Flavia C. Peréa, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Flavia C. Peréa, Ph.D., joined the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) in September 2008 as a National Institutes of Child Health and Development (NICHD) Postdoctoral Research Fellow. She received her Ph.D. in Social Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Her dissertation, Academic Performance among Children of Immigrant Families from the Dominican Republic: The Influence of Language, was a secondary analysis of data from the three-year longitudinal study Children of Immigrants: Development in Context (CIDC), based at Brown University. Her dissertation research was based on an asset-based framework that emphasized culture and language as resources central to children’s development, and specifically explored the impact of language acculturation on academic outcomes (grades) among Dominican children. Her results found a significant gender difference between girls and boys who prefer bilingualism, namely that bilingual preference was a predictor of more positive academic outcomes for girls, which was not the case for boys for whom language preference had little to no explanatory power. Her dissertation research was conducted in tandem with her coordination of the four year follow-up study of the CIDC, which examined early academic pathways during middle childhood as predictors of academic achievement in adolescence.
While pursuing her doctoral work, Dr. Peréa was awarded a Fellowship in Child and Family Policy with the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University; as well as a Spencer Foundation Fellowship in Educational Research. Dr. Peréa has worked as a Researcher for the United Nations as well as for the Office of Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), and has been a consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the American Cancer Society. In addition, she has extensive experience conducting community based research, notably in Harlem, NYC and Western Massachusetts. She has also been adjunct faculty at Tufts University, Boston College, and Salem State College, where she has taught policy, diversity and applied research to both graduate and undergraduate students.
Dr. Peréa’s research interests include the health of minority and immigrant children and families, particularly Latinos; racial/ethnic health disparities; immigration, acculturation and language; asset-based policy and programming; and community-based participatory research. She is particularly interested in understanding how diverse populations conceptualize health and health disparities, and cultural variations in conceptualizations of health and wellbeing. Dr. Peréa endeavors to bridge the distances between public health, social policy, and health policy, and is interested in understanding how policy impacts the lives and life chances of children and families and the health and wellbeing of people in communities. She works within a strengths-based framework and is particularly interested in developing methods to identify and measure the assets and resources present within the many sectors of community life, in order to understand how they may be leveraged to promote healthy children, families and communities and improve the quality of living environments as well as the services and supports available in communities.
Peréa is interested in applied research that tackles inequities and inequalities across the broad spectrum of health. She seeks to build on her life-long work with diverse children and families to identify culturally appropriate ways to improve the health and wellbeing of Latino and immigrant children and families. By using strength-based models that build on cultural and community assets, she aims to develop research and evaluation tools in dialogue and collaboration with communities in order to inform local-level policy and the development of culturally appropriate programs and services.
Through the NICHD postdoctoral fellowship at Wellesley, Dr. Peréa endeavors to publish some of her research to date and secure external funding to support her ongoing work as well as future projects in development. Her preceptors are Nancy Marshall, Ed.D., and Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D., with whom she will be working with on the Massachusetts child care subsidies study focusing on low-income families in Boston and Somerville, MA. In addition, she will be working with Tufts University on an ongoing community-based study of immigrants’ access to and experience with health and social services in Somerville, and developing a community-based research project to address health disparities among minority and immigrant children in Boston.
Upcoming Professional Presentations
Peréa, F. C., & Martinez, L. S. (2008, October). Disparities mobilization through community-based participatory research: an asset-based approach for fostering public and political will to effect decision making. Paper to be presented at the American Public Health Association annual conference, San Diego, CA.
Martinez, L. S., Peréa, F. C., Freeman, E. R. (2008, October). Step one: assessing community readiness for disparities mobilization. Paper to be presented at the American Public Health Association annual conference, San Diego, CA.
Martinez, L. S., & Peréa, F. C. (2008, November). Working with immigrant and minority adolescents. Oral Presentation to be given at the conference, A View from All Sides: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Parenting Education and Family Support, Marlborough, MA.
Peréa, F. C., & Martinez, L. S. (2008, December). Engaging students in community partnership research for community health education: lessons learned from the Survey of Health and Immigrant Practices in Somerville (SHIPS). Oral Presentation to be given at the conference, Medical Education for the 21st Century – Teaching for Health Equity, Havana, Cuba.
Martinez, L. S., & Peréa, F. C. (2008, December). Educating for health equity: determining and cultivating community capacity for health improvement in Haiti. Oral Presentation to be given at the conference, Medical Education for the 21st Century – Teaching for Health Equity, Havana, Cuba.
*Peréa, F. C. (2009, April). Gender, language, and academic performance: a study of children of immigrant families from the Dominican Republic. Paper to be presented as part of the paper symposium, “Understanding the education immigrant paradox in childhood and adolescence”, to be presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, CO. (* abstract under review)
Selected Invited Professional Presentations
Peréa, F. C., & Martinez, L. S. (2008, July). A bottom-up approach to creating asset based policies and programs to promote the health and wellbeing of diverse Latino children and families: findings from research and practice. Oral Presentation accepted for the First National Research Conference on Child and Family Policy, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA.
Martinez, L. S., Peréa, F. C., Clarke, L., & Freeman, E. (2007, November). Community mobilization for the elimination of health disparities. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, Washington, DC.
Clarke, L., & Freeman, E, Martinez, L. S., & Peréa, F. C. (2007, October). Conference organizer and moderator for Confronting healthcare disparities: is commonwealth care the answer? Second Annual Regional Forum on Health Disparities, Holyoke, MA.
Clarke, L., Freeman, E. R., Martinez, L., & Peréa, F. C. (2007, April). Determining readiness for community engagement for the elimination of health disparities. Oral Presentation given at the biennial New England Regional Minority Health Conference, Mashantucket, CT.
Peréa, F. C., Marks, A. K., Soursourian, M., Gerace, L., & García Coll, C. (2007, March). Early academic pathways as a predictor of academic outcomes in adolescence: a longitudinal study of children of immigrants. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, MA.
WCW Publications Under Review
Peréa, F. C. (under review). Language, Acculturation, and academic performance among children of immigrant families: A review of the literature. Working Paper Series. Wellesley, MA: The Wellesley Centers for Women.