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Our down-to-earth and responsive team collaborates with clients to measure results and provide user-friendly recommendations so you can take action to grow your social impact.

Need help with a program evaluation? Need data to enhance your grant applications? IMPACT can help. Find out more about the research services we offer.

Amy Rynell, Senior Director of Research & Policy

Amy Rynell

Amy has worked for Heartland Alliance since 1997 and currently oversees Heartland Alliance’s Research & Policy Division which is comprised of the Social IMPACT Research Center, Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Economic Opportunity, and the Heartland Alliance Policy and Advocacy Team. She provides external and internal policy and thought leadership, strategic direction and planning, financial management, and oversight of the projects throughout the division. With the Social IMPACT Research Center, best known for its reports on poverty, Amy guides dynamic research and analysis on today’s most pressing social issues.  In her role with Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives, Amy supports policy change, research, and field building to advance and strengthen employment programs and policies that address chronic unemployment. Finally through the Policy and Advocacy Team, Amy supports the creation of state policies designed to end poverty.

With over 20 years’ experience in the nonprofit human services sector, Amy has devoted her career to  ending  poverty, homelessness and chronic unemployment and as such has developed unique expertise in these areas. Amy has in-depth knowledge of poverty and homelessness through providing direct services within a homeless system in a range of interventions, through leading the creation of plans to end homelessness, through leadership positions within the Chicago Continuum of Care and coordinating the Regional Roundtable on Homelessness, and through documenting and evaluating best practices in addressing poverty and homelessness, including having overseen the most comprehensive study of homelessness in northeastern Illinois. In addition, Amy has been involved in multiple studies of unemployed adults with multiple employment barriers, helped advise on the design and roll-out of large scale employment initiatives, and served on the boards of workforce development organizations.

Amy has the honor of holding external leadership positions including being appointed to the State of Illinois Hunger Commission and Human Services Commission, serving on the national technical working group for USDHHS’s Subsidized and Transitional Jobs Demonstration, being a leader within the National Responsible Fatherhood Roundtable, a member of the Chicago Foundation for Women Academic Advisory Council, and a member of the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness Employment Task Group.   She is a frequent presenter at National Alliance to End Homelessness conferences, and the Welfare Research & Evaluation conferences, among others. Amy is also an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago.

Amy received her BA from University of Notre Dame and her AM from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.

Amy Terpstra, Director of Research

Amy Terpstra

Amy Terpstra is the Director of Research at Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center. Amy is a social worker turned researcher who is passionate about the role research and data play in creating social change. Through leading IMPACT's research and evaluation services, Amy helps social programs and policies to be more effective at reducing poverty and hardship. 

Amy has led studies with a diverse group of organizations, including funders such as The Chicago Community Trust and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, nonprofits such as the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Donors Forum, and government entities, including the Chicago Housing Authority and the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. For the past 10 years, she has researched and co-authored Heartland Alliance's hallmark publication, the annual Report on Illinois Poverty. Amy has been featured by CLTV's Politics Tonight, NPR, Illinois Radio Network, The Chicago Tribune, Illinois Issues, Univision, and many other media outlets discussing research insights and strategies for addressing poverty. Amy puts her expertise to use teaching research for the behavioral sciences at Trinity Christian College. 

Amy has a Master’s in Social Work degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She loves to travel—favorite destination to date: Istanbul—and is an avid runner, with five marathons under her belt and counting. 

Lindy Carrow, Research Associate - Evaluation Specialist

Lindy Carrow

Lindy Carrow, Research Associate - Evaluation Specialist

Lindy’s work at IMPACT focuses on equipping leaders in the human services field to prevent and end poverty through research and data-informed decision making. Lindy’s passion for research that informs change stems from her experience working with vulnerable populations in Chicago and seeing the injustices and challenges they face. 

Through her work with organizations such as the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Night Ministry, and Heartland Human Cares Services, Lindy has helped programs to measure their outcomes and, ultimately, to better serve participants and increase their impact. Lindy ‘s work also influences policy; her recommendations for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation on service needs of new veterans in Illinois has helped inform program funding and  the state of Illinois’ five year mental health service strategic plan. Her research on economic racial inequality informed the Illinois Asset Building Group’s policy agenda to support credit building initiatives in order to close the racial wealth gap. 

When she’s not engrossed in a spreadsheet, Lindy can be found skating with the Chicago Outfit Roller Derby league, where in the 2014 season, she won the team’s ‘Dynamic Duo’ award with teammate and Heartland colleague, Kim Drew, or Kim Mortal. Lindy received her MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jennifer Clary, Senior Research Associate - Economic Security Projects

Jennifer Clary

Jennifer Clary is the Senior Research Associate for economic security projects at the Social IMPACT Research Center, a program of Heartland Alliance. Her work at IMPACT focuses on providing data and education on the dynamics of poverty and economic security to advocates, organizations, policy-makers, other decision-makers, and the public. 

