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A Message from RFA’s Executive Director

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

After 11 years as Executive Director of Research for Action (RFA), I have decided to step down in mid-December.  While this is a planned transition that has been in the works for months, it is still bittersweet to leave an organization that has been my professional home for so long.

Since 2009, I have had the privilege to lead this extraordinary organization through a period of exponential growth in both size and impact.  Today, RFA deploys its deep P-16 education expertise and strong research capacity to produce timely, accessible, and actionable research and analysis for local, state and national audiences.  The work of my talented colleagues is used by practitioners, policymakers, the philanthropic community, the media, and the advocacy community to inform debates and decisions across the education spectrum.  And while RFA has stayed true to its mission to serve Philadelphia, we have also expanded our focus to include a robust portfolio of statewide and national projects.  I am perhaps most proud that amidst growth and change, RFA has maintained and sharpened its focus on educational inequity of all kinds and has become notably more effective in using research as a tool to address it.

Interim Leadership

I leave RFA in the able hands of a committed Board of Directors and a strong and experienced leadership team with whom I have been working closely to ensure a smooth transition.  Dr. Kate Callahan will serve as RFA’s Interim Executive Director while RFA conducts a national search for a permanent Executive Director. Dr. Callahan is an accomplished mixed-methods researcher whose work is informed by substantial direct experience in both the K-12 and postsecondary sectors; she has been at RFA for over a decade, including several years as RFA’s Chief Research Officer.  She has been instrumental in ensuring that every research project in RFA’s expansive portfolio is robust, nuanced, and aligned to the information needs of our stakeholders.  She has also worked shoulder to shoulder with me as we tackled a broad range of strategic decisions.

Dr. Callahan will be supported by CFO Meena Wolverton and COO/Director of Communications Alison Murawski who are both seasoned professionals with a strong track record of ensuring RFA’s fiscal and administrative health.

Looking Ahead

RFA is remarkably well-positioned to begin this next chapter.  By building on its strong record of success, the organization will continue to make substantial contributions to ensuring that our education systems are more equitable, effective, and accessible.

It has been my distinct pleasure to partner with so many of you to confront some of the most challenging and important educational issues of our time.  My last day as RFA’s Executive Director will be December 11th. But as its biggest fan, I will continue to support and promote RFA as it enters its next chapter.

Many thanks for your support of RFA and of me.



Kate Shaw
Executive Director

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