Shelby Cooley

(she, her, hers)

Principal Researcher, Applied Research & Equitable Evaluation

Shelby enjoys supporting organizations as they implement equity values across strategy and measurement portfolios as well as building structures for student- and family-led research. She is passionate about developing cultures of inquiry, supporting cross-sector partnerships, and embedding research for systems change. Her career path has taken her around the country and most recently brought her full circle—working for Seattle Public Schools and the communities that raised her. She is committed to deepening equitable measurement work in Washington state and for opportunities to bridge and learn from other communities.

Shelby has supported K–12 district organizational strategy, developing and leading Seattle Public School’s first research portfolio aligned to targeted universalism strategies—focused on Black boys and teens. Prior to working at Seattle Public Schools, she was research director at the Community Center for Education Results, establishing the research function, public data tools, and humanizing reporting for the Road Map Project, a Puget Sound-based, pre-k–postsecondary, collective impact initiative.

Shelby received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, where she examined child social development and educational contexts that reduce racial bias. She has consulted on anti-racism in schools for Learning for Justice and CNN’s AC360, and her prior professional work has included applied research in early literacy in New York and District of Columbia Public Schools. In addition to academic publications, her research has been featured in the Seattle Times and on NPR, and has been used in Washington state legislative advocacy. Shelby also serves on the Washington Education Research Association Board and is an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University, teaching advanced research methods in the College of Education.


  • Ph.D., Child Development, University of Maryland
  • B.A., Psychology and Black Studies, Scripps College

A movie that would be greatly improved if it was made into a musical is...

Yikes...none. I'm not a fan of musicals.

Mountains or the beach?


Only a few people know that I can...

Play the cello

My guilty pleasure is...


Shelby Cooley

Areas of Expertise

  • Mixed-methods and participatory design
  • Child social development and well-being
  • College readiness and re-engagement systems
  • Institutional cultures of inquiry