35th and State Street, Chicago
Danielle Walters, MPH
I became an epidemiologist because as a service provider and qualitative researcher, I found that the expertise to communicate the success I knew we had on the ground into clear measurements that resonated with policy makers was missing. As a result, I sought to gain the additional research expertise in quantitative measures in an effort to ensure that quality interventions on the ground were better recognized, and that public policy benefitted from grassroots insight. For thirteen years, I had the privilege of playing that role as the Executive Director of a non-profit on 35th and State Street in Chicago, and as a consultant assisting the City of Chicago prepare HOPE VI and Choice Neighborhoods proposals.
My primary area of interest is utilizing my skills and experiences to serve as a “translator;” I enjoy the opportunity to work with service providers on the ground to capture not only the impact of their work, but also the insight they have about the communities that they serve into quantitative and qualitative measures that meet the necessary rigor for comparison and policy development. As a service provider, I appreciate the sense of burden felt by providers of seemingly arbitrary evaluation requirements, and as a researcher I also appreciate the need for more substantive data. As such, I continue to strive to communicate to policy makers and providers alike the need for relevant, effective, creative solutions to measurement that do not add administrative burden on the ground and maintain the integrity of both the data and the work.
My current work in the urban-rural-suburban mix of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania has suggested to me that there is opportunity for “translation” of understanding the similarities and differences between large and small municipalities and the efficacy and results of “best practices” given differences in underlying populations between urban, rural and suburban environments. In this way, I believe an opportunity for a “menu” of measurement options based on the variety of combinations in population would yield more relevant information for policy development and analysis. Such a strategy would also provide the opportunity to foster a national conversation that could bring to light some lessons learned from the field from less populous municipalities, which could serve to enrich the experience of all.
Why 35th Street?
For thirteen years, the people of 35th and State Street in Chicago embraced and educated me. On 35th Street, I had the privilege to server as the Executive Director of a non-profit, and as a consultant assisting the City of Chicago prepare HOPE VI and Choice Neighborhoods proposals, and the requisite collaborations and data sharing that is an essential component of such broad community change. Through hard won lessons, fierce friendships and relentless re-evaluation of ideas, the neighborhood and our City, 35th Street informs more of my work and understanding of the world than any other influence, and for that, this business pays homage to that teacher in it’s name.
Danielle Walters, MPH
Bethlehem, PA 18018