Presenting the Power of Collaboration
Jan. 17, 2018
A panel featuring Shoshanna Spector of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders and participants from three of RWJF’s other leadership development programs took center stage at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting, the nation’s largest gathering of people working to advance public health, in Atlanta on Nov. 6.
The panel, moderated by RWJF’s John Lumpkin, senior vice president/program, highlighted the need and opportunity for public health to work with people from many other sectors to improve community conditions for health. Panelists also spoke—with great conviction—about the unique nature of the leadership programs to help them collaborate with people from other sectors, linking fields from transportation to labor relations to health.
Shoshanna Spector is part of a team working to reduce over-incarceration and to mitigate the impact of over-incarceration on children. “Our goal is to cut incarceration in half and double access to pre-K,” Shoshanna, executive director of the faith organizing nonprofit IndyCAN, told the APHA audience. “You can’t do that by writing a policy paper. The unique thing about Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is that it pairs community organizing with research to build community power and change policy.”
Lumpkin concluded the panel by asking each speaker to share who had most influenced them during their time in their respective programs. The answer was unanimous: the other people in the programs, who inspired them with creative solutions to pressing problems, exposed them to new ways of thinking, and opened access to research and new approaches they hadn’t had access to before.
For more information about all the programs, including a tool to help determine which program might be right for you or someone you know, please visit the RWJF Program Finder.
The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Indiana’s Youth
Jan. 16, 2018
Mass incarceration has proven an incredibly pernicious problem in the United States. This is particularly true in Indiana, where incarceration rates are consistently 7 percent higher than the national average due to the opioid crisis. These elevated rates have a disproportionate effect on the mental health and well-being of children in the state, as nearly two-thirds of incarcerated women and half of incarcerated men are parents.
Interdisciplinary Research Leader (IRL) fellow Angela Tomlin, PhD, recently joined a panel of public health leaders on the No Limits radio program produced by WFYI Indianapolis. On the show, Angela discussed root causes of mass incarceration in the state and the impact it has on Indianapolis youth. Her IRL team member, Shoshanna Spector, Executive Director of INDYCan, was also featured in one of the pre-recorded segments.
Researching mass incarceration’s effect on the social, emotional, and developmental health, as well as long-term health equity, of Indiana’s youth is part of their work with the IRL program. Along with their other IRL teammate, Karen Ruprecht, PhD, they are also exploring the health benefits of expanding access to quality pre-K for children from low-income communities of color impacted by over-incarceration.
IRL teams up two researchers and one community partner, who could be a nonprofit leader, organizer, faith leader, business owner, or any other local leader. They take on a project that uses applied research—that is, research that is designed with the community and that puts findings to action immediately to create real change. For this team, community partner Shoshanna is deeply rooted in Indiana’s faith networks and ensures that the research meets the community’s needs. As researchers, Angela and Karen provide subject matter expertise to designing and implementing the research, including interviews and focus groups with families who have faced incarceration. Together, the trio have strong connections to grassroots networks and the ability to inform policymakers in Indiana.
“When children are apart from their parents due to incarceration, we can see a number of health challenges, we can see behavior problems at times in school, and we can see issues that affect the whole family in terms of finances,” says Angela. The lingering result of this trauma can continue to affect children as they move into adulthood.
Making a Just City
Oct. 1, 2017
As people continue to flock to cities, gentrification is increasingly reshaping urban areas in the United States. As part of the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, Derek Hyra, Mindy Fullilove, and Dominic Moulden are teaming up to examine two rapidly gentrifying communities—Orange, New Jersey, and the Shaw neighborhood in Washington, D.C. By better understanding how these communities have responded to the influx of newcomers, the team hopes to help low- and moderate-income people remain in communities as they gentrify—and facilitate social interactions between newcomers and long-term residents of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
You can learn more about their project on their page.
A (Bus) Ticket to Health
Oct. 1, 2017
In a Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity blog post, Shoshanna Spector discusses some of the advancements she’s made for her community as executive director of the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network. The article, entitled “Transportation Access: Building a Path to Opportunity,” outlines the lessons she and her community partners learned in getting a $1.3 billion tax measure passed in Indianapolis to support public transit. As part of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, Shoshanna and her team are seeking to understand the impacts of mass incarceration on the children of Indianapolis. You can read the blog post here.