 3:30 – 4 pm: Closing Remarks and Next Steps

Speaker Bios

Angela Duckworth is the Founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance the science and practice of character development. She is also the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change For Good Initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics.

A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Angela has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Prior to her career in research, Angela founded a summer school for low-income children that was profiled as a Harvard Kennedy School case study and, in 2018, celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. She has also been a McKinsey management consultant and a math and science teacher in the public schools of New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Angela completed her undergraduate degree in Advanced Studies Neurobiology at Harvard, graduating magna cum laude. With the support of a Marshall Scholarship, she completed an MSc with Distinction in Neuroscience from Oxford University. She completed her PhD in Psychology as a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

Angela has received numerous awards for her contributions to K-12 education, including a Beyond Z Award from the KIPP Foundation. Angela’s TED talk is among the most-viewed of all time. Her first book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, is a #1 New York Times best seller.

Hardin L.K. Coleman, Ph.D., is a Professor of Counseling Psychology and Applied Human Development at Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. He is also a Dean Emeritus of the College. As Dean, Dr. Coleman focused on how a school of education within a research university can use research to refine the practice of education, primarily through training educators and partnerships with schools.

Dr. Coleman’s scholarly interests include the socio-cultural factors in minority student achievement and the use of developmental guidance to promote social and emotional intelligence in children. His work has been published in The Counseling Psychologist and The Professional School Counselor, and has co-edited several handbooks including The Handbook of School Counseling and The Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender in Multicultural Counseling.

As a teacher, Dr. Coleman is focused on the preparation of professional school counselors. His civic engagement includes serving as Vice Chair of the Boston Public School Committee, and as the Faculty Director for the Center of Character and Social Responsibility and for the Center for School Improvement at Boston University. He is also the editor of the Journal of Education. He has served on the Board of Governors for English High School in Boston, MA, the Westtown School Committee in Westtown, PA., Beijing City International School, Ten Strands in San Francisco, Edvestors, and the Home for Little Wanderers and Inversant in Boston, MA. He has also served as a consultant and trainer for numerous schools and mental health agencies.

Dr. Coleman was educated at Germantown Friends School (’71), Williams College (’75), University of Vermont (’80), and Stanford University, (’92). He has worked at the George School, Abington Friends School, Westtown School, Shanghai Teachers University, Cambridge Hospital, and is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His “North Star” is creating equitable access to high quality learning experiences for all children.

Dr. Karen E. Bohlin, Director of LifeCompass Institute and Head of Montrose School, is a recognized thought leader in the field of character and ethics education. Director Emerita and Senior Scholar at Boston University’s Center for Character and Social Responsibility; co-architect of the National Schools of Character Program, Dr. Bohlin has served as advisor on character education nationally and internationally; a sabbatical fellow at the Jubilee Centre; an editorial reviewer and contributor to the Journal of Character Education and the Journal of Education at Boston University. She is the author and contributing author of several books including Teaching Character Education Through Literature: Awakening the Moral Imagination (Routledge 2005), Building Character in Schools (Jossey-Bass 1999) and Happiness and Virtue: Beyond East and West: Toward a New Global Responsibility (Tuttle 2012). An important focus of her work in both the higher education and K-12 education is the development of practical wisdom in school leaders and teachers.

Dr. Robert McGrath received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Auburn University and is currently a Professor and Director of the School of Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is also a Senior Scientist for the VIA Institute on Character. Dr. McGrath maintains an active research program in the measurement and nature of character and virtue, the effectiveness of character-based interventions, and character education. He has authored over 250 publications and presentations, including several books on research methodology, and is a contributor to APA Books’ multi-volume reference The Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology.

Tenelle Porter is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, and a scholar in residence with Character Lab, at the University of Pennsylvania. Tenelle holds degrees from Stanford University, the University of Oxford, and the University of Kansas in developmental psychology, evidence-based intervention, and Spanish. Prior to joining Character Lab, she was an affiliate at Oxford’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, and Stanford’s Center on Adolescence. While at Stanford, Tenelle worked with Carol Dweck and Bill Damon to study the causes and consequences of intellectual humility. She has partnered with the Intellectual Virtues Academies in Long Beach, and with the World Bank, to study the effectiveness of school-based interventions and after school programs using longitudinal and experimental designs. In addition to academic journals, her work has been featured in Slate, Behavioral Scientist, Vox, and New York Magazine’s The Science of Us segment.

Tyler J. VanderWeele, Ph.D., is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality, faculty affiliate of the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University in mathematics, philosophy, theology, finance and applied economics, and biostatistics. His research concerns methodology for distinguishing between association and causation in observational studies, and the use of statistical and counterfactual ideas to formalize and advance epidemiologic theory and methods. His empirical research spans psychiatric, perinatal, and social epidemiology; the science of happiness and flourishing; and the study of religion and health, including both religion and population health and the role of religion and spirituality in end-of-life care. He is the recipient of the 2017 COPSS Presidents’ Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies. He has published over two hundred and fifty papers in peer-reviewed journals, and is author of the book Explanation in Causal Inference, published by Oxford University Press.

Ariel Tichnor-Wagner, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor in the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Her research focuses on education policy and politics, with an emphasis on policy and program implementation, continuous improvement research, school improvement, and global education. Having begun her career as an elementary school teacher of immigrant students in a low-income urban school district, Ariel is deeply committed to identifying and supporting implementation of effective policies and practices that improve the academic and social-emotional outcomes of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

She works as a Senior Fellow at ASCD where she develops and implements evidence-based frameworks, tools, and professional learning experiences for teachers, school leaders, and district administrators that support them in teaching diverse students to thrive in an interconnected world. She has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. State Department, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation, and an array of other non-governmental organizations that support global competence in schools. Ariel has also led research projects at the National Center for Scaling Up Effective Schools focused on the implementation continuous improvement methods in public high schools. Her research on education policy development and implementation, school improvement, and global competence has appeared in a variety of academic journals and popular media outlets, including Educational Administration Quarterly, Teachers College Record, Educational Policy, Leadership and Policy in Schools, the Journal of Educational Change, Education Policy Analysis Archives, and Education Week.