Dara Zeehandelaar Shaw is the Executive Director for Research at the Maryland State Department of Education. The office she oversees drives the agency’s evidence-based decision-making by: developing and implementing the agency’s strategic research agenda; undertaking actionable data analysis, research, and program evaluations driven by agency needs; collaborating with local education agencies to collect and learn from their data; communicating information to stakeholders and state leaders; and advancing a data-driven culture. She also supports the design and implementation of the state’s accountability system, and supports a variety of state policy initiatives with research- and data-based information. Previously, she was the national research director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank. She earned a Ph.D. in Urban Education Policy with a specialization in research methodology from the University of Southern California, and also worked as a high school mathematics teacher and summer-school coordinator in Washington D.C. public schools. A Los Angeles native and Baltimore resident, she also holds a M.S. in astrophysics from the University of Maryland and a bachelor’s degree in astronomy from Cornell University.