Researcher with quantitative, qualitative, and geospatial experience analyzing a broad set of policy and planning questions centered around advancing racial equity and improving community health and well-being. Extensive community engagement experience working to support capacity-building in urban development and sustainability. Demonstrated strong ability to synthesize complex topics for technical and non-technical audiences. Management experience in research, nonprofit, and private sectors. Engaging, self-starter, independent and collaborative team player, outcome-driven.
Research and Practice examples include:
Model demonstrating the importance of youth within a community resilience framework
White paper detailing the impact of manufacturing facilities beyond jobs, especially on Black and high poverty communities
Digital data platform that supports community empowerment through data democratization by translating complex data to diverse audiences and communicating the relevance of data as a critical decision-making tool
Participatory community asset map that empower residents to build and share their story by preserving and amplifying community memories
Composite index that creates a measurement of Black-white equality since the 1950s across six domains with strong, measurable, national-level data sets: education, criminal justice, citizenship rights, health, housing, and poverty
14-week curriculum that trains youth to be advocates in planning and implementing projects designed to create healthier neighborhoods
Theory of spatial white privilege that looks at the role of whiteness in shaping the urban form
Historical analysis that compares dominant and counter-narratives around the production of space during development projects in Atlanta
Strategic plan for local government to create a more welcoming process for immigrant community
Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to address environmental justice concerns of communities in Birmingham, Alabama
My work has been published in the Journal of Planning History, Preventive Medicine, and the Journal of American Planning Association. I have presented to academic and practitioner audiences, such as the annual Bloomberg Data for Social Good Conference, Community Indicators Consortium Summit, American Public Health Association, and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
August 2018 - December 2021
PhD of City and Regional Planning Georgia Institute of Technology
Dissertation: White spatial planning practices: Deconstructing narratives around race, space, and privilege
August 2013 - August 2015
Master of City and Regional Planning Georgia Institute of Technology
Dual Specialization: Economic Development and Environment & Health
January 2012 - May 2013
Bachelor of Science University of Georgia
August 1998 - December 2002
Bachelor of Arts University of Georgia
Spanish and Anthropology
Research Design and Review
Data Collection, Managment, and Analysis
Writing and Presenting Research
Web Design & Development
Curriculum and Training Development
Roles & Responsibilities
Adjunct Professor, School of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology
Developed and taught curriculum for integrated undergraduate and graduate course in Sustainable Urban Development with a focus on students demonstrating the importance of equity within a framework of sustainability
Explored the challenges facing urban environments and international examples of community-based climate adaptation and mitigation solutions
Designed and taught a comprehensive curriculum tailored to an online learning environment, integrating multimedia content such as videos, animations, and interactive quizzes to enhance student engagement and comprehension
Mentored staff at the Beacon of Hope Center of Excellence on Climate and Environmental Health at Morehouse School of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization, Georgia Institute of Technology
Developed a model demonstrating the importance of youth within a community resilience framework
Researched how manufacturing location decisions and economic policy impact racial equity
Developed methodology to compare traditional and inclusive economic development models to understand the impact of corporations beyond job growth
Collected, cleaned, and analyzed dataset linking EPA permits, business data, and county tax assessor data to find patterns around manufacturing siting decisions
Offered evidence-based recommendations to influence economic policy, aiming to promote inclusive growth and minimize racial disparities between communities
Published findings as a white paper and policy brief that influenced policymakers at the White House and Department of Energy
2014 - Present
Project Manager, Communities Who Know
Conceptualized, implemented, and coordinated a quantitative and qualitative neighborhood-level information system that empowers community evidence-based decision-making
Built complex model using spatial and demographic data, and visualized results in Tableau
Managed multi-disciplinary team including IT and research staff for timely product launches
Produced reports and visualizations published for digital and print media
Worked with local groups to build an asset map that documents community-based organizations
Collaborated with a team to design and conduct trainings of data dashboard to a wide audience
Organized and led focus groups with participants from city agencies, private sector, and community-based nonprofit organizations that led to improvement to the usability of the Data Dashboard
