Jennifer Novak-Leonard

Dr. Jennifer Novak-Leonard specializes in the development and use of novel measurement systems to understand cultural participation and the personal and public values derived from these experiences. She has published influential work that appears in public reports and peer-reviewed journals on how to understand the multiplicity of ways people participate in art and creative expression, and on the intrinsic impacts of arts experiences. She is often called upon to develop and expand robust data sources related to arts and culture, and to aid policymakers and cultural leaders in their use of research and data for decision-making. Novak-Leonard regularly serves as a research advisor for national and regional data collection and research efforts. Recently, Novak-Leonard led the planning study and pilot test for the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. Her prior studies include arts participation in immigrant communities; public funding for art, arts in higher education, the professional trajectories of art students, intrinsic impacts of arts experiences, and the creative economy; her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Institutes of Health, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, and RAND among others.

Novak-Leonard is Principal Investigator for one of only four inaugural National Endowment for the Arts’ Research Labs, designated to serve as a center of excellence for research on arts and creativity. She currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Cultural Trends, a peer-reviewed journal committed to the principle that cultural policy should be rooted in empirical evidence, and advises the Public Cultural Policy Research Center at the Chinese National Academy of Arts in Beijing, China. Recently, Jennifer led the planning study and pilot test for the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts for the National Endowment for the Arts and was a Scholar in Residence with the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. Jennifer has advised numerous national research efforts, including the National Archive of Data on Arts and Culture, DataArts, The Association of American Cultures, Sustain Arts, and the National Art Education Association. Prior to joining Northwestern, Jennifer was the Associate Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. She has held appointments at NORC and the Cultural Policy Center, both at the University of Chicago. Previously, Jennifer was a Senior Consultant at WolfBrown and a Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation. She earned her BA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, her MPP from the University of Chicago, and her doctorate from the RAND Graduate School. Her doctoral research focused on cultural participation as a means for immigrant integration.


BA: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
MPP: University of Chicago
PhD: Pardee RAND Graduate School

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Jennifer Novak-Leonard

Director of Graduate Studies for the MSC Program in Leading Creative Enterprises; Lecturer


Communication Studies


Francis Searle Building
2240 Campus Drive
Room 3-545
Evanston, IL 60208



Graduate Programs:

Leadership for Creative Enterprises