Angelina Ruffin is very concerned with the health of city government - Generocity Philly

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Mar. 27, 2017 4:46 pm

Angelina Ruffin is very concerned with the health of city government

The director of performance management is three months into her role, where she uses a data-driven approach to help city departments and agencies meet their goals.

Angelina Ruffin.

(Courtesy photo)

It’s Angelina Ruffin’s job to improve the health of the City of Philadelphia.

The entity, that is — not its constituents. (That’s someone else’s job.)

Ruffin previously served as the director of performance management for Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health and was a policy adviser for several health secretaries at the state-level Department of Health. Now, she’s responsible for overseeing the health of the city’s various departments as its new director of performance management and deputy chief administrative officer.

Not to mention she’s about to finish her Ph.D in social welfare at the University of Pennsylvania where her research is focused on “culturally relevant strategies that address violence against women in minority and marginalized communities.” (She also serves as a board member of Women Organized Against Rape.)

Three months into her role, most of Ruffin’s work has been analyzing data from surveys — such as this one about fair and equitable housing — and figuring out how departments and agencies can learn and act from it.

We talked to Ruffin about the data-driven approach to performance management, the importance of collaboration and how her background in health influences her work.

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Generocity: How would you describe what you do in your new role?

Angelina Ruffin: My office is the internal support arm to help [other departments] analyze their data, think more strategically and do some strategic planning. In government, it’s very hard to think about how we want to address those really hard, big policy agenda items.

Having someone in the administration or the city who can help other city leaders move the needle on some of those priority areas, whether it is through strategic planning or dissecting a certain process that potentially needs improvement and really giving them the support and dedicated resources to make those changes, I think will ultimately help all of us in the long run.

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G: What are some of the key areas you’re focusing on right now?

AR: For this year, Mayor [Jim] Kenney has publicly talked about his high-level priorities, one of them being infrastructure. So, my office will be working with the Street Department and the L&I department to [take] “deep dives” into maybe one or two processes we can improve over a year.

G: What kind of work has your office done so far?

AR: One thing that my office did spearhead was the resident survey that was the first one done in this administration in probably 10 years. We asked residents to talk about a number of things, from public safety issues to interactions with the police to garbage and recycling pickup and certain economic development issues. We just concluded that in February and that report will hopefully be coming out sometime late spring.

I have not gotten the raw data yet or any analysis back yet but what I can say is that we’ve had almost 9,000 respondents — this is the biggest survey in terms of the number of residents that completed it from any city in the past two years. We really invested a lot in trying to make sure that we hear from all communities, we really tried to get it to be as diverse as possible, so much so that we initially had closed it in October but reopened it this year to get a more representative sample.

G: How do your background and current studies in health impact the work you’re doing for the city now?

AR: To me, health sort of affects every aspect, from housing to safety. You can’t really have a good productive workforce if they’re not healthy. … And still, to me, everything that I do now, even though it’s across many departments, is still addressing the social determinants of health, whether it’s neighborhoods or economic development — all those things impact one’s health.

G: How do you see your role and office becoming an effective part of city government in the near future?

AR: This is not an arm [of the city] where people are turning over their data for us to analyze. It’s really a partnership in that we can help them sort of think through how to best analyze it. As it stands right now, my office is an office of two so we don’t have the capacity to do all of it for the entire city, but we have definitely partnered with the different leaders to make sure that [through] the data or how we analyze it, we can parse out things for different commissioners, stuff that’s meaningful for them.

I think that’s the key to performance management — we don’t want them to just be reporting performance measures or data they’ve been reporting for two decades, we want something that’s really meaningful for them and their management [now]. It’s initially meeting with the head of whatever department it is, sitting down with them, hearing about their goals, their strengths, weaknesses and challenges and figuring out what would work for their department right now to meet some of those challenges or improve performance in one specific area.

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