Strategic Partnerships

Javier is the Executive Director of COGx, a Washington-DC based research and development firm in applied neuroscience dedicated to implementing science-based programs that enhance learning outcomes. COGx offers a proprietary methodology to enhance cognition for students through individualized programs; professional development workshops for educators; and, a technology platform that fosters 21st century skills for school systems.

The impetus for his work is personal. At the age of five, Javier and his family escaped a war caused by a US invasion in his home country.  He subsequently attended four private and three public schools in three cities and three countries before graduating from high school. The shifting cultures, languages and personal situation led to dramatic changes in his academic performance.  At the age of 13, he was diagnosed as “mildly retarded”.  By 18, Javier was a community college dropout and had given up on the prospect of a formal college-level education.

Javier then earned scholarships and graduate degrees from Yale and Harvard. He also earned a graduate-level fellowship to conduct research at MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

His research on cognitive science was driven by a desire to understand cognition applied to learning and how it could be actively improved with proper interventions.  Here Javier collaborated with scientists to develop programs to improve cognitive abilities for individuals through customized one-on-one intervention.  This was the genesis of the COGx program.

At COGx, Javier is responsible for designing the corporate strategy that fosters democratizing access to COGx programs through a carefully selected network of private and public organizations serving as partners.   Javier’s work was the inspiration for a TEDx event in Washington DC, for which Javier was chosen to present alongside leading neuroscientists.

Dr. Cindy Sandler
Learning & Development

Dr. Cindy Ward Sandler received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.   Dr. Sandler brings to COGx her extensive experience working directly with children and families, as well as the community-at-large.  First as a therapist and more recently in her diagnostic testing practice, Dr. Sandler’s focus has always been on helping others be the best they can be.  A sought after public speaker, she presents various topics including: learning, development, teaching strategies, and parenting.  Co-hosting The Learning Connection and Team Radio, both call-in talk shows, provided a broader audience access to her insight and advice.  Additionally, Dr. Sandler is a founding and current board member and advisor for Camp Attaway, a therapeutic day camp for children with behavioral and emotional challenges.  Serving as a member of the Maryland Psychological Association’s Ethics Committee allows her opportunities to support other psychologists in the state.

As Director of Learning and Development, Dr. Sandler ensures COGx programs are properly incorporated in both the private sector and schools. Such monitoring allows the program to be as effective as possible in developing independent learners. By working closely with partner schools and teachers, Dr. Sandler shares her experience and insights so teachers are better equipped in identifying learning styles and providing targeted solutions.  Her understanding of how a child learns and processes, along with an ability to apply that information to everyday learning and functioning, makes Dr. Sandler an invaluable resource.

Special Education

Dr. Carmen Constantinescu obtained a PhD in Special Education Policy from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education from George Washington University. She has been a professional in special education in the Washington, D.C. area since 2004 and, to date, has held positions as early interventionist and special education teacher and administrator in preK-12 programs (public, private/non-public, and charter schools). Currently, she is active in the academia community as a faculty member in various teacher preparation programs at local universities (both formal training as well as field experience). Her research experience includes collaborations with the American Institute for Research, the J. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and a first independent research study at a local non-public school. Her research interests include cognitive development, instructional accommodations and best teaching practices for students with disabilities as well as classroom applications of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and teacher dispositions.

Quality Assurance

Lauren graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park and has ten years of experience working with students as a tutor and teacher. During her four years of college Lauren served as a mentor with the America Reads program, supplementing the work of reading specialists in local elementary schools. She also has four years of classroom experience, teaching first through third graders.

A professional tennis instructor since age 17, Lauren has a great passion for the game of tennis. Lauren began coaching tennis while still in high school and has several years of experience as director of a Julian Krinsky School of Tennis-affiliated summer program outside Philadelphia. Lauren’s favorite thing about tennis is the mental and physical challenge. She loves working with kids and adults of all ages and abilities in helping shift their self-perception and mindset towards learning through incremental gains and self-awareness while building abilities that transfer to real-life applications.

