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Women to Watch: Delia Kimbrel using research, data to advance equity

Women to Watch: Delia Kimbrel using research, data to advance equity

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Delia Kimbrel says friends often laugh when they learn that as a little girl, she wanted to grow up to be a ballerina. Instead, the data-driven director of research and analysis at ImpactTulsa keeps on her toes by using numbers to create something beautiful — equity.

“I always wanted to use research and data to advance equity, social justice, and for policy change,” she said.

ImpactTulsa helps school districts, nonprofit entities, community organizations and businesses reduce disparities along the cradle-to-career continuum.

“Although ImpactTulsa is thought to be more focused on the education sector, its emphasis on cross-sector, collective impact and systems change resonates with me,” Kimbrel said.

The work isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding.

Kimbrel has been working with leaders from the city, school districts, community organizations and internet service providers as part of the Internet Access Task Force to improve internet access throughout the city.

This is especially important as residents are working and studying from their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economics often creates inequity. More than 33% of households earning less than $20,000 a year have no internet access, 2018 Census data show. Tulsa Public Schools estimates that about one in three students has limited or no internet access.

The work of the task force “is a true testament of the power of systems change,” Kimbrel said. “I’ve been overjoyed by the level of commitment, coordination, resource and strategy alignment that has gone to this effort.”

Kimbrel has been at this work, in a sense, since she was 8. She was on a long drive with her mother when she asked, “Why is it the further we get from our house, the other houses get so much nicer?”

“My mom responded, ‘These people just have more money than we do,’ ” Kimbrel said.

“I remember being so unsatisfied with her answer, and I just knew there was something much more to the disparate and unequal conditions that I observed that day,” she said.

“Ever since, I’ve been working to use research data, and public policy to advance equity and advocate for communities like my own.”

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