Kristin Klopfenstein, PhD Executive Director

Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein founded the Colorado Lab to co-create responsive and actionable research in partnership with decision makers. Kristin’s previous experience prepared her well for launching, growing, and sustaining the Colorado Lab. After earning her PhD in economics at the University of Colorado, she assumed a faculty position at Texas Christian University (TCU) where she learned to convey complex ideas to students in accessible ways. While at TCU, she held positions as Faculty Researcher and then Interim Director at the Texas Schools Project at the University of Texas at Dallas. The Texas Schools Project taught Kristin about the power of integrated administrative data and the importance of building relationships of trust with the Governor’s office, state agencies, and members of the state legislature. Upon earning tenure at TCU, she decided to search for opportunities to engage in work that was more responsive to the needs of decision makers and move closer to home. She established the Education Innovation Institute at the University of Northern Colorado in 2011 where she learned to build mutualistic rather than transactional relationships with decision makers. With this experience and a passion to do things differently than the typical academic, she started the Colorado Lab in 2017.

Kristin is interested in all areas of public policy but her deepest experience is in studying education, particularly the transition from high school to postsecondary. The Colorado Lab’s Essential Element that speaks most strongly to her is that of prioritizing relationships. Sustained, trusting relationships between researchers and decision makers allow for bilateral learning that can result in relevant, creative, and actionable work products.

Kristin finds joy in watching baseball—whether one of her two boys or the Colorado Rockies are playing—on a beautiful, clear day, at home or away.