Leigh Parise is a senior research associate and associate director of program development at MDRC, where she plays a lead role in the organization’s education-focused program development efforts and conducts mixed-methods education research. Her program development work focuses on incubating and launching new projects and draws on her expertise in education policy and knowledge of the associated evidence base. Parise recently helped MDRC’s postsecondary team launch the Scaling Up Community College Efforts for Student Success initiative, which seeks to improve graduation rates for traditionally underserved students at community colleges by helping states and institutions align their resources with evidence-based practices.
Since joining MDRC in 2011, Parise has been a lead researcher on several research projects, including large-scale randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental studies, and descriptive studies. Parise is currently leading the implementation research on MDRC’s evaluation of the P-TECH 9-14 high school model, a career pathway model that begins in high schools and extends into postsecondary education and the workforce. She is also the deputy project director on a large-scale randomized controlled trial funded by the Institute of Education Sciences evaluating the impact of language interventions on upper elementary students’ academic achievement.
Before joining MDRC, Parise received her PhD in human development and social policy from Northwestern University and a master’s in teaching from Pace University. Parise began her career as an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn, and she is the cofounder of Classroom Champions, a nonprofit organization that connects Olympic and Paralympic athlete mentors with students in underserved schools to foster students’ social and emotional skill development.