Lauren is actively pursuing research in cognitive psychology and neurology. Lauren is a senior cognitive trainer who has been instrumental in developing modifications that allow us to customize training in order to increase the effectiveness of our cognitive training exercises for each client. Lauren has also overseen the training of new COGx professionals and supports partner organizations to ensure ongoing quality. Lauren has over 3,000 hours of individualized cognitive training experience, and has successfully worked with students with learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury patients, gifted students, professionals, and seniors.

Academic Partner

Mariale Hardiman, EdD is the Vice Dean for Urban School Partnerships and Clinical Professor of Education at The Johns Hopkins University School of Education.

Dr. Hardiman develops training programs that enhance teaching outcomes. She advises COGx in selecting academics to join in presenting their research to school teachers globally while helping design these teacher training programs.

Dr. Hardiman is also the co-founder and director of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Neuro-Education Initiative. This cross-disciplinary program brings to educators relevant research from the brain sciences to inform teaching and learning through regional conferences, national summits, a professional development series, and a graduate level certificate in Mind, Brain, and Teaching. Her research and publications focus on enhancing educational practices through techniques that foster innovation and creative problem-solving for all students.

Hardiman’s work has also led to the creation of partnerships within the University and community, including STEM education, a leadership academy for Baltimore City Schools, and partnerships with organizations that support the development of schools and communities in Baltimore. Before joining Johns Hopkins in 2006, Hardiman served in the Baltimore City Public Schools for more than 30 years. As the principal of Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, she led the school to its designation as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.  With the use of the Brain-Targeted Teaching Model that Hardiman developed, the school was recognized by the Kennedy Center as a School of Distinction for arts programming and arts integration.

Dr. Hardiman presents nationally and internationally on topics related to the intersection of research in the neuro- and cognitive sciences with effective teaching strategies, including meaningful integration of the arts. Her books include: Brain-Targeted Teaching for 21stCentury Schools (Corwin Press, 2012); Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain (The Dana Foundation, 2009); and Connecting Brain Research with Effective Teaching: The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2003).


Kathryn holds a B.A. in English from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her interest in brain science has developed over the last decade, as she researched ways to help her son overcome learning challenges. Kathryn started her career in public relations at National Public Radio, where she was an assistant publicist for the news division. In South Florida, she managed public relations accounts for Pier 66 Resort and Marina and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, among others.

An actress and voiceover artist with more than 25 years of professional experience, Kathryn has pursued her interests in meditation, healing and consciousness in recent years. She also develops meditation programs for students and adults and blogs about meditation and neuroplasticity at OpenSkyInsight.com.


Karen holds an MBA from Columbia University, concentration in Organizational Behavior, and a BA from George Washington University, in General Liberal Arts. As an internal Organization Development consultant for Goldman Sachs (and Andersen Consulting -now Accenture), Karen worked with individuals and communities throughout the organization(s) to examine and effectively improve performance and morale. Karen has also found the time to pursue lifelong passions as an Interfaith Minister, a life coach and a jazz vocalist.   Karen was led to ministry by a fascination with spiritual philosophies, and a strong desire to serve people particularly in times of grief or crisis.

Karen is a 2003 graduate of All Faiths Seminary International in New York, NY.  Through her diverse experiences Karen has developed a strong connection to seniors and assisted living centers. Karen is also a Life Coach in private practice since 1999, focusing on spiritual understanding and spiritual responses to life’s challenges and opportunities.  She is also a Jazz Vocalist.

Portfolio Manager

Shazia Khan graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a B.A. in Psychology. As an undergraduate, Shazia enrolled in several Neuroscience courses and worked in the Neuroscience lab on campus. During her senior year, Shazia worked alongside professors in researching the effects of emotional valence on false memory. Also, throughout her college career, Shazia served as the president of the Rotaract Club and earned the DeSousa-Brent Scholar award for academic excellence and community service.

Currently, Shazia is pursuing her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at Loyola University Maryland. She is particularly interested in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and how it affects language production and comprehension.

Shazia has worked as a high school tutor for over five years helping students in various subjects including Biology, Chemistry, Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. She has experience working with individuals who have learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As a tutor, she is described as being patient, resourceful, adaptable, and supportive. In her free time, Shazia enjoys traveling, kayaking, hiking, and reading.

