Drake University

The 2023 winners of the Social Impact Research and Outreach Awards were announced today by Drake University’s Zimpleman College of Business. This annual program recognizes college faculty and staff who tackle pressing issues facing society through their scholarship, and work in the community and around the globe. Each of the five winning submissions will receive an award—valued at $1,000—for their contributions to addressing one or more of a range of social and environmental topics.

“These award-winning initiatives target solutions to one of the biggest issues we face as a society: the need to advance inclusion across a range of dimensions from eliminating stigmas to harnessing the potential of all people,” said Alejandro Hernandez, dean of the Zimpleman College of Business. “This recognition of our faculty’s positive contributions to the world we live in is central to our commitment to equipping students to do well by doing good.”

The winners and their work include:

Social impact research

Natalie Adkins: Advancing marketing research to be inclusive of consumers stigmatized by mental health issues—Natalie Adkins, associate professor of marketing, collaborated with colleagues from around the world to generate a series of academic presentations and papers to draw attention to the importance of conducting marketing research with consumers who have been and continue to be stigmatized due to mental health issues or other marginalizing conditions. This work has strengthened the case for the importance and capabilities of marketing researchers to embark on the journey of research in the mental health and marketplace space.

Anna Clark: Advancing the case for inclusion practices in federal workplaces—Anna Clark, assistant professor of public administration, was the lead author of an article entitled “Protected, but Not Included? The Role of Workplace Inclusion for Sexual and Gender Minorities in the Federal Service,” published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Public and Nonprofit Affairs. The research she conducted with her colleagues expands public administration scholarship on sexual and gender minorities providing evidence of LGBT employees’ lagging perceptions of inclusion in the workplace relative to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Her work demonstrates the potential that exists for organizational inclusion practices to positively affect perceptions of inclusion and job satisfaction among sexual and gender minorities in federal agency service. 

Lendie Follett and Heath Henderson: Using modeling to optimize selection of social assistance program participants—Assistant Professor of Business Analytics Follett and Associate Professor of Economics Henderson leveraged Bayesian statistical methods to develop a new approach for selecting beneficiaries for social assistance programs in developing countries. The method builds on the best of existing approaches but seeks to better incorporate local information and local values when targeting social programs. Their research showed that their hybrid method outperforms all competing methods when applied to data from Burkina Faso and Indonesia. The resulting article from this work entitled “A hybrid approach to targeting social assistance” appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Development Economics.

Social impact outreach

Doug Bujakowski: Developing diverse actuarial science leaders—Actuarial associations have, for years, touted the need for a more diverse pipeline of students entering the profession. With this need in mind, Assistant Professor of Actuarial Science and Risk Management Bujakowski partnered with two leading Drake actuarial science students—Simran Bhagat and Celeste Trevino—to create and execute an outreach effort to increase awareness of the profession among diverse students in public high schools. In the spring of 2022, the team presented at several diverse Des Moines-area high schools. The team then expanded the initiative taking it to several locations around the country. As a result of their efforts, hundreds of minority high school students have learned about educational and career opportunities in actuarial science.

Alanah Mitchell: Leveraging project management curriculum to serve local nonprofits—Alanah Mitchell, Aliber Distinguished Associate Professor of Information Systems, embedded a powerful charity fundraising project into the curriculum for a new project management course offered at the college. The project involves students in work teams to create, plan, and execute a fundraising project for selected charities. In the fall 2022 semester, three teams formed to benefit the Boys and Girls Club (which has a location on the Drake campus), Pi515 (which focuses on developing technology skills among youth), and Change Course (a career development nonprofit for the under resourced individuals). As a result, the students generated creative and effective fundraising initiatives that support key community groups while at the same time learning project management concepts and tools in the design and execution of a real-life project.