Shawn Bird, PhD


Washington, D.C.

Phone —  202-779-0259
E-mail —

Shawn Bird has been at the vanguard of the opinion research field for the last 15 years, conducting quantitative and qualitative studies in a wide range of environments and providing data-driven analysis to a diverse set of clients.  He recently joined Harstad Strategic Research after 12+ years at the U.S. State Department, where he served as the Deputy Director (Acting) of the Office of Opinion Research.

Over the years, Shawn has directed opinion research in over 100 countries—from Europe to Asia to Africa to Latin America—and has had to overcome myriad obstacles to deliver methodologically-sound research and first-rate analysis.  He knows how to tailor research methods to fit the conditions and culture of a given population helping to make certain he gets it right for the client.  On multiple occasions, Shawn has given keynote remarks at conferences of international opinion researchers, most recently in Dublin, Ireland in 2015.

Shawn designs customized research for the needs of clients—whether it’s been for the U.S. Secretary of State who wants to understand sentiments of foreign publics, an emerging company seeking to gauge its public image and opportunity for expanding market share, or a campaign needing research-based message development.

Shawn never forgets that a successful research project starts with listening to the client.  Clients know best what they need, but often aren’t sure how best to collect it.  Before deciding on an appropriate sample frame, interview mode, or question-wording, Shawn works with clients to identify a central research question and desired actionable outputs.  Setting a research project off on the right foot greatly improves the prospect of a gainful conclusion to it.

Effective communication—whether to prospective voters or consumers—depends on understanding the targeted audience’s values and emotions.  Harstad Strategic Research’s approach to research zeros in on what messages resonate most and what factors drive feelings and behavior.  Shawn employs the firm’s multi-dimensional approach to message testing that uses experimental research designs.

Shawn earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, a Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado, and a BA from the University of New Hampshire, all in the field of Political Science.  He has taught courses at Tufts University, Bentley College, and UMass-Boston.  He is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the World Association of Public Opinion Research (WAPOR).