Afi Wiggins



Afi earned her Ph.D. in Research Statistics and Evaluation from the University of Virginia. She also holds degrees in early childhood and elementary education, educational administration, and educational leadership.

Since 2002, Afi has conducted research and evaluation in myriad areas, including equity in STEM education, STEM teaching and learning, math and English developmental education, math pathways, co-requisite frameworks in math pathways, frameworks for effective science teaching, college readiness, postsecondary enrollment and persistence, teacher attrition, teacher employment environments, teacher quality policy, English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching and learning, postsecondary numeracy and literacy, youth and adult workforce development, youth mentoring, and adolescent development in girls.

Afi currently serves as Director of Evaluation and Research at the University of Texas at Austin Charles A. Dana Center. As director of evaluation and research, she leads the development and implementation of comprehensive, coherent, and equitable strategies for research and evaluation initiatives in K12, higher education, and the high school-to-college transition space. She collaborates with and manages the work of a wide range of nationally-recognized external researchers, including those from the Community College Research Center (CCRC), MDRC, University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) Colleges of Education and Natural Sciences, UT STEM Center, and Texas Tech University. Her work with researchers and evaluators provides structures, processes, and consultation to ensure effective evaluation and research design and implementation is high-quality and timely. Afi also works with her staff and external researchers to establish timely processes and actions for accessing, mining, cleaning, and analyzing, and reporting data from state and national longitudinal databases; as well as designing smaller-scale databases.

Prior to joining the UT Dana Center, Afi was Senior Research Analyst at Texas State University. She worked in the College of Education Office of Educator Preparation conducting funded research on teacher effectiveness, teacher attrition and mobility, and teacher employment environments across the state of Texas. She also assisted faculty in the College of Education and across the university with designing and drafting quantitative research design and data analyses components of internal and external funding proposals. While at Texas State, Afi honed her data science skills working in the Texas Education Research Center (ERC) querying, creating, managing, and maintaining longitudinally-linked data sets. She performed complex statistical analyses, including OLS and logistic regression, multivariate regression, regression discontinuity, structural equation modeling such as latent class and event history analysis, and propensity score and other group matching techniques.

Afi’s other previous work experience included serving as Evaluation Analyst for Austin Independent School District; Research Analyst at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, VA; Director of Assessment at Alabama State University, a historically Black university in Montgomery, AL; assistant principal Parker High School in Birmingham, AL serving students who were predominately Black or from low-income communities; and as an elementary school teacher in rural and suburban school districts in Childersburg and Alabaster, AL, respectively. She also taught quantitative statistics, research design, and evaluation design at the community college, university, and graduate school levels.

As part of her service to the professional community, Afi worked in national education policy, serving as a writer on the 2011 Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Interstate Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Model Core Teaching Standards revision committee. She currently serves on the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) Knowledge Development Committee, the Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) Research and Learning Agenda Development Committee, and is a member of various professional research and evaluation associations. She is an alumna of the Strategic Data Project Institute for Leadership in Analytics (SDP Institute) at Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research.

Afi is building scholarship in equitable evaluation and has drafted standards and metrics for measuring equity in education policies, systems, structures, and practices and student access, experiences, and success. She is an expert in collaborating with and facilitating groups to fully integrate equitable research and evaluation during strategic planning and program design. She intentionally strategizes in leading colleagues to understand how their work influences the education and life experiences of students who are Black, Latino, Indigenous, and from low-income communities.

Afi serves as an expert in research and data with the Gates Intermediaries for Scale, Catalyst:Ed Postsecondary Expert Network. The network of experts provide technical assistance to postsecondary institutions across the United States in and outside of the Gates-funded Intermediaries for Scale. The purpose of the expert network is to increase field capacity, spur innovation, and scale best practices across the postsecondary sector.

In addition to her passion to transform education and experiences for students who are Black, Latino, Indigenous, and from low-income communities, Afi serves her community through leadership as Austin Sexual Health and Wellness (ASHwell) Board of Directors Vice President. ASHwell is an organization that empowers central Texans by providing compassionate care through sexual health and wellness services that serve the body, mind and spirit. Afi also serves as an advisor to the Nation United Lacrosse Club Foundation Board. Nation United Lacrosse Club is a national elite-level lacrosse sports club that uses lacrosse to inspire diversity, equity, and inclusion in the lacrosse community through building the character of players and fostering long-lasting relationships that cross economic, socioeconomic and geographic boundaries.


PhD from University of Virginia-Main Campus (2014)