top of page


JULIE KENDIG (she/her)
Director of Inquiry

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.

SHAYLA JAMES (she/her)

Research Associate

Shayla James balances her time as an arts
administrator, researcher, and teaching artist in the arts
and culture sector. Her work is rooted in community and
collaboration with others across disciplines. She is
currently the San Diego Creative Youth Development
Network Director, overseeing network operations,
programming and strategic planning. Ms. James is also
a Research Associate at RISE Research & Evaluation,
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 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.


SOPHIA SOBKO (she/they)

Senior Research Associate

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.

bottom of page