Deborah Jonas headshot

Deborah Jonas

Managing Research Director

Dr. Deborah Jonas is the Weldon Cooper Center’s research director. She leads the Research Collaborative, a team of researchers with specialties in survey design and administration, economic and policy studies, and demographics, among other fields. This includes staff and faculty from the Center for Survey Research, the Center for Economic & Policy Studies, and the Demographics Group.

Jonas is a practicing consultant with advanced training in cognitive science research methodologies and more than 20 years of experience leading significant research programs and effective teams. From concept to execution, Jonas’ objective, nonpartisan data products inform clients and citizens and offer meaningful context for policy and practice.

For six years prior to joining Weldon Cooper, Jonas led the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia serving Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, funded by the US Department of Education Institute of Education Science (IES). As the director, Jonas crafted REL Appalachia’s strategy, and together with researchers and technical assistance experts, partnered with state and local leaders to understand community needs and to collaboratively design and implement solutions to the region’s most pressing needs.

Prior to leading REL Appalachia, Jonas’ experiences included leading a Virginia-based woman-owned small business, serving as the Executive Director for Research & Strategic Planning at the Virginia Department of Education, conducting health outcomes research, and conducting operations research in multiple sectors including education, military, and public and animal health emergency response. In these contexts, Jonas partnered with, led, and supported researchers from diverse disciplines, including economists, sociologists, political scientists, engineers, education researchers, demographers, mathematicians, chemists and more. She values multidisciplinary approaches to meeting public sector needs and aims to ensure that all people have access to the types of opportunities they need to grow and thrive.

Jonas earned a BA degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, an MS degree in experimental psychology from Lehigh University, and a PhD in experimental psychology from Duke University. She has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and presented to national conferences and audiences in a variety of disciplines.

Jonas enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and appreciates visits from her two college-age daughters.