Designed and led trainings for community members, nonprofits, and governmental agencies with the aim to improve local data literacy
Presented at academic and practitioner conferences including Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange and the Community Indicators Consortium
Project Manger - Measuring the Dream, Healthy Places Lab
Researched and developed a composite index to measure changes in racial equity for the past 50 years based on historical data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, Census Bureau, and the Center for Disease Control
Validated results with community leaders, economic development and spatial analysis subject matter experts, and researchers
Published findings as a book chapter in the Community Quality-of-Life Indicators
Presented at national academic conferences, including the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) and the American Public Health Association (APHA)
Project Manager - Youth Engagement & Action for Health (YEAH!), Healthy Places Lab
Trained and supported adult leaders at 19 youth-serving organizations located in six states working to engage youth in planning and implementing projects designed to create healthier neighborhoods
Conducted and analyzed surveys, interviews, and focus groups with results published in peer-reviewed journal articles
Redesigned the YEAH! curriculum based on findings from adult leader surveys and interviews
Supported leadership team in grant writing, budget management, and IRB protocols
Presented findings to academic and practitioner conferences including American Public Health Association and the Active Living Research Council
Research Assistant, Partnerships to Improve Community Health at the Center For GIS
Acted as data subject matter expert on a project to create an online platform that simultaneously visualizes demographic, health, and built environment data
Collaborated with a broad range of governmental, academic, and public stakeholders
Worked with a team to design and conduct trainings of health platform to a wide audience including county municipal leaders
CWK Data Dashboard
(Formerly the Westside Communities Alliance Data Dashboard) A one-stop shop for key data that is accessible to community stakeholders, researchers, local government agencies, and relevant foundations interested in sustainable communities. The tool has the potential to encourage better data-driven decision- making at the neighborhood level and to support research and policymaking processes designed to address challenges faced by communities in education, workforce development, public safety, and other areas of vital importance to the prosperity and sustainability of communities. The idea is that communities who know their community landscapes in well-grounded ways have a better opportunity to make decisions that are socially conscious, meaningful, and impactful in creating progress and positive change.
CWK Community Assets Portal
This website acts as a meaningful resource in efforts across the Westside Atlanta to bring a more robust understanding to the richly endowed history and accomplishments of Westside neighborhoods and to bring visibility to the current operations of community assets as they dedicate themselves to keeping longstanding, though often under-served, communities vibrantly on the move. Through this portal, we will continue to add exemplars and to highlight stories of the impact and consequence of community-based/community-facing work in creating brighter horizons for our urban environments.
Measuring the Dream
More than 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, what has become of his call for social, political, and economic equality for African Americans? How do we equip a new generation with knowledge, techniques and strategies of past activists, and assessments of the policies that were implemented and/or defeated in the struggle for justice and equality? How do we measure our progress toward a more just and equal society? The Measuring the Dream (MTD) project informs, enables, and inspires a diverse audience to understand the history of the journey toward a more equal society. To quantify national changes in equity since the 1950s, the project’s MTD Index identifies six arenas in which the struggle for equal justice has taken place and can be objectively traced. Data within each area are cataloged and then combined to calculate a MTD Index score from pre-1950–2016. No single index exists with this set of indicators that provides the scaling and longitudinal framework necessary to assess America’s strive towards prosperity and equality for all.
Youth Engagement and Action for Health
Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH!) is a 14-week curriculum to engage youth participants in planning and implementing projects designed to create healthier neighborhoods. Youth will be trained to conduct neighborhood assessments, select a meaningful project, and advocate for change with local policy and decision makers. YEAH! is a fantastic way for youth to understand how the design and function of their school and/or community impacts their health, to develop an action plan that can lead to changes, and to advocate for these changes with decision makers in their own community.
Public Humanities, Emory University
Worked with students to document assets in Atlanta communities. The course also included partnership with community groups to build a story maps to tell their own stories with data.
