Denise Lawson’s official title at QIP is user experience and training expert. So what exactly does a user experience and training expert do?
Currently, Denise is working primarily on two projects. One, for the National Forum on Education Statistics, is developing an e-learning course on best practices for data visualization (the graphic presentation of data to reveal values, patterns, trends, and meaning). This is a follow-up to an introductory course Denise developed that was based on the Forum Guide to Data Visualization.
“It was basically taking the best practices out of that and developing a self-paced e-learning course,” Denise said. “And so, this is more applied data visualization in the second course. It’ll be more scenario-based and how to apply the techniques and deliver data visualization solutions in different contexts.”
Another project Denise is working on focuses on student privacy.
“Obviously, now with COVID-19 and everybody doing everything online, data privacy is probably more important than it was before,” she said.
Working with Andra Williams, a senior researcher and business development manager at QIP, Denise has been evaluating how transparent local education agency (LEA) websites are about their data privacy policies and processes.
“Do they have all of the important regulations for parents to look at for student privacy rules? Is it easy to find on their website? Do parents know who to contact if they have questions about data privacy?” Denise said.
Previously, Denise and Andra helped develop learning resources for educators on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that governs access to education information and records by public entities.
Denise has worked for QIP since 2016.
“I enjoy working with a great team of professionals and feel a great sense of teamwork and collaboration with the other QIP staff,” she said. “So, no matter what challenges come up on a project, the team always finds a way to get through it together.”
In addition to her work for QIP, Denise teaches at Carnegie Mellon University, where she serves as a faculty advisor for second-year graduate students in the Master of Science in Public Policy and Management program at the Heinz College.
Before coming to QIP, Denise, who lives in Springfield, Va., worked as a consultant for Brown & Lowe International Inc., conducting data analysis on education-related projects for the National Center for Education Statistics and College Measures. She also was a senior vice president for Oak Grove Technologies, an associate at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, and a product marketing manager at PRC Inc.
Denise earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Georgetown University and her Master of Business Administration in information technology and marketing from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Besides her extensive work in education, Denise also writes children’s books, having just completed her fifth, “Life Lessons from a Sled Dog.” The proceeds from her books are used to help re-home retired sled dogs.
“That kind of happened accidentally after we went on a dog sledding exhibition out in the bush of Alaska, way out in the wilderness, and we ended up adopting a sled dog ourselves,” Denise said.
“That’s my secret little life,” she said.