Les Baxter leads Pew’s strategy portfolio, which is responsible for enhancing the organization’s efforts to generate ideas for new projects and larger bodies of work, strengthening the design of program strategies and initiatives, and ensuring that Pew’s programs are guided by and able to produce credible, appropriate, and high-quality research. The portfolio also uses evaluation to improve program performance, inform decision-making about Pew’s programs, and support learning. Baxter joined Pew in 1997 as an officer in the planning and evaluation unit, where he helped elevate the practice and value of evaluation at Pew and co-led the design and implementation of the organization’s program planning process. He subsequently oversaw Pew’s planning and evaluation unit for nine years.
Before joining Pew, Baxter was a scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and held senior positions at the California Energy Commission. He has written or co-written more than 70 professional publications on topics in public policy or philanthropy.
Baxter holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Northwestern University, a master’s in anthropology from the University of Hawaii, and a master’s in demography and doctorate in public and urban policy from the University of Pennsylvania.