Diversity Dashboard Research Coordinators

Diversity Dashboard Research Coordinators

Diversity Dashboard Research Coordinators coordinate the data collection efforts for five states. Each Research Coordinator (RC) is responsible for compiling the list of local governments, contacts, and research data.

Ashley Brown
Research Coordinator
Chapel Hill, NC

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Current job title & organization/school
Research Manager, Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
Kanye West’s All of the Lights OR TI’s Bring Em Out

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
Diverse leadership in local government is critical to creating innovative and inclusive communities. I believe that it is important to foster diverse leaders (demographically, economically, etc.) who can help encourage and recruit the next generation’s brightest to pursue careers in local government. By promoting a diverse pipeline of local government administrators, we can ensure that communities continue to grow and strive in a way that can be equitable and truly reflective of the people living there.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
With a library science background, I feel a lot of pressure with this one! I enjoyed a book called “The Dinner.”

Ann DeSanctis
Research Coordinator
Denver, CO

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Current job title & organization/school
Freshly graduated with a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Colorado Denver

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
Hailing from my homestate of Kentucky, artist Ben Sollee and his Kentucky Native band have a song, Mechanical Advantage, that I think would just be the most fun “on deck” song. While it sounds rather bluegrass-y, it is actually a Mexican huapango groove that sings about the eye catching and joyous experience of riding a bicycle through the city. “Beauty is best seen in motion” he croons…and I agree!

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
If there is one thing graduate school has taught me, it is that only so much can be done without access to good data. This Diversity Dashboard is going to be a tremendous tool for those seeking data on leadership diversity in this country and I believe that, in order for diversity to deepen in leadership roles, a tool such as this needs to be out there to educate people. As such, I see the Dashboard as a truly vital tool for local governments to harness to try to understand where they are and where they could go and I also see it as an excellent way for citizens to call for change.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

Yao Geng
Research Coordinator
Seattle, WA

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Current job title & organization/school
Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
My “on deck” song would be Jupiter, which is a movement of the Planets (The Planets is a seven-movement orchestral suite by the English composer Gostav Hosst). It originally came from the poem written by Cecil Spring-Rice to memorialize the British soldier who made sacrifice for the second World War. It is complex yet stimulating music. It reminds me the importance of being understanding, supportive and encouraging. I believe these virtues can be important for a baseball player. Meanwhile, it reminds me the people who have generously given their support to me, and this actually can make me feel powerful about myself.

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
A local government leader is the individual who has direct contact with members of the public, and I believe local government leaders can become a window for a certain region to show its diversity. Also, the diversity of local government leaders represents the diversity of interest, they represent the interest of their community. With a diversified leadership, local government can draft their policy more comprehensively.

More importantly, I believe the diversity in local leadership can transmit some important signals, especially to some minority groups. Local government leaders represent a potential ascending path for them, and it transmits signals of equity and justice.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Corruption, Contention and Reform: the Power of Deep Democratization by Michael Johnston

Ashley Glass
Research Coordinator
Kalamazoo, MI

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Current job title & organization/school
Executive assistant at College of Arts and Sciences-Western Michigan University

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
Gonna Make you Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
Local government must be representative of all the populations it serves. Knowing the data on diversity within our local governments will help hold us accountable in efforts to ensure institutions are able recognize and serve all populations within the community equitably.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Matthias Helfen
Research Coordinator
Denver, CO

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Current job title & organization/school
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning student at University of Colorado Denver

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen would be a favorite choice of mine. It has the high isolated beats and build up that a rock anthem should. Once the beats meet the synthesizers, one would be hard-pressed to not be affected by the energy. The song is about America and its constant struggle of identity and the pressures of how to stay strong, relevant, and alive (I mean, is there a better metaphor for Major League Baseball’s current state?) Springsteen is my spirit animal so if Born to Run came on before I went to bat, I would be eying the center field stands for the placement of the homerun I would hit on the first pitch.

