Staff Directory

Executive Staff

Kate Shaw
 | Executive Director

Kate Shaw became Executive Director of Research for Action in December 2009. Since then, she has overseen a four-fold growth in the size of the organization, and has greatly increased the scope of its regional and national work while maintaining a commitment to Philadelphia. Under her leadership, RFA has developed a robust quantitative shop to compliment the strong foundation of qualitative expert…

Stephanie Levin
 | Deputy Director and Director of Quantitative Research

Stephanie Levin is RFA’s Deputy Director and the Director of RFA’s quantitative research department. In that role, Stephanie provides strategic leadership to quantitative and mixed-methods projects, and ensures the rigor and quality of RFA’s quantitative analyses. Stephanie is currently the PI of a Gates Foundation-funded, multi-year, national study of how multiple states and school districts are …

Liza M. Rodriguez
 | Director of Research Operations and Qualitative Research

Dr. Liza M. Rodriguez joined RFA as its Director of Research Operations and Qualitative Research in 2013. Liza brings a unique combination of strong research skills and hands-on policy and organizational experience. For the past several years, Rodriguez served in a consulting role at RFA, working as the co-lead on two national, mixed-method research projects, and as a management consultant. Liza h…

Adam Schott
 | Director of Policy Research

Adam Schott serves as RFA’s Policy Director, overseeing all aspects of the organization’s policy research and reports. He is currently leading several state-level policy projects, including RFA’s work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Mid-Atlantic Comprehensive Center. Adam came to RFA after serving two years as Executive Director of Pennsylvania’s State Board of Education. In…

Elizabeth Simonetti
 | Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, Elizabeth is responsible for providing strategic oversight for all financial and administrative matters at RFA, including human resources and technology. Elizabeth has extensive experience in the for-profit and nonprofit sector, and has worked in social services, healthcare and information technology organizations. Elizabeth has implemented operational methodologies tha…

Research Staff

Kate Callahan
 | Senior Research Associate

Kate Callahan joined RFA in February 2010. At RFA Kate has directed multiple mixed-methods projects focused on postsecondary education and transition to college. Kate is currently leading a two-year study of New Hampshire’s implementation of extended learning opportunities (ELO) as a competency-based education initiative. Kate is also the project director on a four-year evaluation of New Profit, …

Brittan Hallar
 | Senior Research Associate

Brittan Hallar has worked in the field of STEM education for more than a decade. Currently at RFA, Brittan co-leads a large, mixed-methods evaluation of 12 out-of-school time programs in Philadelphia, with a particular focus on programs that have a STEM component. She also contributes to a number of other high-profile projects for a variety of national clients that span the P-20 spectrum where she…

Tracey A. Hartmann
 | Senior Research Associate

Tracey Hartmann is an experienced qualitative researcher and project director. At RFA, she leads and participates in a range of research and evaluation projects. Currently, she leads studies of multiple after-school programs, including an evaluation of 21st Century Community Learning Centers; an evaluation of New Profit as it supports the scaling up of seven high-capacity youth development organiz…

Nancy Lawrence
 | Senior Research Associate

Nancy R. Lawrence is a qualitative researcher with experience in the realm of math education and the role of student assessment in educational reform. She has expertise across a range of topics, including formative assessments, organizational culture, workplace learning, gender politics, and community and political activism. Presently, Nancy is serving as Co-Director of a national study of how sec…

Rebecca J. Reumann-Moore
 | Senior Research Associate

Rebecca Reumann-Moore is an experienced Project Director at RFA. Currently, she co-leads a mixed methods evaluation of City Year Greater Philadelphia. She also plays leadership and research roles on a national Gates Foundation-funded research and development project in which teachers collaborate across districts and states to develop and implement high-quality curricular tools which combine liter…

Jessica Beaver
 | Research Associate

Jessica K. Beaver is a Research Associate at RFA, where she plays a key role on a variety of qualitative, mixed-methods, and policy research projects. Currently, Jessica is the Project Director on a mixed-methods evaluation of a one-to-one laptop initiative in an urban school district and is also the Project Director on a qualitative study of teacher voice in statewide policymaking in Kentucky. Je…

Mark Duffy
 | Research Associate

Mark Duffy has worked in the field of education policy and practice research for over a decade, focusing on both K-12 and postsecondary reform in areas such as standards-based assessment and accountability systems and developmental education. While at RFA, Mark’s projects have included research on the implementation of curricular tools aligned to the Common Core State Standards, college pipeline …

Jian Gao
 | Research Associate

Jian Gao joined RFA in 2012 as a Research Associate. Jian is an educator and experienced quantitative researcher, with a particular expertise in the use of quantitative methods for evaluation of K-12 school reform initiatives. At RFA, he conducts sophisticated quantitative analyses on multiple research and evaluation projects, including the evaluation of Elev8, a national community school initiati…

