Michelle Derr


Senior Researcher
Areas of Expertise
  • Employment and training initiatives
  • Public welfare programs
  • Evidence-based technical assistance
  • Family Support
  • Employment
  • TANF and Employment Issues
  • Training and Re-Employment

Michelle Derr is known for her ability to translate research findings effectively to improve public policies and direct practice. She specializes in evaluating employment and training initiatives targeted to public assistance clients, ex-offenders, individuals with disabilities, and other disadvantaged populations.

Putting her knowledge into practice, Derr provides evidence-based technical assistance to states and local communities to help strengthen their performance outcomes. She has more than a decade of experience studying public welfare programs. Most of her work focuses on quick turnaround research projects used to describe a promising practice or document the implementation of a public policy. She has conducted site visits to welfare agencies and other social service programs in more than 80 communities in across the nation and the District of Columbia. Derr is currently the principal investigator for Mathematica’s evaluation of the Beneficiary Choice Demonstration, which focuses on efforts to employ recently released ex-offenders to decrease recidivism. She is also the principal investigator for a study evaluating strategies for retooling the aging workforce. Her past work includes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) diversion practices, transitional employment programs for hard-to-employ populations, strategies to increase program engagement, and work-based strategies for TANF recipients with disabilities.

Derr is known among federal and state policymakers and program administrators for her substantive knowledge of promising practices to help disadvantaged job seekers gain employment. She presents regularly at national conferences, study briefings, and regional technical assistance meetings. She holds a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Utah.

Key Projects