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
Data analysis and dissemination builds a narrative with validity; it combats the growing rhetoric of “fake news” and provides sound evidence of actions otherwise hidden from the public view. The Diversity Dashboard project builds awareness of our current local government leaders by placing a mirror to those in leadership and a magnifying glass to the public. By using hard data to reflect the reality of system and cultural integrity regarding inclusionary and equitable functions of our government, the project sheds light on and promotes transparent accountability of our government leaders. If governmental leaders are truly the voice and extension of the people they are elected to serve, this must be reflected with the diverse communities they represent. As the shapers of policies and system services, these leaders must be the standard bearers of diversity and equality.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Second Nature by Michael Pollan

Rachel Holder
Research Coordinator
Greensboro, NC

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Current job title & organization/school
Business Analyst Intern- Forsyth County; MPA Candidate- University of North Carolina at Greensboro

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
Although cliched, my on-deck song would be We Will Rock You by Queen. Both in my professional and personal life, I strive to endlessly improve and bring something new each and everyday. I take pride in what I do and never let up until I have really knocked something out of the park. Even when I falter, I learn from this experience so that the next time around, I can really excel.

This relates most directly to my passion for public accountability and transparency. As I move through my professional and academic life, I’ve found the need for viable process flow to be more apparent. Whether completing a school project or a work assignment, my integrity, passion, and enthusiasm makes me successful. There are times that it may be more convenient to take the easy route. However, as Walt Whitman once said, “”taking the road less traveled by will make all the difference””.

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
Considering the current climate, public transparency mechanisms such as the Diversity Dashboard are incredibly important. Local administrators may consider themselves as positive reflections of the values of a modern society due to the utilization of more innovative diversity initiatives and inclusion efforts. However, these standards also have to reach the highest positions in order to really be successful. As a part of this modern society, representation and inclusion are key to the responsiveness and understanding of the public. Although it is very apparent that steps have been taken towards increased diversity in many local governments, leaders in local government need to reflect the constituency of the community.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The Power by Naomi Alderman or The Oxygen Thief by Anonymous

Jeffrey James
Research Coordinator
Auburn, AL

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Current job title & organization/school
Graduate Student -Auburn University, Auburn, AL

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
Go for it… This would be my deck song. Grew up playing street cricket in India, which is an Indian form of Baseball. If there would be a deck song mine would be Cheete Ga (Go for it). Go for it ,however hard life may be, never quit and continue playing your game with a strong heart.

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
A diverse work environment is always an advantage to any work environment. Bringing a diverse set of ideas and diverse work culture is an essential element for effective and successful governance.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Chuck Lehmuller
Research Coordinator
Chapel Hill, NC

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Current job title & organization/school
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
“The Music Never Stopped” by the Grateful Dead, from their show at Winterland in June 1977. Jerry Garcia’s blistering solos won’t disappoint in getting the crowd riled up, and clocking in at 8 minutes it would give me plenty of extra time to practice my terrible swing.

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
Effective public administration draws on a diversity of experience from its management and street-level bureaucrats. Diversity in all forms allows governments to view problems through different frames of reference, which in turn allows for more complete and properly-targeted solutions. This means that diverse representation in government is critical, and the Diversity Dashboard project aims to provide insight into how well local governments integrate diverse perspectives into their administrative structures. By making this information readily available, local governments can benchmark their progress in this area.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
My top three are the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS” by Joby Warrick, and “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Chantalle LaFontant
Research Coordinator
Bloomington, IN

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Current job title & organization/school
Graduate Research Assistant, School of Public and Environmental Affairs – Indiana University, Bloomington

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?
My song would be James Brown’s “Living in America”. I would choose this song for two reasons: 1) the story of James Brown, the singer of the song, is complicated, not always sympathetic, yet inspiring; and 2) the song reflects on the diversity, expansiveness, and vigor which embodies this country.

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?
Prioritizing leadership diversity is a way of making sure that local governments better address the needs of the community which it serves. At most, data presently available about diversity leadership are largely anecdotal. Thus, those attempting to assess how well local government leadership reflects its community do so with incomplete information. The Diversity Dashboard project helps to eliminate this problem.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu

Nallely Manriques
Research Coordinator
San Rafael, CA

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Current job title & organization/school

If you were a professional baseball player, what would your on-deck song be? Why?

Why is the Diversity Dashboard project important to local government?

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?