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Chief Chat: Erin McGoldrick

Erin McGoldrick serves as the DCPS Chief of Data and Accountability, overseeing the organization’s efforts to create and support a culture of data-driven decision making, specifically around data systems, assessments, research and evaluation.

Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Pasadena, California. I went to Notre Dame University as an undergrad and spent a year in France during that time.

I moved to DC after graduating from Notre Dame, but this is actually my second time living in DC. This is also my second time working for Michelle Rhee!

What did you do when you worked with Chancellor previously?
We worked together at Sacramento High School in California before. The chancellor was putting together an advisory group. I had never seen a female leader that strong before, and I knew I wanted to work with her again in the future. I had no idea that it would be this soon though.

Can you tell us about what you do?
I work with all types of data. I love data, to the point where principals call me the "Data Lady” or “Data Queen”! Other people really just don't understand how excited I get about data!

When did you know you wanted to pursue education?
After grad school, I knew I wanted to go into research, but I initially thought that I was going to do political polling. I wanted to be the next superstar pollster.

A professor of mine though recommended that I interview for an education research position. At the time I wasn't too interested in education research, but once I was at my interview, I had a fantastic conversation with my interviewer, who later became my mentor. Plus, I got the job!

What are you most proud of since working here?
My team. I love them, and I think they are amazing.

What do you find most challenging about your position?
It can be kind of grueling because our work is so important that it can wear on us sometimes. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things well because we want to become a model for other districts and other reforms. The will for perfection can be exhausting!

It is challenging, but I don’t mind it. It just comes with the territory, and I wouldn’t change that if I could.

So I'm noticing on your wall that you won the second place costume for fall festival. Can you tell us about that?

Halloween is a huge deal! Last year ODA went all out for fall festival. Our theme was Michael Jackson, and we made our section of the office look like the graveyard from thriller. We had gravestones for the achievement gap, rogue spreadsheets, and more. We even had a moonwalk stage!

It was great, we [ODA] ended up winning the big floor award, and we ended up getting this giant certificate. But yeah, people know by now that ODA is competitive and brings it.

Any advice for our associates?
Meet and stay connected to as many people as you can this summer and for the rest of your careers. You want your network to be strong and vibrant. In ten years, you’ll be where we are and you’ll need help!
Don’t burn bridges because of your ego.
Ask questions. Soak up as much as you can while you are here.

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