Renée Spencer

Associate Dean for Research & Professor

Specialties

• Youth Mentoring

• Mentoring Special Populations (Foster Care and Military-Connected Youth)

• Adolescent Development

• Gender

• Qualitative Research

Renée Spencer

faculty details

Bio

Renée Spencer is interested in how supportive relationships with adults promote positive development in youth. This interest took her into the field of youth mentoring, where programs attempt to create such relationships every day. “Unfortunately, too many of these relationships don’t make it, and this is deeply troubling to me, as these programs tend to serve already marginalized youth—for example, those who are low-income, of color and in under-performing schools,” she notes. “I am dedicated to identifying processes that promote helpful, and not harmful, youth mentoring relationships.”

Her current research exploring these processes is funded with grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the William T. Grant Foundation. She is the author of more than 70 publications, including articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Adolescent Research, Children and Youth Services Review, and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

A BUSSW faculty member since 2002, Spencer is currently interim associate dean for research; she previously served as chair of the Human Behavior Department from 2010-2018. Outside of BU, Spencer is an editorial board member for Qualitative Psychology and Applied Developmental Science. She serves on the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Research Advisory Council and the Friends of the Children Research Evaluation and Fidelity Committee.

Education

BA (Psychology)

Austin College

MSSW (Direct Practice)

University of Texas at Austin

EdD (Human Development & Psychology)

Harvard University

Courses

HB 720 Human Behavior in the Social Environment
SR 906 Qualitative Research Methods
SR 907 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
CP 801 Clinical Practice with Adolescents in Social Context

Courses

HB 720 Human Behavior in the Social Environment
SR 906 Qualitative Research Methods
SR 907 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
CP 801 Clinical Practice with Adolescents in Social Context

Publications

Spencer, R., *Drew, A. L., Kanchewa, S., & Walsh, J. (accepted for publication). Girls (and boys) just want to have fun: A mixed methods study of gender differences in youth mentoring relationship duration.

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.

Spencer, R., *Basualdo-Delmonico, A., *Walsh, J., & *Drew, A. (2017). Breaking up is hard to do: A qualitative interview study of how and why youth mentoring relationships end. Youth & Society, 49(4), 438-460.

Zilberstein, K. & Spencer, R. (2017). Breaking bad: An attachment perspective on youth mentoring relationship closures. Child & Family Social Work, 22, 67-76

Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & Spencer, R. (2016). A parent’s place: Parents’, mentors’ and program staff members’ expectations for and experiences of parental involvement in the youth mentoring process. Children and Youth Services Review, 61, 6-14.

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.

Spencer, R., & *Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (2014). Family involvement in the youth mentoring process: A focus group study with program staff. Children and Youth Services Review, 41, 75-82.

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 young people leaving foster care: Promise and potential pitfalls. Social Work, 55(3), 225-234.

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

*Denotes graduate student co-author

Publications

Spencer, R., *Drew, A. L., Kanchewa, S., & Walsh, J. (accepted for publication). Girls (and boys) just want to have fun: A mixed methods study of gender differences in youth mentoring relationship duration.

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.

Spencer, R., *Basualdo-Delmonico, A., *Walsh, J., & *Drew, A. (2017). Breaking up is hard to do: A qualitative interview study of how and why youth mentoring relationships end. Youth & Society, 49(4), 438-460.

Zilberstein, K. & Spencer, R. (2017). Breaking bad: An attachment perspective on youth mentoring relationship closures. Child & Family Social Work, 22, 67-76

Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & Spencer, R. (2016). A parent’s place: Parents’, mentors’ and program staff members’ expectations for and experiences of parental involvement in the youth mentoring process. Children and Youth Services Review, 61, 6-14.

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.

Spencer, R., & *Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (2014). Family involvement in the youth mentoring process: A focus group study with program staff. Children and Youth Services Review, 41, 75-82.