Computing for Social Good, Georgia Institute of Technology
Partnered with summer interns to develop new portals for the Westside Communities Alliance Data Dashboard.
Data for Social Good, Georgia Institute of Technology
Partnered with students to develop two new portals for the Westside Communities Alliance Data Dashboard.
Working with Communities as an Outsider
Community Dynamics and Engagement, School of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology
Community Development, College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, Florida State University
Data Accessibility as a Pathway to Genuine Equality.
Urban Planning and Health Equity, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
2018, 2019, 2020
Westside Communities Alliance Data Dashboard
Semester in the City, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Georgia Institute of Technology
Community Engagement with Data Democratization
Community Development, School of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology
West Atlanta and Data
Planning Studio, School of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology
Organized and led in-person and webinar-based trainings for leadership and staff of youth-serving organizations implementing the Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH!) curriculum.
Led trainings on using the Westside Communities Alliance (WCA) Data Dashboard with the aim to improve local data literacy. Participants included community members, nonprofits, and governmental agencies.
AI and the City
Organized and led full-day seminar on the role of AI in modern city planning practice including AIs potential in public engagement and data analysis as well as the ethical considerations such as data privacy and bias.
O’Connell, K., Young, A., & Botchwey, N. D. (2020). Measuring the dream for an equitable and sustainable future. In Community Quality-of-Life Indicators (pp. 47-64). Springer, Cham.
O’Connell, L., McSorley, M., Botchwey, N., & Cola., B. “Using the Social-Spatial Determinants of Health to Understand the Impacts of Large-Producing-Advanced Manufacturers.” Place and the Social-Spatial Determinants of Health. (Under Review)
Published and Accepted Journal Articles
OConnell, L. Katie, and Botchwey, N. (2021) “From Urban Renewal to the BeltLine: Atlanta’s Use of Public Health Narratives to Reshape the City.” Journal of Planning History.
Botchwey, N., O’Connell, L.K., Bryan, K., Ricks, T. (2021). Youth Advocacy Programs: Lessons From YEAH! Adult Leaders Evaluation Study. Journal of Healthy Eating and Active Living, 1(2), 41-52.
Botchwey, N., Jones-Bynes, J., O'Connell, K., Millstein, R. A., Kim, A., & Conway, T. L. (2020). Impact of a youth advocacy policy, systems and environmental change program for physical activity on perceptions and beliefs. Preventive medicine, 106077.
Botchwey, N. D., Johnson, N., O’Connell, L. K., & Kim, A. J. (2019). Including Youth in the Ladder of Citizen Participation: Adding Rungs of Consent, Advocacy, and Incorporation. Journal of the American Planning Association, 85(3), 255-270.
Gaglioti, A.H., Xu, J., Rollins, L., Baltru, P., OConnell, K.L., Cooper, D.L., Hopkins, J., Botchwey, N, Akintobi, T. (2018) Neighborhood Environmental Health and Premature Death From Cardiovascular Disease. Prev Chronic Disease. 15: 170220.
Centner, T. & O'Connell, L. 2014. “Unfinished Business in the Regulation of Shale Gas Production in the United States,” Science of the Total Environment, 476-477 (April): 359-367.
Under Review Journal Articles
O'Connell, L., & Botchwey, N. "Supporting youth participation in health and climate justice through advocacy training." International Journal of Health Policy and Management.
O'Connell, L., & Botchwey, N. "The Spatiality of White Privilege." Planning Theory.
