Margaret Gillis

Principal Researcher, SRI Education

Margaret C. Gillis, PhD, is an experienced researcher and technical assistance specialist with expertise in early childhood workforce development, early intervention and early childhood special education systems and services, infant/toddler development and learning, inclusive practices, and evaluation. She uses mixed methods in applied research and technical assistance to understand complex concepts and support programs and systems.

At SRI, Gillis leads and evaluates projects focused on child find, the early childhood workforce, inclusion, and systemic improvement. She is principal investigator and project director of Child Find ACCESS: Advancing Community-Centered, Equity-Focused Child Find Systems & Supports, an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)-funded model demonstration project focused on the identification, screening, referral, and tracking of children potentially eligible for early intervention (child find). The 5-year project aims to reduce inequities in access to and uptake of the Individuals with Disabilities with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C early intervention services. She also directs an Administration for Children and Families-funded research-policy partnership project in collaboration with the California Department of Education and California Department of Social Services to understand the inclusion of preschoolers with disabilities receiving subsidies in early learning and care settings.

Gillis provides technical assistance to IDEA Part C and Part B Section 619 state agencies in collecting, analyzing, and using data for accountability and program improvement through the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy). She has also supported systemic improvement through the National Center for Systemic Improvement. She has developed tools for and supported states in examining their child find systems, identifying best practices for continuous improvement, and improving evaluation of the implementation of evidence-based practices. Through the Center to Improve Program and Project Performance (CIPP), Gillis supports OSEP grantees in high-quality evaluations aligned with project logic models.

Gillis has also supported states’ Preschool Development Grant work focused on the early childhood workforce and program quality. In addition, she led the evaluation of a PBS hybrid professional development course aimed at increasing early childhood professionals’ knowledge and skills in using playful learning and technology to support STEM learning.

Gillis has been a reviewer for federal grant competitions and a peer reviewer for several journals, including those published by the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the National Head Start Association. She is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences and serves on the Steering Committee of the Network of Infant Toddler Researchers (NiTR). 

Before joining SRI, Gillis was assistant professor and codirector of undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary early childhood programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She began her career as a direct service provider for children ages birth through kindergarten with and without disabilities in a variety of settings. Gillis earned her PhD in education, with a focus on early childhood, special education, and literacy, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also holds an EdM in risk and prevention: childhood from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BS in child development: birth through kindergarten from Appalachian State University.

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