Willard joined MDRC in 2011 and currently works in both the K-12 and Young Adults and Postsecondary Education policy areas. She is leading the site recruitment effort for the Evaluation of Academic Language Interventions, a school-level random assignment study funded by the U.S. Department of Education that will involve at least 70 schools in 9 to 12 school districts. She also plays a lead role on the Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential project, an initiative funded by the Social Innovation Fund that is designed to increase employment and educational opportunities for disconnected young people and young adults who are homeless or who have been involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Willard is also a site liaison and lead qualitative researcher on the Innovative Professional Development study, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that is focused on improving teacher professional development systems. Before coming to MDRC, Willard worked as the Higher Education Policy and Research Analyst for the Education Trust-West, was a research analyst at Berkeley Policy Associates managing large-scale random assignment studies of professional development for teachers of English language learners, and was an institutional researcher at Cambridge College. Willard graduated with honors from the University of California-Berkeley and received her master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.