Omaha, Neb. — The Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska has appointed Kathleen (Kate) Gallagher as director of research and evaluation. In this position, Gallagher will play a leadership role in developing applied research and evaluation studies involving children from birth – Grade 3 and their families as well as the early childhood professionals who care for and teach young children.
Gallagher has been affiliated with the Buffett Institute for the past 18 months as the Cille and Ron Williams Community Chair for Early Childhood Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The Williams Chair was the first of four endowed community chairs that the Buffett Institute is working to establish across the University of Nebraska system.
“We are thrilled to work more closely with Kate in what is an extremely critical position at the Institute,” said Samuel J. Meisels, founding executive director of the Buffett Institute. “Kate is the perfect person to lead the Institute’s efforts to build a world-class research and evaluation operation that contributes to the early childhood field nationally while also continuing to lead community-based engagement and research in Nebraska.”
Gallagher, who assumes her new responsibilities in January 2018, will be actively engaged with the Institute’s two signature programs, the Achievement Gap Challenge and the Early Childhood Workforce Development Program. She will conduct translational research and implementation studies; design and lead rigorous research studies; and develop a research agenda relevant to the Institute’s mission of transforming the lives of young children by improving their learning and development.
“I have loved my time at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and I relish the opportunity to work with all four campuses of the University of Nebraska in an expanded role at the Buffett Institute,” Gallagher said. “The Institute’s work has enormous potential to make a real difference for children, families, and early childhood professionals. There is nothing I am more passionate about than working with communities and our partners across the University of Nebraska system to help make change happen.”
Gallagher has more than 30 years’ experience as an educational psychologist and early childhood professional, including teaching, home visiting, and leading early childhood programs in early intervention and inclusive preschools. Before coming to Nebraska in 2016, Gallagher spent 13 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she taught in the School of Education and served as a research scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.
Her research and professional development focus on identifying, implementing, and evaluating practices, programs, and policies that support the development and well-being of young children, their families, and early childhood professionals—particularly in the contexts of poverty, disability, and cultural diversity.
At UNK, Gallagher engaged with communities across Nebraska, promoting the social-emotional well-being of children and families, as well as the well-being of child care providers and teachers. She serves on the board of the Valley Child Development Center in Red Cloud, Neb., and has played a supporting role in the development of UNK’s new Early Childhood Education Center, which will be completed in June 2019. Additionally, she has collaborated with UNK faculty on an effort to revise the university’s early childhood curriculum to improve the preparation and training of future early childhood professionals.
Gallagher holds a doctorate in educational psychology and human development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned a master’s degree in educational foundations from Marquette University and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and special education from Cardinal Stritch University.
Gallagher replaces the Buffett Institute’s former director of research and evaluation, Iheoma Iruka, who now serves as chief research innovation officer and director of the Center for Early Education Evaluation at HighScope Educational Research Foundation.