OIR Staff Members

Amber Stitziel Pareja, PhD

Executive Director, Office of Institutional Research

Amber Stitziel Pareja joined the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) as the Executive Director of the Office of Institutional Research (OIR) in September of 2016. Dr. Pareja earned her B.A. in sociology from Wesleyan University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in human development and social policy from Northwestern University. Prior to joining IMSA, Dr. Pareja was a Senior Research Analyst at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research and previously was a bilingual (Spanish-English) third grade teacher in Compton, California as part of Teach for America. Her research interests include STEM and gifted education, data-informed decision-making in educational organizations, school leadership, and principal preparation.

Professional Memberships:
  • American Educational Research Association
  • American Evaluation Association
  • Association for Institutional Research
  • National Association for Gifted Children

Clifton Strengths:

Hannah R. Anderson, PhD

Institutional Research Associate

Hannah R. Anderson joined the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in June of 2017 as the Institutional Research Associate. She received her doctorate in evaluation and measurement (2020) from Kent State University where she also served as a graduate research assistant. A former instructor of mathematics, Dr. Anderson earned her B.A. in mathematics with teacher certification (2011) and her M.A. in mathematics (2012) from Eastern Illinois University. Her research interests include educational assessment, teacher preparation, and STEM education with technical areas of interest in factor analysis and item response theory.

Along with her husband and two children, Hannah enjoys being active and participating in activities such as biking, bowling, disc golfing, and swimming. Hannah grew up playing softball (shortstop and pitcher) and has served as IMSA’s Assistant Softball Coach since February 2018. She also continues to volunteer her time at IMSA athletic events and other non-profit organizations.

Professional Memberships:
  • American Evaluation Association
  • Association of Institutional Research
  • National Council on Measurement in Education
Clifton Strengths:


John Zhang, PhD

Data Scientist

John Zhang joined IMSA as a data scientist in January of 2018. He earned a Ph.D. in public policy analysis in education with a focus on research, evaluation and program design from University of Illinois at Chicago. He has 20+ years of experience in both academia and private sector on institutional research and marketing research. Dr. Zhang’s research interests are in predictive modeling, machine learning, and time series forecasting using SAS. He is also interested in data visualization using Tableau to create interactive dashboards.

Professional Memberships:
  • Association for Institutional Research
Clifton Strengths:


Laurie Craig

Administrative Assistant

Laurie joined the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in September 2008 and served as program support specialist for the Illinois Virtual High School (IVHS) through the end of its contract in 2009. Since then, Laurie has served IMSA in a variety of roles, first as administrative assistant for both the vice president of Strategy and Innovation and the Marketing and Communications department (2009-2012). Currently, Laurie works for the Office of Institutional Research with responsibility for the administration of the College Work and Readiness program (CWRA), Student Course Surveys, mandatory data collection and reporting, records retention, and the maintenance of OIR’s webpages. Laurie is also IMSA’s site coordinator for both the ACT and the SAT exams. Prior to joining IMSA, Laurie had 20+ years’ marketing experience with Citicorp Diners Club with responsibility for coordinating design, print and mailing of direct marketing catalogs, cardmember statement communications and newsletters, and year end summary. She has completed graphic arts coursework (Advanced Photoshop, Advanced Illustrator, InDesign) at the College of DuPage (1995-97) and Triton College (2012-14).

Laurie volunteers for several charitable organizations, including Fox Valley Literacy Volunteers and Habitat for Humanity and, with the adoption of a retired racing greyhound, has joined the volunteers at Midwest Greyhounds.

Professional Memberships:
  • Association for Institutional Research
Clifton Strengths: