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Jenni W. Owen

Director of Policy Engagement, Lecturer of Public Policy, Duke University
Areas of Expertise:
  • Government Agencies
  • Family Policies
  • K-12 Education
  • School Reform
  • Children & Families

About Jenni

Owen works with government, non-profit, and university stakeholders to enhance the use of research to inform and positively affect policy and practice, particularly on issues concerning disadvantaged and vulnerable children and families. In addition to teaching and advising undergraduates and graduate students, she directs the North Carolina Family Impact Seminar, a legislative education initiative, and co-directs the Duke University School Research Partnership. From 2008-2014, she was the director of the University-Based Child and Family Policy Consortium. Owen is the principal investigator for an Oak Foundation-funded effort focused on non-profit capacity building and a John Rex Endowment project on children’s positive mental health. From 2003-2008, she was the PI for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation’s Professional Development Initiative. She has served as a consultant to the University of North Carolina system, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers. In 2007 she was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship to South Africa and in 2010 launched DukeEngage Durban (South Africa), an annual immersive service program for undergraduates. 

Podcast

Publications

Instead of Suspension: Alternative Strategies for Effective School Discipline (with Jane Wettach and Katie Claire Hoffman) (Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, 2015).

Includes a compendium of alternatives to suspension and brief profiles of examples of where alternatives to school suspensions are in place. Acquaints school districts with a range of approaches to school discipline. Some are proven, others are promising. All have the potential to foster better school climates and better student outcomes.

"Professional Development Initiative Proposal for Action," (with Ann Skinner), Final action report of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Professional Development Initiative, October 31, 2004.
Builds on the findings of a multi-year initiative of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation; focuses on developing a statewide system of teacher professional development for North Carolina.
"Juvenile or Adult?: Adolescent Offenders and the Line Between the Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems," (with Lisa J. Berlin and Geelea Seaford), Family Impact Seminar legislative briefing report, Center for Child and Family Policy, 2007.
Targets a policymaker audience, examining what research says about adolescent brain development and the implications of this research for juvenile justice policy, specifically the age of juvenile jurisdiction. Provides policy options for how best to care for and process juveniles in the justice system. Produced in conjunction with the 2007 NC Family Impact Seminar.
"Dropout Prevention: Strategies for Improving High School Graduation Rates," (with Joel Rosch, Clara Muschkin, Jana Alexander, and Casey Wyant), Family Impact Seminar legislative briefing report, Center for Child and Family Policy, 2008.
Addresses the causes and consequences of school dropout, explains differences among multiple types of dropout rates, and highlights research-based strategies for decreasing the dropout rate with an emphasis on building schools’ and school systems’ capacity; produced in conjunction with the 2008 NC Family Impact Seminar.
"Evidence-Based Policy: Strategies for Improving Outcomes and Accountability," (with Katie Rosanbalm, Joel Rosch, and Lynda Harrison), Family Impact Seminar legislative briefing report, Center for Child and Family Policy, 2009.
Reviews the state of knowledge about evidence-based policy, provides guidance on how to assess evidence, and presents options for policymakers across the political spectrum to consider in striving to enhance the extent to which their decisions are informed by evidence; produced in conjunction with the 2009 NC Family Impact Seminar.
"North Carolina School Suspension Policy Options," Brief 4 of “School Suspension in North Carolina” Family Impact Seminar legislative briefing materials, North Carolina General Assembly, March 31, 2010.
Proposes a set of policy options developed in conjunction with the 2010 NC Family Impact Seminar, a legislative education initiative. Highlights research-based, cost-effective strategies for addressing high rates of school suspension that have implications for students and schools in North Carolina and beyond.

In the News

"NC Could Save Big Money by Reclassifying 30 Misdemeanors as Infractions," Jenni W. Owen, Raleigh News & Observer, February 11, 2013.
"Getting a Handle on Suspensions," Jenni W. Owen (with Heidi Carter), Raleigh News & Observer, August 19, 2010.
"Proven Workforce Strategies for Greater Prosperity in NC," Jenni W. Owen, The Durham Herald-Sun, May 23, 2012.