Meet the team behind Degrees When Due.
Leanne Davis is an Associate Director of Research and Policy at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), where she manages projects and conducts research focused on postsecondary completion. Davis leads the Degrees When Due initiative and develops learning experiences for practitioners to apply IHEP’s research in practice. Her research interests include equitable access to higher education for all students, higher education financing, and non-traditional college students.
Prior to joining IHEP, Davis worked as a research associate focusing on adult college completion and college financing topics. Davis spent eight years as a college counselor which led to her interest in understanding how students make decisions on where to attend college, and how the resources available to them play a role in that decision. Before shifting to higher education, Davis worked for several years in various non-profit management and fundraising settings.
Davis earned her M.A. from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at The George Washington University, with a concentration in higher education policy and finance. She previously graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. degree in Political Science and served as a Naval Aviator.
Jason Taylor, PhD
Jason L. Taylor, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. He is leading the research agenda for the Degrees When Due project in partnership with IHEP.
His broad research interests are at the intersection of community college and higher education policy, and educational and social inequality. Taylor was the Co-PI for the research on the Credit When It’s Due (CWID) initiative, a multi-state initiative aimed at developing and implementing reverse transfer policies. His research on reverse transfer has been published in policy reports and briefs, as well as peer-reviewed journals such as The Review of Higher Education and the Community College Journal of Research and Practice. He received his Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a research specialization in evaluation methods and concentration in public policy.
Jennifer Pocai is a Research Analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP). In this role, she provides project management for IHEP’s Degrees When Due national research initiative, as well as research support for a variety of other projects.
Jennifer holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Higher Education from George Mason University. During her undergraduate studies, Jennifer focused on underserved student populations, taking coursework in social justice and human rights. At the graduate level, her concentration was Student Services with an emphasis on diversity. Jennifer received the Dean’s Challenge Award for her master’s level research in April 2018 and an Outstanding Bachelor of Individualized Study Project in the Public Interest Award in May 2016 for her capstone project, Customizing Remedial Math for At-Risk, Adult Students. As an initiative manager at Northern Virginia Community College, the initiative Jennifer managed, Elevating Parents in College (EPIC), was nominated for a Bellwether Award in January 2018.
Jennifer is driven to remove barriers to postsecondary access and success for underserved student populations. As a stopped-out student who returned as an adult and a parent to finish college, and as someone who has worked with students at the community college, Jennifer has “witnessed first-hand the multitude of barriers facing contemporary students.” She sought out a position at IHEP because of our focus on equity and system-level change.