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St. Anthony Main
219 Main Street SE, Suite 302
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414

(f) 612.623.8807

We recently added a project manager to our team! Evan Shrader is an energetic project manager who excels at creating and enhancing structural efficiencies and promoting effective team strategies. Evan thrives on making projects easier for those he works with, on keeping a handle on complex priorities, and on pursuing projects that make life better for those impacted. Evan believes that getting any project to the end-zone requires a great team that can work well together while maintaining a positive and friendly atmosphere.

Evan will spend his time enhancing the current project management process at PDA, as well as managing the projects of PDA’s software development team. Evan is also involved in several of the Evaluations and Statistics projects at PDA.

Prior to joining PDA, Evan worked as an IT Project Manager at Provident Funding Associates, where he managed the proprietary cross-matrix software development projects of several key financial and business divisions. His background includes both Waterfall and Agile project management methodologies, helpdesk support, technical research and design, software user-testing, process innovation, budget analysis, and team management.

Outside of PDA, Evan loves spending time with his family. He mentors youth through his local church, and loves individualistic sports, including skiing, rock climbing, martial arts, and ice-skating. When the weather’s warm, he and his fiancé go camping as often as they can… although both being redheads, they often have to stay in the shade.

Posted in PDA Staff

We recently added two new faces to our team. Say hello to Robert and Nancy!


Robert Masen, Business Analyst

Robert brings an analytical and pragmatic approach to problem solving and project planning for the PDA Development team. He enjoys the diversity of projects and the positive social impact they all seem to have. He is working on re-designing the Minnesota Department of Health, Call it Quits reporting portal and stream lining the development process for all of PDA’s software projects.

Robert’s previous roles include technical support, risk analysis and customer service positions at Wells Fargo as well as Chief Financial Officer for MNKINO, a community arts organization. These experiences provided him with a great understanding of how to approach project planning with a creativity and efficiency in mind. Robert also has experience contributing to Open Source Software projects to varying degrees which has provided him with a great understanding of rapid prototyping and how to work with distributed teams.

Robert earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Eastern Michigan University. After spending 2 years of service in AmeriCorps, he began a part-time Associates program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College studying software development.

Outside of work, Robert is a hobby collector, he spends his free time print/stencil making, coffee roasting, beer brewing, wood working, knitting, sewing, gardening, cooking, or riding his bike around the state.  When he needs a break from all of that activity he likes to spend time eating out at restaurants around the metro area with his partner, they are searching high and low for the best places to eat.


Nancy Pellowski Wiger, Evaluation Specialist

Nancy has extensive experience conducting mixed-methods evaluations to help inform and strengthen programs (such as a school-based program for teenage mothers, a leadership and anti-bullying initiative, and an urban youth farming project).  Nancy has also worked on international evaluations to assess the impact of educational interventions, youth entrepreneurship programming, and empowerment initiatives in over ten countries.  Nancy thrives on utilizing her strong quantitative and qualitative analytical skills to execute high-quality evaluations with diverse partners.

Prior to joining PDA, Nancy worked in international education research on multiple projects both as a consultant and as a researcher at the University of Minnesota.

Nancy received her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development from the University of Minnesota, her M.A. in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota, and her B.A. in Sociology from Grinnell College.  She is a member of the American Evaluation Association and Comparative and International Education Society.

In her free time, Nancy loves spending time with her daughter, son, and husband, playing outdoors and discovering new parks and bike trails.


Posted in General, PDA Staff

Written by Heather Zook

ClearWay MinnesotaSM awarded two-year grants to three health systems in Minnesota between 2014 and 2016. The purpose of these grants was to increase the health systems’ capacity to address tobacco use with patients. Each health system utilized multiple strategies to conduct systems change, and these strategies varied across grantees. Strategies included: utilizing a team-based approach; building system-level support; implementing tobacco screening, treatment, and referral protocols; modifying electronic health record (EHR) systems; training staff; and reporting and monitoring progress.


PDA conducted a process evaluation of the systems change grants. Evaluators held semi-structured, in-person interviews with key staff from each health system at three points in time (baseline, mid-point, and end of project). We also reviewed grantee documentation, including progress reports, meeting notes, and presentations. At the end of the two-year grant cycle, PDA developed a case study for each of the funded health systems (see links at end of post).



Include grantees in developing the final product

When developing a public-facing document for a health system, you will likely need to get final approval from multiple levels within the organization. This takes time, particularly if you include images such as an EHR screenshot or workflow that may be proprietary. It is important to include health system staff (in this case, the grant coordinator) in case study development to ensure that the wording accurately reflects the project activities. Along these lines, it is helpful to establish relationships with health system staff, especially when evaluating grant-funded projects, because staff may leave the organization once the grant ends.

