Michelle Derr

Michelle Derr

Senior Fellow
  • Employment and training initiatives
  • Public welfare programs
  • Evidence-based technical assistance
Focus Areas
  • Employment
  • Training and Re-employment
  • Family Support
  • TANF and Employment Issues
  • Justice
  • Human Services
About Michelle

Michelle Derr specializes in translating research findings effectively to improve public policies and direct practice. Her work focuses on evaluating employment and training initiatives targeted to public assistance clients, ex-offenders, people with disabilities, and other disadvantaged populations, visiting more than 130 localities in 35 states and territories as part of this work. She currently serves as a principal investigator for the Next Generation of Enhanced Employment Strategies Evaluation. She serves in a similar capacity on an evaluation of and coaching interventions for TANF recipients and other hard-to-employ populations and on a study of goal achievement strategies for low-income populations.

Putting her knowledge into practice, Derr leads efforts across the country to improve the quality of technical assistance and create stronger linkages between program technical assistance and evaluation. She has developed and delivered an innovative process for supporting organizational and program change called, “Learn, Innovate, Improve or 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. Derr currently leads federal, state, and local projects working on innovative program changes for low-income populations that includes coaching and achieving goals, developing work and personal skills, and managing stress. In partnership with practitioners, she co-designed Goal4 It!TM, a science-informed practice model that activates a person’s motivation and commitment to change, that is being implemented in human service and workforce agencies across the country. She is well-known nationally for her ability to inspire and motivate research and practice communities to co-create and test innovative practices that improve outcomes for children and families.

Derr is recognized as an expert among federal and state policymakers and program administrators for her substantive knowledge of promising practices to help disadvantaged job seekers gain employment and the use rapid-cycle methods. She presents regularly at national and state conferences, technical work groups, and strategic change meetings. She holds a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Utah

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