Meet the Team
We are multi-disciplinary evaluators, researchers and artists who are dedicated to equity and cultural well-being. We are skilled in qualitative and quantitative analysis and bring more than 60 years' combined experience. Our intellectual lineage is steeped in radical change, critical analysis, and relational axiology.
Senior Research Associate
Tenah Hunt (she/her)
Tenah is an evaluator and researcher who is committed to partnering with others to disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression toward more just and liberated futures for all. Tenah does this by unlearning aspects of white supremacy and capitalist culture in her evaluation and research practice, and instead centers collectivism, cultural knowledge, healing and love. As a Senior Research Associate at RISE with more than 15 years of research experience, Tenah prioritizes critical, strengths-based, and culturally-responsive and equitable evaluation approaches. Drawing on her multi-disciplinary training, Tenah's projects are often at the intersection of wellness, community-based social services, and education. Tenah earned her Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-
Madison and holds a Master's in Public Health with an emphasis on Health
Behavior and Health Education from the University of Michigan. She
received additional focused training in culturally responsive program evaluation through her participation in the American Evaluation Association’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program.
Founding Member & Research Associate
Shayla James (she/her)
Shayla James balances her time as an arts administrator, researcher, and teaching artist in the art sand culture sector. Her work is rooted in community and collaboration with others across disciplines. Ms. James is a founding member of the RISE team and serves as a Research Associate where she provides support in evaluation design, data analysis and communication. Her research focuses on arts assessment and evaluation, racial and cultural equity in the arts, cultural policy, and social emotional learning. She is also currently serving as the San Diego Creative Youth Development Network Director, overseeing network operations, programming and strategic planning. She is a multi-instrumentalist with over 15 years of experience in the performing arts as a performer and educator. She is the owner of Sempre Music Studio, a creativity focused studio that offers a flexible, responsive and trauma-informed music curriculum
Mariah Jameson (she/her)
Mariah Jameson is a community activist, scholar, and mother of two. She has attributed her love for all things social justice to her work in the community and advocating for foster youth. In 2018, Mariah was awarded The Blue Heart Foundations Guardian Scholar Award, which is given to a former foster youth students who are advocates and role models to their community. Although 13 years of her childhood were spent in the foster care system, Mariah has never allowed her past to dictate her future. She was born and raised in Southeast San Diego and graduated from Lincoln High School. Mariah Jameson is a first-generation college graduate and has earned an M.S. in Social Work with a concentration in mental health. After being accepted into an Advanced Standing Master’s degree program, Mariah began to explore different elements of social work, including research. She is on staff at RISE Research and Evaluation, where she affirms social justice through evaluation and research ,while focusing on the intersection of culture and wellness. Mariah has worked vigorously to implement Mental Health Peer Support services in college settings. She is currently working to obtain her clinical license in social work and has a future goal to support other clinicians who are serving the community of Southeast San Diego.
Founder, Business Steward & Director of Inquiry
Julie Kendig (she/her)
Julie has been a culture worker since 2001 and has
served in a multitude of positions ranging from
educator, administrator, grant writer,
professional development trainer and researcher. In her current role as the Business Steward and
Director of Inquiry at RISE Research & Evaluation,
Julie’s work is rooted in equity and guided by love.
She has 14 years’ experience in mixed-methods research and evaluation, has been an invited speaker at national and international conferences, and is an author on eight peer-reviewed
studies as well as several government reports. Julie is an unenrolled, reconnecting Indigenous descendant of the Western Band of Cherokee who uses critical theory, relational axiology and decolonizing methods in her research work. Julie is deeply involved as a godmother/auntie figure with two beautiful goddaughters, has a loving partner who works in math equity in higher education, and she remains active as a performing artist in community theatre.
Senior Research Associate
Sophia Sobko (she/they)
Sophia comes to research and evaluation
with fifteen years of experience as a cultural
organizer,educator, teaching artist, and youth art
programs manager. As a Senior Research Associate
at RISE Research & Evaluation, Sophia brings
curiosity, creativity and criticality to support research design and "knowledge gathering" (Chase-Merrick, 2020). She completed her Ph.D. in Education (Critical Studies of Race, Class and Gender) at UC Berkeley in May 2022, where she used participatory, arts-based, and critical race methods to organize her own queer, white(ned) immigrant community toward justice and collective liberation. Sophia continues to be involved in several collectives and participatory arts projects that she founded, including Kolektiv Goluboy Vagon, Krivoy Kolektiv, and Cuentos Para Dormir. Her peer-reviewed research can be found in E-Learning and Digital Media, Bilingual Review/Revista Bilingüe, and the anthology School-University-Community Collaboration and the Immigrant Educational Experience.