The Policy Bridge is well-positioned to help reach out to the state level policy community. During the visit to Duke by the United States Comptroller General and head of the General Accountability Office, Jenni Owen leveraged connections at the state level to arrange for engagement opportunities between the North Carolina State Controller, county officials and Comptroller Gene Dodaro. These connections resulted in fruitful exchanges and created new connections between Duke and practitioners at the state and local levels.
When United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson delivered a public lecture at the Sanford School, the Policy Bridge invited N.C. Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry and Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry, both of whom attended the talk and one of whom joined Secretary Johnson, faculty, and students for a private dinner following the talk. These opportunities have yielded further interaction between Duke faculty and state leaders.
For a panel discussion and reception at Sanford featuring policy and practice leaders in the fight against human trafficking, the Policy Bridge provided names of key contacts within Duke and the broader community that would likely be interested in attending. The outreach resulted in enhancements to the event, including:
- Duke Law alumna Libby M. Coles, Chairperson for the NC Human Trafficking Commission, attended the event and spoke about her organization from the podium during the Q & A.
- Lina Nealon, founding director of Demand Abolition, a national program to combat human trafficking by focusing on the demand, attended the reception.
- A Masters in Social Work student working with an anti-human trafficking case management program called Project FIGHT had a table at the reception.
Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Dr. Seth Pollak
On October 27th, 2016, a group of child and community advocates from across North Carolina met with researcher Dr. Seth Pollak to discuss his latest research on the brain development of children in poverty. A collaboration between Policy Bridge and the Center for Child and Family Policy, the meeting sparked an exciting dialogue between community leaders and Dr. Pollak about opportunities to further alleviate the impacts of child poverty. Dr. Pollak is the Letters and Science Distinguished Professor of psychology and professor of pediatrics, anthropology, neuroscience, and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Much of the conversation centered around ways to best identify and respond to poverty-related trauma that children and families experience in Durham and North Carolina. Dr. Pollak was able to provide examples and best practices from the field, and attendees provided their insight into the ongoing work of state and local community health, education, and service providers.
Nearly one in four children in North Carolina fall under the federal poverty line. These children, through exposure to stress and developmental delays, can experience significant gaps in academic achievement. The issue of child poverty demands creative data-driven solutions and cross-sector partnerships.
Shared dialogue across researchers and practitioners enhances the solutions that are put forward to solve some of society’s most complex issues. Through bridging the current gap that exists between academics and policymakers, collaborations can be mutually beneficial and produce greater outcomes.
Attendees of the meeting included Mayor Bill Bell of Durham, County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow, Dr. Jonathan Kotch, Exchange Family Center board member, and representatives from N.C. Child, N.C. Early Childhood Foundation, and the Durham Police Department.