Connecting people to data

The UCLA Agile Visual Analytics Lab (AVAL) empowers national, state, and local stakeholders to use data to make more timely and sound decisions impacting children, families, communities, and the workforces that serve them.

What We Do

The UCLA Agile Visual Analytics Lab (AVAL) empowers national, state, and local stakeholders to use data to make more timely and sound decisions impacting children, families, communities, and the workforces that serve them. We do this through 1) putting vital information into the hands of stakeholders in the form of data visualizations that efficiently and effectively meet their diverse and dynamic information needs, 2) implementing utilization-focused and developmental evaluation of programs and policies of mission-driven organizations and systems, and 3) building the capacity of systems and organizations to grow, use, and sustain data ecosystems. In these ways we work with our partners in different capacities, depending on their specific needs, ranging from leading full-scale evaluations to data collection, data management and processing, and data visualization.

Developmental and utilization-focused, evaluation of human service laws, organization, programs, and policies.

Data Collection
Develop, execute, and monitor plans with stakeholders to collect new data and improve existing data collection systems.

Data Management and Processing
Establish procedures to transfer, store, clean, and merge often disparate data to support timely, accurate, and contextualized data analysis.

Data Visualization
Design platforms for diverse stakeholders to easily understand, engage with, share, and use data for decision-making.


The Team

The AVAL team includes decades of diverse training and experience working with human service agencies at the local, state, and national levels. Click on the profiles below to learn more.

Ashley Long

Dr. Long is a Project Director with AVAL. She works with human service systems and providers on evaluation, quality, and understanding and visualizing the impact of their work. She has over a decade of experience consulting with public and private entities around strategy and implementation, research, data, and evaluation.

Bryan Maekawa

Bryan is a Research Associate with AVAL. He develops and maintains interactive reports that allow stakeholders to monitor and explore their data. Bryan has experience providing program evaluation consultation for higher education training programs and supporting monitoring and evaluation efforts by international non-governmental organizations.

Iris Lu

Iris Lu is a Research Associate with AVAL. Iris has honed her skills through contributing to data-driven solutions in healthcare and community-based organizations. Iris combines programming languages and analytical tools to build data visualizations that inform strategic decisions across industries. Iris holds a Master’s degree in Management Information Systems from NYU and Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Boston College.

Jianchao Lai

Jianchao Lai, PhD, received her doctoral degree in Social Welfare from UCLA and her MSW from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. With a background in community-based and government welfare agencies, Jianchao's research focuses on community violence, specifically child maltreatment and gender-based violence within Asian American communities. Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, her work challenges prevalent misconceptions and addresses the underreporting and lack of services for survivors of maltreatment and violence in the United States. Jianchao currently serves as a Research Associate at UCLA's Agile Visual Analytics Lab.

Jonathan Litt

Jonathan Litt, J.D., M.S.W. is the Deputy Director of UCLA’s Agile Visual Analytics Lab, where he develops and manages projects that build data ecosystems human service stakeholders use to inform their policy, program, and practice decisions. These ecosystems involve data management, analysis, and visualization at the national, state, and local levels in their efforts to develop their workforces, implement new technologies, build partnerships, and ultimately improve outcomes for the communities, families, and children they serve.

Kaitlyn Childs

Dr. Childs is a Senior Research Associate with AVAL, where she helps stakeholders understand the impact of their work through data visualizations and program evaluation. Her background is in evaluation, nonprofit research, and communication studies.

Priya Kanneboyina

Priya Kanneboyina is a Research Associate at AVAL. Priya combines her data journalism experience, programming skills, and passion for improving government services to empower and educate community members and other stakeholders. Priya holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics from UCLA.

Robert Blagg

Dr. Blagg is the Research Director for AVAL, and has received funding for evaluation and applied research from federal, state, and local agencies to investigate social welfare, education, and health organizations, programs, and policies. Dr. Blagg is dedicated to empowering stakeholders to use data to make timely and sound program and policy decisions.

Samyalisa Enright

Dr. Enright is a Research Associate with AVAL, and has a background in research, evaluation, early education, and child welfare. Dr. Enright is passionate about working with data to inform workforce development, systems change, and quality improvement within social services.

Sandy Kirkner

Sandy Kirkner is a Research Associate with AVAL who has wide-ranging expertise in research and program evaluation in the child welfare and education fields. Sandy is dedicated to providing the highest standards of data collection, data analysis, and program evaluation for stakeholders.

Susana Agama

Susana Agama is a Research Associate at AVAL, with diverse higher education experience, including research administration and data analysis. She holds an M.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice and is currently completing her M.A. in Sociology. Her recent role as a data analyst for the CSU Office of the Chancellor supported 23 campuses in addressing financial aid policy and student graduation success. Her research expertise encompasses criminology, particularly police misconduct, and sociology, with a focus on equity and student success in higher education. She advocates for using data and equity-driven methodologies to empower and promote systemic change.

Taylor Herhusky

Taylor Herhusky is a Senior Research Associate with AVAL, specializing in data visualization, program evaluation, and GIS. At AVAL, he works closely with the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to evaluate the process, quality, and impact of training provided to children’s social workers, supervisors, and staff within the child welfare agency. He has also collaborated on a range of projects related to workforce development, community engagement, and the improvement of education and employment outcomes for transition-age youth, assisting with data preparation, data analysis, and dashboard design.

Todd Franke

Dr. Franke is AVAL's leader. Trained in social work and educational psychology, Professor Franke seeks to achieve a better understanding of, and improve the responsiveness of service systems in the fields of social services, education and health.

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