Lunch-and-Learn Brown Bags with the New Director
As the new IES Director, John Easton wants his vision for the Institute to be informed and shaped by the collective expertise of his staff, a group of 190 professionals who work in the administrative office and across IES' four centers. So he hosted a series of brown bag sessions in which he met over lunch with groups of 20 to 25 staff members, seven gatherings that started in late July and wrapped up in late September.
These gatherings allowed the director to ask staff members their ideas about specific initiatives, but he also invited staff to share concerns or ask him questions about his research interests, leadership style, and vision for the Institute.
Many sessions opened informally, with staff members explaining their job and sharing a personal detail. He learned, for example, which staff member had a passion for ballroom dancing, riding motorcycles, raising hens, speaking Russian and playing basketball. He also learned that many staff members are interested in more professional collaboration with their colleagues across centers.
The director also shared with each group his goal of making our work more accessible to a general audience and building stronger connections with practitioners and policymakers.
"This is a chance to see ourselves as a collective group of professionals…working toward the same goals," Easton told the staff during a recent meeting. "Not only do I respect your expertise, I need and rely on your expertise to move this agency forward."
New Staff Appointments
Tracy Dell'Angela became director of outreach and communications for the Institute of Education Sciences this summer. In this role, she will work to enhance external and internal communications—by striving to make the work of IES more accessible to practitioners, policy makers and the general public and by building bridges to the other divisions in the Department of Education and among IES divisions. Her office will develop new, deeper relationships with the regional centers that work most closely with practitioners to put IES research into practice. She comes to IES from the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) at the University of Chicago, where she worked with John Easton (now IES director) to bring CCSR's research directly to practitioners in Chicago schools. Tracy spent most of her career as a newspaper reporter, including 12 years at the Chicago Tribune, where she covered national education issues and Arne Duncan's tenure as schools chief for Chicago Public Schools.
Joan McLaughlin joined IES as the deputy commissioner of the National Center for Special Education Research in February. In this role, she works with Acting Commissioner Lynn Okagaki to provide leadership for the special education research and research training programs. In addition to serving as deputy commissioner, McLaughlin will also serve as the program officer for the Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education grant program. Prior to joining IES, McLaughlin spent 16 years at Abt Associates Inc., working in the education and family services area in various capacities, including project director for numerous evaluations of federal education, food assistance and early childhood programs. McLaughlin also served as a Department of Agriculture program officer where she oversaw the implementation of studies of programs and initiatives on maternal and child health and child nutrition issues. She holds a doctorate in developmental psychology from Cornell University.
Nancy Smith is the new director of Longitudinal Data Systems Initiatives for the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences. In this capacity, she will oversee the SLDS Grant program, the development of Common Data Standards for K–12 and postsecondary variables, and participate in Education Department data initiatives. Before joining NCES, Nancy served as a consultant on longitudinal data systems to states, advocacy organizations and NCES. She was also the deputy director of the Data Quality Campaign for 4 years. Nancy's experience with longitudinal data goes back to her tenure at the Texas Education Agency and work with Just for the Kids. She earned her doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 in educational psychology.