Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein 


Kristin is passionate about working at the Colorado Lab because it provides so many opportunities to learn new things and support government partners in creatively addressing pressing public policy challenges. Surrounded daily by smart and interesting people with diverse areas of expertise, Kristin tries to enter every conversation with enthusiasm, humility, and openness.

Kristin earned her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Colorado and promptly joined the faculty at Texas Christian University. Her research home became the Texas Schools Project at The University of Texas at Dallas where she became a national expert on the Advanced Placement Program. Among the most valuable lessons she learned at TSP were the power of integrated administrative data and the importance of building relationships of trust with state agencies. She assumed an Interim Director role at TSP in 2010 before moving back to Colorado.

Determined to understand the needs of state and local education agencies and generate responsive research, Kristin gave up tenure at Texas Christian University to establish the Education Innovation Institute at the University of Northern Colorado in 2011. There she focused on creating mutualistic rather than transactional relationships between researchers and government partners which prepared her well for launching the Colorado Lab in 2017.

Areas of Interest

  • Increasing the return on investment of social programs
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Improving opportunities for disadvantaged youth to thrive through access to high quality academic, behavioral, and health services

Dr. Elysia Clemens

Deputy Director / Chief Operating Officer

Elysia joined the Lab after a career as a tenured professor because the Lab is uniquely positioned in Colorado to partner with state government and serve as a bridge to the research community. As Deputy Director of the Colorado Lab, she develops and implements strategies to activate the research community to support the priorities of state government. 

Elysia believes that research is valuable when it is rigorous, timely, and conducted in partnership with the leaders and practitioners who are positioned to apply it to action. She has a successful track record serving as a principal investigator on federal, state, and philanthropically-funded research grants. Her applied research experience spans from developing interventions and assessment tools to multi-site randomized controlled trials.

While serving as a faculty member at the University of Northern Colorado, she partnered with Colorado agencies to link child welfare and education administrative data to inform educational stability policy for youth in foster care and launch a Pay for Success financed intervention aimed at improving outcomes. She also developed innovative technology to improve monitoring implementation fidelity for clinical interventions. She holds a doctorate in counseling with a cognate in statistics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a master’s degree in school counseling from Western Carolina University. She has worked in emergency rooms, outpatient mental health clinics, psychiatric inpatient units, and K-12 schools.

Areas of Interest

  • Removing cross-system barriers for children and youth so they can be more successful in school and life
  • Improving continuity of services for individuals whose eligibility, mobility, geographic location, or unique life experiences tend to lead to gaps
  • Generating new insights by connecting information and expertise across social and health systems

Dr. Whitney LeBoeuf

Director of Data Integration & Analytics / Acting LINC Director

Whitney has an established body of work focused on social policy research and data sharing, having worked with the well-known national group Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (AISP) at the University of Pennsylvania. As Director of Data Integration and Analytics for the Colorado Lab, she works closely with partners at all levels of state government to foster interagency data sharing for research to inform program and policy improvement.

Prior to joining the Colorado Lab, Whitney worked with the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education as a senior research associate. She earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in education policy and has a master’s degree in quantitative research methods from the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education.

Areas of Interest

  • Understanding the needs of Colorado’s youngest children and supporting the multiple systems that serve them.
  • Identifying promising solutions for cross-system collaboration in support of children and families.
  • Creating opportunities for government partners to leverage data as an asset for smarter decision making on behalf of Colorado residents.
Dr. Courtney Everson

Senior Researcher / Project Director

Courtney is an applied medical anthropologist working at the intersection of public health, prevention sciences, and social policy. She firmly believes that applied research and evaluation can catalyze systems change, community thriving, and family well-being. As a Senior Researcher and Project Director with the Colorado Lab, Courtney fosters partnerships at all levels of government, in concert with community stakeholders and family leadership, to advance equity-oriented transformations in policy and practice.