Finalize all text in Word before moving to PowerPoint

This was PDA’s first time using PowerPoint to create case studies, and it was a great learning experience. We were inspired by Nancy Duarte’s Slidedoc, which is a document that falls somewhere in between a PowerPoint presentation and a report written in Word. First, we learned (the hard way) the importance of finalizing all text in a Word document before working in PowerPoint. This is especially key if you have multiple people reviewing and editing the text. Although you can add comments, PowerPoint does not currently have an easy method to track changes; therefore, it is difficult to see what edits other people have made. In addition, most edits to the text impact the formatting and spacing of other objects on the page. Thus, all formatting should be done after the text is finalized.

PowerPoint provides flexibility for designing case studies

On a positive note, we learned that PowerPoint is an excellent platform for designing case studies! It provides a lot of flexibility for adding images, shapes, and colors. PowerPoint makes it easy to add visual variation to each page, which is especially helpful when working with a lot of text. Even something as simple as a background image can draw in the reader and bring life to a text-heavy page.

Working in PowerPoint also encouraged us to focus the content of each page on a couple of key points, creating digestible chunks of information for our client. In Word, it’s easy for a section to bleed onto the next page or span across multiple pages. The format of PowerPoint helped us to focus our message and incorporate a visual to emphasize that point.


Links to case studies:

Hennepin County Medical Center

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

CentraCare Health


Posted in General, Qualitative Methods, Systems Change

PDA is currently seeking a part-time program evaluation intern for the summer of 2017. It is a 10-week paid internship. We are looking for an upper level undergraduate student or masters-level graduate student who is interested in learning more about and getting more experience in the field of evaluation. For more information about this internship and how to apply, click here.


Posted in Job Openings

In November, Lara Rubinyi joined the PDA team as an Associate Evaluator. Lara received her Master of International Public Affairs degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before joining PDA, Lara worked with [rp] Collective in Kathmandu, Nepal to build healthy, community-focused urban plans. She has experience conducting large-scale research and evaluations on STEM education, child protection, dental services and opioid use, vector-borne disease, climate change, and migration. The common theme of her work has been creating healthier communities through evidence-based practices. She especially loves using both qualitative and quantitative methods to discover what is working and how to make programs work better.

At PDA, Lara will work on several projects including evaluations for the Florida Department of Health’s in-person cessation program and the Hawaii Department of Health’s community grant program.

In her free time, Lara enjoys camping, traveling, learning new instruments, and writing. Her new goal is to visit as many state parks in Minnesota as possible and maybe write a song about it.


Posted in PDA Staff

Emma Ramsbottom Wagner, Associate Evaluator

In May, Emma joined the PDA team as an Associate Evaluator. Emma just received her Master of Arts degree in Evaluation Studies from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining PDA, Emma served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Hispanic Committee of Virginia, spent several years coordinating and developing non-profit programs in the Seattle area, and most recently carried out evaluation projects with Planned Parenthood of MN|ND|SD and Hamline University.

At PDA, Emma will primarily work on evaluating ClearWay MN’s community engagement grantee programs and processes and the Hawaii Department of Health’s statewide tobacco quitline and in-person tobacco cessation community grants program.

Emma is drawn to the facilitative aspects of evaluation work and enjoys collaborating with stakeholders to effectively surface, organize, and respond to their evolving ideas and needs.  She is also enthusiastic about data visualization, and loves incorporating creative elements into her communications and reports.  In her free time, Emma is an increasingly adventurous baker, pop culture nut, and very uncompetitive runner.


Colin Summers, Developer

Colin joined PDA in May as a developer. The main project he is working on is the construction and design of a large software system for the Florida Department of Health for tracking an in-person tobacco cessation program. His current technology focuses are .NET MVC, AngularJS and Microsoft SQL Server.

Colin received his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin – Parkside in 2013. He then moved to the twin cities to work as a Developer at Magenic where he gained experience with a variety of technologies including .NET MVC, Microsoft BizTalk and MongoDB.  There he was recognized as Consultant of the Quarter for Q4 2015 for demonstrating excellent professional communication and technical skills and his ability for quickly mastering new technologies.

Outside of work, Colin enjoys spending time with his family and two dogs. He is busy getting ready for the second addition to the family, another son, expected this October. In his free time, he enjoys cruising in his Subaru WRX, fixing up his Fiat Spider, and playing video games.


Margaret Merrill, Stats Intern

In early June we welcomed Margaret, who has been serving as our Stats Intern this summer. Margaret just received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Statistics from St. Olaf College.

At PDA, Margaret will help with the analysis of data having to do with tobacco cessation and other public health programs. Margaret is interested in data visualization and is excited to spend her summer at PDA. Outside of work Margaret enjoys playing tennis and reading.


Posted in General, PDA Staff

PDA is currently seeking an IT Manager to oversee our infrastructure. The IT Manager will be responsible for effective provisioning, installation, configuration, operation, and maintenance of systems hardware and software and related infrastructure inside our company. We have a laidback and casual atmosphere and are looking for a passionate person who loves computers, servers and technology and is excited about having a leadership role. For more information about this position, qualifications, and how to apply, click here.


