Careers in Poverty Research, Policy, and Practice

Please note: This event has been rescheduled from its original October 4, 2012 date.

Event Information

This public event is targeted at undergraduates interested in learning about poverty-related careers. Students are encouraged to attend in person, or to watch and participate through the live Webinar link. No registration is required to attend in person or via the Webinar.

February 21, 2013
4:00–5:30 p.m.
UW–Madison Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Room 325/326

View Webinar

There are many different paths that can be followed in pursuing a career related to poverty research, policy, and program management. This event is designed to promote awareness of the career opportunities open to undergraduates interested in poverty and inequality in the United States. It features a panel of leading policymakers, advisors, and activists, each of whom will discuss their career and school choices and answer questions from the audience.  The event is organized as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation-funded National Poverty Research Center activities designed to encourage interest in poverty research and policy, and to help build a new generation of scholars and practitioners.

Participants in the Careers Panel

  • Eloise Anderson, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF)
  • Laura Dresser, Associate Director, Center on Wisconsin Strategy, UW–Madison
  • James Nitz, Internal Consultant – Program Operations, Forward Service Corporation
  • David Pate, Associate Professor, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, UW–Milwaukee
  • Steven J. Schooler, Executive Director, Porchlight, Madison, Wisconsin


Maria Cancian, Associate Dean for Social Sciences, UW–Madison College of Letters & Science; Professor of Public Affairs and Social Work, and IRP Affiliate

Dr. Cancian's research is in the area of domestic social policy. Her recent research considers the relationship between public policies and changes in marriage, fertility, employment and family wellbeing. Ongoing projects consider the implications of multiple partner fertility for family organization and policy, as well as the interactions of the incarceration, child welfare and child support systems. She has advised state and federal agencies as well as academic and policy research centers on policy evaluation, the use of administrative data for evaluation research, and family policy, including terms on the Federal Advisory Committee of the National Children's Study, the National Advisory Boards of the National Poverty Center (University of Michigan), the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy (University of Chicago) and the Policy Institute for Family Impact Seminars (University of Wisconsin). Dr. Cancian holds a PhD in economics from the University of Michigan and earned her bachelor's degree in political science and sociology from Swarthmore College.

About the Panel Participants

Eloise Anderson, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF)
Secretary Anderson is nationally and internationally known as a leader in public policy creation and implementation. She has worked for over 20 years in state service in a variety of roles, including Director of the California Department of Social Services, the largest welfare system in the country, and her current role as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). She has also worked as president of Job Wave America, director of the Project for the American Family at the Claremont Institute, and as president of Anderson Resource Management Services which focused on assisting families in obtaining wellness and becoming contributing members of the community. Secretary Anderson began her career in Milwaukee as a social worker before joining state government.

Laura Dresser, Research Director, Center on Wisconsin Strategy, UW–Madison
Laura Dresser (BA, Rice University; MSW, PhD, University of Michigan) is Associate Director of COWS. A labor economist and expert on low-wage work and workforce development systems, she has both written about ways to build stronger labor market systems and worked extensively with labor, business, and community leaders in building them. Laura has written widely on race and gender inequality and labor market reform. She is most recently co-editor of The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America's Labor Market.

James Nitz, Internal Consultant – Program Operations, Forward Service Corporation
James Nitz has provided training and consulting services regionally, nationally and internationally on staff development and training, workforce development and welfare reform service design, and research and evaluation of workforce and welfare to work programs. From 2004–2007, Mr. Nitz led a team responsible for the evaluation of the Arkansas Transitional Employment Assistance (TEA) program. He is a past recipient of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) Staff Development Award.

Mr. Nitz graduated from Beloit College with a bachelor's in psychology, and from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee with a master's degree in educational psychology. In addition, Mr. Nitz has earned the credentials of Nationally Certified Counselor through the American Counseling Association and Certified Workforce Development Professional through the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals.

David Pate, Associate Professor, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, UW–Milwaukee
David Pate's fields of special interest are welfare reform policy; child support enforcement policy; fatherhood; domestic violence; and the intersection of race, gender, and poverty. Dr. Pate's research projects involve the use of qualitative research methods to examine the relationship of noncustodial fathers of children on welfare and their interaction with their children, the child support enforcement system, the mothers of their children, and the incarceration system. Prior to his appointment at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Dr. Pate was the founder and executive director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, and held a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), University of Wisconsin–Madison. Dr. Pate earned a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Detroit, a master's in social welfare policy from the University of Chicago, and then a PhD in social welfare at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Steven J. Schooler, Executive Director, Porchlight, Madison, Wisconsin
Steven J. Schooler is responsible for the management and oversight of Porchlight, an agency that strives to decrease the Dane County homeless population by providing shelter, housing, supportive services, and a sense of community. Porchlight provides 221 units of low-cost housing, one emergency shelter for homeless men and women suffering from serious mental illness (Safe Haven), one emergency shelter for men (Drop-In Shelter) and a day-time resource center (Hospitality House) that provides homeless persons with employment, housing counseling, emergency housing assistance, telephones, and mail service. Mr. Schooler holds degrees in economics from George Washington University and law from the University of Michigan.