Chance Nettles is an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources. He is currently a junior at the University of Texas working on his Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Previously, Chance interned in the External Relations division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and was a House messenger for the 85th Texas Legislature. This semester he will be assisting with the Sectors Strategies for Equity project; an initiative that will explore the current role of sector partnerships in promoting equity goals, as well as identify barriers and best practices.
Charles Demakis is a first-year Masters of Public Affairs student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Charles graduated from Stanford University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies, with an emphasis on comparative ethics. Upon completing his degree, he moved to Prague in September 2007 to get his certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and work as an English language teacher. He moved to Berlin in June 2008, where he lived for eight years, teaching English at private companies and community colleges (the “Volkshochschulen”), as well as leading language courses for the unemployed through the German Job Center. Charles returned to the United States in 2016 in order to pursue his Master’s degree in Austin.
In his current coursework, Charles is focusing on social policy, statistical analysis, and program evaluation. He is particularly interested in matters of labor, employment, and workforce policy, and how they relate to economic outcomes and social equity. During his first year at the LBJ School, Charles had the opportunity to work with Christopher King of the Ray Marshall Center on a Policy Research Project developing a two-generation strategy for Greater Austin. After graduating, he hopes to do policy research and program evaluation in the fields of social and economic policy, whether here in the United States or back in Germany.
Robert Earl McPherson was a major figure in designing and implementing leading-edge workforce and education strategies at the national, state, and local level over a career spanning more than five decades. He passed away in the early hours of December 9, 2016 after a protracted battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Big Bob, as he was affectionately known to most of his friends and colleagues, was a central figure in Texas workforce circles and spent much of his career associated with the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, as a project director, associate director, and senior advisor and mentor to many colleagues and students alike.
We have created this memorial page to Big Bob and his work. Below you will find links to some of his work over the years as well as many photos. We invite former colleagues, friends, and family to share your thoughts and stories, including what his son Mark has referred to as “Bob-isms” in the comments on this website. And please send any photos you may have as well. (Photos can be sent to chris.king@raymarshallcenter.
Also, Liza Hallman, Bob’s widow, along with Bob’s children Mark McPherson and Kim James, want to invite friends and former colleagues to an open house at her home on Saturday, April 15th from 11am to 3pm. This will be a time for all of us to celebrate Bob’s life and share stories and photos of our time with him.
The Job Training Demonstration Project: The Conceptual Design (1992)
Engaging Employers in Public Workforce Efforts in Texas (1997)
Evaluation Action Plan for the Texas Workforce Development System (1997)
Improving Performance Measures for Texas Workforce Development Boards: Phase One: Summary Report (2002)
3 paper series on a Human Investment System for Texas:
Integrating Human Resource Programs: Recent Experience in Five States (1991)
Profiles of Workforce Development Programs in Texas (1991)
Building an Integrated Workforce Development System for Texas: A Radical Blueprint for the Future (1991, r. 1992)
4 paper series on Human Investment Strategies:
The Local Option: A Stronger Role in Workforce Development (1994)
A Labor Market Approach to Workforce Development (1994)
Building a Local Workforce Development Board: The Key Steps (1994)
Designing a Local Workforce Services Delivery System (1997)
L-R: Chris King, Bob Glover, Ray Marshall, and Bob McPherson; old Center for the Study of Human Resources location, 107 West 27th Street, Austin, TX, 1981
Bob McPherson and Chris King; old Center for the Study of Human Resources location on West 27th St, n.d. (mid-1990s).
Bob McPherson; Tx Assn of Workforce Boards gathering, n.d. (mid-1990s).
Workforce board directors Judy McDonald, Willie Taylor, Mary Ross, Rodney Bradshaw, and others with Bob McPherson and Chris King; Tx Assn of Workforce Boards gathering, n.n. (mid-1990s).
Workforce board directors Mary Ross, Rodney Bradshaw, Mike Temple, and others with Bob McPherson; Tx Assn of Workforce Boards gathering, n.d. (mid-1990s).
The late Chuck Nielson, former Texas Instruments Sr VP for Human Resources, Bob McPherson, and an unknown gentleman; Tx Assn of Workforce Boards reception, n.d. (mid-1990s).
Bob McPherson facilitating a strategic planning session for the Texas Association of Workforce Boards, n.d. (mid-1990s).
Attendees at a Texas Association of Workforce Boards meeting; n.d. (mid-1990s).
L-R: Bob McPherson, Ray Marshall, Liz Hallman, and others (LBJ Prof. David Warner in background left) attending re-dedication of the Center as the Ray Marshall Center; Austin, TX, June 1999.
Bob McPherson, Chris King, and guests attending the rededication of the Center as the Ray Marshall Center; Austin, TX, June 1999.
Chris King & Bob McPherson; Austin, TX, October 2008.
Bob Glover and Bob McPherson; Ray Marshall Center 40th Anniversary Celebration, Austin, TX, October 2010.
