Social Equity and Empowerment

The Social Equity & Empowerment Methods Center (SE&E Center) provides a framework for Abt Associates’ projects to advance equality, social justice, and human rights. The SE&E Center supports project design and implementation to promote inclusive and responsive approaches that address the needs of population groups that are traditionally vulnerable or marginalized. The support consists of a process of analysis, integration, monitoring, and continuous quality improvement with special attention to groups with multiple vulnerabilities, such as poverty and disability. The SE&E Center also creates evidence-based tools and approaches to measure and mitigate disparities across gender, age, ethnicity, and other social dimensions.

Our clients frequently ask us to examine whether, how, and why programs and policies affect different social groups differently. Increasingly, our clients are also asking us how to mitigate the disparities we observe. For example, the Abt-led President's Malaria Initiative Africa Indoor Residual Spraying project (PMI AIRS) and Jordan Communication, Advocacy and Policy activity (JCAP) projects have worked with the center to promote gender equality and female empowerment. The WELLs project turned to the center for advice on LGBT inclusion in an upcoming survey. Similarly, the SE&E Center partners with the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families and the National Study of the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program to advance the responsiveness and quality of research on ethnic and linguistically diverse populations within the United States.
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Center Co-Directors

Abigail DonnerAbigail Donner is a public health professional and gender expert with more than a decade of experience improving programmatic outcomes for vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls. Donner, an associate for International Health at Abt, has broad programmatic experience, including gender integration, maternal and child health, cancer screening, and population health metrics. She has worked with implementing agencies, academic and research institutions in Benin, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, India, Jordan, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, the U.S., and Zambia. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and a master’s degree from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

Dr. Michael L. López
Dr. Michael L. López is a nationally renowned authority on the development, education and well-being of young children, including low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse populations. As a principal associate in Abt’s Social and Economic Policy Division, Lόpez co-leads the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, in partnership with Child Trends. The Center is dedicated to providing research findings and tools to advance the capacity of the field to serve Hispanic children and families. He also is Co-Principal Investigator for the National Study of the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program, apart of the overall Head Start program that provides early childhood education, social and support services to culturally and linguistically diverse group of more than 30,000 children and families of farmworkers. 

Before joining Abt, Lόpez was the executive director of the National Center for Latino Child & Family Research in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, he was director of Child Outcomes Research & Evaluation within The Administration on Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, where he developed and directed national research projects including the National Head Start Impact Study.  Lόpez holds both a Master’s and Doctoral Degree in Child and Family Clinical Psychology with his Ph.D. specialty in Pediatric Psychology. Both degrees are from Michigan State University. Dr. Lopez serves on several boards including those of the HighScope Educational Foundation, Parents as Teachers, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and the PNC Grow up Great Initiative.