A Q&A with Delia Kimbrel, 2012 MDRC Doctoral Fellow
This is the first in a series of Q&As with past participants in MDRC’s Judith Gueron Minority Scholars Program to hear their reflections on their experiences at MDRC and to learn what they’re up to today.
About Delia Kimbrel: Delia holds a Ph.D. in Social Policy from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She is the Director of Research and Analysis at ImpactTulsa, a collective impact partnership connecting more than 200 organizations that focuses on dramatically improving student achievement outcomes. For more than ten years, Delia worked at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, where she led formative, impact, and cost-benefit evaluations of housing-based, self-sufficiency, economic service, and asset-building initiatives for low-income families throughout Massachusetts and Maine. As a Harvard University Rappaport Public Policy Fellow, she worked in the Bureau of Rental Assistance at the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.
Why did you choose to apply for and accept a doctoral fellowship at MDRC?
I applied to the MDRC doctoral fellowship because I wanted to gain more exposure and research skills evaluating housing programs. MDRC has been a leader in rigorous research and evaluation, using experimental designs in public housing. I was eager to learn from the MDRC researchers and gain insight for my own study of the HUD Family Self-Sufficiency program that I was conducting for my dissertation.
What were you able to accomplish during your tenure as a fellow?
Being at MDRC allowed me the concentrated time to collect my data for my dissertation study. I was able to construct and build the quantitative data set that included both administrative and program participant data. I was also able to receive feedback from researchers on the economic well-being survey that I created and administered to program participants. Throughout the fellowship, I collected and analyzed a good chunk of data for my mixed-methods research study. Without the fellowship, I do not think I would’ve been able to collect the data in a structured manner and in a reasonable amount of time.
What knowledge did you gain as a result of your fellowship at MDRC?
I learned how to carry out a self-guided research study. I also learned about the characteristics of key housing-based, self-sufficiency program components and about the evaluation techniques that were being applied by MDRC researchers to examine the benefits and impacts of these programs. This content exposure was invaluable, allowing me to apply critical concepts and key research considerations to my own study design.
How did your time spent as a doctoral fellow at MDRC influence your professional pursuits or personal growth?
The doctoral fellowship helped me gain the knowledge to lead my own research studies. The exposure to MDRC researchers helped me refine my research skills and develop my own expertise in evaluating housing programs. As a result of the fellowship experience, I was able to complete my dissertation and graduate from the Ph.D. program at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. The skills that I acquired during my doctoral fellowship have helped me become an expert in research design and multi-site formative, impact, and cost-effectiveness evaluations in public housing and asset development programs.