O'Connell, Laura Kathryn, Mackenzie Madden, and Sheri Davis-Faulkner. 2016. "Data Accessibility as a Pathway to Genuine Equality for Atlanta's Westside Communities." arXiv.org e-prints. September 16, 2017. Bloomberg Data for Social Good https://arxiv.org/abs/1609.08766
O’Connell, Katie, Yeji Lee, Firaz Peer, Shawn M. Staudaher, Alex Godwin, Mackenzie Madden, and Ellen Zegura. 2016. “Making Public Safety Data Accessible in the Westside Atlanta Data Dashboard.” arXiv.org e-prints September 16, 2017. Bloomberg Data for Social Good https://arxiv.org/abs/1609.09756
Botchwey, N. & O’Connell, K. (2018). Physical Activity Advocacy Training Among Youth in Lower-Income Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities. (April) https://paresearchcenter.org/physical-activity- advocacy-training-among-youth-in-lower-income-racial-and-ethnic-minority-communities/ This post discusses the research presented at the Active Living Research Conference for the Youth Engagement and Action for Health study.
O’Connell, Katie. 2017. The Difference Data Makes: Combatting Inequality with the Westside Communities Alliance Data Dashboard. Atlanta Studies (blog) March 30, 2017. https://www.atlantastudies.org/2017/03/30/the-difference-data-makes-combatting-inequality-with- the-westside-communities-alliance-data-dashboard/ This post discusses the importance of data accessibility to communities in West Atlanta as well as the development of the Data Dashboard.
“Reflections on Implementing Youth Advocacy Programs: Lessons from YEAH! Adult Leaders” Panelist for the Physical Activity Research Center. American Public Health Association. Digital. (September 20, 2020) O’Connell, K.
“Community Indicators for Economically Resilient Cities” Panelist. Georgia Institute of Technology’s Basic Economic Development Course. Atlanta, GA. (March 21, 2017). O’Connell, K., Downing, C., Miller, R., Stuckey, S.
“Digital Data Tools for Storytelling and Decision Making.” Westside Community Alliance, Atlanta, GA (May 3, 2014). Botchwey, N., & O’Connell, K.
Submitted and Presented
“Telling Stories with Data: Building an Asset Map of West Atlanta” Atlanta Studies. Atlanta, GA (May 2021). Katie O’Connell
“The Spatial Production of White Privilege” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Digital. (November 5, 2020). OConnell, Botchwey
“Dominant and Resistant Narratives of Atlanta’s Redevelopment Projects” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Digital. (November 5, 2020). OConnell, Botchwey
“Best practices from adult leaders for youth advocacy programs” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Digital. (November 8, 2020). OConnell, Botchwey, Ricks, T., Bryan, K.
“Disseminating the Youth Engagement and Action for Health! (YEAH!) Study Results and Curriculum Guide” Active Living Conference. Orlando, FL (February 5, 2020). Botchwey, N. and O’Connell, L.K.
“Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH) - Youth Partnership with Adults to Promote Physical Activity” American Public Health Association. Philadelphia, PA. (November 4, 2019). Botchwey N., OConnell, K., Johnson, N., and Kim, A.
“Dominant and Resistant Narratives of Atlanta’s Redevelopment Projects” The Society for American City and Regional Planning History. Washington, DC (November 2, 2019). Katie OConnell
“Building Youth Advocacy Through Supportive Leadership” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. (October 24, 2019). Greenville, SC. OConnell, K., Botchwey, N.
“Empowering Students Though the Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH!) Curriculum” Sources of Urban Educational Excellence Conference. Atlanta, GA (October 12, 2019). Botchwey N., OConnell, K., Ricks, T., Bryan, K., and Kim, A.
“Data accessibility as a pathway to genuine equality for Atlanta’s westside communities” Community Indicators Consortium Conference. (October 10, 2019) Denver, CO. Katie OConnell.
“Measuring the Dream for an Equitable and Sustainable Future” Community Indicators Consortium Conference. (October 11, 2019) Denver, CO. OConnell, K., Botchwey, N., Young, A.
“Data accessibility as a pathway to genuine equality for Atlanta’s westside communities” Georgia Planning Association Conference. (October 3, 2019) Athens, GA. Katie OConnell.
“Telling Our Stories with Data Presentation” Hazhó'ó Hólne' Writing Conference. Ft. Defiance, AZ, (March 22, 2019). Royster, J. and OConnell, K.
