LEO Presents at CCUSA Annual Gathering

Author: Annalise Burnett

LEO's Shawna Kolka and Catholic Charities Fort Worth's (CCFW's) Corinne Weaver, Nichole Rush, and Cindy Casey presented a joint session on "Embedding Research and Innovation in Practice" at the 2017 Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) Annual Gathering in Houston, TX. The presentation brought together researchers and providers to discuss the need for innovative, long-term solutions for moving people out of poverty towards self-sufficiency. CCUSA was a big part of the foundation of LEO. In the fall of 2012, Bill Evans and Jim Sullivan, professors of economics at Notre Dame, with support from the leadership team at CCUSA, launched LEO, marking another milestone in the long-standing relationship between the two preeminent Catholic institutions. This culminated in a meeting between Fr. Larry Snyder and the two co-founders.  “If our goal is to fill shelter beds, as admirable as that is, we have the wrong goal. Our goal needs to be getting people out of poverty – As a network, Catholic Charities are called to do more than just help people survive, but to help them thrive, and in order to do that, we need to measure our ability to do that and hold ourselves accountable.”

Ccusa Presenters(clockwise from top left): Shawna Kolka, Corinne Weaver, Cindy Casey, Nichole Rush

Read more about the details of the presentation below:


When Doing Good Isn’t Enough: Embedding Research & Innovation in Practice

In order to eradicate poverty, we need to create new solutions. While providing short term support is always important; solving for permanent self-sufficiency is needed. That’s why we’ve begun innovating new ways to move people out of poverty. Learn ways to incorporate innovation into your programs.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Discuss the importance of asking the right questions to solve the right problems
  2. Brainstorm potential innovations and how to incorporate current ones
  3. Identify ways their services could be revamped from the “status quo” to create a larger impact


Corinne Weaver, Director of Research and Evaluation
Catholic Charities Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas

Nichole Rush, Senior Director of Transform
Catholic Charities Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas

Cindy Casey, Padua Program Manager
Catholic Charities Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas

Shawna Kolka, Project Manager, Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO)
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana