Big Sister Boston Recognizes NIOST Research Associate Kathryn A. Wheeler

September 3, 2021

Kathryn Wheeler, Ed.D.Big Sister Boston is recognizing 70 individuals and groups throughout its 70th anniversary year for their enduring commitment to believing in girls. Among the honorees is Kathryn (Katie) A. Wheeler, Ed.D., a research associate at the National Institute on Out-of-School Time.

“I’m honored and flattered to be recognized by Big Sister,” said Wheeler, whose expertise at NIOST is in programs that empower girls. “It’s an inspiring organization that pays attention to the unique needs of girls and connects them to a broad spectrum of women mentors.”

Wheeler has been a supporter and advocate of Big Sister since the 1990s. As founding director of the Girls’ Coalition of Greater Boston, which brought together researchers, funders, and practitioners at organizations focused on girls, Wheeler worked closely with Jerry Martinson, who was then the executive director of Big Sister and chaired the board of the Girls’ Coalition. The Girls’ Coalition often highlighted the mentoring work of Big Sister, and the organizations worked together on reports on the state of local girls and built relationships with Massachusetts legislators who could effect change.

In more recent years, Wheeler supported Big Sister in the early stages of the development of Our Big Futures, a program for currently enrolled Little Sisters, former Little Sisters, and High School Mentoring Big Sisters, ages 14-24, that provides coaching, support, and resources to achieve sustainable financial independence via career development and/or college success. Wheeler also worked with Big Sister on refining the evaluation tool for its Life Choices program, which helps middle and high school girls stay true to themselves and consider the consequences of important life decisions.

“What’s inspiring about Big Sister is that they take research on girls done by organizations like WCW and say, ‘What does this mean for girls’ needs, and how does it affect our programming?’ They work hard to ensure that the relationships between girls and their mentors are meaningful for both the girls and the women,” said Wheeler. “I strongly believe in their work, and as my parenting life evolves, I’m hoping to one day become a Big Sister myself.”

Wheeler will be celebrated, along with the other honorees, at Big in Boston, a virtual event to be held on October 7.


    "NIOST has been an anchor for numerous school age care projects we do, including ASQ (After-School Quality) and Links to Learning. They are a nationally respected organization that Pennsylvania has partnered with for over 20 years."

    – Betsy O. Saatman, TA Specialist/SAC Initiatives, Pennsylvania Key

    "NIOST was a core partner in supporting the development of quality improvement systems across the nine cities that participated in The Wallace Foundation Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative. The NIOST team worked well with other technical assistance partners in the initiative, always willing to pitch in and collaborate with others to make our professional learning community meetings a team effort. I truly hope the Foundation has an opportunity to partner with them in the future."

    – Priscilla M. Little, Initiative Manager, The Wallace Foundation


    "NIOST has been a leader in the out-of-school time field for as long as I can remember, and I have relied on their research, tools, and advice to improve my practice throughout my career. Their staff members are good partners and good listeners, and their influence across the country is palpable."

    – Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools, Children's Aid Society

    "Georgia Hall, Ellen Gannett, and the NIOST team have been instrumental in driving the healthy afterschool movement. Their dedication to quality practice, informed policy, and collective impact is instrumental in our effort to create healthier communities."

    – Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

niost logo white

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time

A program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College

Wellesley Centers for Women
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481-8203 USA
Directions to NIOST

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to use our site, or clicking "Continue", you are agreeing to our privacy policy.
Continue Privacy Policy