J-PAL North America announces appointment of Laura Feeney and Vincent Quan as new Co-Executive Directors

J-PAL North America announces that Laura Feeney and Vincent Quan, who previously led the center’s research, training, and policy teams, are now serving as the new co-executive directors of the organization. Feeney and Quan are replacing outgoing Executive Director, Mary Ann Bates, who will continue her work as a Senior Fellow at the White House Office of Management and Budget where she is working to advance evidence-based policy including by developing the first government-wide, management-focused learning agenda.

Bates joined J-PAL in 2010, working in international development where, as the Senior Policy Manager in the Global office, she helped set up the Environment and Energy sector, launched numerous evidence to policy publications, and led many high level policy engagements around the world. In 2013, she pivoted to domestic policy when she worked closely with Co-Scientific Directors Amy Finkelstein (MIT) and Lawrence  Katz (Harvard University) to launch the J-PAL North America office. Her leadership guided the growth of the office over the past eight years, starting as the first employee to now having a team of 45 professional staff. During that time, Bates led efforts that established J-PAL North America as a nationally trusted partner for generating, interpreting, and acting on evidence, with a clear focus on reducing poverty and improving opportunity. She built effective partnerships with leaders in local, state, and federal government, private and nonprofit organizations and philanthropy. This work launched new research studies and informed policies that have improved thousands of lives. 

“While we will miss Mary Ann’s effective and empathetic leadership tremendously, we are excited that she will continue to focus on advancing the creation and use of evidence from within government,” said Katz.  

As Co-Executive Directors, Feeney and Quan will jointly build on Bates’ pioneering efforts and lead J-PAL North America in achieving its mission to improve policy through rigorous evidence. In her role, Feeney will be responsible for leading strategy development and operations for J-PAL North America. In his role, Quan will be responsible for leading partnership development and outreach.

Feeney, who has been serving as acting executive director and head of research for J-PAL North America, brings a wealth of organizational leadership experience and deep research expertise. She has successfully overseen the launch and management of critical research programs that have shaped how the research community conducts randomized evaluations, including J-PAL North America’s widely downloaded evaluation toolkit and Research Management Support program. 

“In her seven years at J-PAL North America, Laura has fundamentally transformed our research operations by effectively building and leading the research team and pioneering structures to run multiple high-priority research projects in-house,” said Finkelstein. “Throughout her time with us, Laura has continually proven to be a highly gifted systems builder and strategic thinker.”  

Quan, who has been leading the policy team at J-PAL North America, has an exceptional track record of influencing policy through rigorous evidence. Under his leadership, J-PAL North America has cultivated strong and lasting relationships with partners across the evidence-based policymaking ecosystem, including influential government policymakers, philanthropic leaders, and nonprofit heads. He has helped launch and run multiple new initiatives to generate important studies to identify effective solutions to address poverty. 

“During his five years at J-PAL North America, Vincent has helped lead the team in indelible ways through his superb track record in directing the policy team, fundraising, partnership development, policy outreach, and writing and communications,” said Katz. “Under his direct leadership, J-PAL North America has also achieved major policy successes in which J-PAL research has directly influenced state and federal policies.” 

“I am incredibly grateful to Mary Ann for the foundational role she played first in helping establish J-PAL’s worldwide policy group, and then in leading J-PAL North America to tremendous success. The new shared executive structure will leverage the skills of two incredibly talented leaders,” said Iqbal Dhaliwal, global executive director of J-PAL. “Laura is a gifted strategist and internal systems thinker who has a strong track record of building and effectively structuring teams and operations that stand the test of time. Vincent is an exceptional relationship builder with a strong track record of representing and expanding our work externally. I believe their complementary expertise, skill sets, backgrounds, and lived experience will enable them to excel in their new roles.”

Prior to joining J-PAL, Feeney worked with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Shoulder to Shoulder, where she conducted public health research in rural Honduras, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. She holds an MA in economics from the University of British Columbia and a BA in economics from the University of Florida. Quan previously worked at the Prison Law Office, where he conducted research to improve conditions of confinement in prisons across California, and at the Legal Aid Society in New York City, where he assisted low-income residents in navigating the criminal court system. Quan holds a master’s in public administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a BA in history from UC Berkeley.

Media contact:
Erin Graeber
[email protected]