With over twelve years of experience in research, community engagement, and leadership in health and human services, Courtney leverages the principles of collaboration, social justice, and interdisciplinary science to advance data-driven decision-making and strategic learning that is responsive, timely, and meaningful. Prior to joining the Colorado Lab, Courtney enjoyed a rich career as a faculty member and applied researcher with Oregon State University, Midwives College of Utah, and Colorado State University, where she successfully led and supported dozens of foundation, state, and federally funded studies and initiatives focused on improving maternal health and positive child/youth development. She is an experienced mixed methodologist and project manager adept at enacting complex, multi-layered research studies for policy and practice impact. Courtney is known for her fierce commitment to family voice, community-led efforts, responsive policy and practice partnerships, and creative strategies that mobilize research findings into action.

Courtney holds a PhD in applied medical anthropology from Oregon State University with graduate-level concentrations in public health and women, gender, and sexuality studies. She has also worked as a strategic facilitator with multi-stakeholder groups; trainer and coach in diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives; perinatal health educator; and in non-profit management.

Areas of Interest

  • Cross-system coordinated care models for improving perinatal health and holistic well-being
  • Prevention practices and policies for reducing child maltreatment and strengthening families
  • Advancing racial, social, and economic justice through a tri-fold approach of strategic governmental partnerships, community advocacy, and family leadership
Dr. Lauren Gase

Senior Researcher / Project Director

Lauren is passionate about using data to learn and improve. With over a decade of experience leading practice-grounded research and evaluation projects, she joins the Colorado Lab with a desire to support partners in using data to influence program and policy development.

Lauren has a deep grounding in practice, having led research and evaluation studies within
nonprofit, consulting, and governmental settings. Most recently she led the Research and
Evaluation team at VentureWell, a nonprofit organization working to support social

Lauren believes in the value of government in fostering healthy communities. While at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, she worked with health, education, and justice systems partners to support the passage of juvenile justice reform. While at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention she supported development of the National Prevention Strategy (Section 4001 of the Affordable Care Act), which elevated the role of “non-health” agencies, such as transportation and housing, in supporting community wellbeing.

Areas of Interest

Lauren holds a PhD in Health Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Masters in Public Health from Emory University.

  • Using Emergent Learning and Equitable Evaluation principles
  • Improving the holistic health and wellbeing of young people by addressing the root causes of inequity
  • Fostering partnerships between community, government, and academic partners
Sarah (SJ) Jordan

Staff Researcher / Project Coordinator

SJ is passionate about leveraging data to support sustainable solutions in systems across Colorado. With experience working in research and program evaluation in Colorado’s schools, health systems, and community-based organizations, SJ joined the Lab to support connections between state and local government and responsive research. As Staff Researcher and Project Coordinator with the Lab, SJ supports evidence-building and innovation in school districts, charter schools, and public institutions of higher education.

SJ maintains a strong commitment to identifying equitable considerations in social policy and believes in amplifying community voices to drive change. She spent several years conducting rigorous research in Denver Public Schools on the important topic of school accountability and its implications for educators and families. Prior to joining the Lab, she worked as a researcher at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, where she coordinated several multi-year federal grants and managed implementation and evaluation of programs that combat health disparities in diverse groups across Colorado. Most recently, she was the lead investigator on a study that researched the impact of COVID-19 on hospital housekeepers. SJ has also worked with local nonprofits to help build capacity in data and evaluation, including El Centro Humanitario, where she supported strategies to provide educational opportunities and ensure safe working conditions for day laborers in Denver.

SJ holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Colorado Denver and a Bachelor of Science in Education & Public Policy from Pennsylvania State University.

Areas of Interest

  • Intersections of education policy, social movements, and community-based participatory research
  • Cross-system strategies to improve outcomes and whole-person health for students, families, and educators
  • Social learning theories and collaborative learning approaches

Shannon Willis

Operations Manager

Shannon was drawn to the thriving and enriching environment of the University of Denver’s campus and the Colorado Lab’s results-driven focus on translating research findings into public practice. Her past experience with differing socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds along with her technical aptitude are invaluable to the Colorado Lab’s work in coordinating efforts across internal and external projects.

Prior to joining the Colorado Lab, Shannon worked as a software administrator at an international airport and managed a publications and production department in the environmental engineering industry. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State University.