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Frances Burden

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’09 Crime, Law, and Justice (Ph.D.) | Principal and Co-Founder, Ad Hoc Analytics | Washington, D.C.
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Frances Burden

Frances Burden, a 2009 Penn State crime, law, and justice Ph.D. alumna, is the principal and co-founder of Ad Hoc Analytics, a statistical consulting firm that specializes in program evaluation and application of advanced analytics. The firm works on numerous projects related to criminal justice, education, and minority issues in higher education.

Burden’s previous experience includes research at the Vera Institute of Justice, an associate at the consulting firm ICF International, and a policy analyst at the Virginia State Crime Commission, before deciding to start her own consulting company in 2008. She describes starting her own company as “a risk, but a rewarding one,” and hopes to pass on what she’s learned to people looking to do the same.

“As a risk-taker I have learned some of the pitfalls in consulting and would like to pass those on to the next generation, so they can do even better than we have,” Burden said.

Ad Hoc Analytics uses statistical and analytical skills to assist clients and partner with other consulting firms to identify needs and develop analytical protocols.

“My work is diverse, interesting, and always changing,” Burden said. “That’s both good and bad, but I do really enjoy it because there is always a new project on the horizon and a new area to learn about. Consulting keeps you nimble and engaged in a way that is truly rewarding.”

Burden earned her M.P.P. from William & Mary and her B.A. in American History and Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. She credits her liberal arts education and classwork for helping her succeed in her career and prepare for leadership.

“My classwork, involving how to do research, helped me to develop a specialized set of skills,” Burden said. “When I left Penn State to work at a large consulting firm, that skill set allowed me to distinguish myself at a large consulting firm. By working on a variety of different projects at that consulting firm, I broadened my skill set even further and learned from my colleagues.”

According to Burden, the most important quality of a successful leader is one’s ability to develop other people.

“I have learned so much from the people I worked with at Penn State and in my consulting firm,” Burden said. “In turn, when we are contracting with new consultants, I spend time identifying their skill sets and additional skills that may help them grow in their careers. The great thing about helping to develop someone’s career is that you end up learning from them in the process.”

Burden participated in the Penn State Women: Leaders of Today and Tomorrow events held September 25–26, 2019.

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