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Renée Spencer

Renée Spencer, Ed.D., MSSW

Inducted in 2022

Current Position

Professor & Chair of the Human Behavior, Research & Policy Department, School of Social Work, Boston University

Renée Spencer is interested in how supportive relationships with adults promote positive development in youth. This interest took her into the field of youth mentoring, where programs attempt to create such relationships every day. “Unfortunately, too many of these relationships don’t make it, and this is deeply troubling to me, as these programs tend to serve already marginalized youth—for example, those who are low-income, of color and in under-performing schools,” she notes. “I am dedicated to identifying processes that promote helpful, and not harmful, youth mentoring relationships.”

Her current research exploring these processes is funded with grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the William T. Grant Foundation. She is the author of more than 70 publications, including articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Adolescent ResearchChildren and Youth Services Review, and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

A BUSSW faculty member since 2002, Spencer has previously served as interim associate dean for research and chair of the Human Behavior Department. Outside of BU, Spencer is an editorial board member for Qualitative Psychology and Applied Developmental Science. She serves on the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Research Advisory Council and the Friends of the Children Research Evaluation and Fidelity Committee.

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