In a piece penned for the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth’s “Tuck 360” blog, Emily Laackman ’10 recalls asking herself, “what now? What can I do to meaningfully use my time in the middle of a pandemic?” Laackman had just returned to her Chicago home on Spring Break following her penultimate term at Tuck, only to find out that her final months would be virtual. On the cusp of receiving her MBA and with a sudden abundance of free time, Laackman discovered a new project the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) was in the process of creating called Pandemic to Prosperity (P2P) that seemed like a fit.
“I have hours and a passion for doing something to help the world right now,” Laackman said to the leaders of the project. “It was a matching of my passion with my skill set.”
Laackman honed said skills as a student at the University of Chicago, where she majored in Comparative Human Development, or, in her words, “a mish-mash of social sciences.” Her first job out of school was at an ad agency doing data analysis and strategy. Four years into the job, Laackman found herself enjoying her work but feeling her career trajectory was veering off course. She opted for business school and selected Tuck in part because of its similarities with St. Paul’s School.
“It was in the woods, it was an immersive program, and would allow me to commit fully to my studies,” noted Laackman.
In search of establishing a broader business foundation, Laackman enjoyed classes that focused on leadership and social impact. One of her favorites was a class entitled “The CEO Experience,” taught by former governor of New Hampshire John Lynch, where students examined the choices leaders made in the wake of national disasters and how those choices affected the lives around them. It was this course of study that led her to Pandemic to Prosperity, a project developed by the people who created The New Orleans Index, an initiative that informed public and private decisions and actions following Hurricane Katrina.
“The New Orleans Index founders saw the need for a central database and a cohesive narrative of what was happening, what the impact was, and who was being harmed,” explains Laackman. “The biggest difference with Pandemic to Prosperity is that it is operating in the middle of the crisis, not after a catastrophic event.”
The team’s vision is to create a place for people to get all the information they need about what is happening because of COVID. This extends beyond data points like death count, hospitalizations, and the economy and looks at people who are going hungry, on the brink of eviction, and more. The other main goal is to identify who the pandemic has impacted the most, pinpointing the so-called “inequities in suffering.” P2P synthesizes its findings into regularly published reports distributed to government, nonprofits, and other interested organizations.
“The goal with this report is to not only show all the different ways that people are suffering, but to show that if we want to move forward from these compounding crises, we need to understand how people are suffering, and how we can move toward a more equitable future with much more tailored relief in addition to a stimulus or a vaccine.”
The next report will publish on the first anniversary of COVID having been announced on U.S. soil (January 21). The hope is that the information continues to act as a roadmap for community relief.
“Where we were pre-COVID is not where we want to be in the future. We are looking at life pre-COVID as a benchmark and then setting aspirational goals from there.”