Employee spotlight interview: Ranjani Paradise, PhD

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How would you describe your role at ICH?
I am the Assistant Director of Evaluation at ICH. In this role, I help set the direction of ICH’s evaluation services, including staying on top of new methods and approaches in the field of program evaluation. I manage our staff training program as well as our quality assurance structure, and I also oversee ICH’s Visibility and Communications work.

In addition to these management responsibilities, I am also the team lead on a range of research and evaluation projects, most of which are focused in the healthcare sector.

What are some projects that you are working on right now?
I am working on two evaluations of grant programs that are seeking to improve access to low-barrier, evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder. The first is SUSTAIN Communities, funded by the GE Foundation, and the second is RIZE Massachusetts’ Saving Lives, Improving Health initiative.

I also work with MA DPH and Lynn Community Health Center on an evaluation of a CDC-funded demonstration project related to testing and treatment for latent tuberculosis infection, a project with the Mass League of Community Health Centers, and two projects with Cambridge Health Alliance – one of these is a quality improvement initiative around language access for patients with limited English proficiency, and the other is a formative evaluation of a new art museum-based health professions education fellowship.

What is your educational background and career path before coming to ICH?
I have a BSE in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University and a PhD in Biological Engineering from MIT. Although my training is in engineering, my research interests have always been related to health – my graduate research focused on cellular and molecular behavior in the tumor and wound environments. I think this type of work is incredibly important, but it wasn’t the right fit for me personally – during grad school, I realized that in the long term, I wanted to do something that had a more direct impact on people. I became really interested in public health and did some extra coursework as well as volunteer work to learn more about the field and get some experience. After I finished my PhD, I came to ICH and I have been here ever since!

What made you decide to come to ICH?
In grad school, I did some volunteer work with Shape Up Somerville and the Cambridge Public Health Department. The people I worked with had great things to say about ICH, and that’s what first got me interested. More broadly, I wanted to find a place where I could apply my research skills to public health problems, and ICH has been a perfect fit for that.

What are your favorite projects topics and why?
Right now, I am really enjoying working on projects related to opioid use disorder. The opioid crisis is such a critical public health issue, and there is a real need for meaningful evaluation. ICH is working with some amazing programs, and I really believe that our work can make a difference.

Also, the language access project with CHA is close to my heart. I’ve been working with CHA on this for almost seven years, and this past year has been particularly exciting because we’re starting to get some national recognition for this work – you can check out a new publication about this here.

What are you most excited about for the future of ICH?
I think there is an exciting opportunity right now for us to build upon our expertise related to social determinants of health. There is currently a lot of attention on social determinants at healthcare delivery organizations as well as community-based agencies, and I am excited about finding new partnerships for ICH in this area.

What are hobbies or things you like to do for fun?
My main hobby is cooking. I love food and am always trying out new recipes and different cuisines.

Do you have any plans for the holidays/summer/etc? Anything that you are looking forward to?
I am looking forward to warm weather! I have young kids and love being outside with them during the warmer months. No big vacation plans at the moment, although my family will probably do some local travel in the New England area over the summer.