Former Texas House Representative Michael U. Villarreal, D-Antonio, joined the Ray Marshall Center in June as a Visiting Researcher (his title has since been updated to Research Fellow). Mr. Villarreal is currently pursuing his PhD in education policy at UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he hopes to apply his concentration in education policy to a teaching career in the future. Since joining the RMC team, Michael has spearheaded the Student Futures Network of Region 20, a joint effort of the RMC and participating school districts that are members of the Education Service Center, Region 20. Read more about the SFN here.
Michael Villarreal is a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
Michael’s research interest includes the study of higher education systems (including student counseling, recruitment, and financial aid) that lead to improving the educational experience and outcomes of students who have been historically underrepresented in higher education.
Michael is currently leading an initiative called the Student Futures Network of Region 20. This is an education policy and research collaboration that aims to improve the academic and workforce outcomes of students in the San Antonio MSA.
Michael’s current research includes an impact evaluation of TEXAS Grants, a state-funded need & merit-based student grant program. In this evaluation, he is estimating the impact of grant aid on academic and workforce outcomes, including persistence rates, enrollment levels, grade performance, graduation rates, earnings, employment rates, and industry sector of employment after expected graduation.
Michael is also evaluating the impact of early college coursework on college access and completion. In this study, he is investigating how different types of early college coursework (dual-credit vs AP) are more or less beneficial to students. He is also investigating how different attributes of dual-credit (differences in subjects taught, location, instructor qualifications) may impact student outcomes to greater or lesser degrees.
Michael retired from the Texas Legislature after serving 15 years in the Texas House of Representatives. He served on the committees of Public Education, Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and Ways & Means; and retired as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee in 2015.
Christina Nefeli Caramanis is a fourth year doctoral student at the LBJ School with a focus in Social Policy. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy from Boston University and an M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. Christina’s research interests focus on the dynamic interplay between poverty — both at the community and family levels — and the social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and academic development of children and youth. In an effort to inform policy in various community and family settings, she is broadly interested in: (1) looking at the pathways through which antipoverty programs and policies interact with system-wide patterns of behavior and overall child and family well-being, and (2) using higher level statistical modeling and analysis to quantitatively address individual- and system-level change in key family- and child-level processes. Christina worked as a graduate research assistant on the Dual-Generation Strategy Initiative project at the Ray Marshall Center.
Research Interests: Social welfare policy, family policy and demography, poverty reduction, child development
Sam Storey is a first year Masters of Public Affairs student at the UT LBJ School and the incoming Bryna and Henry David Fellow. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Sam graduated from Stanford University in 2013 with dual B.A. degrees in Public Policy and Feminist Studies. After his undergraduate education, Sam worked as a strategic research analyst at EMC Research, a public opinion research firm in Oakland, CA. As part of this job Sam conducted opinion research for campaigns, public agencies, and private organizations throughout the country, honing his passion for policy evaluation and reliable statistical research. Sam has an academic and moral drive to discover new policy approaches to poverty reduction and is thrilled to be honing this passion at the Ray Marshall Center. On the weekends, he can be found biking around Austin, singing along to Whitney Houston, or watching a Meryl Streep movie.
Dr. Holcombe is a Research Fellow at the Ray Marshall Center. He has managed and conducted quantitative and qualitative research since 2008, working collaboratively with nationally recognized experts to improve education across the K16 continuum. Most recently, he served as Director of the Texas Higher Education Policy Institute, an in-house policy research center at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that provided critical input to policymakers in their efforts to meet the goals of the state’s higher education plan. Dr. Holcombe worked with stakeholders to identify critical research needs, developed action plans to respond to the identified needs, and presented results to stakeholders from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the state legislature, and the Governor’s Office. The areas of inquiry cut across the higher education spectrum, examples of which include improving developmental education, increasing participation and success among traditionally underrepresented groups, increasing efficiency and productivity, improving the effective distribution of state grant dollars, and developing a strategic model to estimate what higher education should cost.
Previous to his position at the Texas Higher Education Policy Institute, Dr. Holcombe managed and conducted numerous mixed-methods research and evaluation project at the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career in education as a secondary math teacher in El Paso, Texas. He was awarded his doctorate in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Rice University.
Tanlyn is currently a Masters of Global Policy Studies student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. At the Ray Marshall Center, she assists with measuring the effects of two-generational approaches to poverty relief. She has over three years experience in the field of adult education and recently assisted with a program evaluation of an education-focused nonprofit in Ghana. In 2010, she received her BA from Southwestern University and in 2011 was the recipient of a Fulbright grant in Berlin, Germany.
With over 15 years of evaluation and research experience, Kristin joined RMC in 2012. She holds a Master of Science in Social Work and has continued her research education through non-credit statistics programs, including a Specialize Certificate program in Biostatistics at the University of California, San Diego Extension. She has extensive experience in conducting surveys and performing qualitative and quantitative analysis. She is also a SAS® Certified Base Programmer. Her current projects include the evaluation of a sectoral workforce development program in Tulsa, OK, analyses of data for the Texas Workforce Data Quality Initiative, and the evaluation of Travis County workforce development services.