Volunteer Spotlight Interview with Lisa Chen
Principal, Lisa Chen Research Consulting

Can you talk a little bit about your work?

I’ve spent most of my career doing qualitative market research with potential customers. The research I do is typically quite detailed and in-depth — I delve into deep questions and really get to know people. My work is about revealing the narrative story to clients and solving the disconnect between the end results and the means to how we got there. Most often, this takes the form of in-person and online focus groups.

How’d you get into market research?

I first started working in Sesame Street’s research department when I was in graduate school for Developmental Psychology at NYU. In that role, I talked to a lot of two- to four-year olds to assess the appeal of characters and comprehension of the educational content.

You’ve done a ton to support Causewave – what motivates you to be involved?

I love the causes that Causewave is behind. In particular, I care a lot about diversity and inclusion initiatives — it was the focus of my studies and I wrote my dissertation on racial/ethnic socialization among Chinese immigrant families. That’s why I got involved in the Race and Media project, which I believe is going to make an important impact when the study results are announced. 

In recent years, I’ve realized I also need to consider taking on leadership roles; that it’s not always enough to be a committee member. I take my Causewave work and my board position at www.RochesterKids.org very seriously. I try to look towards the future and think about what mark I want to make with my social justice work, and so that’s why I step up.

Capacity building is at the core of all our projects. Our Senior Program Manager Stacey Saracene said you recently helped to build our own team’s capacity by training her in how to organize a focus group. Why do you think capacity building is important or why you enjoy it?

For years I’ve worked in a small boutique firm where I rarely have the opportunity to mentor any more. I love being around young, vibrant people, so I miss that. Plus, that was for the Diversity of Opportunity (DO) Partnership, an important project gathering feedback from urban and suburban parents about new opportunities to increase the socioeconomic and cultural diversity of the city schools. 

You’ve done a ton to support Causewave’s work lately, including focus groups RCSD, Student Attendance Initiative, Hillside Foster Care, an Opioid Prevention Project. Do any of those roles stick out as particularly rewarding?

Carly Layton from Hillside followed up after the Foster Care project and let me know how successful that campaign was in attracting new foster parents. Typically when conducting a research study, I don’t get to hear the final results or impact of the research. Learning about the people who foster children in our community gave me a whole new outlook on parenting. How does a person take in six foster kids when I can’t even get mine to soccer on time? It’s incredible what foster parents do by opening their hearts and their homes.

What might readers be surprised to know about you?

One day I think it’d be fun to see if I could pull off being a blond.