Michelle Derr, PhD

Senior Researcher, Mathematica Policy Research

Dr. Michelle Derr, a Senior Researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, is known for her vision, passion, and ability to translate research findings effectively to improve public policies and direct practice. She specializes in evaluating employment and training initiatives targeted to public assistance clients, ex-offenders, individuals with disabilities, and other disadvantaged populations, visiting more than 130 localities in 35 states and territories as part of this work. She is currently serving as a principal investigator for an evaluation of and coaching interventions for TANF recipients and other hard-to-employ populations and a study of goal achievement strategies for low-income populations.

Putting her knowledge into practice, Dr. Derr leads efforts across the country to improve the quality of technical assistance (TA) and create stronger linkages between program technical assistance and evaluation. She has been involved with developing and delivering evidence-building TA using a process called Learn, Innovate, Improve (LI2)—an evidence-informed, systematic process for working with stakeholders to improve program quality and achieve target outcomes—often with no new funding or policy change. She also led the development of Goal4 It!TM, a science-informed approach to improve outcomes for children and families. Dr. Derr has worked as an adjunct professor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Master’s in Social Work program where she taught courses on Research Methods, Social Justice, and Children and Family Policy each of which included content on diversity, inclusion, and gender and racial equity.