Kate Shaw

Senior Adviser

Dr. Kate Shaw is a nationally-known expert on state postsecondary policy. Her expertise is grounded in both concrete executive-level state policy experience and a three-decade track record of conducting large-scale studies of complex postsecondary reform initiatives and providing expert advice to a wide range of state policymakers.

Kate co-directs Paving the Way to Equitable, Adequate and Effective Community College Funding, a multi-faceted state and institutional research, capacity-building and outreach project funded by Lumina Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Housed at the Community College Research Center, this three-year project is being conducted in three states:  California, Ohio and Texas.  Kate is also a member of HCM’s Strategy Labs team, and is part of the leadership team of HCM’s Courage and Hidden Common Ground Collaborative.

Kate served as a Pennsylvania State Higher Education Executive Officer in the administration of Governor Ed Rendell. She developed and executed a wide range of policy initiatives designed to increase the quality and accessibility of postsecondary education throughout the state. Kate also oversaw the creation and implementation of a statewide college transfer system, major reforms in the preparation and professional development of public school teachers and administrators, the expansion of Pennsylvania’s longitudinal data system into the postsecondary arena, efforts to increase the prominence and effectiveness of the state’s community colleges, and a major restructuring of the state’s college retention program.

Having served for over a decade as the Executive Director of Research for Action (RFA), Kate is also an experienced and successful non-profit leader. Under her leadership RFA grew five-fold and greatly increased its reach and capacity to use research as a tool to address and overcome education inequities across the P-20 pipeline.

While at RFA, Shaw led a robust portfolio of research on state postsecondary policy that included multi-state studies of postsecondary funding and accountability systems, credit recognition and transfer, statewide college Promise programs, college placement reforms, and a range of retention reforms. Her work has been supported by a wide range of funders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the William Penn Foundation.

Kate was a faculty member at Temple University for ten years in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, where she was tenured and also served as Chair of the Department. She has also held positions at Parker Philips, Inc., the Harvard Family Research Project and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

A first-generation college student, Kate received her bachelor’s degree from Colby College and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She serves on several boards, including as an elected member of her local school board. Kate lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania with her husband and enjoys hiking, quilting and reading good books in her spare time.

Areas of Expertise

  • Postsecondary Finance
  • Research and Advocacy
  • Nonprofit Leadership
  • State Policy & Strategic Planning



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