Orie Kristel, Ph.D., CEO

Orie V. Kristel Ph.D., CEO

His Background in Academic Research Orie V. Kristel earned a B.S. in psychology from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania and a M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from The Ohio State University. Social psychology uses the scientific method to better understand how individuals think, feel, and act in social situations. His academic training emphasized the study of both the theory and application of "how to influence others," the measurement of attitudes and attitude strength, the power of accountability demands, the construction and application of research designs, and quantitative data analysis.

His Background in Applied Research Orie completed his first market research project as a senior in college, when he collected and reported client satisfaction data for a medical care provider in the Philadelphia area. As a 19-year market research veteran who is ivory-tower trained and real-world experienced, he has successfully managed and led hundreds of market research projects. He appreciates and embraces every opportunity to design and deliver high-quality, usable research to his clients and partners.

Organizational Role In addition to fulfilling the duties required of a CEO, Dr. Kristel is one of the organization’s principal researchers. He is ultimately responsible for the quality of all work performed by Illuminology. He also owns Illuminology's sister company, The Strategy Team.

Some Personal Info As father of an energetic, adventurous middle schooler and an active, creative elementary schooler, Orie is frequently called upon to make electrical, plumbing, and other minor structural repairs to his home (which he secretly enjoys). Orie’s community activities include service on the boards of Directions for Youth and Families and the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, which are nonprofit organizations in Columbus, Ohio. He continues to suffer as a Philadelphia Eagles fan but is now feeling more optimistic.

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Alison Szymanski, Ph.D., Senior Researcher

Alison M. Szymanski Ph.D., Senior Researcher

Her Background in Academic Research Alison M. Szymanski earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan and an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from The Ohio State University. Social psychology uses the scientific method to better understand how individuals think, feel, and act in social situations. While in graduate school, Alison explored the linkages between human behavior and self-identity – how what we do informs how we think of ourselves. She was one of ten OSU graduate students to win a Graduate Associate Teaching Award in 2008. And working in conjunction with some of the nation’s leading survey research experts, Alison has published on the topic of survey response rates.

Her Background in Applied Research An eight-year veteran in the applied domain, Alison’s intuitive grasp of project requirements and ability to identify (and then communicate) the critical findings of a research engagement means she’s a natural fit with our company.

Organizational Role Dr. Szymanski is one of the organization’s principal researchers.

Some Personal Info Alison is from Michigan but we don’t hold that against her. When not extolling the virtues of Western Michigan, Alison enjoys watching Detroit sports on television, cheers on the Michigan Wolverines whenever they are playing, runs, plays tennis, and is an avid pescatarian. She loves her husband, her children, and her cat.

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Amanda Scott, Ph.D.

Amanda Scott Ph.D., Partner

Her Background in Academic Research Dr. Amanda Scott is a social psychologist whose academic training at The Ohio State University focused primarily on stereotyping, group behavior, and legal decision-making. Her dissertation topic was how stereotypes of victims can impact civil decisions in a legal context. She has additional academic training in the areas of attitude measurement, research design, and survey methodology.

Her Background in Applied Research Amanda has over 12 years of professional and consulting experience in applied research, including project management and statistical support to expert witnesses who conduct survey research in the context of class action litigation. She has also served as a Social Science Research Advisor for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and interned at ODJFS’ Research and Evaluation department while a student at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Organizational Role Dr. Scott is one of the organization’s principal researchers.

Some Personal Info Amanda is a foster / adoptive parent and serves on the Board for the Greater Common Good, an effort to reduce domestic violence, and Six Strings Concerts. She is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research and the American Society of Trial Consultants.

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Case Study

United Way of Central Ohio, Financial Education Program Direction

The Context

In 2011, over 36,000 families in Franklin County (Ohio) had a household income that placed them below the federal poverty level. Knowing that many of these families may face – or already face – financial jeopardy, the United Way of Central Ohio is pilot testing an effort to deliver timely, relevant and engaging financial education to low-to-moderate income families.

The Critical Question

What do low-to-moderate income families need and want to learn regarding how to manage their household finances?

Our Solution

To help guide the direction of this program, we conducted a brief literature review regarding other financial education programs developed for and administered with low-income families. We also conducted focus group discussions with individuals who headed low-to-moderate income families and who were at risk of losing their home due to financial issues.

Illumination

The research identified specific areas in which individuals’ financial literacy was limited or nonexistent – which could present obvious barriers to their ability to keep their home. The information and insights obtained during these focus groups sessions was directly applied to the creation of an education and training program that prepares social service case managers to coach low-to-moderate income families on financial matters.

Resolution

Having used the research to help guide the formation of this program, United Way of Central Ohio’s focus (and ours) is now on evaluating the impact of this program on both case managers and low-to-moderate income families in the community.