The Rider-Pool Foundation

Data Visualization Expert Leads Spring Community of Practice

Ann Emery’s work as a data visualization expert addresses a pointed question: “Is your data sitting around in spreadsheets – dusty, unused, and forgotten about?” Emery offers encouragement and hands-on training to transform important technical information for a non-technical audience through better data visualization, reports, slideshows, and dashboards.

Emery arrived at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) on April 17, 2019 to serve as a faculty member for the Innovations in Education Conference produced by the Department of Education. Emery led a work session for members of the LVHN Department of Education’s Outcomes and Metrics Committee and a work session for LVHN’s Enterprise Analytics Department.

Kerri Green, Director of Undergraduate Medical Education for the Department of Education and a Rider-Pool Collective Impact Fellow, maximized Emery’s time in Allentown by planning a Community of Practice that evening. Emery offered her presentation “Data Visualization Best Practices” to an audience of 25 Collective Impact Fellows and their guests. The group represented each of the five cohorts of the Collective Impact Fellowship.

“There is a lot of data out there, but we haven’t been able to turn that into actionable information,” Ron Dendas, Program Officer of The Rider-Pool Foundation, said at the start of the program. Dendas reminded that the Collective Impact Fellowship is about creating strategic inclusion to address social issues. “How do we communicate among sectors if we are speaking different languages? The answer is data,” he said.

Among Emery’s clear directives for preparing data are the five-minute fixes she sees in many cases including adjusting colors, using readable fonts, and selecting the correct graph type for the audience intended.  What these simple concepts mean is that the visualization of data can both shape and support the important stories being told.

“You want to help readers through data and information quickly and comfortably,” Emery advised. “Don’t make your audience work so hard to understand your research.”

In addition, Emery stressed that no one needs to make investments in expensive software to be in line with current trends in data reporting. Examples from Excel and PowerPoint prove that tools are readily available in most offices.

Data visualization is at the center of translating key information between sectors including law enforcement, government, community nonprofits, education, and health. The data can then address topics including housing, drug use, and mental health issues. Because each sector may approach the same topic from a different perspective, bringing data to the table allows real breakthroughs in best methods to address those challenges.

Cheryl Arndt, Senior Education Consultant – Program Outcomes for the Department of Education at LVHN, served as co-organizer of the Innovations in Education Conference and the Community of Practice. “Ann makes this work very accessible,” she said. “Everyone has something new they can learn from the presentation.”

Ann K. Emery provides workshops, webinars, private coaching and custom projects that serve health organizations, colleges and universities, and public policy agencies through her company, Depict Data Studio. Prior to launching the company, Ann measured the effectiveness of public policy projects at Innovation Network; managed a performance management system at the Latin American Youth Center; evaluated educational programs for local, state, and national education agencies at ICF International; and contributed to research-to-policy projects at the University of Virginia.