Project Credits

The OBF Equity Toolkit was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Findings and opinions expressed through this research are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation.

Project Leadership

Kathleen M. Shaw, Ph.D.

Strategic Oversight


Dr. Kathleen M. Shaw is the Executive Director of Research for Action. A nationally-known postsecondary policy expert, Shaw has led Research for Action for nine years, during which time she has overseen a five-fold growth in the organization, expanded the scope and reach of its work, and increased its prominence in local, state and national education debates.  Shaw has studied and participated in the development and implementation of educational policy at the institutional and state level for over 20 years. Prior to her arrival at RFA, Shaw served as Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, where she was responsible for developing and implementing a wide range of policies designed to strengthen the K-16 educational pipeline.  Shaw was also a faculty member at Temple University for a decade, where she also chaired the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.


Kate Callahan, Ph.D.
Project Co-Director

Dr. Kate Callahan is RFA’s Chief Research Officer. Callahan has directed a range of complex, multi-site and multi-methods research projects examining state-level postsecondary policies focused on improved access, retention and equity.  Since 2014, Callahan has been leading RFA’s research on Outcomes-Based Funding which has included documenting cross-state and cross-sector variation in OBF policies as well as in-depth analysis of institutional responses and impacts on students. Callahan is a nationally recognized expert on OBF and regularly responds to information requests from individual state and system leaders as well as national membership organizations. Callahan has served as an invited panelist on OBF for the Bipartisan Policy Center, Kentucky’s Pritchard Committee, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, and HCM Strategists’ Strategy Labs Peer Learning Opportunity. Callahan has been interviewed on OBF by national news media including National Public Radio, the Washington Post, and Inside Higher Education. In addition, Callahan has presented RFA’s research on OBF at the annual meetings of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Association for Education Finance and Policy, and the American Educational Research Association.


Kasey Meehan, MPA
Project Co-Director

Kasey Meehan is a Research Associate who studies state postsecondary policies aimed at addressing equity, incentivizing institutional changes, and affecting student outcomes. In addition to co-directing the production of the OBF Equity Toolkit, Meehan also leads and contributes to multiple postsecondary research projects, including an examination of Tennessee as a completion-focused state, a national study of College Promise programs, and an evaluation of how three states are advancing racial equity in higher education. Meehan has served as an invited panelist at California community colleges’ annual conference of Chief Business Officials and HCM Strategists’ Strategy Labs Peer Learning Opportunity. Meehan has also presented RFA’s research on outcomes-based funding at annual meetings of the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the American Educational Research Association.


Virginia R. Hunter, Ed.D.

Lead Researcher


Dr. Virginia R. Hunter played a leading role in data collection, analysis and the production of the OBF Equity Toolkit. At RFA she has both directed and contributed to a range of postsecondary research projects focused on outcomes-based funding, free college/promise programs, guided pathways, college placement reform, and state-level quality assurance and improvement efforts. Hunter also serves as a research affiliate of the Center for Minority Serving Institutions, where she studies finance and leadership at Tribal Colleges and Universities, and examines minority-serving institutions in New Mexico. Hunter has presented RFA’s research on outcomes-based funding at annual meetings of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, SHEEO Higher Education Policy Conference, and as an invited expert at HCM Strategists’ Strategy Labs Peer Learning Opportunity.


Anna Cielinski, MPP

Former Senior Policy Analyst, CLASP


Anna Cielinski is a former Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). In that role, Cielinski analyzed and advocated for performance measurement and data systems that provide incentives to enroll or serve low-income or low-skilled people. Cielinski’s work spans postsecondary education, adult education, and workforce development policies. Cielinski was an invited plenary speaker for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and has presented this research at the SHEEO Higher Education Policy Conference.


Research Team

The team also includes postsecondary researchers Daniel Kent, Kri Burkander, Ph.D., Lindsey Liu, and Mark Duffy from Research for Action, as well as Lauren Walizer and Tim Harmon from CLASP.