“Planners’ role in designing supportive communities for HIV-positive inmates.” Urban Affairs Association. Los Angeles, CA. (October 26, 2018). Graszer, G., OConnell, K., Botchwey, N.
“Youth Engagement and Action for Health (YEAH): Youth Leadership Promoting PA in Their Own Communities” Active Living Research Conference. Charleston, SC. (February 18). Botchwey, N., Kim, A., OConnell, K., Johnson, N.
“Planners’ Role in Designing Supportive Communities for Previously Incarcerated HIV-Positive Community Members.” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Buffalo, NY. (October 26, 2018). Graszer, G., OConnell, K., Botchwey, N.
“Translating Health Advocacy into Physical Activity: An Assessment of Low-Income Youth of Color in
Public Spaces.” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Buffalo, NY. (October 27, 2018). OConnell, K., Botchwey, N., Kim, A.,
“Policy and Practice-Relevant Youth Physical Activity Research Agenda.” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Buffalo, NY. (October 27, 2018). Botchwey, N., Kim, A., OConnell, K.,
“Building Youth Advocacy through Supportive Leadership.” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. Buffalo, NY. (October 27, 2018). Botchwey, N., OConnell, K., Bryan, K., Ricks, T., Kim, A.
“Youth Engagement and Action for Health.” American Planning Association National Conference. New Orleans, LA. (April 23, 2018). OConnell, K., Botchwey, N., Kim, A.
“Health Inequity, Historical Urban Form and Physical Activity.” Active Living Research Conference. (February 13, 2018) Botchwey, N., OConnell, K., Young, A.
“Physical Activity Advocacy Training Among Youth in Low-Income Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities.” Active Living Research Conference. (February 12, 2018) Botchwey, N., OConnell, K., Kim, A., Schmidt, T.
“Measuring the Dream: Understanding local equity issues in a national context.” Community Indicators Consortium Impact Summit. St. Petersburg, FL. (November 16, 2017). O’Connell, K.
“Measuring the Dream Index: Measuring Health Equity in America through the lens of the I Have a Dream Speech.” American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA (November 7, 2107) Botchwey, N., OConnell, K., Young, A.
“Community Health Planning and Policy Development.” American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA (November 6, 2017) Botchwey, N., OConnell, K., Young, A.
“Measuring the Dream for an Equitable and Sustainable Future.” Community Indicators Consortium. Winnipeg, Canada. (June 13, 2017). Botchwey, N., O’Connell, K.
“Overcoming Engagement Barriers in Low-Income, Minority Communities.” Community Indicators Consortium. Winnipeg, Canada. (June 13, 2017). Madden, M., O’Connell, K.
“Measuring the Dream: From Brown to Black Lives Matter.” Atlanta Studies Symposium. Atlanta, GA. (April 26, 2017). Botchwey, N., O’Connell, K., Rao, A.
“Westside Communities Alliance Data Dashboard: A Workshop Learning to Develop Comprehensive Data Stories about Atlanta Public Schools”. Sources of Urban Educational Excellence Conference.
Atlanta, GA. (October 23, 2016). Madden, M., O’Connell, K., Davis-Faulkner, S.
“Data Accessibility as a Pathway to Genuine Equality for Atlanta’s Westside Communities.” Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange Conference. New York, NY. (September 24, 2016). O’Connell, K.
“Data: Building Pathways to Genuine Equality.” Atlanta Studies Symposium. Atlanta, GA. (May 11, 2016). O’Connell, K.
“Westside Communities Alliance Data Dashboard.” Center for Urban Innovation’s Research Reception. Atlanta, GA. (May 7, 2015). O’Connell, K.
“Invisible Walls: Atlanta’s University-Community Partnerships.” Poster. American Planning Association National Conference. Seattle, WA. (April 20, 2015). O’Connell, K.
“Quality of Life and Health in Westside Atlanta.” Southeast Student Planning Conference. Jacksonville, FL. (September 4, 2014). O’Connell, K. Presented by Anderson, L.