Posted in Job Openings

Written by Heather Zook

What is an eReferral?

An electronic referral (eReferral) is a method for electronically sending data between a healthcare provider and an outside health-related agency. eReferrals are integrated into Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, so they are automatically documented in the patient’s medical record.

At PDA, we recently started working with eReferrals in the field of tobacco cessation. If a patient reports tobacco use to their healthcare provider and expresses interest in receiving tobacco cessation support, the eReferral is automatically populated with the patient’s contact information and sent to the tobacco cessation program.

What are the benefits of eReferrals in tobacco cessation?

More referrals: The number of referrals by healthcare providers to tobacco cessation programs has been shown to increase significantly when switching from a fax to eReferral system.1-2

Increased efficiencies: Using eReferrals saves time and money, as healthcare staff no longer need to fill out referral forms by hand. With eReferrals, the tobacco cessation program is directly notified of the referral while the patient is still in the exam room.

Better communication: eReferral systems are bidirectional, which means that the outcome of the referral (e.g. patient enrolled in the program or patient received nicotine replacement therapy) is automatically sent back to the referring provider and documented in the patient’s electronic medical record. This open communication benefits the provider, program staff, and the tobacco user!

Documented Meaningful Use: Implementing eReferrals can help healthcare systems achieve and document the tobacco use EHR Meaningful Use Core Objectives and Clinical Quality Measures.3

How is PDA working with eReferrals?

PDA has configured our PDAExchange automated data processing system to receive eReferrals from an EHR system and then transmit them to a system for tobacco cessation program staff to follow-up with patients. PDAExchange will also transmit outcome data back to the provider about the status of the referral.

To learn more about how quitlines are utilizing eReferrals, check out the North American Quitline Consortium’s resources on electronic quitline referrals.



1 Warner, D. D., Land, T. G., Rodgers, A. B., & Keithly, L. (2012). Integrating tobacco cessation quitlines into health care: Massachusetts, 2002-2011. Preventing Chronic Disease, 9, 1-7.

2 Adsit, R. T., Fox, B. M., Tsiolis, T., Ogland, C., Simerson, M., Vind, L. M.,…Fiore, M. C. (2014). Using the electronic health record to connect primary care patients to evidence-based telephonic tobacco quitline services: a closed-loop demonstration project. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 4, 324-32.

3 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2013). 2014 Clinical Quality Measures adult recommended core measures. Baltimore, MD.


Posted in General, Technology

PDA is currently seeking a Program Evaluator to join our team of evaluators, statisticians, and developers. We are looking for someone who is detail-oriented, a self-starter, and who would be able to contribute to the full range of a client, including developing evaluation plans and logic models, analyzing and interpreting quantitative and qualitative evaluation results, and effectively and efficiently reporting findings to clients and other stakeholders. For more information about this position, qualifications, and how to apply, click here.


Posted in Job Openings

The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco’s annual conference starts tomorrow and several PDA staff will be there.

Anne is presenting along with our client from the Florida Department of Health on a novel non-medical tobacco cessation referral system, housed within workforce development centers in Florida.  She will report on numbers referred to a statewide cessation program, and quit rates for those referred. The time and location of their presentation is below.

Using employment infrastructure to recruit for statewide cessation programs:  Referrals, enrollments and outcomes.

Anne Betzner, Marilyn Leeds, Jane Parker, Katherine Rehorst, Julie Rainey, & Elisia Norton.

Thurs, Mar 3 @ 11:10am in Chicago Ballroom 8


PDA staff also collaborated with our client Clearway Minnesota on four different poster presentations, which are listed below. If you’re at the conference, stop by and introduce yourself!

Offering consumers choices: Patterns of service selection in a multi-service cessation program

Barbara Schillo, Paula Keller, Becky Lien, Randi Lachter, Amy Kerr, Emily Subialka Nowariak

Thurs, Mar 3 from 11:30am to 1pm

Poster #1-113


Use of tobacco and tobacco cessation services in urban and rural Minnesota

Raymond Boyle, Becky Lien, Michael Amato

Fri, Mar 4 from 11:30am to 1pm

Poster #3-151


Do treatment seeking smokers use ENDS differently than the general population?

Emily Subialka Nowariak, Becky Lien, Michael Amato, Erin O’Gara

Fri, Mar 4 from 5:30 to 7pm

Poster #4-113


NRT starter kits and quit rates: What influences quitting?

Amy Kerr, Paula Keller, Becky Lien, Barbara Schillo, Randi Lachter, Vanessa Kittelson

Fri, Mar 4 from 5:30 to 7pm

Poster #4-147


For more information about the SRNT conference, click here.


Posted in General, Presentations