Dr. Stephanie Baird Wilkerson founded Magnolia Consulting in 2002 because of her drive to cultivate learning and positive change through education (the heart of Magnolia’s mission). Starting as a preschool teacher, her love of learning and helping students led her to pursue a career in research and program evaluation. Since 1991, Stephanie has worked on national, state, and local evaluation and research studies involving schools at every level, from preschool to higher education. Working in collaboration with clients, classroom teachers, school and district administrators, state education leaders, and students, she has studied implementation and outcomes associated with math, science, English language, and literacy programs. As part of the Regional Educational Laboratory program, since 1998 Stephanie has led collaborative research-practitioner partnerships with school districts and state departments of education, developed comprehensive measurement tools, provided research-based technical assistance and coaching, and served as the principal investigator for large-scale research and evaluation studies.
As President of Magnolia Consulting, Stephanie manages a large portfolio of work, oversees a highly skilled team of employees, and communicates with a wide range of clients who represent state departments of education, federal education agencies, non-profit organizations, the private sector, and the education community. She has expertise in qualitative and quantitative methodologies and research methods, program evaluation, meta-analyses, program planning and development, multilevel modeling, qualitative data analysis, logic model development, instrument construction, and infographics. She earned a Ph.D. in Research, Evaluation & Statistics at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, where she has taught introductory and advanced program evaluation courses for graduate students.
As part of her dedication to creating a balanced, high-quality life, Stephanie enjoys international travel, yoga, meditation, cross-country skiing, kayaking, and horseback riding. But she revels most in the simple, precious moments with her husband and two sons.
Dr. Carol Haden began her education career as a high school biology teacher on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. She went on to earn a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Northern Arizona University, where she also began her career in evaluation at the Center for Science Teaching and Learning. She has a special interest in supporting exemplary and equitable science education for traditionally underserved populations. As an educational evaluator, Carol specializes in standards-based best practices in STEM. She has served as evaluator for STEM education projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Arizona Department of Education, among others. Her evaluations have included studies of:
NASA education and public outreach programs
Curriculum materials and support programs for undergraduate engineering students
Out-of-school time programs
Pre-service and in-service teacher development programs
Science professional development for elementary and middle school teachers
Recruitment and retention of underrepresented students in the sciences
Global climate change education programs
Summer research experiences for undergraduates
Carol also specializes in evaluation capacity building. Through this work, she helps program planners and staff to develop the skills to clearly articulate program outcomes and internally evaluate their effectiveness. Carol has been with Magnolia Consulting since 2007. Her areas of expertise include proposal development, evaluation design and implementation, logic modeling, qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, report writing, and the presentation of findings. In her role as vice president, she supports Magnolia’s exemplary team through strategic planning and visioning, and support of employee development.
In her free time, Carol enjoys yoga and spending time with her family while rafting, climbing, and camping.
Lisa Shannon, Ph.D., Director of Research and Evaluation
Dr. Lisa Shannon’s professional interest in education stems in part from her experience teaching an after-school creative writing program for a public school system in North Carolina. While earning her Ph.D. in psychology and program design, administration, and evaluation from North Carolina State University (NCSU), she interned with the local public school system and taught undergraduate courses at NCSU. From 2000 to 2006, Lisa was on the faculty of NCSU’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, where she studied programs serving youth and families and evaluated the North Carolina Cooperative Extension System’s efforts around systemic improvement. In 2006, Lisa joined Magnolia Consulting, where she currently serves as Director of Research and Evaluation.
As Magnolia’s Director of Research and Evaluation, Lisa manages and guides a large portfolio of Magnolia’s research and evaluation work, with responsibilities including strategic and fiscal planning, business development, organizational capacity building and leadership, client and customer relations, and project oversight. Lisa is a certified What Works Clearinghouse reviewer. In addition, she is skilled in designing rigorous studies and conducting complex statistical analyses, including multilevel modeling, modeling for cross-classified random effects, multiple regression, and logistic regression. Her work includes regional, state, and national research and evaluation studies in the following content areas, among others:
Reading, math, science, and preschool curricula
Nonprofit programs serving at-risk youth, families, and communities
Parent education and child abuse prevention programs
College readiness and success
Community college programs
School improvement and systemic reform interventions
State and district education policy
In her free time, Lisa enjoys reading, taking long walks with her dog, going to the beach, and spending time with her husband and their four children.
Lisa Shannon, Ph.D. Director of Research and Evaluation
Ms. Elizabeth Peery was first drawn to evaluation studies during her graduate program at the School for International Training, where she designed a monitoring and evaluation plan for ChildVoice International in Uganda. Beth continued to explore her interest in research and evaluation through an internship with World Vision, a humanitarian aid organization dedicated to community development and poverty alleviation worldwide, where she helped conduct a unique meta-evaluation that assessed the quality and impact of nearly 100 World Vision programs.
