Educational Policy Information Center (EPIC)

Education policy in Florida, as in most states, is often formulated and legislated in the absence of reliable, non-partisan, research-based information. At the federal level the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress provides policy information and analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. At the state level, important—and often expensive—policy decisions are typically shaped solely by special interests uniformed by an non-partisan entity.

The Education Policy Information Center (EPIC) stands out as a non-partisan, objective information source, through providing research-based perspectives on policy issues to Florida policymakers and constituents at the state and local levels. EPIC has a range of services consisting of policy updates, briefs and analyses of anticipated policy initiatives, pilot programs, and existing policies affecting Florida schools.

For more information about EPIC, please contact Howard Johnston, PhD, at


To help drive the work of the Educational Policy Information Center, EPIC Fellows serve for a two-year appointment an participate in scholarly activities such as preparing policy research papers for publication, preparing EPIC policy briefs, assisting in the production of grant proposals, and making presentations about their work as part of the David C. Anchin Center's Speaker Series.

Meet the 2019-20 EPIC Policy Fellows

Dr. William Black

William Black


Dr. Black is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of South Florida. He also serves as the Area Program Coordinator for the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program.

Dr. Black received his doctorate degree from the University of Texas, Austin. His research interests include leadership preparation and critical policy implementation with a particular emphasis on disability studies and English Language Learners. He currently serves as the Principal Investigator of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs Leadership Preparation in Policy and Community Based Reform project (5 years, 1. 244 million) and the Principal Investigator of Florida Department of Education Very Special Arts Florida (1 year continuing contract, $334,000).

Dr. Black's publications include multiple book chapters and articles in Educational Policy, International Journal of Leadership in Education, Journal of Research in Leadership Education, Educational Leadership Review, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals Journal, amongst others.

Dr. Nathaniel von der Embse

Nathaniel von der Embse

Dr. von der Embse is an Associate Professor of School Psychology at the University of South Florida. He completed his master’s and educational specialist degrees in school psychology from Miami (OH) University and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University with a specialization in educational policy analysis. His work utilizes a social justice framework to examine the intersection of education policy and school mental health.

Dr. von der Embse's research is focused in three primary domains, including:

  • An examination of teacher stress and student test anxiety surrounding high-stakes exams;
  • The creation and validation of internalizing behavior and socio-emotional wellness screening assessments;
  • The training of teachers and schools in population-based assessment methods (e.g., universal mental health screening, trauma informed practices) to inform tiered and targeted intervention.

His research has resulted in 53 peer reviewed publications, and 27 professional articles and book chapters. Additionally, his research has been featured in TIME magazine and the New York Times, and has been cited in government policy briefs, and presented nationally and internationally (China, France, England). He currently oversees a funded research program of over $5,000,000 from the Institute for Education Sciences, National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, National Institute for Justice, and the Scattergood Foundation.

Dr. von der Embse is a nationally certified school psychologist, currently pursuing post-doctoral supervision towards licensure as a psychologist, and has been a licensed or certified school psychologist and mental health practitioner in five states.