Outsmarting Poverty Event

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Outsmarting Poverty: A two-day learning event hosted by the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities


Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14, 2023

University of Notre Dame
*Travel arrangement details available here*

We’re harnessing the momentum and progress of the last 10 years into our first Outsmarting Poverty event—a two-day convening bringing together service providers, policymakers, and researchers from across the country. Join us to hear from dynamic keynote speakers, engage with a variety of industry experts, and connect with others doing the work to outsmart poverty.

Service providers, academics, researchers, policymakers, and others taking part in the effort to outsmart poverty.


Register now to lock in the early bird price!

Early Bird (before February 10, 2023) Registration Fee: $375
Registration Fee (after February 10, 2023): $485

Refunds until February 10, 2023 will have a $75 cancellation fee. No refunds after February 10, 2023.

Keynote Speakers

Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Matt Desmond


Dr. Matthew Desmond

Matthew Desmond is the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning bestseller Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which draws on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data to transform our understanding of inequity and economic exploitation in America. His new book, Poverty, by America is coming out in March and Outsmarting Poverty will be one of his first events on poverty. Event attendees will also receive a copy of the new book!




Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Paja Charles


Pajarita Charles

Pajarita Charles is an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for Law, Society, and Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research centers on the development, implementation, and testing of family-focused preventive interventions to promote positive outcomes for children and families affected by the criminal justice system. Dr. Charles’ work also includes fostering research, practice, and public sector partnerships to build capacity for criminal justice reform.



Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Carrie Cihak

Carrie Cihak

Carrie Cihak leads evidence-informed practice and partnerships for King County, where she  guides County agencies on community outcomes and impact, with a strong focus on advancing racial equity. Former roles at the County include leading learning and evidence practice and partnerships at King County Metro Transit; serving as an inaugural member of the community mitigation team in the County’s pandemic response, and Chief of Policy for the King County Executive. Cihak has served as sponsor for the County’s nationally-recognized work on equity and social justice and is architect of several County initiatives such as Best Starts for Kids. Cihak also served as a senior-level policy and budget analyst for the King County Council and as lead staff for the King County Board of Health.


Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Rob Collinson



Rob Collinson

Rob Collinson is the Wilson Family LEO Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches undergraduate courses on topics related to poverty. Rob received his Ph.D. in Public Policy from New York University and he specializes in housing and urban policy research. 




Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Evelyn Diaz


Evelyn Diaz

Evelyn Diaz is the President of Heartland Alliance. Previously, Ms. Diaz was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lead the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services. Before joining Mayor Emanuel’s cabinet, Ms. Diaz was Deputy Chief of Staff to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, coordinating the City’s human capital departments and overseeing initiatives related to poverty, jobs, and economic security.  She was later appointed by Mayor Daley as chief executive officer of the Chicago Workforce Investment Council.



Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Bill Evans


Bill Evans

Bill Evans is the co-founder of LEO and the Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame. Before founding LEO, Bill served as an editor of the Journal of Human Resources from 2007-2012. Bill held a 6-year term as the Chair of the Economics Department at Notre Dame (2014-2020), and he’s currently a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He also serves as an Affiliated Professor of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab.



Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Melissa Kearney


Melissa Kearney

Melissa S. Kearney is the Neil Moskowitz Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland. She is also Director of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group; a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); and a non-resident Senior Fellow at Brookings. She is a scholar affiliate and member of the board of the Notre Dame Wilson-Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) and a scholar affiliate of the MIT Abdul Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).




Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Jens Ludwig



Jens Ludwig

Jens Ludwig is the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab, co-director of the Education Lab, and co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s working group on the economics of crime.




Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Sarah Mustillo


Sarah Mustillo

Sarah Mustillo is the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame and an expert in the social causes of childhood mental illness and statistical methods used in social science research. She recently completed a term as co-editor of the American Sociological Review, is the author of more than 75 peer-reviewed journal articles and a frequent speaker at domestic and international conferences.




Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Ami Navoryta


Ami Novoryta

Ami Novoryta is Chief Program Officer at Catholic Charities Chicago and previously served as Chief Strategy Officer at Heartland Alliance where she led strategy, launched a social innovation practice, and collaborated with community stakeholders to design and launch READI Chicago, a nationally recognized and rigorously evaluated gun violence initiative. She is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, serves on the Leadership Fellows Association, and is a Founding Member of Chief Chicago. 



Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Paul Ryan


Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan was the 54th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2019, he launched the American Idea Foundation, a non-partisan, not for profit organization that partners with local organizations and academics to advance evidence-based public policies.





Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Heather Reynolds



Heather Reynolds

Heather Reynolds is the Michael L. Smith Managing Director at LEO and an expert speaker on poverty and nonprofit strategy. She served as the CEO of Catholic Charities Fort Worth for 14 years before joining the LEO team.




Speaker Headshots For Op Event Website Jim Sullivan


Jim Sullivan

Jim Sullivan is a co-founder of LEO and a Professor of Economics at Notre Dame. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate economics courses, he serves on the National Poverty Center Advisory Board and is a member of the U.S. Commission on Social Impact Partnerships.

Day 1

1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (optional)
Outsmarting Poverty Competition

5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Welcome Cocktail Hour

6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Official Event Opening Dinner Session begins, including:

Poverty, by America, Keynote
Matthew Desmond

Understanding Poverty, Panel Discussion and Q&A
Sarah Mustillo, Dean of College of Arts and Letters, University of Notre Dame (moderator)
Pajarita Charles, Assistant Professor, Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Rob Collinson, Wilson Family LEO Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame
Evelyn Diaz, President, Heartland Alliance

8:30 p.m.
Closing Remarks and optional trip to Notre Dame's Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

Day 2

7:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

8:30 a.m. to 9:40 a.m.

Evidence to Action, Panel Discussion
Jim Sullivan, Co-Founder and Professor of Economics, LEO (moderator)
Paul Ryan, 54th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Carrie Cihak, King County Evidence & Impact Officer, Department of Executive Services
Ami Novoryta, Chief Programs Officer, Catholic Charities Chicago

10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Breakout Session 1

11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Breakout Session 2

1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Lunch and Closing Session including remarks by:

Bill Evans, Co-founder and Professor of Economics, LEO
Jens Ludwig, Professor of Economics and Director of Crime Lab, University of Chicago

2:00 p.m.
End of conference

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