Founding Partners



    Ann Locke Davidson, Ph.D.

    Ann Locke Davidson founded Educational Connections with Patricia Phelan in 2001, retiring from the field in 2022. Over the course of 20 years, she assisted hundreds of adolescents and families to find appropriate mainstream and therapeutic school settings in her role as an educational and therapeutic consultant.

    Dr. Davidson completed her Ph.D. in Education and M.S. in Anthropology at Stanford University in 1992. While there, she was a member of the Stanford Evaluation Consortium specializing in the assessment of programs for at-risk youth. Dr. Davidson’s work has involved literally hundreds of hours interacting with at-risk adolescents as well as direct involvement with school and program environments designed to affect these populations. Her interests and experience include work as a university research scholar concerned with programs and environments that address the social, emotional and academic needs of struggling youth, program design and evaluation, teaching at-risk adolescents and adults, and teacher development and training.

    Dr. Davidson is the author of four books and numerous articles and book chapters. Her books Making and Molding Identity in Schools, Adolescents’ Worlds (with Dr. Patricia Phelan) and Renegotiating Cultural Diversity in American Schools (with Dr. Patricia Phelan) result from her work as a Senior Research Scholar at the University of Washington and Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University. Her research focused specifically on psychosocial and environmental pressures and problems that impact students’ ability to engage optimally in educational environments. She also worked to identify school and classroom characteristics that exacerbate or ameliorate the problems that youth face, and worked directly in schools and within communities to understand how innovative programs designed to address students’ emotional, social and mental health issues affect their school involvement and success. As part of this work, she trained graduate students to conduct specialized interviews with youth about sensitive areas of their lives. In addition, she participated in a year long, large-scale evaluation of a community based program for at-risk high school youth, many of whom were involved with the juvenile justice system.

    In addition to her role as a researcher, Dr. Davidson participated in program design and evaluation efforts while on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and as a senior member of a Harvard University research team. With the Harvard team, she helped develop portfolio assessment practices for at-risk students. The emphasis of this project was on creating classroom practices that engage students who traditionally do not perform well on standardized tests. At the University of Pittsburgh, she helped develop and evaluate an innovative science curriculum designed to respond specifically to middle school children’s developmental needs. In addition, she was a lead member of a National Science Foundation study of Internet environments and their impact on public school students’ academic and social experiences. The results of this study culminated in her fourth book, Bringing the Internet to School: Lessons from an Urban District.

    Dr. Davidson also has a wealth of experience as a teacher. She began her career in education teaching English to adult immigrant students. As a teacher in the People’s Republic of China, she helped prospective Chinese teachers learn to teach English composition and literature. As a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh, she headed a team working with seasoned middle school teachers to implement alternative assessment practices. At part of the Stanford University Teacher Education Program, she supervised prospective high school teachers.

    Dr. Davidson is the parent of two young adults. Her B.A. degree is also from Stanford, where she graduated with distinction and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa society. She is a former All-American long distance runner, placing sixth among American runners at the NCAA Division I 10,000 meter championships and participating on the second place team at the NCAA Division I Cross-Country Championships. Over the past decade, she has competed internationally in both triathlon and duathlon and is a five time age group world champion in both of these events. She was raised in Boulder, Colorado and Anchorage, Alaska, where she attended public schools.

    Ann Davidson, PhD

    With her thoroughness, entwined with genuine concern, Dr. Davidson became an advocate for my son. All the friends and family we asked her to interview agreed with us that she has a unique professional, yet compassionate interview style. There is an immediate sense of trust, hope and honesty when interacting with her. She understood the severity of my son’s diagnosis and why many schools/programs refused to even consider him for admission. With her experience and research background, Dr. Davidson knew of a therapeutic residential school most appropriate for him and his needs. No one else was able to help us find a place. She not only found a terrific program for him, she was actively invested in his progress to ensure he was successful and thriving throughout his stay there.

    - Kayla, Hawaii parent

    Educational Connections brought personal compassion, professionalism, order and great diligence to our family at a very difficult time when we were running out of answers for our daughter. Ann Davidson’s work was deep, quick, responsive and thoughtful, and her commitment to getting to know our family was as broad as the extensive national network of relationships Educational Connections enjoys at a variety of schools. It was also clear to us that Educational Connections has earned an excellent reputation among the schools we visited and interviewed. Eight months after Ann presented her recommendations to us, we know that our daughter is exactly where she needs to be. Educational Connections played a vital role in this outcome.
    - Brian and Nicole, Michigan parents

    Patricia Phelan, Ph.D.

    Born in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Phelan attended Portland Public Schools and earned her B.S. Degree in Education at Oregon State University. In 1973, she joined the Urban/Rural School Development Program at Stanford University where she consulted with and provided assistance to schools serving low-income and ethnically diverse children and families throughout the United States. Subsequently she obtained her Masters Degree in Anthropology (1978) and her Ph.D. in Anthropology of Education (1981) at Stanford University. Dr. Phelan’s dissertation involved research in one of the first programs in the country to treat incest victims and their families. In addition to her research agenda, she worked as a therapist for nearly six years with women incest survivors, adolescent victims, and father incest perpetrators and their wives.

    Dr. Phelan’s interests in education and mental health led to her appointment as a faculty member in the Medical Anthropology Program in the Medical School at the University of California, San Francisco (1982-1988). During this time her research continued to focus on mental health issues of children and adolescents. She also held an appointment as an adjunct faculty member at Stanford University where she taught in the Graduate School of Education. From 1989-1992, she continued her work at Stanford as a Senior Research Scholar exploring the relationship between adolescent’s lives and contexts and their involvement in school. During this time she spent hundreds of hours in high schools in California to understand, from the perspective of youth, those things that impact students’ connection with schools and learning including the kinds of pressures and problems that youth face. This work resulted in the publication of numerous articles, books chapters and two books, Renegotiating Cultural Diversity in American Schools and Adolescents’ Worlds: Negotiating Family, Peers, and School. During this time, she was also a faculty member on the Stanford Evaluation Consortium focusing on the evaluation of schools and programs for struggling youth.

    In 1992, Dr. Phelan joined the faculty as a Professor at the University of Washington where she helped to develop a Masters Degree Program for teachers and designed an academic concentration on at-risk children and youth. Her teaching included such courses as Psychosocial Problems of Youth, Seeing Promise in At-Risk Youth, and Social Contexts of Youth. For three years Dr. Phelan’s research was supported by a Spencer Foundation Grant to study programs, policies, and practices that support students’ social, emotional, and academic well-being. In 1996 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and was one of six invited senior teaching and research scholars from the United States to Australia where she served on the faculty at the University of Launceston, Tasmania. During her ten years at the University of Washington, Dr. Phelan continued her involvement in schools as a member of the Nathan Hale Teen Health Clinic Advisory Board and as a facilitator for grief and loss groups and drug and alcohol groups for high school students.

    During her tenure as an educational and therapeutic consultant, Dr. Phelan was an active member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. In 2013 she was selected as the consultant representative to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. She is the mother of an adult son.

    Patricia Phelan, Ph.D.

    I discovered that help is available when it seems like there is no answer to “what do we do with a child who’s making negative decisions and impacting our family’s stability.” Pat was the listening ear I needed, who understood my concerns and frustration and led me through the process, which provided programs for my grandson and granddaughter to make the necessary changes in their life.

    I am grateful for her professional insight with at risk children and ability to suggest appropriate placements. She provided the direction I needed to make the difficult choices for the children I love.

    - Valerie, Southern Oregon