We are hiring.


Robin Petering, MSW, PHD

Founder + Senior Researcher

Dr. Petering has a strong foundation in statistics and uses a range of methodological tools. This is complemented by a commitment to vulnerable populations and systems.

Robin's CV

Email Robin


Robin has a lens on youth homelessness; innovative housing models; violence (interpersonal, intimate partner and gang); positive youth development

Personal statement: In 2007, I started as a street outreach worker. I spent several years walking up and down the streets of Oregon passing out socks, condoms, matches and mediocre jokes to young people experiencing homelessness. I loved what I did and who I worked with. However, I eventually became frustrated with the constraints of the broken system I was working within. This brought me down a path that led to eventually moving to Los Angeles to obtain my master’s in social work. Through some solid mentorship, I came to realize that there was potential to make a huge impact and implement change through research.  Knowledge truly is power. Research and data provide knowledge. I’ve spent the past seven years reading, writing, analyzing and contemplating in the pursuit of understanding the causes and consequences of homelessness experienced by young Americans. Professionally, I consider myself a multi-hyphenate, social worker-scientist-advocate. I am a 500 hour experienced yoga teacher and teach inclusive yoga in social service settings. I am a retired hip-hop DJ who once DJ’d for Bill and Chelsea Clinton. I get inspiration and encouragement from the people surrounding me. Gloria Steinem and Kathleen Hanna are role models. In my spare time, I analyze and obsess over the artistic vision of Kanye West. Currently, my favorite Kanye West song is “Touch the Sky”.

Laura OV.jpg

laura onasch vera, MSW

Director of Projects

Onasch Vera has several years of experience overseeing research projects focused on understanding the lives of young persons experiencing homelessness.

Email Laura


Laura has a lens on gendered based violence and experiences of homelessness, innovative solutions to end youth homelessness, positive youth development, and racial/gender equity

Personal statement: Laura graduated with her MSW from USC and is currently a project coordinator for an innovative project that utilizes AI to have a larger impact on HIV prevention for youth experiencing homelessness. As a coordinator she is also a group facilitator for a positive youth development training about HIV prevention that focuses on leadership, communication, accessible and accurate sex education and consent. She has supported multiple research teams over the past 3 years working with youth experiencing homelessness and prioritizes working collaboratively with participants so they are partners in the research. She is currently a co-chair of the West Coast Convening which is a collective of service providers and advocates on the west coast working together to end youth homelessness.



Nicole Thompson

Nicole earned her bachelor’s in criminology, law, and society from UC Irvine and her MSW from USC. She is currently a research & assessment specialist through Florida State University’s School of Social Work’s Institute for Justice and Research Development. Nicole Thompson has clinical experience providing individual and group-based substance use treatment to youth involved in the juvenile justice system.


Layan Kaileh

Layan received her BSW from Fresno State and MSW from USC. Layan is currently the project specialist at USC where she coordinates the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count that occurs every year. Layan also worked as a research assistant on an innovative HIV prevention project for youth experiencing homelessness.


Ryan Polsky

Ryan is currently a second year Master's of Social Work student at the University of Southern California.


Relly Brown

Relly is an expert in youth homelessness, innovative housing solutions, and advocacy.


Jack Tsai

Jack Tsai has dual appointments with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office and Yale University School of Medicine. He serves as Research Director for the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans and is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Yale where he is also Director of the Division of Mental Health Services Research.


Eric Rice

Eric Rice is an associate professor and the founding co-director of the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society, a joint venture of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.