Staff

Derek V. Price, Ph.D

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Derek Price founded DVP-PRAXIS LTD in 2005 to provide formative and summative evaluation services, strategic facilitation and advising, and technical assistance and training to support efforts to inform implementation and measure impact across postsecondary education and training systems. The company’s philosophy is informed by culturally responsive and equity-focused principles, practiced through listening with a keen ear to clients and partners, seeking out diverse voices to be heard and acknowledged, and designing project activities and data collection efforts using participatory and inclusive approaches. The firm’s evaluation studies have demonstrated the highest standards of methodological rigor as defined by the What Works Clearinghouse and the Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research. Derek is a national leader in strategic thinking for institutional transformation and systems change and works on a broad range of policy and practice issues around postsecondary education and workforce development. In his earlier career, Dr. Price was an assistant professor of sociology at Morehead State University and an adjunct professor in the School of Adult Learning and Continuing Education at the University of Indianapolis. He has published a book on the social inequities resulting from the reliance on student loans to pay for college, Borrowing Inequality: Race, Class and Student Loans (Lynne Rienner, 2004), has more than half dozen peer-reviewed journal articles, and authored or co-authored more than 20 monographs. He has served as a reviewer for several academic journals, including Journal of Higher Education, Sociology of Education, Research in Higher Education, and Journal of Student Financial Aid. Prior to starting DVP-PRAXIS, he served as director of higher education research at Lumina Foundation and helped launch the national initiative, Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count.

Janelle Clay, M.S.

Janelle has over 12 years of experience designing and implementing rigorous research and evaluation studies. Her work is rooted in providing practical insights to inform the fields of higher education and workforce development and to equip practitioners in enhancing service and program delivery. She is committed to supporting practitioners in incorporating continuous improvement evaluation methods to inform program development and subsequent outcomes. She utilizes strategic, critical, and culturally responsive approaches to inform her work and lift up issues related to diversity, racial equity, inclusion. She is currently a Senior Researcher at DVP-PRAXIS and is pursuing a Ph.D. at Georgia State University in Educational Policy Studies with a concentration in Research, Measurement and Statistics.

Drew Curtis, M.P.A.

Drew is a Senior Researcher with DVP-PRAXIS LTD, leveraging experience across workforce development and postsecondary education program implementation, evaluation, and scaling. His areas of expertise include managing project activities, timelines, and collaborators; leading interview and survey question development, administration, and analysis; and communicating themes and recommendations to illuminate and improve complex systems. Drew’s past work has included advising philanthropic foundations on their strategic plans, conducting postsecondary program evaluations on single and multi-site projects, and working with networks of worker serving organizations and employers to adopt equitable coaching and hiring practices. Drew is dedicated to questioning business-as-usual institutions and processes which perpetuate historical inequities and is passionate about focusing efforts on developing accessible and innovative systems which recognize individuals’ existing skills and help them cultivate new ones.

Sarah A. Deal, Ph.D

Sarah is a Senior Researcher with DVP-PRAXIS LTD. Since 2009, her professional experience has included working with a diverse cross-section of postsecondary institutions, including selective four-year universities, community colleges, postsecondary consortia, and a state agency. Her work has centered around program design, execution, and evaluation in areas of holistic and basic needs student supports, guided pathways, and credit for prior learning. She previously worked at Central Carolina Community College as the Project Activity Director for the Carolina Works-US Department of Education First in the World validation grant and served as the Associate Director for the Student Success Center at the North Carolina Community College System Office. Sarah is driven by designing evaluations that provide data-informed and useable findings to improve student postsecondary access and success.

Julia Karpicz

Julia joined DVP-PRAXIS as a Senior Researcher in 2021 to advance the company’s qualitative projects focusing on postsecondary education, workforce development, and employment. Prior to joining DVP-PRAXIS, Julia worked and trained as a qualitative researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles. She brings expertise in using critical qualitative approaches to examine how stakeholders approach the work of expanding access and advancing equity in postsecondary spaces. As a former student affairs practitioner, she is driven to understand and amplify the experiences of those most impacted by systemic inequity within institutions, with a particular interest in issues related to racial equity and disability justice.

Jessa Lewis Valentine, Ph.D

Jessa-Lewis-Valentine
Jessa brings over 15 years of experience in the design and implementation of research and evaluation studies to foster program-relevant change in the areas of K-12, postsecondary education, and workforce development. As Director of Research, Evaluation, and Analytics, she provides strategic oversight across DVP-PRAXIS’s portfolio of evaluation projects and research studies, and she has worked on numerous projects focused on holistic student supports, high-impact practices, and equitable training and employment practices. Prior to joining DVP-PRAXIS, Jessa received extensive training in statistical methods appropriate for making causal inferences, including experimental and quasi-experimental design, as a fellow with the U.S. Department of Education’s Pre-Doctoral Training Program in the Education Sciences. She also previously worked as a senior researcher at a Wisconsin think tank focused on regional higher education and workforce solutions.