Get to Know Us

Mandi Baker, PhD

Mandi Baker, PhD
Mandi is a passionate researcher and lecturer with a special interest in the emotional demands, people skills, and power-relations of people-centric service work. She explores these concepts in organized outdoor experiences, youth & community development, recreation and leisure contexts. Her work explores everyday work experiences through sociological concepts to offer fresh insights into ethical and just employment, leadership and education. Mandi currently teaches at Brock University and the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. She is Adjunct Professor with the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at Brock and as a Senior Research Fellow in the Research Centre for Public Health, Equity and Human Flourishing at Torrens University Australia. She is an editor for the Journal of Youth Development and the World Leisure Journal. She serves internationally on peak camp association councils including Outward Bound Vietnam. Mandi hosts a podcast, called The Pudding, with Travis Allison (Go Camp Pro) that’s all about camp research. Mandi also runs Lamped Research and training consultancy. 

Barry Garst, PhD

Barry A. Garst, Ph.D.
Barry A. Garst, Ph.D. is a Professor of Youth Development Leadership and the academic Coordinator of Youth Development Programs at Clemson University, where he teaches graduate courses in leadership, staff and volunteer management, assessment and evaluation of youth programs, and youth development and nature. Previously, he was the Director of Program Development and Research with the American Camp Association. With over 30 years of experience as a practitioner and applied researcher in child and adolescent settings, his research focuses on critical and emerging issues facing youth, staff, parents, and program providers in out-of-school time, with an emphasis on summer camp. Informed by youth development and public health models, his recent research has explored overparenting and parent anxiety, interventions targeting military-connected and Native/Indigenous youth, and camp health care practices to reduce infectious disease spread and promote youth mental, emotional, and social health (MESH). He serves as research chair for the Alliance for Camp Health and is the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Youth Development, an interdisciplinary journal that bridges youth development research and practice. He is also a Fellow of The Academy of Leisure Sciences.

Ann Gillard

Ann Gillard, Ph.D.
Ann Gillard, Ph.D. is research director for SeriousFun Children’s Network since 2020 and served as director of research and evaluation for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp since 2013. Ann’s research interests include understanding how the program setting can lead to various developmental outcomes, and how equity and inclusion for children with serious illnesses can be realized through camp experiences. Ann is also a co-chair of the American Camp Association’s Research and Evaluation Advisory Committee and coordinates the ACA Camp Research Forum. Ann has worked, volunteered, and researched in the youth development field for more than 25 years, including several years as a camp director, program manager, and volunteer for several youth-serving organizations.

Amber Grundy, PhD

Amber M. Grundy, Ph.D.
Amber Grundy is the CEO of Camp Fire River Bend. Amber earned her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from the University of Notre Dame. Her research focus was on middle childhood and early adolescence. She has worked on several different research programs, looking at parenting during the transition to adolescence, testing a new treatment for elementary and middle school students with ADHD, and an intervention program for first-time offenders in the Juvenile Justice System. In addition, she has been an adjunct assistant professor in the psychology departments at the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Bethel College. She has taught Introductory Psychology, School Age Growth and Development, Developmental Psychology, Adolescent Development, Research Methods, and Statistics. Amber serves as the co chair for professional development on the ACA Michigan Local Council of Leaders. In addition to serving on the ACA REAC, Amber is the secretary for the Camp Fire National Board of Trustees, Buckeye Leadership Workshop, and the Kiwanis Club of South Bend; the treasurer for the Edwardsburg Public Schools PTO, the Preservation of the Res, and for Irish Aquatics; and the registrar for Edwardsburg Little League. 

Eddie Hill

Eddie Hill, Ph.D.
Eddie Hill is an associate professor in the Outdoor & Community Recreation Education program at Weber State University. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Utah with a focus on youth development and diabetes management. He has written multiple grants, published extensively, and delivered numerous presentations at professional conferences. Eddie has strong record of scholarship in the area of positive youth development, outdoor recreation, health & wellness. He is the Director of REACH Weber, a year-around recreation program serving youth with type 1 diabetes and their families. Eddie has over 25 years experience as a former challenge course facilitator, Outward Bound field staff, and middle school teacher. He also teaches wilderness medicine and rock climbing to community groups. Eddie is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). He enjoys being outside with his wife and son.

