Principal Investigator

Ron Avi Astor

astor Ron Avi Astor is principal investigator of Welcoming Practices and Building Capacity and the Lenore Stein-Wood and William S. Wood Professor of School Behavioral Health at the USC School of Social Work and Rossier School of Education. His interest in military-connected schools is a culmination of years of distinguished research on school-based interventions, school and community violence, and culturally responsive institutions. His collaboration with researchers and policy makers in Israel contributed to a large-scale monitoring system that gives each school both social and academic feedback as the foundation for interventions. He is also a well-known advocate of school violence prevention and caring school communities.

Program Director

Diana Pineda

pinedaDiana Pineda is the program director for Welcoming Practices and works at USC San Diego Academic Center. Previously, Pineda was the project manager for Building Capacity in Military-Connected Schools based in San Diego. Pineda had worked with the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families as a project manager for a study that educated and empowered veterans and families through the use of technology. She is co-author of several health research articles and co-author of the Pupil Personnel Guide for Supporting Students from Military Families. Pineda is also an adjunct lecturer and consults as a Problem Solving Therapy (PST) trainer. She earned a psychology degree from the University of California, Irvine, and Master’s degrees in social work and health administration from USC.

Head of Evaluation

Rami Benbenishty

benbenishty Rami Benbenishty is head of evaluation of Welcoming Practices, a professor at Luis and Gaby Wiesfeld School of Social Work of Bar Ilan University. Dr. Benbenishty’s interest in military-connected schools is informed by prominent research in school violence, children and youth at risk, and his leadership in a successful large-scale school violence prevention model in Israel. Dr. Benbenishty is also a well-regarded advocate of children’s rights, for which he received France’s Chevalier des Ordre de Palmes Academique (Knight in the Order of Academic Palmes). He has served on numerous public committees addressing the children’s needs and rights. He is delighted to be collaborating with researchers and practitioners on Welcoming Practices.

USC Faculty

Trina Gregory

gregory Trina Gregory is a senior lecturer for ITP teaching technology, programming, and mobile classes. She has been teaching at USC since January 2007. Recently her main focus has been the Mobile App Development minor which is now available. After getting a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics-Computer Science from UCSD, she worked full-time in the computer science field for over 12 years. She mainly worked for SAIC developing, writing, and managing software for the Department of Defense. She is currently working on a master’s degree in Computer Science at USC.

Chapman University

Kris De Pedro

pedroKris De Pedro is an Assistant Professor at the College of Educational Studies. He earned his Ph.D. in Urban Educational Policy at USC. His research focuses on urban educational policy, school reform, and the development of supportive and inclusive school and campus environments. His most recent work is on LGBTQ youth and the children of military-service members. He has published in journals such as Teachers College Record, Review of Educational Research, and Educational Researcher.