Fostering Resilience Initiative

Our interdisciplinary team works to ensure positive outcomes for children and youth facing adversity. By measuring and addressing risks and assets at the child-level, as well as within homes, schools, and communities, we promote a holistic approach to child and youth development. Our goal is to create environments that not only fulfill children’s and youth’s basic needs, but also promote nurturing relationships, socio-emotional skills, and civic engagement.

We work with non-governmental organizations, policy makers, communities and other stakeholders in seven countries: Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Peru. Our initiative focuses on three key areas:

  1. Learning and Development - Improving learning and development of children and youth, both at school and outside of school.
  2. Risk Measurement - Developing, validating and piloting measurement tools to assess risks, assets, and outcomes across several countries.
  3. Global Network for Resilience - Building a global network of actors who foster systemic resilience.

For more information, contact us at and follow us on social media:

Work with us! We're looking for a Digital Communications Intern! Interested applicants can email Theo Helm at 

Meet the Team

Neil Boothby

Dr. Neil Boothby |

Founding Director

Dr. Neil Boothby is the founding Director of the Fostering Resilience Initiative. He is an internationally recognized expert and advocate for children affected by war and displacement. As a senior representative of UNICEF, UNHCR and Save the Children, he has worked for more than 20 years with children in crises in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. He is the former director of the Program on Forced Migration and Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and his research focuses on the psychosocial consequences of organized violence on children. He is also the recipient of several awards for his fieldwork, including the Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award, for his work with child soldiers, the Mickey Leyland Award, for his work on behalf of uprooted people, the United Nation's Golden Achievement Award, for excellence in social sector activities, and Duke University's Humanitarian Service Award.

Beth Rubenstein

Beth Rubenstein |

Associate Director for Evaluation

Beth Rubenstein is the Associate Director for Evaluation for the Fostering Resilience Initiative. In this role, she supports implementing organizations in low- and middle-income countries to measure family and community influences on child development. The goal is to apply these findings to develop multi-level interventions that extend beyond the individual child. Beth has over 15 years of experience working at the intersection of global health research and practice on four continents. Her focus has been on expanding the evidence base for social and economic protection programs for vulnerable populations. Beth holds a Master of Public Health and a Master of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Columbia University’s Department of Epidemiology. For her dissertation, she is using longitudinal data from Indonesia to investigate the relationship between microcredit and health.

Hannah Chandler

Hannah Chandler |

Research Associate

Hannah Chandler serves as a Research Associate for the Fostering Resilience Initiative. She supports research development and project coordination for five country projects. Hannah’s interest is in improving health and development outcomes for vulnerable populations, particularly children. Most recently, Hannah worked in Amman Jordan with the Syrian Refugee Initiative studying the impact of family separation on Syrian refugees. She has previously supported the efforts of the Access Campaign at Médicines Sans Frontières (MSF) in vaccines advocacy, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in preparedness for biological threats. She holds a Master of Public Health from Columbia University and a B.S. in Biology from Azusa Pacific University.

Jimena Vallejos

Jimena Vallejos |

Gaduate Research Associate

Jimena Vallejos is a development professional with 5 years of experience in poverty elimination programs, microfinance and financial inclusion. She worked as a manager of Poverty Stoplight, an innovative and participatory poverty assessment tool that has been replicated in over 15 countries. During her time at Fundacion Paraguaya, Jimena also worked as manager of the program Inclusive Microfinance Opportunities which created tools and procedures to enable people with disabilities and their families access financial services and improve their quality of life. This past summer, Jimena worked as a Fellow for IMAGO Global Grassroots supporting organizations such as Transforming Rural India to evaluate their existing programs and scale up operations. She also worked as an Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Consultant with ChildFund International conducting a desk review and drafting an MEL framework for their program model. She is pursuing a Master of Public Administration in Development Practice at Columbia University in New York, and is a Graduate Research Assistant for the Fostering Resilience Initiative at the University of Notre Dame.

Jessica Zhang

Jessica Zhang |

Gaduate Research Associate

Jessica Zhang, MPH/MPA candidate, is a research assistant with the Fostering Resilience Initiative. Jessica is passionate about supporting healthy child and youth development in contexts of adversity, conflict, and poverty, as a matter of social justice and health equity. Jessica aims to work towards this goal through improving psychosocial/mental health programs and youth policy. Prior to her work with Fostering Resilience, she worked in a range of related roles, including: case management with survivors of torture, spearheading a family wellness center at Boys & Girls Club of Newark, supporting education policy and youth development initiatives, and research and evaluation for NYC’s mobile mental health demonstration project.

Recent Publications

Fri LearningassessmentandinclusivityCommunity Asset Mapping for Rural Youth in Kenya 

Fri Learningassessmentandinclusivity Learning Assessment and Inclusivity 

Fri AdversityandresilienceAdversity and Resilience

Fri Educationincrisis Education in Crisis

Fri AddressinglocalrealitiesAddressing Local Realities 

Fri AdolescentsinadversityAdolescents in Adversity 

Fri UnleashingyouthopportunitiesUnleashing Youth Opportunities