Dr. Patterson brings decades of experience leading award-winning research in adult education. She partners with non-profit organizations, postsecondary institutions, and state and local agencies, applying research to support adult educators and learners. She is the lead researcher for the national Adult Learner Leadership in Education Services (ALLIES) study for VALUEUSA, the national organization governed by and for adult learners. Dr. Patterson has served as a research and data consultant to the Align and Redesign National Team. She has also authored one of the first commissioned papers on US adult learning using new PIAAC international survey data.

Previously, she administered and taught in adult education programs in Nebraska, Nevada, and Kansas and has presented extensively around the country. As Associate Director for Adult Education with the Kansas Board of Regents, she co-developed their first adult education data collection system and AEFLA state plan under WIA. In Washington, DC, she served as Research Director at GED Testing Service through 2011. She and the research team at GEDTS authored more than 20 research and statistical reports and initiated two major groundbreaking studies. Crossing the Bridge established a national college-going rate for GED credential holders for the first time, using records from more than one million test-takers. Perceptions and Pathways was a six-state qualitative study on transitioning GED credential recipients that was deemed the largest of its kind in the USA. She holds a PhD in education research from the University of Kansas, as well as a master and bachelor degree from Pennsylvania State University.