Jennifer leads IMPACT's annual Report on Illinois Poverty, Census Bureau data release analyses, cost of living efforts, and broader data services, work which drives the alleviating poverty in Illinois. Jennifer has spoken about her work as a guest on media outlets such as the Chicago Reader, WBEZ, and the Illinois Radio Network. She also contributes to a variety of committees and coalitions convened by groups including the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Previously, Jennifer was a consultant on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contracts and worked collaboratively with a Federal Advisory Committee to produce reports and other written materials that facilitate broader understanding of environmental justice issues. She has additional experience advancing youth sexual health rights and reproductive justice through policy and advocacy and as an educator working with students with profound emotional disturbances, implementing curricula within the context of a therapeutic milieu.

In her spare time, Jennifer is head over heels for yoga as a means of pursuing her life-long love of being upside down. Keeping her intellect agile through data and research, outside of the office Jennifer helps others cultivate mental and physical flexibility as a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200).

Jennifer holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa and Master's degree in urban planning and policy (MUPP) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Suniya Farooqui, Data Analyst

Suniya Farooqui

Suniya is a Data Analyst with IMPACT. She is passionate about program evaluation and human rights; and believes policy wonks can save the world, or at least increase efficiency and improve people’s standard of living. 

Prior to joining IMPACT, Suniya assisted Woodstock Institute in analyzing the effect of the housing market, banking regulation trends, and limited access to financial markets on low-income communities and minority groups. Suniya honed her quantitative skills by working in rural Pakistan for the Rural Support Programmes Network’s Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research Team. She worked on a gender-focused Institutional Assessment of the Pakistan Domestic Biogas Program and conducted a cost-benefit analysis of a community-based solid waste management project in Marri, Sargodha. Suniya also spent time at the International Rescue Committee and Neighborhood Legal Services’ Workers’ Rights and Domestic Abuse Self-Help Clinics, where she helped refugees resettle in America, workers collect unpaid wages and file for unemployment insurance, and victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse obtain emergency restraining orders. 

Suniya has a MPP from the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She enjoys baking, traveling with her husband, watching Korean dramas, reading Agatha Christie novels, and laughing with her one-year-old daughter. 

Maggie Schultz, Research Associate - Workforce Specialist

Maggie Schultz

Maggie Schultz Patel joined IMPACT in June 2012. Her primary interest is the study of anti-poverty programs. At IMPACT, Maggie’s work primarily focuses on the evaluation of workforce development programs, because it’s difficult to move out of poverty if you don’t have income.

Prior to joining IMPACT, Maggie held research positions in social psychology at The University of Wisconsin and in employment instability at The University of Chicago. Maggie cut her teeth on workforce development programs while working for Heartland Human Care Services' Employment and Economic Advancement division.

She holds a Master's degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and English from the University of Wisconsin. Maggie spends her time baking, reading mysteries, and rocking out to the early days of Stax, rock 'n' roll, and outlaw country.

Jean Lam, Program Coordinator

Jean Lam

Jean Lam is the Administrative Coordinator for Heartland Alliance's Research and Policy Division. Jean provides specialized clerical support and administrative assistance to the three teams that make up Heartland Alliance's Research and Policy Division. Jean enables the staff to achieve their goals of greater social change and make a difference. 

Jean's educational background is in programming, along with her past experiences in information services support and database management, has given her the technical skills and knowledge to deepen her role on the team.

Jean's interests include reading biographical literature, cooking, taking online courses, and watching Chicago Bulls games. She supports the nearby school youth group and she volunteers in local community housing assistance services. 

Kat Stuehrk, Research Assistant

Kat is an advanced standing student at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her concentration is in Community Health and Urban Development. Kat provides support to the IMPACT team on various projects including research, social media, program evaluation, and data analysis. Prior to joining the Social IMPACT Research Center, Kat provided crisis intervention and advocacy services to survivors of sexual violence at the Michigan State University Sexual Assault Program. Kat also facilitated interactive workshops as a peer-educator with the Michigan State University Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program. In East Lansing, Kat served for four years as a student coordinator of an educational and social intervention mentoring program, My Brother’s Keeper, and worked closely with middle school boys attending Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy in Detroit. Kat graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Social Work and a BA in the Arts and Humanities.

Katharine Sidelnik, Research Assistant

Katharine Sidelnik is a second-year student at the School of Social Service Administration and the Graduate Program in Violence Prevention at the University of Chicago. Currently, Katharine provides support to the IMPACT team on various projects including research, program evaluation and data analysis.  Before joining IMPACT, Katharine worked for human rights organizations in the U.S., India and Uganda. In Uganda, she provided program support to a regional gender-based violence (GBV) program that aimed to reduce social tolerance to GBV, strengthen accountability for GBV prevention and response, and increase access and availability of health, justice psychosocial support and police/protection services. Katharine also led a participatory research project with youth in Uganda to access children’s perceived level of safety in the home, school and community, which was presented at Ugandan Parliament.

Most recently she was awarded a 2014 University of Chicago Human Rights Fellowship, which enabled her to research a domestic violence fatality review team Katharine is currently volunteering with a Chicago-based domestic violence advocacy center that provides holistic services to women and children across immigrant communities, where she supports program and curriculum development. Katharine also provides curriculum support and serves as a Peer Educator for the Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) at The University of Chicago.