"Data-Based Decision Making and Work for Justice": A Discussion with New CPGC Fellows
CPGC Fellows heard from Heidi McAnnally-Linz ‘06 and Ahmet Tekelioglu in preparation for their summer experiences.
On Tuesday, March 21st, this year's selected cohort of CPGC Fellows heard from a Philadelphia-based and an international leader on, "Data-Based Decision Making and Work for Justice", in Sharpless Auditorium. Following a brief welcome and introduction from CPGC Executive Director Eric Hartman, the event featured Heidi McAnnally-Linz ‘06 and Ahmet Tekelioglu.
McAnnally-Linz, Global Lead, Policy & Partnerships for BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative (UPGI), has previously worked with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) as Director of Policy and External Relations. UPGI assists people in extreme poverty through government-led Graduation programs. Furthermore, through Thomas. J Watson Fellowship, she worked with a number of indigenous groups throughout Latin America.
Tekelioglu, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Philadelphia, previously served as the Education and Outreach Director for the grassroots group. In addition to his work at CAIR-Philadelphia, he is the Content Editor of themaydan.com, a digital Islamic Studies Project, and serves on the Inclusion and Equity Committee at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. He graduated from Boston University in 2016 with a PhD in Political Science, and his research focuses on American Muslim history and identity.
Tekeliouglu presented: “Data, Civil Rights, and My Frustrations with Data.” He spoke on his experiences with data in the context of his activist work, and the intersections between qualitative and quantitative data. He drew connections between education, civil rights, organizing and media as important factors in social justice. Tekeliouglu articulated some of the challenges with representing “a community,” or “the community,” as he described the ways in which the regional Muslim Community is considerably split on the question of more or less policing in various neighborhoods. As for CAIR, he spoke about its origins and additionally stated that the distribution of their work was partially reactive, and partially proactive. This was in an effort to “not always be on the defensive…to do more advocacy work.”
Tekeliouglu also posed questions for the audience to consider as they followed along, such as “Can you measure bias/feelings?” and as a follow-up, “How? When?” He explained the difficulties in choosing what stories to begin with when it comes to data, and the ways in which quantitative and qualitative data can fill in the gaps for each other, citing that “numbers may hide specific experiences.”
McAnnally-Linz’s presentation was an extensive account of her previous roles and general experience with social justice work. She said that in order to work with data, you don’t have to be a data expert or scientist, emphasizing the ways in which the capacity to learn that she attributes to Haverford prepared her to understand, interpret, and support excellent data methodologists. Additionally, she also spoke about the ways in which qualitative data and quantitative data might work with one another, and the usefulness of exploring both options, especially in the context of data-based decision making, decisions that she says are “grounded in human experience.”
She described her experience working on a more local level, connecting with others on visceral issues, and on the other hand, the circumstance of working “towards larger, systemic changes that needed to happen.” McAnnally-Linz also stressed the importance of constantly examining one’s own positionality in these cases. Speaking further on change, she drew on the insights of BRAC leadership to say, “small is beautiful, big is necessary.”
The discussion then progressed to a Q&A portion, where a handful of CPGC Fellows were able to relay their thoughts and questions to the presenters. Amongst these were questions about the nature of ethics in their work, the extent to which they have observed large scale changes, and changes in the trajectory of their career paths. Additionally, one Fellow inquired about the presence of desire-based and damage-based research, in reference to educator Eve Tuck’s “Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities” article. In response, Tekeliouglu and McAnnally-Linz elaborated on their career choices, the complexity of ethics, and about specific changes and challenges that they have encountered thus far.
CPGC Fellow Keyla Ramirez, who will be working with Casa Refugiados in Mexico City this summer, described her experience at the discussion: “It was very insightful, I felt like in some ways I feel more ready for my fellowship, but also it helped me realize that I should expect to be challenged and surprised. Their presentations helped me start to think of ways that I might want to reflect on my summer experience, and how I’ll represent those stories when it’s over.”
In the following weeks, Fellows will have further opportunities to connect with each other in preparation for their summer experiences. This week, two discussion sessions will be held in response to the article, “Are You a Helper? An Advocate? An Organizer? A Rebel?” Next week, two additional sessions will discuss “Developing, Understanding, and Strengthening Cultural Humility and Cultural Humility and Power”.
To stay updated, follow our Instagram @haverford_cpgc for more on our Fellows and their journeys this summer.