Let’s Work together.
We are researchers, social workers, educators, mediators, methodologists, circus performers, facilitators, data lovers, and chocolate connoisseurs. Coming from so many different backgrounds, we elevate one another’s strengths to ensure our work is high quality, innovative, and engaging. Our expertise in research and evaluation extends beyond the textbook understanding of data; we bring concrete knowledge into our relational work with people to inform how data can drive meaningful conversations and intentional decisions to improve the health, well-being, and vitality of Maine and beyond. This is what makes us unique.
SARAH GOAN, MPP
Director of the Data Innovation Project
Director of the Data Innovation Project, Sarah has over 15 years of experience evaluating programs that enhance child and family well-being. She brings her deep understanding of research and data to the DIP team. In addition to constantly generating new ideas and innovative approaches, Sarah works in partnership with organizations to provide evaluation services, facilitation and technical assistance with a true passion for and love of all that data can do. She is a self-proclaimed data nerd and avid gardener.
SYDNEY BROWN, MPPM
Sydney Brown is a Research Analyst 2 with the Data Innovation Project, bringing a passion for blending storytelling, community engagement, and data to improve community impact. Sydney has a background in visual arts, journalism, and over ten years of experience in the nonprofit and public sector, where her work primarily focused on addressing the issue of food insecurity. Most recently, she spent two years developing a community-driven strategic plan for the State of Maine to achieve its commitment to ending hunger by 2030.
RACHEL GALLO, MPH
Rachel is passionate about building the internal capacity of organizations to collect, explore, and showcase data. Through a public health lens, she enjoys working with organizations as they utilize data to highlight the positive effects they are having on the community. Rachel has expertise in providing technical assistance and evaluation services to community and healthcare organizations. Outside of work, Rachel is busy exploring the outdoors with her two boys or cooking up something delicious in the kitchen.
EMILIE SWENSON, MSW
Emilie’s curiosity guides her to listen, reflect, and gather research to find answers and make meaning. She excels at communicating data and results in meaningful, easy to understand ways that lead organizations to explore and understand the stories behind their numbers. Rooted in a background of social work and community health, Emilie encourages those she works with to reflect on the power of experiences and local knowledge to inform their work and drive positive change. Emilie is always trying to learn something new, whether it’s weaving, or baking Scandinavian treats.
ELORA WAY, MA
Elora brings to the DIP multifaceted experience working within and supporting nonprofit organizations and their boards, from Maine to New Mexico. She is both empathic toward the challenges they face and motivated to explore realistic ways to use data to improve their capacity and outcomes. In her time with the DIP, Elora has explored her passion for community-based learning and quantitative data analysis which led her to start the Applied Research Fellowship and join the Maine Rural Health Research Center as a part-time analyst. Outside of work, Elora is a perpetual student but can sometimes be found sailing around Casco Bay or traipsing about northern Maine and the Katahdin region.
Becky is a graphic designer who enjoys working closely with partners to develop a creative vision for sharing their data and stories. She combines training in data communication with expertise in foundational design principles and current design trends to create informative, digestible, and engaging visual representations. In her spare time Becky can be found cooking a big dinner or lending a hand at her husband’s local culinary knife shop.
As a part of the Cutler Institute at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, the DIP is lucky to be able to tap into a wide network of skills and expertise throughout the organization. Below are a few of our regular collaborators.
JULIA BERGERON-SMITH, MPPM, MSW
Julia leverages her passion for project management, organizational processes, and program evaluation to help partners and collaborators make strategic and informed decisions. Julia excels at managing local, state, and nationwide projects, technical assistance, and stakeholder engagement efforts and has expertise in data analysis and interpretation. She has been with the Catherine Cutler Institute since 2013 and currently manages various Justice Policy and Maine Statistical Analysis Center projects. Previous Institute work has been in the areas of social policy and youth advocacy & engagement. Prior to joining Cutler, she worked for non-profits that serve at-risk youth and young adults. Outside of work, Julia can be found hiking or testing out new recipes in the kitchen with her partner and their Great Pyrenees-Retriever.
Madison is passionate about bringing positive, tangible change to youth and families across Maine through advocacy, early intervention and education. Madison graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology, where she had the opportunity to work on research into affordable housing and equitable access to healthcare and childcare in Westchester County, New York. She also conducted her own research as part of her senior thesis, examining the national impact of prison environments in the US on the emotional and physical wellbeing of formerly incarcerated individuals. A born Mainer, Madison returned to her home state after graduation, and has since worked at a variety of labs, schools and non-profits before joining the Catherine Cutler Institute. When not working, Madison enjoys exploring nature, foraging, writing, arts and crafts, and cuddling with her pets.
Emma brings diverse experience, from market research to business operations, to the Justice Policy Program. Beyond her youth-facing work with the Place Matters team, she also provides analysis support to the Data Innovation Project. She is committed to addressing statewide, systemic barriers to justice and using data to drive progress toward safety and belonging for all people in Maine.