Public Services Institute & Joint Center for Policy Research
Shara L. Davis
Dean of Research, Institutional Effectiveness, and Public Services
Shara L. Davis is Dean of Research, Institutional Effectiveness, and Public Services at Lorain County Community College. She has a Masters degree in Political Science which she earned in 1987. Shara began her career in marketing and policy research and has extensive experience in research design and application. She has broad knowledge of secondary data sources like Census Data and Labor Market Data. She has designed research studies using both quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques for more than 400 clients throughout Northeast Ohio over 25 years. She is well versed in outcome based program evaluation techniques and Shara used her research expertise to establish the information arm of the Public Services Institute at Lorain County Community College which she grew to a full service research center and cost recovery unit of the College in just four years.
In addition to research expertise, Shara has strong process expertise. She has formal training in public deliberation or civic and leadership engagement by nationally known experts like The Harwood Institute, AmericaSpeaks, Public Agenda, The Kettering Foundation, and The National Issues Forum. Shara is often called upon to serve as a neutral convener and facilitator and she has provided strategic planning assistance for large, complex regional projects, individual not-for-profit organizations, and local governments. And, she has experience with organizational continuous quality improvement processes and techniques. Some of her greatest accomplishments include serving as project director for Voices & Choices, an initiative of the Fund For Our Economic Future comprised of more than 80 philanthropic organizations throughout a sixteen county region of Northeast Ohio. Voices & Choices successfully engaged 20,000 people throughout the region and culminated in Advance Northeast Ohio – an economic development agenda for Northeast Ohio. In 2006, she was awarded A Key to the Region by the Northeast Ohio Area-wide Coordinating Agency. Shara was also called upon by Ohio’s Chancellor of Higher Education to help design and facilitate the development of a new community college using innovative partnership models to serve the Mahoning Valley and eastern Ohio. She is passionate about her work in intergovernmental relations and has provided consultation to organizations in a variety of policy areas including economic development, workforce development, health care, human services, and others.
In her current capacity, Shara provides leadership for the Public Services Institute, the Joint Center for Policy Research, and the office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning. She is Chair of the College’s Continuous Quality Improvement Council and Institutional Planning Council. She serves on the Administrative Leadership Team, Human Resource Development Committee, Curriculum Council, Deans Council, and other committees. Shara manages the College’s operational system review and academic program review processes. She is the College’s liaison with local government officials and she frequently provides leadership for large-scale, transformational change initiatives.
Prior to her tenure with Lorain County Community College, Shara served as Assistant Director for Research for the Center for Urban Studies at the University of Akron. She used her research expertise and experience to create and establish a full-capacity research laboratory for the Center for Urban Studies between 1987 and 1991. During her eight years with the University of Akron, Shara also taught undergraduate courses including Introduction to Government and Politics, Current Policy Issues, and Introductory Research Methods.
Sharon A. Flynn joined Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in 2003 as Research Design and Application Specialist, serving both the Joint Center for Policy Research (JCPR) of the Public Services Institute and the Institutional Effectiveness and Planning (IEP) departments. She has a Masters degree in Psychology, Consumer & Industrial Research, from Cleveland State University. Ms. Flynn’s expertise lies in research design and application, particularly in the areas of survey and market research. She also has extensive experience with Census Data, Labor Market Information, and other secondary data sources. She plays a key role in the College’s Indicators of Effectiveness (i.e., Dashboard), which she maintains and monitors, and has been involved in many aspects of strategic planning at LCCC. Sharon has extensive experience with content analysis and report writing.
Ms. Flynn began her career in community and policy research serving as Research Specialist and eventually becoming Director, Publications and Public Information at the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. During her tenure at GCGA, she was instrumental in launching and the COSE Small Business Monitor, a quarterly panel survey which regularly tracked specific economic indicators as well probed a different business policy issues facing small business. While at GCGA, Ms. Flynn developed and designed The Greater Cleveland Fact Book, The Cuyahoga County Manufacturing Directory, The International Trade Directory, and the Greater Cleveland Business Services Directory, and numerous other directories and “Fact Sheets” that were disseminated to newcomers, residents, and businesses in the seven-county Greater Cleveland area. Sharon also served as the Senior Consumer Research Analyst at American Greetings Corporation where she honed her skills in focus group organization and design.
As a member of JCPR, Sharon lead the External Market Assessment and Indicators pieces of the Operations Systems Reviews, an initiative which provides nonacademic units at LCCC the ability to assess their performance and develop continuous improvement projects. External clients with which she has worked include the Lorain County Board of Mental Health, Lorain City Schools, the Lorain County Metroparks, the Lorain County Employment Network (local one-stop), the Ohio Grant Makers Forum, The Fund for our Economic Future, the Voices and Choices initiative, and others. In addition, she has provided survey support and secondary research assistance for numerous initiatives.
Dr. Jeffrey K. Lange
Dr. Lange is Senior Research Project Manager at the Joint Center for Policy Research. He is an experienced researcher and practitioner whose work has linked behavioral science theory and research to public and private sector decision making affecting customer relationship marketing, product and service innovation, and quality improvement.
