Leslie M. Booren

Managing Director, VEST & SURP Programs; Assistant Director for Communications, Youth-Nex


  • IOM, Institute of Organizational Management, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • M.A., Human Development, Washington State University
  • B.A., Honors Program, Psychology and Youth Studies, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Leslie Booren received her Master's in Human Development at Washington State University and her Bachelor's from the honors program in Psychology and Youth Studies at the University of Minnesota. She also holds an IOM, Institute of Organizational Management, certification for 95+ hours of non-profit management from the United States Chamber of Commerce in 2015. Leslie is a recipient of the 2017 UVA Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award and the 2015 Curry Outstanding Staff Award.

Currently, Leslie is the Assistant Director for Communication for Youth-Nex, the UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development. Leslie also manages the Virginia Educational Sciences Training (VEST) Program, a pre-doctoral fellowship program with 25+ fellows and 40+ faculty from education, economics, sociology, and psychology departments at UVA. She also directs the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), an 10-week program for underrepresented populations to gain valuable research and professional development experiences. Both VEST and SURP programs are funded from a training grant by U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.

For 6 years previous, Leslie held a Center Administrator position with EdPolicyWorks, a research center at the Curry School of Education and Batten School of Public Policy & Leadership specializing in education policy and the implications for the workforce. She is responsible for all administrative operations for EdPolicyWorks including coordinating events and marketing, academic operations, and the related fiscal, budget and human resources processes. Also, as research faculty for 7 years at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at the University of Virginia, Leslie has completed 25+ professional presentations and a number of peer-reviewed publications from multiple national research studies including the inCLASS validation project, the NCRECE longitudinal professional development study, and NCQTL with Head Start. She has coordinated and worked on multiple research projects, including being the Principal Investigator for two studies on adolescent violence. Leslie is one of the main developers of the Teacher Learning Communities (TLCs), a group professional development program using classroom video, that is part of practice-based coaching with NCQTL and Head Start. Leslie is also an author of the Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System (inCLASS), an observation measure of preschool children's school readiness.

Leslie continues to have a strong interest in community and youth development by bridging applied and research based practices.

Selected Publications


  • Bohlmann, N., Downer, J. T., Williford, A. P., Maier, M. F., Booren, L. & Howes, C. (2019). Observing children’s engagement: Examining factorial validity of the inCLASS across demographic groups. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2018.08.007
  • Curby, T. W., Downer, J. T., & Booren, L. M. (2014). Behavioral exchanges between teachers and children over the course of a typical preschool day: Testing bidirectional associations. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(2), 193-204. Read: CASTL Research Brief
  • Booren, L. M., Downer, J. T., & Vitiello, V. E. (2012). Observations of children’s interactions with teachers, peers, and tasks across preschool classroom activity settings. Early Education and Development, 23(4), 517-538. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2010.548767
  • Vitiello, V. E., Booren, L. M., & Downer, J. T. (2012). Variation in children’s interactions throughout a day in preschool: Do activity settings make a difference? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(2), 210-220. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2011.08.005. Read: CASTL Research Brief.
  • Booren, L. M., Handy, D. J., & Power, T. G. (2011). Examining perceptions of school safety strategies, school climate, and violence. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 9(2), 171-187. doi: 10.1177/1541204010374297 .
  • Downer, J. T., Booren, L. M., Lima, O. K., Luckner, A. E., & Pianta, R. C. (2010). The Individualized Classroom Assessment Scoring System (inCLASS): Preliminary reliability and validity of a system for observing preschoolers’ competence in classroom interaction. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25, 1-16. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2009.08.004
  • Booren, L. M., & Handy, D. J. (2009). Students’ perceptions of the importance of school safety strategies: An introduction to the IPSS Survey. Journal of School Violence, 8(3), 233-250. doi: 10.1080/15388220902910672