Debra Fitzpatrick has demonstrated success in leading, managing and coordinating multi-million dollar, multi-year research projects that increase social, economic and political equity.


(Debra shares Status of Women & Girls research findings at the 2015 Women’s Economic Security Summit)

Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance

(Research Lead and Lead Author)

Under contract with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Debra served as research lead and author for the most comprehensive policy design and implementation report on state level paid family and medical leave insurance, arguably one of the most complex areas of public policy being considered across the country today. For this project, she recruited and assembled the most experienced team in the country, including the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Carlson School of Management (Department of Work and Organizations); the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, National Partnership for Women & Families, a Department of Employment and Economic Development Leadership Team and a Minnesota State Agency Advisory Group (Labor & Industry, Health, Human Services, Human Rights, Management & Budget, Revenue). Under her leadership and a very tight timeline, the team considered and reported on the current legal landscape, public policy solutions adopted and implemented in U.S. states, Minnesota programs and infrastructure, an analysis of the social insurance model; estimated costs under the current system and possible Minnesota program models, recommended policy approaches, and simulated changes in leave-taking under possible Minnesota program models.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance:  Options for Designing and Implementing a Minnesota Program

Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota

(University of Minnesota researcher and project lead)

The Status of Women and Girls in Minnesota is an ongoing collaborative research project with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota that systematically examines key indicators for women and girls in Minnesota using an intersectional race/place/gender lens, raising public awareness and advancing public policy on issues important to the lives of women and girls.  Debra serves as the lead researcher and author for every other year reports.

2018 Research Overview

2014 Research Overview

2012 Research Overview

2010 Research Overview

2010 Full Research Report

Debra has done an outstanding job over the past year in producing valuable research and materials and getting that work to the wider community. The Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota Research Overview, published in partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, is one of the best, both succinct and comprehensive, documents I’ve seen to state the case for community attention to issues concerning women and girls in Minnesota.”  —Former mayor Karen Anderson, and the first woman to head the National Conference of Mayors


Women in Science & Technology Policy

(Principal Investigator)

The purpose of this study is to examine the presence and influence of women in science and technology policy at the federal level. The Women in Science and Technology Policy Project is a collaboration between two areas at the Humphrey School, Women and Public Policy and Science, Technology and Public Policy, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Georgia Institute of Technology. The project is funded by a three year grant from the National Science Foundation.   Debra’s work on the project has focused on the development and analysis of a new  12 million record dataset of all federal employees; design and execution of focus groups with high level federal science agency leaders; and a forthcoming paper on the gender pay gap and proportion of women in various roles at selected science & technology agencies.  Additional information.


Women’s Path to Political Office

(Principal investigator)

Debra teamed up with the Political Science department to study the path men and women take to office and the role of gatekeeper, support and recruitment organizations, used this research to construct a learning community of organizations working to address diversity among elected officials and developed programs for women students interested in seeking office.  More about Debra’s work in this area.

Are We Progressing Toward Equal Representation for Women in the Minnesota Legislature? New Evidence Offers Mixed Results

Addressing the Gender Gap in Political Ambition presentation


Providing Quality Choice Options in Education

(University of Minnesota Center for School Change project director)  2006

Research conducted by Debra for the Providing Quality Choice Options in Education Policy Primer was part of a broader collaborative project with the National Governors Association funded by the US Department of Education that supported governor led state teams working to improve school choice policy.  Support included research, policy institutes and technical assistance.

Providing Quality Choice Options in Education report


Center for School Change:  School Choice, Teacher Preparation, Supply & Demand

What Really Happened: Minnesota’s experience with statewide public school choice programs (researcher and co-author) 2002
Asking the Right Questions: Minnesota teacher Supply & Demand (researcher & co-author) 1999
Improvements are Needed:  Minnesota Principals, Superintendents and Parent/Community Advocates Assess Teacher Preparation (researcher and co-author) 1998