About the Authors

Wendy I. Geller

team-member

As Director of the Data Management & Analysis Division, I serve alongside my Work Family of Data Scientists as a centralized resource to the Vermont Agency of Education. My crew collects, stewards, and leverages the institution’s critical data assets to create and share data products that enable empirically-based practice and policy decision-making.

We lead, partner with external bodies, and execute on the analytic activities of the institution as well as plan, develop, and manage the data governance program and the business side of the DataOps continuum.

My Ph.D. (2011) is in sociology from the National University of Ireland Maynooth (www.nuim.ie) where I was a doctoral fellow at the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (www.nuim.ie/nirsa). My dissertation findings highlighted shifting demographics in education arenas and labor markets internationally, specific education orientations occurring across cultures, and presented thoughts on the social and spatial forces surrounding rural community viability.

Since leaving academia, I’ve dedicated myself to creating the cultural, infrastructural, and operational conditions needed to care for and use data sustainably so as to provide value-added analyses in the public sector.

My specialties include DataOps generally, data governance, data privacy, applied research, program evaluation, social policy, management, and developing functional relationships with IT/kind-of-being-part-of-IT-but-not-really.

Dorothyjean (DJ) Cratty

Through the nascent DJC Applied Research LLC and in partnership with other firms, I conduct research in education, labor, and public economics for and with local and national agencies and organizations, helping them and their stakeholders develop relevant actionable findings. As part of this work, I advise states and districts and their university research partners and grantmaking organizations on collaborative data analytic methods for their researcher practitioner partnerships (RPPs) tailored to their specific data sources and needs.

Currently, I lead the education data audit and analysis stage of the District of Columbia’s aspiring research collaborative, with Data Ethics LLC. In similar prior work, at AIR, I led the development of Rhode Island’s cross-sector Research Hub. At Duke University, I built out North Carolina’s cross-sector research capacity as the data and methods specialist on an interdisciplinary research team with the statewide data center. As a program officer for the federal Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grant program, I worked with state agency data and research managers to help develop and share best practices for collaborative cross-sector research.

My Smith College undergraduate economics thesis studied ten years of state employment and work injury records to assess effects of workers compensation benefit reductions on claims relative to injuries. I completed the PhD economics coursework at the University of Maryland, and left without a dissertation to work as a staff economist for the research division of the World Bank. My country studies there included determining the cause of sudden high dropout rates among extremely poor households and estimating labor productivity costs for war-torn populations. Journal publications include the Economics of Education Review and Economics of Transition.

The focus of much of my research has been on equity of opportunity and resources, with studies specifically designed to answer actionable questions that practitioners, policymakers, and stakeholders ask of the data. These questions of varied access and returns require more nuanced data derivations than are often carried out sufficiently in academic research studies. My direct service to clients is helping them use the empirical facts of their fully prepped and vetted data to qualify existing claims and generate more grounded findings. Some of these detailed data methods and findings papers available on the SSRN open source site are found to be useful resources by other state and district data analysts.

Jared Knowles

team-member

I currently serve as the founder and president of Civilytics Consulting LLC, the data science consulting firm I founded in 2016. Civilytics serves clients at all levels of government in policy areas such as K-12 education, higher education, policing, and taxation. Before founding Civilytics, I worked for 6 years at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. There, I pioneered an award-winning machine learning algorithm that is used across the state to help struggling students get back on track. Since 2012, this work has been used around the country to improve the accuracy of predictive analytics systems in education.

My work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Educational Data Mining and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. I received a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015. My dissertation investigated the untapped democratic potential of school board elections and the conditions under which school governance in the United States becomes democratic.

Now, through Civilytics, my work focuses on building the capacity of public sector partners to sustain analytic products after the initial work. By using open source software and open data sources, providing all source code and extensive documentation, and excellent training of customers in the product, Civilytics ensures that its clients can maintain products developed long after the contract ends. This sustainable partnership model is unique, allowing agencies to build lasting organizational change. Civilytics approaches projects with a human centered design methodology that creates lasting partnerships with clients.