Portfolio Manager

Alexandria Clapp graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Theatre and Music. As an undergraduate she spent several years working with the New Student Orientation program, culminating as a team leader her senior year. She facilitated in the development and implementation of the New Student Orientation program and trained over 40 additional orientation leaders. Discovering her natural ability to work with individuals one on one and passion for understanding cognition and learning more deeply, Alexandria then pursued roles working with younger students facing specific learning struggles.

In addition to her experience working with students one on one she has several years of international business experience. Alexandria has also worked as a lead contact of many licensee and affiliate accounts where she held a multi-faceted role, facilitating in account management, logistics and accounting. She developed the 2014 company handbook.

Alexandria has maintained an academic and professional interest in neuroplasticity and its relationship with learning and memory in everyday life. Her work experience since graduating has been based heavily on her fascination with understanding interpersonal dynamics and improving human learning. She is pleased to combine her professional and academic experiences with her personal passion by working with individuals to succeed at becoming better learners through customized cognitive training.

She also practices Sridaiva yoga and pursues acting in regional theatre.

Portfolio Manager

Lauren Brown graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Throughout college, she worked closely with children as a tutor and camp counselor, where she developed her awareness of learning differences and passion for helping students learn more effectively. In addition to her role as a COGx cognitive trainer, Lauren also works as a Research Specialist with the University of Virginia / Johns Hopkins University in their Department of Mental Health, working mainly on a project dedicated to helping elementary school teachers improve outcomes through science and research-based insights.

Lauren provides ongoing observations to schools across Baltimore County, conducts evaluations and analyzes test scores to garner insights that are then applied to improve teaching performance. In her role there, Lauren also collects data through classroom observations and student assessments. She now shares her time as a Researcher at the University for schools and helping students with customized programs in applied neuroscience at COGx.

Portfolio Manager

Tiffany graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Psychology and Cognitive Science. As an undergraduate, Tiffany worked as a research assistant at a cognitive development lab which studied the origin of knowledge within the framework of experimental cognitive neuroscience. This is where her interests in neuropsychology and cognition began to grow.

Tiffany earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Loyola University where she gained experience working with individuals with learning disabilities and acquired brain injuries. She has facilitated skill oriented groups with goals of optimizing clients’ wellbeing by increasing their social interaction and community involvement. Tiffany has recently completed an externship at Mt Washington Pediatric Hospital where she administered neuropsychological assessments and gained further exposure to a variety of neurological impairments and brain injury. Her interest in neuropsychology continues to grow as she advances her knowledge through current coursework and continued clinical training at her University’s brain injury clinic.

Outside of her academic and clinical work, Tiffany was also President of the Graduate Student Organization at Loyola where she coordinates a variety of events to encourage community involvement within the graduate student body. In her free time, Tiffany enjoys painting, exercising, and traveling.

Operations Manager

Katherine graduated from American University in Washington DC with a B.A. in Psychology and was selected as one of 42 incoming freshman to participate in the American University School of Public Affairs Leadership Program. For two years, Katherine worked in the program toward advanced leadership studies which ignited her passions for addressing complex issues, serving the community, and gaining a stronger understanding of human behavior. She proceeded to pursue narrower interests within psychology, taking classes in advanced neuropsychology, abnormal psychology, memory and cognition, and completing an independent study in the Memory and Cognition lab on the relationship between music preference and compatibility in friendships.

Katherine has over three years of experience working in the field of behavioral health involving case management, individualized rehabilitation planning, and program management. During this time she has interacted with a wide variety of individuals including those with traumatic brain injury, dementia, learning disabilities, and other co-occurring disorders. She has held a variety of roles in the past including private tutoring, and in each has enjoyed assisting others in creatively and effectively reaching their goals, finding her clients to be the greatest source of inspiration for her work. In her free time, Katherine enjoys cooking, reading, visiting new places, and working her monthly shift at Fahrney’s Pens, a pen and stationary store in Washington DC.

Integration Manager

Kristen graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in psychology and neuroscience. As an undergraduate student, she worked as a research assistant in child psychology labs and became interested in studying the development of cognitive and reasoning skills in school-age children.

After graduating, she worked for three years with COGx as a cognitive skills trainer, working one-on-one with children ages 5-14 to help them develop their memory, reasoning, and attention skills, as well as identify and promote their personal strengths. In addition, Kristen was a post-baccalaureate research fellow for two years at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, where she was involved in projects that explored family relationships and the impact of maternal depression on child neurological functioning.

