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Walker, Ph.D.

Science and Research Senior Director, Quantitative Methods

Dr. Jessica Thornton Walker is an accomplished researcher and the leader of Abt’s quantitative methods team who brings 20 years of experience designing and implementing policy-relevant research. She is a recognized expert in large-scale, multi-site evaluations to assess the impacts of social policies and programs in housing and homelessness, child welfare, adolescent risk-taking behaviors, and substance use.

In her role as the Quantitative Methods Lead, Dr. Walker is responsible for the management, staffing, budgeting, solutioning, and strategy that guides the work of 120 quantitative research staff and ensures Abt provides high-quality technical delivery and innovative solutions tailored to clients.

Dr. Walker also actively leads ongoing research projects, including  a longitudinal evaluation of ACF’s Transitional Living Programs for runaway and homeless youth. She co-directs an impact study for a Congressionally mandated randomized controlled trial of child welfare-focused recovery coaching programs and leads efforts to develop a learning agenda for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s youth financial well-being initiative.

Prior to joining Abt, Dr. Walker collaborated on frequently cited studies of the effects of employment support and welfare-to-work policy demonstrations on children and families. She also contributed to research that informed government- and foundation-led health public health initiatives and communication campaigns including the Truth Initiative and the 5-a-Day for Better Health Program.


  • Quantitative and mixed methods research design
  • Installation and implementation of large-scale multisite evaluations
  • Child, adolescent, and young adult development
  • People and project management
  • Technical solutioning and strategy

Key Projects:

  • Project Director/Co-Principal Investigator, Transitional Living Program Evaluation (Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Co-Director Impact Evaluation, R3-Impact Study (Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Principal Investigator, Youth Financial Well-Being Community of Practice Learning Agenda (Annie E. Casey Foundation)


Jessica Walker, Ph.D.