Washington, DC summit honors Mark Abraham for exemplifying the use of information to advance community well-being

New Haven, CT (October 6, 2014) – On September 30, the Community Indicators Consortium presented an “Impact Award” at their Washington, DC summit to DataHaven’s Executive Director Mark Abraham. The international organization made the announcement, honoring Abraham with a trophy and opportunity to speak to the assembly. Abraham illustrated how DataHaven and its partners across Connecticut have collected and used public data to advance community change.

“Mark has a unique talent for sifting through volumes of data sources and finding those that are most important to help our community make decisions. Although his work is receiving much-deserved attention from all parts of the country, including major foundations, he is also very strongly committed to the city where he lives,” said Dr. Priscilla Canny, the President of DataHaven’s Board of Directors and former Senior Vice President of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

The Community Indicators Consortium honored Abraham for his “cutting-edge approaches to improving community well-being,” including his work with Yale-New Haven Hospital, the City of New Haven, Yale University, and The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to produce the Community Index 2013, a comprehensive 86-page report that benchmarks the population, economy, health, and civic life of the Greater New Haven metropolitan area. Abraham also organized the Community Wellbeing Survey, a cell phone and landline survey modeled on recent international work that creates a picture of local communities through so-called “social indicators” – measuring how issues such as food insecurity, feelings of safety and neighborliness, accessibility of infrastructure, household savings, intergenerational mobility, and perceptions of government impact our daily lives. The unique, cross-issue-sector dataset has proven valuable for social science and public health research, allowing policymakers and leaders to understand nationally-significant issues at a neighborhood level. Under the guidance of DataHaven, both of these programs are currently undergoing a major expansion. This is particularly true of the Wellbeing Survey, which will produce information about neighborhoods, cities, and regions across the entire state when it is conducted again in 2015. Abraham says that policymakers and researchers are beginning to pay attention to the program at a national level. “Having a single statewide survey on well-being and opportunity is critical for the comparability of data across Connecticut’s diverse neighborhoods,” Abraham said, explaining that “the Wellbeing Survey creates comprehensive, shared measures that we can use to improve our cities and towns as places to live, and it helps us understand some of our most significant challenges that, while sometimes studied at a national or state-wide level, are rarely captured within such scientifically-rigorous data sources at the local level.”

In May 2014, Abraham was selected as a Fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States, as one of 24 established and emerging leaders who focus nationwide on the issue of racial equity. As a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow, Abraham, along with his national colleagues from 15 states, will collaborate for three years with fellows and other leaders based in the foundation’s priority places of Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and New Mexico who are seeking to change conditions so that vulnerable children can achieve optimal health, academic achievement, and financial security.

Mark Abraham has served as the Executive Director of DataHaven since 2009, transforming it from a data gathering initiative into a research and community development program with several full-time staff. DataHaven now partners with dozens of state, regional, and local government agencies, research universities, philanthropic foundations, major health care institutions, and other nonprofit organizations, to create and share meaningful information about Connecticut’s constantly-changing regions, cities, and neighborhoods. In his role to increase the usability of public data, Abraham also provides free technical assistance in order to enable smaller groups and individuals to access the information they need, often at a neighborhood level. Abraham is a resident of New Haven.

About DataHaven

DataHaven is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a 22-year history of public service to Greater New Haven and Connecticut. DataHaven is a partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a collaborative national effort by the Urban Institute and approximately 40 local partners to further the development and use of neighborhood information systems in local policymaking and community building. DataHaven is the “data steward” for the Connecticut Data Collaborative, a public-private organization that promotes access to open data in Connecticut, and its Executive Director, Mark Abraham, serves as a member of the Connecticut Governor’s Open Data Advisory Panel and several other statewide research committees. Information on the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey and Community Index is posted on the DataHaven website.

About the Community Indicators Consortium

The Community Indicators Consortium is an active, open learning network and global community of practice among persons interested or engaged in the field of indicators development and application. The mission of the Community Indicators Consortium is to advance and support the development, availability and effective use of community indicators for making measurable and sustainable improvements in quality of community life. To that end, they advance the art and science of indicators; facilitate the exchange of knowledge about the effective use of indicators; encourage development of effective indicators; and foster informed civic and media discourse about local, regional, national, and global priorities. For more, visit www.communityindicators.net.

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