Having Jessica, as an outside evaluator, raise key issues made them clearer to the program participants than they would otherwise have been, and that clarification will inform how we move forward in our future work. 

—Tara Fitzpatrick, Mt. Holyoke College

Jessica Payne Ph.D.

JPC Founder and Principal Researcher

Jessica Payne holds undergraduate and advanced degrees from Hampshire College and New York University and has been an applied research consultant for over 30 years.

She launched her career in 1987 as an arts administrator providing funding for organizations working to promote individual artists and the communities of which they were a part. She quickly transitioned into research and program development with national and regional non-profit organizations serving ethnic and refugee communities. She honed skills conducting and analyzing interviews, serving as an advocate for individuals and communities, and using the information she gathered to create public educational programs in schools, community centers, and performing arts organizations. While consulting, Payne pursued advanced degrees in Performance Studies, an interdisciplinary field of cultural study and social science research. Her academic training prepared her to conduct high quality applied research, to interpret and analyze data, and to present findings to a range of scholarly, professional, community-based, and lay audiences.

Building on these formative professional and academic experiences, in 2003 Payne began to apply the research techniques she’d used with community-based constituents to help leaders in higher education to measure the impact of their academic programs based on student interviews. She founded Jessica Payne Consulting in 2004 as an independent firm providing her unique approach to applied research. Since that time, JPC has evolved to include ongoing consultancies in higher education, secondary education, healthcare, community economic development, marketing, and the cultural and arts industry.

Payne’s work is guided by a fundamental respect for her informants and the belief that connecting with them in an authentic way leads to the most meaningful exchanges of information and insight. She views personal experience as a source of authority and draws upon that resource to help clients be responsive to the needs and concerns of their stakeholders.

Payne’s professional experience includes consultations with exceptional institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution, Boston Children's Hospital, Smith College, the Alianza Project, the Community Foundation of Western MA, the Museum of Fine Arts/Boston, the Public Health Institute of Western MA, Loomis-Chaffee School, the Holyoke Health Center, StopHazing, Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts and Venture Well. These organizations range from large national, gatekeeper institutions and internationally renowned schools promoting educational excellence, to agencies that are linchpins in regional and local economies, to small and medium-sized organizations that provide essential services to at-risk and underserved populations as well as those pioneering innovative solutions to the social, economic and global challenges of our time.

Payne leads all JPC project initiatives, bringing in colleagues to collaborate on research design and implementation on an as needed basis. She is proficient in Spanish and English.