Who is the Center for Scholars & Storytellers?

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We were founded in late 2018 by Dr. Yalda T. Uhls, a former film executive from MGM and Sony, who received a PhD in psychology from UCLA. The team’s expertise includes several PhDs and over 50 years of collective entertainment and media experience. We pride ourselves in our understanding of the language, culture, and business models of both industry and academe.


Our Team

Caroline Fung is the Project Coordinator for CSS and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychology.

Caroline Fung is the Project Coordinator for CSS and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychology.

Nir Liebenthal is the Research Coordinator at CSS. He recently graduated from The George Washington University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology.

Nir Liebenthal is the Research Coordinator at CSS. He recently graduated from The George Washington University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology.

Dr. Yalda T. Uhls is the Founder and Executive Director of CSS. Uhls is an internationally recognized, award-winning research scientist, educator, and author, studying how media affect young people. In her former career, she was a senior movie executive at MGM and Sony.

Dr. Yalda T. Uhls is the Founder and Executive Director of CSS. Uhls is an internationally recognized, award-winning research scientist, educator, and author, studying how media affect young people. In her former career, she was a senior movie executive at MGM and Sony.

Louise Zeitzew is the Chief Administrative Officer of CSS. After a successful career as an attorney with over ten years at the global law firm Latham & Watkins, Louise has spent the last decade in the non-profit and educational sector, working in administration, accounting and fundraising.

Louise Zeitzew is the Chief Administrative Officer of CSS. After a successful career as an attorney with over ten years at the global law firm Latham & Watkins, Louise has spent the last decade in the non-profit and educational sector, working in administration, accounting and fundraising.


Laurel Felt, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow for CSS. She teaches at the University of Southern California and works at the intersection of children’s media, play, and learning.

Laurel Felt, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow for CSS. She teaches at the University of Southern California and works at the intersection of children’s media, play, and learning.

Gerald D. Higginbotham, M.A., does research with CSS and is now working towards his PhD as a graduate student at UCLA in Social Psychology.

Gerald D. Higginbotham, M.A., does research with CSS and is now working towards his PhD as a graduate student at UCLA in Social Psychology.

Lee Lazar does research with CSS and is now working towards her PhD as a graduate student at UCLA in Social Psychology.

Lee Lazar does research with CSS and is now working towards her PhD as a graduate student at UCLA in Social Psychology.

Jordan Levinson does research with CSS and is now working towards her PhD as a graduate student at UCLA in Developmental Psychology.

Jordan Levinson does research with CSS and is now working towards her PhD as a graduate student at UCLA in Developmental Psychology.

Michael Pepe serves as the Chief Strategy Advisor at CSS. A veteran business executive who had many years in senior positions at Time Warner, Dun & Bradstreet and Z TV, Michael now devotes his talents and leadership skills to initiatives with social impact.

Michael Pepe serves as the Chief Strategy Advisor at CSS. A veteran business executive who had many years in senior positions at Time Warner, Dun & Bradstreet and Z TV, Michael now devotes his talents and leadership skills to initiatives with social impact.

Adrianna Ruggiero is a Junior Fellow for CSS. She recently received her Master’s degree in Psychology and is now working towards her PhD in the Early Childhood Cognition Lab at Ryerson University.

Adrianna Ruggiero is a Junior Fellow for CSS. She recently received her Master’s degree in Psychology and is now working towards her PhD in the Early Childhood Cognition Lab at Ryerson University.

Dr. Colleen Russo-Johnson is a Senior Fellow of CSS. She is a children’s media consultant with an expertise in both traditional media and new technology. Dr. Russo-Johnson completed her PhD in developmental psychology at Vanderbilt University and is now based in Toronto.

Dr. Colleen Russo-Johnson is a Senior Fellow of CSS. She is a children’s media consultant with an expertise in both traditional media and new technology. Dr. Russo-Johnson completed her PhD in developmental psychology at Vanderbilt University and is now based in Toronto.

Andrew J. Sanders, M.A., does research with CSS and is now working towards his PhD as a graduate student at UCLA in Developmental Psychology.

Andrew J. Sanders, M.A., does research with CSS and is now working towards his PhD as a graduate student at UCLA in Developmental Psychology.

Isabelle Thomas works for CSS as an Executive Producer on special projects. Her expertise includes many years in business development, strategic planning, and event management for organizations such as The World Bank and The Soho House Group.

Isabelle Thomas works for CSS as an Executive Producer on special projects. Her expertise includes many years in business development, strategic planning, and event management for organizations such as The World Bank and The Soho House Group.

Richard Thompson is CSS’s attorney. He is a partner at Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman, LLP and has worked extensively as a lawyer in the motion picture, television and digital media businesses.

Richard Thompson is CSS’s attorney. He is a partner at Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman, LLP and has worked extensively as a lawyer in the motion picture, television and digital media businesses.

Kim Wilson acts as a Media Advisor & Consultant for CSS and has deep expertise as a content creator. She spent 14 years as the head of Children’s Media at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Wilson is passionate about giving back through mentoring, teaching, and her work at CSS.

Kim Wilson acts as a Media Advisor & Consultant for CSS and has deep expertise as a content creator. She spent 14 years as the head of Children’s Media at the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Wilson is passionate about giving back through mentoring, teaching, and her work at CSS.

Becca Woofter, MPH, supports CSS in research and statistical analysis. She has degrees from Emory University and Washington University and is working toward a Ph.D. in Community Health Sciences at UCLA.

Becca Woofter, MPH, supports CSS in research and statistical analysis. She has degrees from Emory University and Washington University and is working toward a Ph.D. in Community Health Sciences at UCLA.


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UCLA Psychology Department

With 45,000 students, UCLA is one the world’s most culturally and ethnically diverse universities. CSS is affiliated with UCLA’s Psychology Department and works with both undergraduate and graduate students. Psychology, the most popular major at UCLA, boasts a ranking of #3 in the country. The department is one of the few that offers mentorships and research experience to underserved students.


Interns & Volunteers

Joshua Baysa

Joshua Baysa

Alejandra Diaz de Leon

Alejandra Diaz de Leon

Page Spencer

Page Spencer

Janani Thiyagarajan

Janani Thiyagarajan

Anna Yang

Anna Yang

Clara Ure

Clara Ure

Shiwei Wu

Shiwei Wu

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