Research Collaborators and Board of Advisors

Research Collaborators

The network project based at Wake Forest is supported by several research collaborators:

  • Heather Maranges (Wake Forest University)

    Heather M. Maranges is the Senior Research Scholar at the Program for Leadership and Character, leading the program’s empirical assessment of programming, courses, and interventions to understand how to facilitate the formation of virtuous character. Heather received her Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology at Florida State University, and the Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowship for work at the Social Justice Centre and Departments of Psychology and Philosophy at Concordia University. Early on in her in university years, her coursework incorporated considerable study not only in psychology, but also in philosophy, English literature, and biology. Today, her research seeks to understand what facilitates cooperation and virtue, inspired by both Aristotelian virtue ethics and behavioral ecology frameworks. In particular, she studies how both self-control and childhood environments/experiences shape moral character and decision making.

  • Kate Allman (Wake Forest University)

    Dr. Kate Allman is a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character. She received her B.A. in English from Emory University, her M.Ed. in English Education from Wake Forest University, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on fostering holistic connections between student learning, evaluation, programmatic planning, and organizational thriving in Institutions of Higher Education. She has specialized expertise in holistic program evaluation, grant management, and institutional accreditation. Prior to coming to Wake, she served as a faculty member and administrator at Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and Towson University, where she led numerous formative, outcome, and impact evaluation projects using a collaborative, participatory approach. At Duke University, she was awarded two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that supported the development of teacher leaders in STEM Education. As a Research Scholar in the Program for Leadership and Character, Kate coordinates and supports research activities and internal evaluation.

  • Sara Mendonça (Wake Forest University)

    Sara Etz Mendonça is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Program for Leadership and Character and in the Department of Psychology. She earned a B.A. in Romance languages and literature from the University of Chicago, an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Her research focuses on the development of character and virtues in youth and the creation of effective character interventions.  Her work has been published in edited volumes such as Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents and peer-reviewed academic journals including Current Psychology and Cross-Cultural Research. She has also presented her findings at multiple national and international conferences including the Society for Research in Child Development and the Association for Moral Education. Beyond her scholarly work, she is a dedicated educator who has won teaching awards from multiple middle and high schools from Illinois to Mexico to Sweden, and, most recently, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While working in high schools, she founded programs for immigrant parents and their children to inform them about the college admissions process so that the students could continue their education by attending university. A firm believer in the connection between mind and body, she has both founded and coached various track and soccer teams in the educational institutions where she has worked.

  • Elise Dykhuis (United States Military Academy)

    Elise Murray Dykhuis is an assistant professor in the character integration advisory group at the United States Military Academy, and a Research and Assessment Consultant in the Program for Leadership and Character. She received her B.A. in Psychology and German Language/Literature at the University of Notre Dame and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. Her research focuses broadly on individual pathways for character development among college students, and she spent much of her doctoral studies examining the aspects of person-centric, longitudinal models of intellectual humility among United States Military Academy cadets. She has a particular interest in using complex statistical modeling to examine these pathways and further honed these skills as a junior fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. She has published on the topic of character in college in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Positive Psychology and the Journal of Moral Education. Her work integrates the concept of character virtues with developmental theory and metatheory, on which she has written and presented in various forums. Dr. Dykhuis has also served as a statistical and survey-design consultant for various character-related projects and organizations. She strongly believes that college students are uniquely situated for immense character growth given their social, emotional, intellectual, and identity development, integrated with the vast opportunities presented by post-secondary education. As such, she sees the Program as a facilitator for life-long flourishing among future leaders of character and is excited to be part of that effort.

Board of Advisors

The interdisciplinary network is supported by a board of distinguished senior advisors from multiple disciplines who are providing guidance at various stages of the project.

  • Kendall Cotton Bronk (Claremont Graduate University)

    Kendall is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Claremonet Graduate Univeristy, where she directs the Adolescent Moral Development Lab and pursues research on character strengths and virtues.

  • Anne Colby (Standford University)

    Anne is a Consulting Professor at Stanford University and a world-renowned expert on the development of meaning, purpose, and character. She has written two books on moral exemplars (with William Damon), the most recent of which is The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice.

  • William Fleeson (Wake Forest University)

    William is Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University. He is the former director of The Beacon Project, a former project leader of the Character Project, and a leading personality psychologist who has published extensively on character and exemplars.

  • Tom Harrison (University of Birmingham)

    Tom is a Senior Lecturer and Program Director of the MA in Character Education in the Department of Education and the Director of Education at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. He has published extensively on character education and virtue ethics.

  • Katherine McAuliffe (Boston College)

    Katherine is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Boston College where she studies the development and evolution of cooperation in humans, with a special focus on how children acquire and enforce norms.

  • Christian Miller (Wake Forest University)

    Christian is the A.C. Reid Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University. He is the former Director of the Character Project, a former project leader for The Beacon Project, and the Director of the Honesty Project. He has published several influential books on moral character, including, most recently, The Character Gap: How Good Are We?

  • Donald Miller (University of Southern California

    Donald is the Leonard K. Firestone Professor of Religion at the University of South Carolinaand co-founder and director of strategic initiatives of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture. A sociologist of religion, he is currently pursuing research on the impact of spiritual exemplars from diverse religious traditions.

  • Linda Zagzebski (University of Oklahoma)

    Linda is the George Lynn Cross Research Professor and Kingfisher College Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at the University of Oklahoma. She is the leading moral philosopher focusing on exemplars and is the author, most recently, of Exemplarist Moral Theory.