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 young people leaving foster care: Promise and potential pitfalls. Social Work, 55(3), 225-234.

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

*Denotes graduate student co-author

Presentations

Spencer, R. (2017). This changes (almost) everything: Youth initiated mentoring. Presenter. Ministry of Youth, Wellington, New Zealand.

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 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). “Because she understands what I have been through”: A qualitative examination of youth initiated mentoring. Workshop presenter. 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., Cavell, T. A., Slep, A., *Gowdy, G., *Ocampo, M., Heubach, J., Herrera, C., & ± Strathdee, R. (2016, June). Mentoring military-connected youth: A survey of program practices. Poster presented at the Society for Prevention Research Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Spencer, R., *McCormack, M., *Gowdy, G., *Drew, A., *Abrams, E., & Keller, T. (2016, January). STAR Study: Investigating matching and the relationship development process. Workshop presented at the National Mentoring Summit, Washington, D.C.

Spencer, R. (2015, November). Leveraging an untapped resource: Parent involvement in youth mentoring relationships. Workshop presenter. Canadian Women’s Foundation National Skills Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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

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

Presentations

Spencer, R. (2017). This changes (almost) everything: Youth initiated mentoring. Presenter. Ministry of Youth, Wellington, New Zealand.

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 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). “Because she understands what I have been through”: A qualitative examination of youth initiated mentoring. Workshop presenter. 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., Cavell, T. A., Slep, A., *Gowdy, G., *Ocampo, M., Heubach, J., Herrera, C., & ± Strathdee, R. (2016, June). Mentoring military-connected youth: A survey of program practices. Poster presented at the Society for Prevention Research Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Spencer, R., *McCormack, M., *Gowdy, G., *Drew, A., *Abrams, E., & Keller, T. (2016, January). STAR Study: Investigating matching and the relationship development process. Workshop presented at the National Mentoring Summit, Washington, D.C.

Spencer, R. (2015, November). Leveraging an untapped resource: Parent involvement in youth mentoring relationships. Workshop presenter. Canadian Women’s Foundation National Skills Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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

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

Grants

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

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

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

Co-Principal Investigator. PI: Keller, T. (2012-2015). Prediction and Prevention of Premature Closures of Mentoring Relationships: A Prospective Study of Participants, Processes, and Program Practices. US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Co-Principal Investigator. PI: Liang, B. (2010-2013). Performing Well, Feeling Bad: A Mixed-Method Study of Adolescent Girls, Stress and Psychological Well-Being. 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.

Grants

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

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

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

Co-Principal Investigator. PI: Keller, T. (2012-2015). Prediction and Prevention of Premature Closures of Mentoring Relationships: A Prospective Study of Participants, Processes, and Program Practices. US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Co-Principal Investigator. PI: Liang, B. (2010-2013). Performing Well, Feeling Bad: A Mixed-Method Study of Adolescent Girls, Stress and Psychological Well-Being. 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.

Professional Activities and Certifications

2014-2015: MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, Elements of Effective Practice, 4th Edition.

2013-Present: Friends of the Children Research Evaluation and Fidelity Committee.

2013-2015: Research Consultant, Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, In-School Mentoring Standards Revision and Test Labs.

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

2006-2014: MENTOR / National Mentoring Partnership Research and Policy Council.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

Professional Activities and Certifications

2014-2015: MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, Elements of Effective Practice, 4th Edition.

2013-Present: Friends of the Children Research Evaluation and Fidelity Committee.

2013-2015: Research Consultant, Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, In-School Mentoring Standards Revision and Test Labs.

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

2006-2014: MENTOR / National Mentoring Partnership Research and Policy Council.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

Awards and Honors

2017: Ralph & Eve Seelye Charitable Trust Fellowship Award, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

2005-2010: William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Award.

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.

Awards and Honors

2017: Ralph & Eve Seelye Charitable Trust Fellowship Award, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

2005-2010: William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Award.

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.
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