Jeff holds a doctorate in Sociology from The University of Akron, a master’s degree in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Case Western Reserve University. He has published articles in a variety of sociological, urban studies, and transportation planning journals. In addition to teaching at the college level at a several area institutions including Cleveland State, The University of Akron, and John Carroll; Lange has also served on the professional staff of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, and Wyse Advertising Agency.
Dr. Lange has also been a self-employed business researcher, and has completed studies for nationally prominent firms such as Meridia Health Systems (now part of Cleveland Clinic), Ross Products, Ernst and Young, PPG, Busch Properties, KFC, Southern California Edison, and Rubbermaid.
Lange heads up JCPR’s external market assessment group, who assist Lorain County Community College in completing academic program reviews. These engage external experts and hiring managers in fields where LCCC grants two-year degrees. Such studies assist the College in continuing to fine tune its academic offerings to the needs of the local economy. In recent years, Jeff has assisted program reviews in Accounting, Computer Information Systems, Applied Electronics, Early Childhood Education, Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Sport and Fitness Management. He also leads projects serving other non-profit and public-sector organizations such as school districts, public health agencies, children services organizations, senior housing advocates, and municipal governments.
Chen Ryan is a full-time Field Coordinator for the Institute. She holds an Associate of Applied Science degree from Lorain County Community College. Ms. Ryan has expertise in data collection techniques, which enables successful coordination of a host of research implementation activities. She coordinates focus group research including logistical arrangements for clients, participant recruitment, and project implementation. Ms. Ryan is herself, a highly skilled focus group moderator. She is also well trained in door-to-door interviewing, intercept surveying, telephone interviewing, and key informant interviewing. She frequently manages implementation of survey research projects involving special populations like individuals served by Child and Human Service organizations, residents of Metropolitan Housing Developments, and others. Ms. Ryan has also developed interest and proficiency in database development, which contributes heavily to overall productivity within our organization. Her impeccable organization skills and keen sense of detail are critical to successful delivery of JCPR client-based research services.
In addition to field coordination, Ms. Ryan provides focus group and interviewer training to interested individuals and organizations. She has exceptional comfort level working with, and facilitating diverse groups of people. Among her most recent accomplishments is coordination of a continuous feedback process involving ten separate research populations spanning more than three consecutive years for a large, public, social service agency. Cheri also assists clients visioning, strategic planning, and other services requiring strong facilitation skills.
Daila Shimek is a Senior Project Manager with the Public Services Institute. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Louis University and a MPA from Cleveland State University. Ms. Shimek has worked in the fields of city and transportation planning, as well as research and public service around strategic planning, public policy, public administration, city management, public sector process improvement, and operations reviews. Ms. Shimek is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a Six Sigma Black Belt Professional.
At Cleveland State University, Ms. Shimek specialized in service consolidation feasibility studies, but also worked on research projects that reviewed the operations of a local municipality, assessed the EDA's Partnership Planning Program, analyzed the likely impact of mandated paid sick/family leave on the economy and economic development prospects of the State of Ohio, developed a needs assessment and service strategy for a local watershed group. As a deputy auditor in the performance audit division of the state auditor’s office, she managed and conducted performance audits, which provided cost saving recommendations of over $1.0 million. During her tenure at the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, Ms. Shimek was responsible for special projects include development of a transit development plan for Lorain County Transit. Her skills include primary data collection (interviews, surveys, and focus groups), meeting facilitation, data and content analysis, structural database development, and report writing.
Lizette Torres is the Administrative Associate for the Institute. She holds an Associate of Arts degree from Lorain County Community College. Ms. Torres has spent the last fifteen years working in the not-for-profit and education sectors as an administrative assistant. Prior to this she had ten years of experience in the banking industry. Her work at PSI consists of assisting with the coordination and organization of a variety of seminars/workshops and special activities related to specific projects/contracts. She is also responsible for working with various courts for the coordination and delivery of the DUI and Adult/Juvenile Driver Remedial Programs. Ms. Torres manages the entire Institute office and supervises all office interns and student workers.
Visobe Welch is a full-time Evaluation Specialist for the information arm of the Institute. She holds a BA in Business Management from the University of Zambia, a MBA from Eastern College in Pennsylvania, and a MPA in Public Administration and Urban Studies from the University of Akron. Ms. Welch has considerable marketing and policy research experience including the Commonwealth Federal Savings Bank (PA), the National Council for Scientific Research (Zambia) where she served as a Senior Administrative Officer, and Nchanga Farms (Zambia) serving as a Senior Marketing Officer.
While in the MPA program at the University of Akron, she worked as a Research Assistant for the Institute for Health and Social Policy. In addition to management of primary data collection efforts involving multiple research approaches for JCPR clientele, Ms. Welch has expertise in outcome-based program evaluation. In this capacity, she develops evaluation systems for JCPR clients and performs comprehensive impact analysis using quantitative and qualitative methods. Her ability to tailor evaluation systems and impact analysis to client programs and services contributes heavily to JCPR’s delivery of customized evaluation services. Some of her accomplishments include the development and implementation of evaluation systems for a Federal Drug Elimination Program administered by a Metropolitan Housing Authority, a Family Resource Center for an Urban School District, and a 21st Century Learning Center for another Urban School District. Ms. Welch has research interest in areas of crime and safety and policy analysis.