Raised in South Carolina, Kaila came to Williamsburg after spending a decade in Massachusetts. She graduated from Brandeis University summa cum laude with a BA in history, and she also holds a dual MA/MLS in history and archives management from Simmons College. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta, and Beta Phi Mu. She spent two semesters as an intern in the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Library at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Last year she was an editorial apprentice at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, where she fact-checked articles for the William and Mary Quarterly and books for the Institute Press.
Both her senior honors thesis and her M. A. thesis at Simmons examined changes in the personal naming practices in Massachusetts families from the colonial era to the eve of the Civil War, and connected those changes to broader shifts in religious and cultural beliefs, especially those pertaining to death and memorialization and the roles of women and children within the family. Her research challenged the attribution of onomastic change to secularization and individualization, suggesting more complex motives. Kaila's M. A. portfolio at William and Mary included a paper on nineteenth-century representations of Giles Corey (of Salem Witch Trials renown) and another on the intertwined history of Robert Twelves, his great-grandson and namesake George Robert Twelves Hewes, and Boston's Old South Meetinghouse. Her general research interests include the social and cultural history of pre-twentieth-century America, historical memory, microhistory, digital humanities, quantitative history, Puritans, and New England history.