ASk A Researcher

January 2014

New Compass Team Brings Changes in 2014

The North Dakota Compass website has been live for nearly a year, and already is seeing an impact. Individuals across the state are using the data for grant writing, for tracking progress and reporting, and to create a clearer picture of their communities. The website provides data across a broad spectrum of important issues and is updated on an ongoing basis. To assure that quality standards are maintained and to support growth, the ND Compass team has been strengthened with new staff members. They bring with them enthusiasm and experience, and have already had an immense impact on the quality of the project.

Meet the new ND Compass team!

Kendra Erickson-Dockter joins ND Compass as the new project lead. Kendra previously worked as a social science researcher for the Center for Social Research and as a project coordinator for several programs (i.e., ADVANCE FORWARD and North Dakota Mental Health and Aging Project) at North Dakota State University. Kendra’s educational background includes a Master’s degree in Sociology. She is currently completing a doctorate in Human Development, with an emphasis in Applied Gerontology. Her research efforts have involved a wide range of topics, from early childhood and aging to health and disadvantaged populations.

What drew you to ND Compass?
Having previously worked at the Center for Social Research, I became aware of ND Compass during its initial formation period. Early on, I was able to see the vast potential of the project, in addition to the excitement and passion of the original group of supporters. Specifically what drew me to ND Compass is the project’s ability to provide excellent social research to the state, communities, and local organizations. Furthermore, I believe in ND Compass’s commitment to provide reliable information and opportunities to promote positive change. That being said, I am excited to become an asset to the vision, integrity, and excellence of ND Compass.
What are some things we can expect from ND Compass in the near future?
The new ND Compass team is exploring a great deal of new and exciting ideas. There are a number of items on the website development agenda for the near future:

  • Geo Profiles will be a new section that will include a compilation of the most important social indicators present on the ND Compass website, by geographic location. All information specific to an area will be presented in one table for easy access and comparison.
  • Community Building, the first ND Compass toolkit, will be a valuable resource to encourage and support community development. By using the Community Capitals Framework approach, key measures will be grouped under seven capitals (natural, cultural, human, social, political, financial, and built). This will help communities understand and take action to enhance the value of their community capitals and improve their quality of life.
  • Access to healthy food will be a new key measure under the topic of Environment. By providing information on areas that lack access to affordable foods that make up a healthy diet, this measure will inspire action to help ensure a healthy food environment in the community, which has implications on many aspects of individuals’ quality of life.

Research specialist Ina Cernusca has also joined the ND Compass team, bringing with her a decade of experience and skills developed in quantitative and qualitative research, grant writing, project management, and outreach/extension activities. She earned her MBA from the University of Missouri in Columbia, where she also worked for the Center for Agroforestry as a marketing research specialist.

What brought you to Fargo and the Center for Social Research?
I joined my husband who accepted a position with the North Dakota State University. I saw this as a chance to explore new opportunities and to continue to develop my career. For the past 10 years, I worked on research to shed light on small niche markets of specialty crops and I understand how valuable quality information is. The Center for Social Research provides me with the context to continue similar activities but in a different field. I am confident that I can bring to the Center experience in data research and analysis, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to the projects.
What most excites you about the Compass project?
I always liked to work on projects with impact, and ND Compass is one of them. I am excited to join an enthusiastic and passionate team, committed to turn the ND Compass into the main source of information for quality of life indicators and trends in the state. I am new to the area and to the sociology field, but I am very excited to learn new things and apply my skills and expertise to this project.

Brandi Malarkey, the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for ND Compass, joins the team from the world of volunteer organizations, and is thrilled to have such an amazing crew of co-workers.

You’ve been around for several months now. What is your favorite part about working with ND Compass?
North Dakota is full of amazing people working to make the state a better place. I love that Compass gives those people a valuable tool to use as they do that work. Reliable information and data is something that is vital in the process of assessing what resources are needed to address any issue. 

I also love the idea that you get what you measure. If we can measure poverty within North Dakota, we can work to reduce it. If we can measure the reading proficiency of 3rd graders in our state, we can assess if changes are needed, and work to increase reading scores. By tracking trends that are important to our state, people can see where action is needed, and work toward an ideal North Dakota.

All three new Compass staff members are excited to join the amazing team already working to make ND Compass a great resource.  This team includes interim director Dr. Verlin Hinsz; information specialist, Karen Olson; survey specialist Kay Schwarzwalter; and a phenomenal group of graduate student research assistants, Jordyn Wallenborn, Kayla Hauer, and Jennie Lazarus.

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North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
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