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Announcing our New Executive Director!

Congratulations, Dr. M. Kate Callahan!

The Board of Directors of Research for Action (RFA) are pleased to announce the selection of a new Executive Director after a nine-month national search.

Dr. Kate Callahan took the helm on October 15, 2021 and will advance the organization’s growing influence in education research, policy, and social justice across the United States.

“Kate distinguished herself during this search with her vision, her commitment to social and racial justice and RFA, and her methodological training and expertise as a research leader. She is the right person for the job at this pivotal moment for RFA.”

– Dr. James Earl Davis, RFA Board Chair


“I am grateful to RFA’s board, staff, and the many stakeholders who played a critical role during this search process,” said Callahan. “I bring a deep and abiding commitment to RFA, its work, and its people to this new position. I look forward to leading RFA and our collective work to leverage research, collaboration, and partnership to advance racial and social justice in education so that all students, families, and their communities have the resources and supports to develop their potential and thrive.”

In the coming year, RFA will embark on a strategic plan to codify its commitment to becoming an anti-racist research organization and continue to solidify and grow its reputation in the field for high quality, rigorous, and actionable research.


“On behalf of the staff of RFA, we are eager to work with Kate to embark on the ambitious vision for internal and external impact that she laid out.”

– Saxon Nelson, Director of Community Engagement
and Staff Search Advisory Committee member


Callahan, a 12-year veteran of RFA, most recently served as Chief Research Officer, in addition to serving as Interim Executive Director since December 2020. She has played an integral role in expanding RFA’s research portfolio, including securing the organization’s first research grant from the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, and has directed several of RFA’s national studies. Callahan has extensive experience teaching research methods and community-based evaluation and conducting mixed-methods evaluations of preK-16 education policy and practice. Earlier in her career, Callahan worked as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, served as an Associate Director of the A Better Chance, Inc. program in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, and provided professional support to teachers in a community-based education, health, and wellness center in La Paz, Bolivia. She has a Ph.D. in Urban Education from Temple University.

Callahan succeeds former RFA Executive Director, Dr. Kate Shaw, who left the organization in December 2020 after ushering RFA through more than a decade of growth, influence, and impact.

The national search for RFA’s Executive Director was led by Allison Kupfer Poteet and Cara Pearsall from the executive search firm Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group LLC (NPAG).

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