Michael Norton
 | Research Associate

Michael Norton joined RFA as a Research Associate. Michael is an experienced quantitative researcher, and he has taught statistics at Temple University, where he is completing his doctoral degree in Sociology. He has also conducted a range of qualitative and mixed-methods studies, and has a particular interest in the ways that colleges and universities can strengthen and build communities. Before …

Kelly Piccinino
 | Research Associate

Kelly Dever Piccinino is a Research Associate at RFA. Kelly works on a variety of mixed-method projects at RFA, including an evaluation of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Project LIFT initiative, and a national out-of-school time program called Elev8. Prior to her position at RFA, Kelly worked as a research consultant for Chicago Public Schools and a Senior Research Analyst in the Office of Accountability…

John Sludden
 | Policy Analyst

John is a policy analyst focusing on education trends at local, state and national levels. He is lead author of a number of PACER briefs and Policy Notes on issues ranging from school closings, portfolio models, cyber schools and state report cards. John also serves as a team member on a number of research projects. Prior to his position at RFA, John served for three years as a legislative aide fo…

Katie Englander
 | Research Analyst

Katie joined RFA in 2014 as a Research Analyst. She currently conducts qualitative research and analysis on a variety of mixed-methods projects, including an evaluation of a dozen recipients of the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grants; a five-year evaluation of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Project LIFT initiative; and a study of a one-to-one laptop initiative in classrooms for XO Champ…

Anurag Kumar
 | Data Analyst

Anurag Kumar joined RFA in 2012 as a data analyst. Anurag is an experienced information systems professional and database administrator, with particular expertise in data tracking, database design and IT management. At RFA, Anurag conducts quantitative research on multiple evaluation and research projects, including RFA evaluations of Elev8, Congreso's Exito Program, and 21st Century Schools. Prio…

Jeannette Rowland
 | Research Analyst

Jeannette joined RFA in 2014 as a Research Analyst. She is a member of the qualitative team and currently conducts research and analysis for multiple projects, including an evaluation of the Wallace Foundation’s Youth Arts Initiative and a national evaluation of an OST initiative called Elev8. Prior to joining RFA, Jeannette worked as the Education and Community Development Manager for Nueva Esper…

Lucas Westmaas
 | Research Analyst

Lucas Westmaas is a skilled quantitative and policy analyst. At RFA, Lucas plays a key role in a variety of projects that span these disciplines. As a student at Duke, Lucas served as a research assistant on a project describing changes in school segregation nationwide over the last decade, and as a teaching assistant for several courses, including Politics and the Policy Process, master’s level M…

Marvin Barnes
 | Research Assistant

Marvin Barnes joined Research for Action in 2012 as a research assistant. He received his Bachelor of the Arts degree from Temple University in Sociology while completing a one year internship with RFA. During his academic studies, he also supported international students in transitioning to the University through the Intensive English Language Program. Currently, Marvin does quantitative work for…

Administrative Staff

Alison Murawski
 | Director of Communications

Alison Murawski is RFA’s Director of Communications. Over the past four years, she has implemented an organization-wide strategy to position RFA as a valuable source of information for national, statewide, and local media; district, city, and state policymakers; and other education organizations. Under her leadership, the organization has become a fixture on editorial pages with publication of res…

Nikki Johnson
 | IT & Data Systems Manager

Nikki Johnson is a Senior Research Assistant and Technology Manager at RFA. Since 2002, Nikki has worked as a policy researcher to improve educational programming and opportunities for youth. Nikki’s areas of interest include issues of equity, math, math curriculum, post-secondary education, arts education, and community organizations. Nikki’s projects at RFA have included evaluations of City Year…

Laura Kaiser
 | Office and Human Resources Manager

Laura Kaiser, Office and Human Resources Manager, manages the human resources function and helps to ensure that RFA continues to recruit, mentor and develop the next wave of researchers who seek to learn about and improve public education. She is also responsible for managing the administrative operations of the office, and assists with RFA's communications, technology, and finance functions. …

Jeri Nutter
 | Director of Finance

Jeri Nutter is RFA’s Director of Finance. Jeri is responsible for overseeing RFA's accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash management and financial reporting. Jeri has over 15 years as a nonprofit administrator. Prior to joining RFA, she was the business manager at the Spiral Q Puppet Theater and earlier in her career served as the grants accountant for the Please Touch Museum. In addition to …

Rachel Greene
 | Graphic Designer/Communications Assistant

Rachel Greene is RFA's Graphic Designer/Communications Assistant. In this role, she plays a central part in the production of research reports, including report design and data presentation, as well as the design and development of other organizational materials. Prior to joining RFA, Rachel served as a junior graphic designer at Universal Technical Resource Services. While collaborating with diff…

David Peterson
 | Office Assistant

David Peterson, Office Assistant, supports RFA’s senior leadership and the administrative and research teams. Before coming to RFA, David worked for the Brookings Institution, having served notably as the right-hand to the Vice President and CFO. During his time at Brookings, David also held key posts within the Global Economy and Development Program, the Wolfensohn Center for Development, and the…