PACE People

PACE Directors

Michal Kurlaender

Michal Kurlaender is an Associate Professor at the School of Education at UC Davis. She investigates students’ educational pathways, in particular K-12 and postsecondary alignment, and access to and success in college. Kurlaender has expertise on alternative pathways to college and on college readiness at both community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. In addition to working with national data, she works closely with administrative data from all three of California’s public higher education sectors: the California State University, the California Community Colleges, and the University of California. Kurlaender also studies the impact of socioeconomic and racial and ethnic diversity on student outcomes in both K-12 and higher education settings. She received her doctorate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2005. She serves on the executive committee of the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, is the UC Davis site director of the UC Educational Evaluation Center, and is a researcher with the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Susanna Loeb

Susanna Loeb is the Barnett Family Professor of Education at Stanford University, faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis, and a director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). She specializes in the economics of education and the relationship between schools and federal, state and local policies. Her research addresses teacher policy, looking specifically at how teachers' preferences affect the distribution of teaching quality across schools, how pre-service coursework requirements affect the quality of teacher candidates, and how reforms affect teachers' career decisions. She also studies school leadership and school finance, for example looking at how the structure of state finance systems affects the level and distribution of resources across schools. Susanna is a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a member of the Policy Council of the Association for Policy Analysis and Management, and Co-Editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

Julie Marsh

Julie Marsh is an Associate Professor at the Rossier School of Education at USC. Marsh specializes in research on policy implementation, educational reform, and accountability. Her research blends perspectives in education, sociology, and political science. Over the past 15 years, her research has examined the implementation and effects of various accountability policies, including studies of the No Child Left Behind Act, school turnaround, teacher evaluation, and charter schools. Marsh has also closely examined school districts as central actors in educational reform, including the roles played by central office administrators in both interpreting and creating policy, as well as the roles of other district actors–school board members, union leaders, citizens, parents, university partners, and community organizations–in advancing system-level reform. Much of this research has focused on decision-making, including the role of data, the democratic nature of these efforts, and the politics of such processes. Her expertise lies in case study methodology and survey development and analysis. Marsh is currently co-PI of two federally funded studies in the Los Angeles Unified School District—one examining district efforts to implement portfolio management and turnaround reforms, and the other analyzing the district’s Teacher Incentive Fund-supported human capital reforms. Prior to coming to USC in July 2010, Marsh was at the RAND Corporation for eight years, where she last served as Senior Policy Researcher. She received a Ph.D. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University.

Executive Director

David Plank

Before joining PACE in January 2007, David N. Plank was a Professor at Michigan State University, where he founded and directed the Education Policy Center. He was previously on the faculties at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Texas at Dallas, where he taught courses and conducted research in the areas of educational finance and policy. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1983. Plank is the author or editor of six books, including the AERA Handbook of Education Policy Research. He has published widely in a number of different fields, including economics of education, history of education, and educational policy. His current interests include the role of the State in education, and the relationship between academic research and public policy. In addition to his work in the United States, Plank has extensive international experience. He has served as a consultant to international organizations including the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States Agency for International Development, the Ford Foundation, and also to governments in Africa and Latin America.

Executive Director, CORE-PACE Research Partnership

Heather J. Hough is the Executive Director of the research partnership between Policy Analysis for California Education and the CORE Districts, a collaborative of eight California school districts who have developed a robust measurement and accountability system that represents nearly a million students. Before joining PACE, Heather was an improvement adviser with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, helping education system leaders use research and data to support continuous improvement. She has worked as a researcher with the Public Policy Institute of California, the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University, and the Center for Education Policy at SRI International. Heather’s area of expertise is in district- and state-level policymaking and implementation, with a particular focus on policy coherence, system improvement, and school and teacher accountability. She holds a Ph.D. in education policy and a B.A. in public policy from Stanford University.


H. Alix Gallagher

H. Alix Gallagher ( is the Director of Research-Practice Partnerships. In that work, she uses various research methodologies in partnership with practitioners to support ongoing organizational improvement while building knowledge for the field. Before joining PACE, Alix was an Associate Director at the Center for Education Policy at SRI International. There she led large-scale randomized controlled trials and policy studies and was fortunate to be part of two successful long-term research-practice partnerships.

Hans ( is the Director of Quantitative Research of the PACE-CORE Research Partnership. Prior to this position he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stanford University Center for Education Policy Analysis. He received his Master’s (Diplom Univ.) in International Economics from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in 2011 and his Ph.D. in Economics and Finance from the University of St. Gallen in 2016. His doctoral thesis analyzed determinants of student performance and major choices in higher education.

Research Data Analyst

Finance Manager, Stanford University
Phone: (650) 725-8661

Communication Specialist, Stanford University
Phone: (650) 575-3743

Program Manager
Phone: (650) 576-8484


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