Jess Berentson-Shaw

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw is a New Zealand researcher and communicator, and good science advocate. Her focus is contributing to conversations about policy that works to deliver wellbeing to all. Jess’s work is predicated on three things: making values transparent, delivering equity, and understanding best evidence. Her work to date spans the social, economic and political spectrum. Jess was awarded a PhD in Health Psychology from Victoria University in 2004 and has since worked in various roles in the public and private sector applying science and evidence to public policy.

In recent years, Jess has returned to her psychology roots, focussing on why narrative communications that "go with the grain of cognition" better connect people with what is true and what to do in public policy. In 2017 Jess published Pennies from Heaven, a book that investigates the most effective policy actions for moving families and children out of poverty. She is co-director of think-and-do tank The Workshop, and a senior research associate at the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland.