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Meet Our Guaranteed Income Experts

Guaranteed income is a growing strategy that communities across the U.S. are testing to address racial, economic, and health inequities. Abt’s guaranteed income  team is already conducting numerous evaluations in this area, leveraging over 40  years of experience supporting rigorous and person-centered research, evaluation, and technical assistance to better understand social welfare programs and policies.

Meet the people who can help your organization achieve its goals:


Anna Jefferson, Ph.D.
Senior Associate and Co-Principal Investigator
Since 2011, Dr. Anna Jefferson has spent her career in policy research creatively and rigorously applying ethnographic, participatory, and community-based methods to make policy research more person-centered. She is a subject matter expert in guaranteed income, inequality, consumer finance, and U.S. housing policy. As a co-Principal Investigator on Abt’s portfolio of guaranteed income evaluations, she provides leadership on research design, provides guidance and quality assurance on research methods, relationship-building with clients and the pilot sites, training and support to community-based research fellows, and supervision on qualitative analysis, mixed methods synthesis, and report writing. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Michigan State University.

Randall Juras, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist and Co-Principal Investigator
Dr. Randall Juras is a leading researcher and expert on the use of quantitative methods to study the impact of social programs. He has more than a decade of experience using randomized field experiments to study the effects of guaranteed income, job training, occupational safety, and adolescent health interventions in both U.S. and international settings, and has published widely on both research methods and findings. As a co-principal investigator on Abt’s guaranteed income portfolio, Dr. Juras is responsible for overseeing the design and analysis of the projects’ impact evaluations. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Michigan State University.

Tresa Kappil
Associate and Project Director
Tresa Kappil is the Project Director for Abt’s Mayors for Guaranteed Income (MGI) project, a mixed methods evaluation of seven cities running guaranteed income evaluations. She has broad expertise in employment and training strategies, and in programs that help low-income populations. Over her eight years at Abt, Kappil has led mixed-methods studies, created qualitative data collection protocols, and managed projects for a variety of federal, nonprofit, and local clients, including for the U.S. Department of Labor, the Gates Foundation, and the city of Los Angeles. Her work focuses on understanding the effects of programs that try to help marginalized populations improve outcomes and understanding the barriers they may encounter. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Michigan.

AshLee Smith, Ph.D.
Senior Analyst and Project Director
Dr. AshLee Smith works on improving marginalized people's lives by working in economic mobility, criminal justice, child welfare, and housing. Her expertise is in mixed-method, equitable, and qualitative evaluation research methods, including participatory methods. She also has experience with ethnography, interviews, and focus groups with diverse populations, including community organizations, public servants, and hard-to-reach individuals and families. AshLee currently serves as a project director and senior site lead for Abt’s MGI pilot evaluations. She holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from University of Minnesota. As a first-generation college student, mixed-raced woman, and former foster child, her life experiences have shaped her goals and inform her work.

Hannah Thomas, Ph.D.
Senior Associate and Co-Principal Investigator
Dr. Hannah Thomas has over 20 years of experience using qualitative and mixed-methods research to help teams better serve their program participants in the areas of guaranteed income, workforce development, financial capability, housing, and asset-building. Her work is participant- and equity-focused to understand how people experience and navigate program bureaucracies within the context of their daily lives. As a Co-Principal Investigator for several city pilot evaluations within the MGI network, she oversees the development of research designs, guides data collection, directs qualitative and mixed methods analysis and produces accessible reports and briefs for a policy audience. She holds a MA (Cantab.) in Geography and an MA and Ph.D. in Social Policy and Sociology.

Haisheng Yang, Ph.D.
Senior Analyst and Director of Analysis
Dr. Haisheng Yang has extensive experience conducting descriptive and statistical analyses for state, federal, and private agencies. As the Director of Analysis for Abt Associate’s guaranteed income projects, Dr. Yang has worked with cities and their partners to ensure the smooth on-boarding of potential participants to receive guaranteed income. Additionally, at Abt, Dr. Yang has contributed to various quantitative projects, including evaluations for the Institute of Educational Sciences, the Conrad N. Hilton foundation, and Compass Working Capital. Recent publications include the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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