In 2015, Kristen began pursuing her graduate studies in school psychology at Tufts University, where she also worked as a time management and study strategies consultant for undergraduate and graduate students. As part of her graduate studies, she completed a practicum internship at an elementary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In this position, Kristen administered and interpreted academic, cognitive, and social-emotional assessments, provided counseling services to students, and engaged in consultation with teachers and staff. She has worked with students with diverse educational strengths and needs, including specific learning disabilities and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Kristen obtained her M.A. in school psychology in 2016 and is excited to be returning to work with COGx.

Cognitive Trainer

Debbie graduated with a Master’s Degree in Learning Disabilities from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and has 45 years of experience working as a public school teacher and department chair, tutor, mentor, advocate, and adjunct professor at George Washington University. She is also Nationally Board Certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist.

In each capacity, Debbie works to equip each student with the skills to independently learn and be successful in academics as well as life experiences. Consequently, Debbie is always searching for new strategies and following the latest research in brain research and cognition; her research led her to COGx. As she is a licensed Cognitive Trainer, she is excitedly informing students that she can assist them in enhancing their cognition thus positively affecting their learning abilities for life. Her students range from age 3-80 with learning and emotional disabilities, attention disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, stroke, and senior dementia. Debbie brings her multi-faceted experience to each client.

Education is not Debbie’s only focus as she is happy to share pictures and stories of her 6 grandchildren. She also enjoys experiencing the cultures of the world with her husband Morris. As CEO of The Simon Firm, Debbie is proud to be an Affiliate with COGx and incorporates the COGx Methodology to the Firm’s capabilities.

Integration Manager

Mary graduated from The Catholic University of America with a B.A. in psychology. While in college Mary was a member of the lacrosse team and led youth lacrosse camps. She was also a peer tutor, where her interests in psychology and education developed. After college, Mary joined Teach For America where she served as a high school special education teacher in North Carolina. In this role, Mary co-taught English and Math courses for students in the 9th through 12th grades. She has experience working with students with learning differences, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disabilities, among others. She became the exceptional children’s department chair in her third year teaching. Mary was the head girls’ soccer coach and helped lead numerous student organizations during her three years teaching.

Mary earned a masters degree in clinical psychology at Loyola University Maryland. She is particularly interested in neuropsychology and assessment. In her free time, Mary enjoys playing sports, running, baking, and reading.

Individualized Programs

Mary graduated from The Catholic University of America with a B.A. in psychology. While in college Mary was a member of the lacrosse team and led youth lacrosse camps. She was also a peer tutor, where her interests in psychology and education developed. After college, Mary joined Teach For America where she served as a high school special education teacher in North Carolina. In this role, Mary co-taught English and Math courses for students in the 9th through 12th grades. She has experience working with students with learning differences, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disabilities, among others. She became the exceptional children’s department chair in her third year teaching. Mary was the head girls’ soccer coach and helped lead numerous student organizations during her three years teaching.

Currently, Mary is pursuing her masters in clinical psychology at Loyola University Maryland. She is particularly interested in neuropsychology and assessment, and is completing externships within this field. In her free time, Mary enjoys playing sports, running, baking, and reading.

Portfolio Manager

Ana holds a B.A. in Psychology with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis from Mercyhurst University as well as a master’s in psychology specializing in Research on Cognition and Behavior at the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. As an undergraduate, she was a research assistant for the Laboratory of Addictive and Impulsive Behavior as well as a Peer-Mentor for the Asperger Initiative, which sparked her passion for finding and fostering each person’s potential through individualized programs that target cognition.

Through her role as a trainer and tutor, she gained experience in developing socials skills and independence for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.Ana has also customized and implemented programs to reduce problem behaviors for at-risk youth, which led to improved school performance and social integration for disadvantaged and disenfranchised children. Ana has also worked with patients living in a psychiatric and mental health facility managing their daily social and educational activities.  Ana’s experiences allow her to understand the importance of emotion on cognition as well as the need to customize programs that are holistic and effective to increase overall performance of her clients, which she is deeply committed to.

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