Our Team

Jessica Pearson, Ph.D.

Jessica Pearson, Ph.D.

Dr. Pearson founded CPR in 1981. Her research includes some of the first national studies of mediation in custody and visitation disputes, parent education, and supervised visitation. She has also completed leading evaluations of new initiatives in child support programs including hospital-based paternity, family-centered services, collaborations with workforce agencies, early intervention strategies, methods of avoiding and addressing child support debt, and addressing parenting time orders and access and visitation problems.

Dr. Pearson served as co-principal investigator of a seven-state demonstration project that resulted in the creation of the State Access and Visitation Grant Program that now awards $10 million annually for programs to support parenting time. Pearson provides technical assistance, research, and facilitation services to federal, state and local agencies, and service delivery programs. Her areas of expertise include improving access to public benefit programs, developing effective work programs for low-income parents and mentoring and literacy programs for disadvantaged learners.

Dr. Pearson is currently co-director of the national Fatherhood Research and Practice Network where she oversees grants distributed to projects to rigorously evaluate fatherhood programs, and provides training to improve practice and evaluation in the fatherhood field. She regularly publishes in journals and presents at practitioner conferences. In April 2015, she edited a special issue of the Family Court Review dealing with Parenting Time and Co-Parenting for Unmarried Parents (Volume 53, No.2).

Dr. Pearson received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University.

Nancy Thoennes, Ph.D.

Associate Director
Nancy Thoennes, Ph.D.

Dr. Nancy Thoennes has worked with CPR since its inception. She has extensive experience within the areas of child abuse and neglect and intimate partner violence. She conducted some of the first empirical research on sexual abuse allegations in custody disputes and some of the first work on the use of court based mediation to resolve child abuse and neglect cases. Dr. Thoennes has evaluated dependency mediation programs in over 15 jurisdictions nationally. She was also a member of the national research team charged with the evaluation of the Court Improvement Program and she works extensively with the Court Improvement Program of Louisiana.

Dr. Thoennes served as the lead analyst for the Violence Again Woman Project, the first collaborative venture between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Justice. This study explored physical violence, sexual assault, threats and stalking over the life span. It collected data from nationally representative samples of 8,000 women and 8,000 men and gathered data on victimization by intimate partners, strangers, and family members.

Dr. Thoennes has also worked extensively in the area of fatherhood and co-parenting. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Denver.

Lanae Davis, M.P.A

Senior Research Associate
Lanae Davis, M.P.A

Lanae Davis has spent her entire career as a researcher at CPR, joining the team in 1997. Her research focuses broadly on addressing barriers to poverty among disadvantaged populations.

Ms. Davis has worked with numerous state and local agencies to implement, execute and evaluate innovative strategies to improve low-income noncustodial parent’s employment, re-entry and parenting time, all aimed at improving child support payments. She developed a toolkit for state agencies to use in designing workforce programs for low-income child support populations. Ms. Davis uses evidence-based practices to design and implement evaluations ranging from multi-site randomized controlled trials to single site process and implementation studies. She has co-authored reports, articles and given national presentations on her research related to employment, re-entry and access and visitation programs that serve low-income populations.

Ms. Davis is currently leading a randomized controlled trial of Colorado’s Pathways to Success project aimed at testing interventions to prevent homelessness and human trafficking among youth aging out of the foster care system. Ms. Davis received her M.P.A. from the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver.

Jane Venohr, Ph.D.

Economist/Senior Research Associate
Jane Venohr, Ph.D.

Dr. Jane Venohr joined Center for Policy Research as an economist/research associate in 2007. Since then, she has assisted more than 25 states with the review of their child support guidelines. This includes updating guidelines schedules for new economic data on the cost of raising children, and changes in price levels and tax rates that affect spendable income, and the development of formulaic adjustments for low incomes, high incomes, shared-parenting time, and additional dependents.

Dr. Venohr has also assisted states with fulfilling federal requirements for periodic case file reviews. In this capacity, she has crafted the research design and sampling strategy, directed data collection and analysis, prepared written summaries of findings, and presented the results. Dr. Venohr is a frequent presenter to various committees charged with reviewing a state’s guidelines and has presented invited testimony to several state legislative committees on child support guidelines issues.

In addition to her work in child support, Dr. Venohr’s experience in both research and technical assistance spans many other public assistance programs: Medicaid, CHIP, housing assistance, SNAP, TANF, childcare assistance, foster care, and school-based health programs.

Dr. Venohr earned her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder with concentrations in econometrics and economic demography. Prior to joining CPR she worked in the private sector and taught economics. She continues to teach macroeconomics at Colorado Mountain College. Dr. Venohr has published in the Family Law Quarterly and is a frequent contributor to NCSEA Communique.

Anne Byrne, M.S.

Research Associate

Anne Byrne, M.S., joined CPR as a Research Associate in 2018. Byrne combines expertise in organizational development with research skills to evaluate programs, conduct feasibility studies and recommend policy actions that drive continuous organizational improvement.

In her short tenure with CPR, Byrne has conducted a feasibility study for including home delivered meals as Medicaid benefit, evaluated the Department of Human Service’s Employment Focused Funds grant and New Hampshire’s Access and Visitation Grant. Byrne has conducted a preliminary scan of early literacy programs on behalf of the Colorado Works programs to assess the potential for impact on improving children’s early literacy skills.

As a seasoned nonprofit executive director, Byrne has experience in designing and utilizing evaluation, including both quantitative and qualitative elements, as a key influence in achieving organizational excellence. Byrne is the founder of Denver’s rape crisis center, The Blue Bench, and served as a long-time executive director of Scholars Unlimited, a literacy program for low-income elementary-aged youth with reading difficulties.

Savahanna Matyasic, M.S.W.

Research Assistant

Savahanna Matyasic joined CPR as a research assistant in 2018. She brings to the organization multiple years as a qualitative researcher on community engagement and public policy advocacy. Within state and local governments in Colorado, her work has focused on diversity, inclusivity, and racial and gender justice. Ms. Matyasic specializes in gathering primary data through hands-on methodologies such as interviews and focus groups and has used these aptitudes to evaluate public-nonprofit partnerships within the City and County of Denver.

Originally a Great Lakes girl, Savahanna has developed an abiding love for the resplendent beauty of Colorado and is committed to empowering organizations that are working towards a healthy, just, and sustainable Colorado for years to come.

Savahanna received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver with a focus on organizational leadership and public policy.

Victoria Lerma Simmons, M.P.H.

Office Manager

Victoria joined CPR in 2020 and is responsible for contract management, bookkeeping, payroll, purchasing, audit preparation, vendor management, and producing reports for the board of directors.

With over fifteen years’ experience working with nonprofit organizations in the east coast and Colorado, Victoria has streamlined office processes, evaluated vendors and cultivated relationships with external contacts, coordinated IT and accounting services, and coordinated conferences and retreats. Most recently, she worked for the Buell Foundation and the Limb Preservation Foundation in Denver.

Victoria has a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of the Philippines and a Master of Public Health degree from New York University.

She enjoys playing tennis, biking around metro Denver’s trails as well as travelling with her husband, two sons, and her extended family.