Introducing new associate directors

Friends of SPI,

I am delighted to announce three new Social Policy Institute associate directors! SPI has grown significantly since its launch in 2019 and our new associate directors will ensure we continue to generate important evidence and policy-passionate leaders needed to inform equitable policies and inclusive communities. I hope you will join me in welcoming and congratulating our new associate directors: Fanice Thomas, hired as the associate director of policy and strategy; Dan Ferris promoted to associate director of education and training; and Stephen Roll, promoted to associate director of research.

Fanice, Dan and Stephen will lead SPI in their area of expertise while fostering impact through an environment of inclusion, collaboration and innovation. I am very excited about the future of SPI with this team leading our vision and hope you will join me in celebrating the new team.

Fanice Thomas is the associate director of policy and strategy at SPI. In her new role, Fanice will build out policy initiatives for SPI, contribute to and implement the strategic vision of the institute, and develop relationships with internal and external partners. Under the leadership of Fanice, SPI will translate research into actionable solutions for policymakers and practioners, advancing our mission to build a more equitable world. Prior to her role at SPI, Fanice was a National Heart Lung and Blood Institute T-32 postdoctoral researcher at the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis and the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness, both at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include leveraging evidence-based research to inform policies that reduce inequality and the design and implementation of interventions that promote health-promoting behaviors engagement.

Dan Ferris is the associate director of education and training at SPI and the assistant dean for policy initiatives at the Brown School. Since Dan began working on SPI projects in 2017, he expanded the Brown School Master of Social Policy dual degree program and Graduate Policy Scholars program in partnership with the Clark-Fox Policy Institute. Dan also leads the innovative Data Science for Social Impact initiative at SPI that builds community and equity-centered data capacity and collaboration among St. Louis social sector organizations. He also contributes to SPI in the critical area of food security research. In his new role, Dan will continue to support the cultivation of policy leaders at WashU, St. Louis and beyond.

Stephen Roll is the associate director of research at SPI and research assistant professor at the Brown School. In his new role, Stephen will continue to lead the robust and rigorous research agendas at SPI, seeking to leverage big data, global and inter-disciplinary research partnerships, and diverse research approaches to understand where and why inequities exist and test evidence-based solutions. Stephen began working on SPI research, including Refund to Savings, in 2016 while at the Center for Social Development at the Brown School. While at SPI, he led the team in launching the 5-wave, nationally representative Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 survey in both the U.S. and Israel, developed a multi-phase research agenda evaluating the Child Tax Credit expansion, and designed and tested dozens of field experiments with community partners, among other local, national and global research initiatives.

Congratulations to our new associate directors! I look forward to all we can accomplish together.


Michal Grinstein-Weiss
Director of the Social Policy Institute
Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor

Fanice  Thomas

Fanice Thomas

Associate Director of Policy and Strategy

Dan Ferris

Dan Ferris

Associate Director of Education and Training

Stephen Roll

Stephen Roll

Associate Director of Research