AERA Names 2022-23 Congressional Fellows

August 2022

Heather K. Olson Beale

AERA has named two scholars as AERA Congressional Fellows for 2022–23. The Fellows will spend a year in Washington, D.C., working as staff for a member of Congress or a Congressional committee, and will use their education research expertise, outside of the academic setting, to inform public policy. This will be the sixth year of the AERA Congressional Fellowship initiative.

Elizabethe Payne

The two 2022–23 AERA Congressional Fellows are Heather K. Olson Beal (Stephen F. Austin State University) and Elizabethe Payne (Queering Education Research Institute). Their fellowships will begin on September 1.

Beal is a professor in the James I. Perkins College of Education’s Department of Education Studies at Stephen F. Austin State University. She earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Louisiana State University in 2008. Beal teaches courses in educational foundations, family and community engagement, and educational policy and advocacy. Her scholarship examines the issues of school choice and the experiences of women and mothers in academia.

Payne is founder and director of the Queering Education Research Institute, which bridges gaps between research, policy, and practice in support of gender and sexual minority students in K-12 schools. She earned a PhD in social and philosophical foundations of education at the University of Houston in 2002. Payne’s research explores LGBTQ-inclusive education policy, educator experiences working with gender and sexual minority students, and the school experiences of LGBTQ+ young people.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Beal and Dr. Payne to Washington, D.C. and to participate in this important program,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “As part of this program, they will each play an invaluable role in connecting research to policymakers and expanding public understanding of the contributions of education research.”

AERA is one of more than 30 scientific and engineering societies that sponsor congressional fellowships through a program coordinated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AERA Congressional Fellows benefit from a comprehensive two-week orientation as well as professional development and networking opportunities throughout the year that are administered by AAAS. AERA also provides additional professional development and networking opportunities targeted specifically to education researchers.

The call for applications for the AERA 2023–24 Congressional Fellowship Program will be released in October 2022.