Volunteer Name: Chris Roberts
FFEN Volunteer Role: Data Analysis
Current Professional Title: Data Scientist and Consultant
How did you get involved with FFEN?
I stumbled upon FFEN through the Minnesota Council for Nonprofits while looking for volunteer opportunities that could utilize my professional skill set. The data analysis volunteer role seemed like a perfect fit for my background, and FFEN’s mission resonated with my values of equity and improving Minnesotans’ quality of life.
How long have you been volunteering with FFEN?
Since January 2021.
Why do you share your time and talents with FFEN?
It’s so rewarding to know that Minnesota’s food shelf shoppers are getting a more dignified and inclusive experience because of FFEN’s work. In addition, FFEN has a uniquely collaborative and entrepreneurial culture that I really identify with. Perhaps most of all, being involved with FFEN brings the opportunity to drive transformation across an entire sector of Minnesota’s human services landscape.
What is your professional experience (and background) and how does it relate to your volunteer role?
I have a background in data science and analytics from my time at R&D-focused companies like 3M and Digital Science. In these roles, it was critical to be able to build domain expertise and shape broader analytics strategy. I get to do both of these things in my role with FFEN, and it positively affects the lives of food shelf shoppers at the same time.
What have your volunteer projects looked like with FFEN?
I started by creating FSA reports, and eventually joined the Database Team. Right now, I’m getting to take a leadership role in driving reporting at the food bank and state levels. This involves gathering requirements, evaluating analytics tools, and building dashboards for both internal and external use. Eventually, I’ll meet with stakeholders to preview and train on the work that our team has done.
What impact have you seen from your volunteer projects with FFEN, either within the organization or for a local food shelf?
The theme that connects the impact of my volunteer opportunities has been greater access to data both within FFEN and for area food shelves. Building reporting solutions has enabled staff within FFEN to more easily analyze food shelf data and derive insights to share. One project helped Minnesota food shelves calculate their potential increase in cost due to a reduction in federal support.