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Michael López

Pronouns: He/Him

Michael provides strategic oversight, direction and expertise for the growing portfolio of equity-focused, early childhood research at NORC.

Michael is a nationally recognized expert on equity-focused, early childhood research, with a special focus on low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse populations. He provides strategic oversight, direction, and technical expertise for a growing portfolio of work in that arena at NORC. He has over 30 years of experience conducting applied policy research at the national, state, and local levels.

Currently, Michael is the principal investigator on a national study to better understand, support, and improve Early Head Start/Head Start policies and practices for delivering disability services for children at risk for or with disabilities and their families. He is also the principal investigator on a project that examines the feasibility of implementing telehealth services within rural early childhood programs. He serves as the co-principal investigator on a project which supports secondary data analyses of the 2017 National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Study dataset. In addition, he is the principal investigator on a project, which will document and improve access to and ensure the successful vaccination of the farmworker population. 

Within NORC, Michael also has key leadership roles on several corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion committees, including the Diversity, Racial Equity, and Inclusion (DREI) Strategy Group, DREI Steering Committee, NORC DREI Scholars program, and the Equity and Inclusion Collaborative, which is comprised of representatives from nine major research organizations.

Before joining NORC, Michael co-led the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families at Abt Associates, which conducts research to inform federal programs and policies supporting low-income Hispanic children and families. He also oversaw the design and implementation of a nationally representative study describing the characteristics of children and families enrolled in Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program and other equity-focused childhood research. He directed the Child Outcomes Research and Evaluation team at the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), which oversaw the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey, the National Head Start Impact Study, and other federal studies.

Over the past 25 years, Michael has worked to expand equity-focused mentoring opportunities for diverse early career scholars and to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the next generation of researchers.  He co-led the development and oversight of the NORC DREI Scholars program and a range of mentoring and research capacity-building activities when he co-led the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families. He also provided oversight for two mentoring and professional development programs within ACF: the Head Start Graduate Student Research Scholars and the Society for Research in Child Development Federal Policy Research Fellowship programs. 

Michael has written numerous peer-reviewed research articles, reports, and briefs on issues related to early childhood, Head Start, early care and education utilization, and cultural and linguistic diversity issues, including the psychometrics of language, literacy, and classroom observational measures for young dual language learners.



Michigan State University


Michigan State University


University of California, Los Angeles

Appointments & Affiliations


PNC Grow Up Great Advisory Committee


Research to Equitable Practice Advisory Group

Board Member

Highscope Educational Research Foundation


Racial Identity Formation Collaborative

Executive Leadership Board Member

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute

Work Group Member

Institute for Educational Sciences

Honors & Awards

Distinguished Service Award, Head Start Reauthorization | 1999

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Distinguished Service Award, Early Head Start | 1996

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Minority Fellowship | 1988 - 1989

National Institute of Mental Health

Outstanding Hispanic College Graduate Nomination | 1986 - 1987

Michigan Department of Education

Fellowship in Pediatric Psychology | 1985 - 1986

National Institute of Mental Health

Minority Fellowship Program, Honorable Mention | 1984 - 1985

American Psychological Association

Project Contributions

Farm and Food Workers Relief Initiative

Distributing more than 88,000 COVID relief payments to farmworkers affected by the pandemic


National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association

Head Start-to-Kindergarten Transitions Project

The first rigorous, system-level study of the factors that drive successful kindergarten transitions


Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families

Improving Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Policy and Practice

Tapping existing data to drive equitable research-based early education improvements


The Spencer Foundation

Latinos in the Media Survey

Capturing the influence of the entertainment industry on the public’s opinions about Latinos


Latinx House

Spence-Chapin Adoption Study

Helping an adoption agency deepen its understanding of birth mothers


Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children

“PreK On My Way” Evaluation

Assessing the impact and implementation of Scholastic’s new preschool curriculum