Kelley Ditzel

Director of Research & Policy

As Director of Research & Policy, Dr. Kelley Ditzel works to develop and execute a strategy for accomplishing research and advocacy efforts for the Southern Education Foundation (SEF).  She leads research and policy initiatives to inform strategic decision-making and drive thought leadership to advance equity and educational excellence in the South.  Prior to joining SEF, Kelley was a Director on the Planning & Measurement Team at Boys & Girls Clubs of America where she evaluated youth development outcomes for approximately 4 million young people.  She designed and executed research projects to identify success factors for over 4,000 Club sites including management of a national randomized control trial of a summer learning program and management of a national Return on Investment (ROI) study, both of which offered critical insights about the impact of youth development programming.

Before that, Kelley was Vice President of Research, Evaluation & Data at Junior Achievement of Georgia where she streamlined the evaluation and program management processes for the organization in order to improve program effectiveness and outcomes for youth.  She also led an inaugural study, entitled “Graduation Pathways,” which focused on improving high school graduation rates and post-secondary attainment.  Other experience includes developing a comprehensive data system to support early literacy and learning, creating and directing an Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) focused on policy and leadership for the state of Georgia, and analysis of statewide public education data to provide recommendations and future implementation considerations for a state education agency. 

Kelley has a variety of experiences as both a researcher and practitioner that enable her to understand and identify opportunities, make connections, and translate research and policy in a meaningful way.  She received a Ph.D. in Public Policy from a joint program with Georgia State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.A. in Political Science from Wake Forest University.  Other educational experiences include classroom teaching through Teach for America and a CORO Fellowship in public affairs. 

Kelley lives in the city of Atlanta with her husband, Ty, and two young sons, Tyce and Dash.  

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