Candace Hester

Principal Researcher

Candace Hester is a principal researcher at AIR. In this role, she has led dozens of implementation and impact studies focused on enhancing the life outcomes of youth and adults from vulnerable populations.

Dr. Hester supports federal, state, and local policymakers and practitioners. She is the principal investigator of a study for the state of Arkansas for which she examines student-level records using logistic regression and machine learning strategies to identify accurate indicators of college and career success. Dr. Hester is also the project director and quantitative task leader on two parallel studies with the city of San Francisco’s Department of Children, Youth, and their Families to understand the implementation and impact of their Justice Services and Youth Workforce Development Programs.

As project director and quantitative task lead for a separate research project funded by the ECMC Foundation, Dr. Hester is analyzing 20 years of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 panel using an individual fixed-effects regression strategy to estimate the returns to noncredit-bearing credential and licensure pathways compared with credit-bearing credential and associate degree programs. This study also leverages data available through Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and Workforce Investment Act Standardized Records Data to create a national, interactive map of postsecondary enrollment and completion trends by program type.

Prior to entering graduate school, Dr. Hester was a high school math teacher for five years in Oakland, California where she received awards for excellence in teaching and teacher leadership. Currently, she is also a member of the University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School for Public Policy’s teaching faculty and a What Works Clearinghouse-certified reviewer.

Image of Candace Hester

Ph.D., Public Policy, M.A., Economics, and M.P.P., University of California-Berkeley; B.S.E., Operations Research & Financial Engineering and African American Studies, Princeton University