Dr. Danielle Varda, PhD

Danielle M. Varda is an Associate Professor at the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, where she also serves as the Director of the Center on Collaborative Governance, Director of the Nonprofit Concentration, Advisor for the Dual MPA-MPH Degree, and Campus Director for the Professional Nonprofit Credential. She has a secondary appointment in the Colorado School of Public Health, Department of Health Systems, Management, and Policy. Danielle specializes in network leadership and systems evaluation, focusing specifically in public health systems and services research. Her research focus is on evaluating the network structure of collaborations between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and the subsequent network affects of these recorded interactions. She has developed models and methods of network measurement, for example in 2008, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she developed a software tool (PARTNER) – www.partnertool.net) that allows public health departments to measure and monitor their collaborative activity over time. Dr. Varda’s PARTNER tool is in use in over 1000 communities in over 30 countries.  It was featured in her first place award for the 2008 Maxwell School Collaborative Governance Initiative competition, Teaching Simulation. In addition, she was awarded the “2009 Public Health Systems and Services Article of the Year” award by Academy Health PHSSR Interest Group for her paper “Core Dimensions of Connectivity in Public Health Collaboratives”. In 2010, she was awarded the Excellence in Research and Creative Activities Award from the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver. In 2015, she was awarded a spot in the Community First Foundation’s Innovators Society, to compete for a large prize to develop new technology, the Patient-Centered Network App, to link patients to community resources.  Her research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Administration, University of Kentucky School of Public Health, and the Department of Defense. She is an experienced interviewer, facilitator, and has extensive experience developing and administering surveys.

Sara Sprong, MPA
Research and Evaluation Manager

Sara Sprong, MPA is the PARTNER Research & Evaluation Project Manager, providing support to users through community outreach and education, training and technical assistance, data management and analysis, scholarly work, and grant writing. Sara also manages all projects that are part of the Center on Collaborative Governance at the University of Colorado Denver. For the past four years, she has organized and coordinated the Network Leadership Training Academy. She specializes in collaborative governance and network leadership and is an experienced evaluator, facilitator, and has extensive experience developing and administering surveys, including developing questionnaires and analysis of diverse network data.

She graduated in May 2011 from the University of Colorado Denver with her Master’s in Public Administration and also has two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and History. Sara has been a PARTNER user since she completed her MPA capstone project, where she used PARTNER to analyze a community coalition organized around a grant to create a youth engagement zone for school children in Northeast Denver. Her capstone report titled: “Utilizing Network Analysis to Transform a Community Collaborative” can be found on the PARTNER website.

She joined the PARTNER team in 2011 as a Professional Research Assistant and has worked on research projects with Dr. Varda around disaster preparedness, resilience, and recovery networks (with ASPR and mulitple projects with RAND), early childhood networks working around health integration and home visitation (with CDPHE and CO Trust, MIECHV), economic inclusion (with Annie E. Casey Foundation), and has assisted over 500 PARTNER users from around the country and world with their various projects.​​ Current PARTNER projects she is working on include Kids Count (Annie E. Casey Foundation), Million Hearts Initiative (RAND), Baltimore Integration Project (Annie E. Casey Foundation), and individual PARTNER contracts/projects with users.

When not analyzing data or helping users, Sara is outside enjoying nature with her husband and two puppies. Her favorite hobbies include snowboarding, hiking, camping, listening to live music, and traveling.

Rebecca Hofkes, MA
Professional Research Assistant

Rebecca is a Professional Research Assistant for the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs. She graduated in April 2015 from Concordia University – Portland with her Master’s in International Development and Service. She focused her degree on populations in crisis, and conducted research with a thesis on the impact that culture and mental health care have on refugee acculturation in local communities. Rebecca served two years in AmeriCorps, working at a variety of nonprofit organizations and government agencies across the country. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology that she received from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in 2010, with a concentration on family and women’s studies.

Kayleigh Newman, BA
Professional Research Assistant

Kayleigh is a Professional Research Assistant for the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs. She graduated with honors from Illinois State University with a BA in Anthropology and History, and is experienced in qualitative and quantitative research methods. An AmeriCorps VISTA alumni, Kayleigh has spent the last several years in the non-profit field working with populations including refugees, youth in the foster care system, and people experiencing homelessness. It was through these experiences that she developed a passion for addressing social justice issues through community collaboration, leading to involvement in a number of community and state-wide networks focused on homelessness and Veteran issues in Colorado. Kayleigh was first introduced to PARTNER in 2014 when she used the tool to conduct a Social Network Analysis of a homeless Veteran services network she was connected to in the Denver Metro area.

Carrie Chapman
PHD Candidate

Carrie Chapman is a PhD Candidate at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs. Prior to entering the program at SPA, Carrie graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Her research interests include public management and child welfare, with an emphasis on collaborative governance and social network analysis. In 2014, Carrie was accepted as a Summer Associate with the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, and she also spent 3 years as a Research Assistant for Dr. Danielle M. Varda. She is currently employed with Colorado’s Division of Probation Services and as an MPA lecturer at SPA, teaching a Seminar in Nonprofit Management.

Malinda Mochizuki, BA (MPA Student)
Network Leadership Coordinator

Malinda is a student in the Master in Public Administration (MPA) Program with a Nonprofit Management Concentration at the University of Colorado Denver. As the Network Leadership Coordinator, she assists with the annual Networking Leadership Training Academy and PARTNER Tool. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Dickinson College, and worked after graduating at her alma mater in the Office of Global Education. In 2010, Malinda moved to Colorado to serve with AmeriCorps VISTA as the Diversity Outreach Coordinator and later as the Program Director at the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. Her experiences and academic interests are focused on strategic planning, capacity building, program management and assessment, and collaborative networks. She currently is involved with the MPA Student Association, Denver Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, Denver AmeriCorps Alums, and CU Denver Food Systems Research Group. In her free time, Malinda enjoys reading, photography, making crafts, craft beer, and outdoor activities.

Mike Cooper, BA
PARTNER Programmer

Mike Cooper is the programmer of the PARTNER survey and tool. He attended the Unviersity of Colorado Denver and graduated in December 2010 with a bachelors degree in Computer Science and Engineering. During his 2009 school year, Mike started working on PARTNER with a team of two other students for credit. After the project was complete and Mike had graduated, he continued improving and supporting the PARTNER survey and tool. Mike has over ten years of professional experience in the IT field and has experience administering many different operating systems and coding/scripting in an array of different languages. He is currently working full time as a Software Engineer.

Garrett Vogenbeck, Web Developer

Garrett Vogenbeck is the web developer and designer for the PARTNER Tool website. He holds a degree in computer science and an MBA from Oregon State University. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, enjoying microbrews, local sports, and hiking.