Beth joined Magnolia Consulting in 2012. Her work with Magnolia involves project management, database development and management, survey management, data collection and analysis, report writing, and data visualization. She supports evaluations across a wide range of areas and has a special interest in community college programs.
In her free time, Beth enjoys traveling, being outdoors, and spending time with her family.
Ms. Anne (A.C.) Cosby joined Magnolia Consulting in 2014. At Magnolia, her duties include database development and management, survey management and data collection, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and data visualization development. AC is passionate about sharing evaluation findings and information in a meaningful way that will be used by stakeholders. In her work at Magnolia she creates infographics and other information displays. Additionally, she co-facilitates infographic workshops around the country. She received her B.S. in psychology at the University of Mary Washington and her M.S.W. at Virginia Commonwealth University.
In her spare time, AC enjoys spending time with her two retired racing greyhounds, attending ballet performances, and being with her family.
Courtney entered the world of education and evaluation research as a graduate research assistant at Northern Arizona University where she worked under several STEM education grants in the school’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning. Though her background was primarily in ecological sciences, she found education research to be where her passion thrived and heart grew. Courtney joined Magnolia Consulting in 2021 as a research assistant. Her duties include supporting Magnolia’s research and evaluation team through database development and management, survey management, data collection and analysis and reporting.
Courtney received her B.S. in Ecology and B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas and plans to graduate with her M.A. in Science Teaching for Northern Arizona University in May 2021. In her free time, she enjoys being outside with her family and trail running.
Ms. Beverly (Bev) Bunch has over three decades of experience in administration and fiscal management. She has worked for the federal government on the Welfare to Work grant, for the Charlottesville Social Services Department, and for a Virginia government agency. Bev joined Magnolia Consulting in 2010. As executive assistant at Magnolia, she prepares study evaluation and orientation materials, coordinates travel for the organization, and maintains vital employee and company records.
Bev enjoys dancing, reading, volunteering at a local veterans’ organization, and sharing fun with family and friends.
Catherine Pearson, B.S., Budget and Contracts Manager
Ms. Catherine (Cathy) Pearson has over 25 years of experience in administration, banking, and workflow management. In 2017, she joined Magnolia Consulting, where she oversees the performance of all project budgets and contracts and ensures compliance with state and federal regulations. She also manages the budget preparation process and tracks budget performance for multiple federally and privately funded projects.
Before joining Magnolia, Cathy spent 20 years with the University of Virginia Health System as an outpatient clinic coordinator managing the clinical and fiscal operations of an outpatient department. She has expertise in implementing new product and service delivery systems, supervising staff, and restructuring workflow and productivity. Cathy holds a B.S. in finance and business administration from California State University.
Cathy enjoys spending time with her family, birding, reading, and hiking.
Catherine Pearson, B.S. Budget and Contracts Manager
As WestEd’s Director of Assessment Research and Innovation, Dr. Matthew Gaertner provides overall leadership for assessment research and development efforts across the Agency. He manages a team of researchers focused on advanced topics in measurement, including innovative assessments of career and college readiness. A quantitative methodologist and psychometrician by training, Dr. Gaertner’s methodological expertise includes item response theory, multilevel models, and categorical data analysis; he leverages these tools to study the effects of educational policies on access, persistence, achievement, and labor market outcomes for disadvantaged learners. Dr. Gaertner is a statistical advisor for Magnolia.
Lily has more than two decades of experience leading technology, education, media, and professional services organizations through transformative change while preserving a strong culture and a sense of mission. Lily is licensed to practice law in Colorado, DC, and Virginia, and she is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources. She is a resident of Nelson County, Virginia, where she shares a cottage in the woods with her husband, two boys, three rescue cats, and a Morkie-Poo. Lily consults with Magnolia as a human resource advisor.
Ms. Josette Haddad is a freelance copyeditor who has collaborated with Magnolia Consulting since 2017. Her editorial services help ensure that reports are clear, consistent, and error-free. She holds a B.A. in English literature from Cornell University and has 30 years of experience as a copyeditor for businesses, nonprofit organizations, publishers, and independent authors. When not editing, Josette enjoys taking walks with her family and tending the plants inside and outside her home in New Mexico. Josette serves as an editor for Magnolia Consulting products and deliverables.
Valerie Haff is an editor and project manager with two decades of editorial experience in educational content development and research. She specializes in educational publishing—curriculum, assessment, research, academic journals, and educational technology. She has extensive experience in content development management and editorial project management. In addition to serving as an editor and proof handler for various academic journals, she currently serves as managing editor for The American Biology Teacher. She supports a broad range of clients, including independent authors, educational publishers, and nonprofit organizations and has provided editing services to Magnolia on a wide variety of studies.