Meria Carstarphen, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist


Meria Carstarphen has more than 20 years of transformational leadership and executive management experience, with a track record of dramatically improving student and organizational outcomes. She is passionate about working to make communities stronger especially through the equalizing power of education from early childhood through college.

Nationally recognized as an experienced public education leader skilled at managing billion-dollar organizations efficiently and effectively, her collective impact spans over 800,000 students, more than 20,000 employees and hundreds of schools. Over her career, she has served as teacher, administrator, and superintendent in major metropolitan American public school districts including Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; and Saint Paul, Minnesota. While her most immediate background has been domestically focused, she has also worked and studied abroad. Most recently, she was appointed as a Senior Scientist, the first ever in education, for Gallup.

Carstarphen has demonstrated experience working closely with local, state, and national elected officials to make recommendations and advise on policy for public institutions, ranging from human trafficking and community health to accountability assessments and economic impact. Meria has shared her expertise on blogs, podcasts, speeches, and panels as well as publications in National Geographic, Education Week, The 74 Million, and School Administrator magazines and other periodicals. She also contributes to research to support the field on American urban superintendency, for example, chapter contributions such as “Communicating the Vision” in the book, Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day: School Leaders Who Are Making Equity a Reality and “The Secrets of Successful Women: Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent” for Forbes Magazine.

Carstarphen’s instructional experience includes teaching Spanish and documentary photography at the middle school level as well elementary educational work abroad in Seville, Spain and Caracas, Venezuela. She earned a doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy with a concentration in urban superintendency from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Carstarphen received Master of Education degrees from Harvard and Auburn University graduate schools and a bachelor of arts degree in political science and Spanish from Tulane University. She has also studied at the University of Seville, Spain and University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Carstarphen hails from Selma, Alabama where she began her teaching career.