Suzanne Le Menestrel, PhD, CAE

Suzanne Le Menestrel, Ph.D., CAE
Suzanne Le Menestrel, Ph.D., CAE is the Director of Science Affairs at the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) where she provides oversight of SRCD’s peer-reviewed journals, grants, awards, and fellowships; collaborates with the executive leadership team on special scientific initiatives; leads professional development and scientific content on behalf of SRCD’s 5,000+ members; and builds relationships with scientific collaborators, both within the U.S. and internationally.  Previously, Dr. Le Menestrel was a Senior Planning, Strategy, and Impact Officer at the National CASA/GAL Association for Children and a Senior Program Officer in the Board on Children, Youth, and Families, at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine where she directed five consensus studies on the well-being of children and families.  Prior to her tenure with the National Academies, she was the founding national program leader for youth development research at 4-H National Headquarters, U.S. Department of Agriculture; served as the research director at the Academy for Educational Development’s Center for Youth Development and Policy Research; and was a research associate at Child Trends. She has published in numerous refereed journals and is an invited member of several advisory groups including a research advisory group for the American Camp Association (ACA). She is an elected member of the ACA Board of Directors, serves on the Board of Directors for Brigade of Mercy, a volunteer-run charitable non-profit, and is a volunteer mentor for the Dream Project. She holds a B.S. in psychology from St. Lawrence University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in human development and family studies from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Le Menestrel also has a nonprofit management executive certificate from Georgetown University, and she is a certified association executive.

Corliss Outley, PhD

Corliss Outley, PhD
Dr. Outley is a Professor in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Department and the Director of the  Race, Ethnicity, Youth & Social Equity (REYSE) Collaboratory at Clemson University. In her current role she teaches and conducts research designed to explore, create and share knowledge that contributes to understanding how social inequalities influence the development of marginalized youth populations during out-of-school time hours. With over 25 years of community based experience, Dr. Outley considers herself as a “community engaged scholar” who focuses on improving sociopolitical systems and environments to reduce inequalities through the application of social justice youth development (SJYD) and youth empowerment approaches in her research, evaluation, training and programming endeavors. Her opportunities to work within the community have been documented in a PBS DragonFly TV spotlight on “real scientists” as an urban play researcher. February 2023 she was honored as the first Black woman to be inducted as a Fellow into the Academy of Leisure Sciences. 

Victoria Povilaitis, PhD

Victoria Povilaitis, PhD
Victoria Povilaitis, Ph.D., is the Director, Program Innovation at Tim Horton’s Foundation Camps, a non-profit organization providing camp and developmental experiences to youth from low-income backgrounds. In this role Victoria leads TIMpact365, the program quality, outcomes, and impact measurement strategy, and oversees program development for summer camp, school program, partnerships, and community initiatives. As a camp professional with experience in many roles, through her work Victoria aims to bridge research and practice to ensure the most positive and impactful experiences for youth and staff. She also focuses on leading new and innovative research projects and supporting young researchers in industry and academia.  Victoria earned her doctorate from the University of Utah, while supporting the American Camp Association’s (ACA) National Youth and Staff Impact Studies. Her dissertation focused on understanding camp staff employment as a developmental experience and during her post-graduate work with the ACA, Victoria supported the launch of an industry-wide system focused on creating high-quality camp experiences through the Camp Program Quality Initiative. She is a member of both the ACA Research and Evaluation Advisory Committee and the Canadian Camping Association Research group.

Sandi Simpkins, PhD

Sandi Simpkins, Ph.D.
Sandra Simpkins, Ph.D. in developmental psychology, is a Professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Education. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Prof. Simpkins is the Director for the UCI Center for Afterschool and Summer Excellence. Her research addresses positive youth developmental processes, the influence of families and organized activities on those processes, and how these processes vary by social position factors (such as, ethnicity and gender). Her current projects focus on how youth’s organized after-school activities support their positive adjustment into adulthood and how families help support adolescents’ STEM motivation, activities, and choices.

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