Kara Hirano, Ph.D.

Research Scientist


As a Research Scientist at Search Institute, Kara conducts applied mixed methods research, translates research to practical applications, and secures grant funding for projects. She holds a Ph.D in Special Education and M.Ed in Couples and Family Therapy from the University of Oregon and has expertise in promoting positive youth development by helping systems improve relationships between youth and their families. She is a former faculty member at Illinois State University in the Department of Special Education where she focused on the transition from high school to postsecondary education and employment. She also has experience working as a therapist for youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system. Kara is focused on building strong relationships within families, as well as between families and youth-serving organizations. She appreciates Search Institute’s focus on relational context and equity as well as the organization’s approach to ensuring all who interact with young people understand their role in promoting positive youth development.

Photo of Kara Hirano