Aug 06, 2020

Pandemic to Prosperity: A Project with the National Conference on Citizenship

By Emily Laackman T’20

Emily Laackman


History has shown that large-scale crises accelerate pre-existing trends and permanently change societies and civic life. While most of the nation’s attention is currently focused on the response to Covid-19, we must ensure that recovery efforts in the months and years ahead lead to a more just and equitable society.

An Unexpected Final Term

I packed a suitcase for spring break and left Hanover, arrogantly oblivious to the fact that I would be living out of that suitcase for the next several months. The reality of finishing up my MBA from my partner’s couch was slowly hitting me. But because the Tuck community is really as strong as I’d hoped, my spring term was still packed with Tuckies—from virtual hangouts, to trivia nights, to movie nights, to group work sessions. I was adjusting to life in quarantine, and the constant engagement from classes and the community kept me sane.

But with the end of classes, I went from a stimulating environment that kept me busy enough to not think constantly about the pandemic, to relative isolation. And in that isolation, I just kept wondering, “What now? What do I do with my mind right now?”

Pandemic to Prosperity

I began to search for something that would allow me to feel helpful at a time when the world was spinning out of control. Lucky for me, I found a project being created by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), a nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving civic engagement in a variety of ways and in doing so, improving our democracy.

This new project, Pandemic to Prosperity (P2P), is led by Denice Ross, Allison Plyer, and Jeff Coates. It was inspired by a similar project led by Ross and Plyer, The New Orleans Index, which informed myriad public and private decisions and actions following Hurricane Katrina. Pandemic to Prosperity’s inaugural report launched on July 21st, six months to the day after the first announcement of COVID-19 on US soil. Subsequent reports will be released monthly, following the trajectory of the pandemic to provide the most helpful information to the public.

With the goal of providing a clear understanding of how COVID-19 is impacting the United States (from access to food, to ability to pay rent, to ease of voting in the upcoming election, to many others), Pandemic to Prosperity connects the dots between the different facets of life that are in jeopardy because of the pandemic. Our goal for the country is not based on pre-pandemic benchmarks, but rather a scenario in which livelihoods across the board are lifted to a new set of equitable standards.

As Lead Data Analyst for Pandemic to Prosperity, I’ve had the privilege of analyzing a wide range of data, calling out injustices that the pandemic is exacerbating. For example, while COVID-19 is increasing the cases of food insecurity across the country, the fact is that Black and Hispanic/Latinx households go hungry twice as often as white households. Insights such as that are crucial to understanding what the path forward should look like. Barriers to recovery will look different for different communities, and the more we understand what those obstacles are, the better equipped we will be to help tear them down.

I am so fortunate that I have been able to work on Pandemic to Prosperity. It aligns my analytical and storytelling skills so perfectly with my passion for equity and social justice. The timing of this opportunity has helped me productively channel my anxieties about the many crises in the United States into doing something helpful for our future.

Emily Laackman T’20 is the lead data analyst for Pandemic to Prosperity at the National Conference on Citizenship. Emily has a background in data analysis, visualization, and storytelling. Prior to Tuck, Emily worked at Digitas, a global digital marketing firm, where she was a manager of Data Analysis and Strategy. If you are interested in learning more about Pandemic to Prosperity, please visit their website to be notified about future reports.