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Project Staff

University of Colorado Denver (Lead Agency)

Ritu Chopra

Dr. Ritu V. Chopra is the Executive Director of the Paraprofessional Resource and Research (PAR²A) Center at the University of Colorado Denver. She has over two decades of extensive experience in grants management and program evaluation at the Center. Dr. Chopra has served as the Principal Investigator and Project Director on several grant funded project that focus on personnel preparation, pipelines for underrepresented and nontraditional students into the teaching profession, teacher program improvement, and policy initiatives related to early intervention, early childhood education, K-12 education and human services. Dr. Ritu Chopra assumes overall responsibility for fiscal and programmatic operations, evaluation and assures timely completion of all project objectives within budgetary limits. She will also be responsible for maintaining ongoing contact with the OSEP project officer as well as overseeing the subcontract with the University of Northern Colorado (UNC).

Namita A. Mehta

Namita A. Mehta is the Program Manager of the Paraprofessional Resource and Research (PAR²A) Center. She has over 13 years of experience in higher education and early childhood education. Ms. Mehta leads the daily activities of the project as specified in the project goals, objectives and activities. She plays a critical role in the development of the Bank of Resources booklets. Another main responsibility of Namita’s is coordinating the evaluation of the project including evaluation document development, collection of documents, and data analysis. Namita is in the final year of her Doctor of Education program in Leadership for Educational Equity, concentrating on early childhood special education leadership and policy. Her research interests include family partnerships, school readiness, educational equity, and critical policy analysis.

University of Northern Colorado (Subcontract Agency)

Rashida Banerjee

Dr. Rashida Banerjee, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Special Education: Early Childhood Program Coordinator at the University of Northern Colorado, School of Special Education. Dr. Banerjee’s research areas and interests are effective assessment of young children, especially issues around diversity, inclusive intervention for young children, early childhood workforce development, and effective community, family, and professional partnerships. In accordance with her interests, Dr. Banerjee has published articles, book chapters, received grants, and presented at numerous local, national, and international conferences. Her current national projects funded through the Department of Education, specifically focus on preparing well qualified early childhood and early childhood special educators. She currently serves on the Division for Early Childhood Board and on the DEC Recommended Practices Commission. She also serves as the Editor for Journal for International Special Needs Education and Associate Editor for Young Exceptional Children journal.