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The Budget Center communications team sat down with Laura Pyror (she/her), Research Director at the Budget Center, who conducts research to strengthen California’s early care and education system.

This Q&A series is your chance to get to know our team, their areas of expertise, and how their work at the Budget Center supports policy change in California. In this conversation, we’ll explore Laura’s dedication to inclusivity, responsiveness, and her passion for creating a positive impact in California’s early care and education landscape.

This interview was edited by Kat Petsalis, Communications Strategist at the Budget Center.

Can you tell us about your role at the Budget Center?

In my role as a research director, my focus is broad, centering on the well-being of families and children, with a more specific lens on early care and education. I work closely with my colleague Erik Saucedo, and our collaboration revolves around producing analyses that hone in on issues directly influencing program accessibility.

My driving force is a commitment to responsiveness. Like all analysts, I aim for our work to be a direct response to the evolving landscape of our field. Establishing robust relationships with advocate partners, particularly those rooted in grassroots and community-based organizations, is really important. It’s about making a difference in the systems we aim to impact, contributing to the ongoing need for a better early care and education landscape in California.

How has your personal background influenced your career choices?

My personal background, marked by being a first-generation college student and having Japanese American heritage, has profoundly shaped my career choices. Growing up in Encinitas as the first Japanese family in the town, my family’s history during World War II incarceration left an indelible mark. The reparations received by my grandparents became a poignant reminder of the injustices they endured. This awareness fueled my commitment to work on issues related to social justice and equity. My intentional decision to engage with these issues during my academic journey — from undergrad to a Ph.D. — reflects my desire to connect my professional path with the historical struggles and triumphs of my family.

What is something exciting you have recently worked on or are currently working on?

The current highlight of my work is the unmet need analysis, a project that presents exciting challenges on multiple fronts. This analysis is not only a technical endeavor but has broader implications for understanding the demand for subsidized child care in California. The decentralization of the eligibility list in 2011 adds an additional layer of complexity, as the state no longer collects data on the number of families on child care. The results of this analysis are anticipated to guide advocates and policymakers in making informed decisions for a more inclusive and responsive child care system.

What’s one thing you can’t get through the workday without?

Candy corn. I’ve always liked candy growing up, but then I started doing more endurance sports in my master’s program. I was on the UCLA cycling team and all of the cyclists, they just ate candy all the time on our training rides. So I started eating all the candy too.

Fun fact: If you eat candy corn with coffee, it’s like a chewable creamer!

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Outside of work, I find joy in a variety of activities. Trail running, especially in the scenic landscapes around Oakland, provides not only a physical break but also a mental escape from the structured routines of the workday. I also enjoy riding my gravel bike, experimenting with new recipes, attending concerts, and watching movies.

Media Contacts

Kyra Moeller
Communications Strategist

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