Meet The Trusted Team Behind the System

In 2015, Heather Rouse and Cassandra Dorius came together to leverage their combined three decades of experience in education, human services, public health, and integrated data systems.
They brought together leaders from across Iowa’s departments serving young children and their families, secured training and technical assistance to develop Iowa’s model and governance structure, and obtained funding to stand up the system and use it to demonstrate value for informing policy and program improvement. I2D2 was born.
In collaboration with strong Early Childhood Iowa partners spanning diverse systems in the state, this partnership has paved the way for Iowa success. In the words of former ECI Board Chair, the tandem of Rouse and Dorius brings a “palpable level of commitment, a deep understanding of a very complicated system, and a passionate and motivating approach” to the work, which has increased the national visibility of the state of Iowa and Iowa State University as leaders in the use of administrative data systems to inform evidence-based decision making.
In 2019, the dynamic duo was invited to share the successful development of I2D2 at the National Academy of Sciences Committee on National Statistics. With a panel of experts deliberating the value of administrative data, conversations included considerations of how state and municipal integrated data systems could inform national statistical approaches.

Meet our Leaders

Heather Rouse

Heather Rouse


Todd Abraham

Assistant Director of Data & Analytics


Giorgi Chighladze

Data Scientist

Before joining the I2D2 team as a data scientist in 2021, Gio worked as a data manager and analyst for multi-institutional cross-disciplinary projects involving more than dozen land-grant universities across the Midwest, government institutions and state organizations. Over six years he has curated data from agricultural and environmental studies, and has published two datasets in the National Agricultural Library.

Taylor Nagle


Taylor joined the I2D2 team in early 2023 as a Program Coordinator. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Political Science. Her career has centered around public health research administration, advocacy, policy, and non-profit management. At I2D2, Taylor will assist with project management and oversight to deliver results for stakeholders in the state of Iowa. 

Cora Herbkersman


Cora joined the I2D2 team in 2022 as a data analyst. Originally from Indiana, she graduated from Taylor University with a BS in Sociology. She came to Iowa in 2019 and got her MS in Rural Sociology from Iowa State University. Her research interests included quantitative analysis, survey research, small towns, rural religion, and quality of life in rural areas.

Laura Betancur

Research Associate

Laura Betancur received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2020. Her research aims to increase understanding of how the context of children and families shape their wellbeing, focusing on disadvantaged populations in the U.S. and in low- and middle-income countries. In January of 2021, she joined the ECI Longitudinal Study where researches the relationship between families’ utilization patterns of early childhood education services and child developmental outcomes.

Sharon Zanti

Research Associate

Sharon Zanti joined the I2D2 team in 2024 after receiving her Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania and serving as a Doctoral Fellow at Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (AISP). Sharon’s scholarship is grounded in strong partnership with state and local agencies and the ethical use of integrated administrative data to address pressing social policy issues. Previously,  she held multiple research and analytic roles at the Colorado Department of Human Services, earned her MSW from the University of Denver, and spent several years working in the software industry after graduating with a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia.



Danxun Li

Graduate Research Assistant

Danxun joined the I2D2 team in 2022 and is a third-year Ph.D. student and graduate research assistant at Iowa State University’s Human Development & Family Studies department. With seven years of ECE practical experience and 9 years of research in the US and China, she specializes in ECE curriculum, quality assessment, pedagogy, and workforce dynamics. At I2D2, Danxun assists with quantitative research, such as developing surveys, cleaning data, and coordinating participant recruitment. She also leads focus group interviews, supports telephone interviews, codes qualitative data, and contributes to report writing and conference presentations.

Fattaneh Arabzadehjafari

Graduate Research Assistant

In 2022, Fattaneh joined the I2D2 team as a graduate research assistant. She is from Iran and arrived at Iowa State University in Fall 2021 as a graduate student in the department of Human Development and Family Studies department. Her research interests include children’s mental health, children who are at risk, and child and family policy research at the intersection of health and education.


Hannah Kim

Graduate Research Assistant

Hannah joined the I2D2 team in 2022 as a graduate research assistant. She is currently a PhD student in Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University. With backgrounds in Economics and International Studies, she previously worked on multiple grants in the field of international development in South Korea, focusing on global health and education policies. Her research interests center around early childhood, families, and public policy. She is passionate about studying individual, family, and contextual characteristics to connect disadvantaged families with the programs and resources they need.

Meet Our Affiliated faculty

Cass Dorius

Co-Founder & Senior Advisor

Cassandra “Cass” Dorius is I2D2’s cofounder and a dedicated public scientist. Her career is driven by a commitment to social justice and making science accessible to all. At Iowa State University, she has established programs such as the Data Science for Public Good to bring data knowledge to people. Learn more about Dr. Dorius and how she is driving positive change for people and communities through data.

Christine Lippard

Associate Professor at Utica University

Christine has collaborated with the I2D2 team since the 2019 Iowa’s Early Childhood Statewide Needs Assessment. Christine’s passion has always been to improve the experiences young children have in group settings and to support the providers teaching and caring for them. Christine has overseen data collection for several projects and collaborates on various analyses and dissemination efforts.

Ji-Young Choi

Associate Professor at Ohio State University

Ji-Young is an Associate Professor of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University. Her research interests center on studying how early care and education programs and policies can promote the early development of linguistically and economically diverse children. Ji-Young collaborates on I2D2’s Head Start awards.