As a kid, I’d count the steps as I went upstairs, I’d count my steps from room to room, I’d count my steps walking down the sidewalk. I should have been Count von Count from Sesame Street! In thirty plus years of working Census and demographic data you’d think I’d be a Census taker. Close enough, as a professional demographer I’ve used, reported, analyzed, tabulated, and explained data to everyone from school kids doing reports on their state or local community to Governor’s and Fortune 500 companies analyzing market trends. I understand how data is collected, processed and reported and that means I understand how various sources should, or should not, be used.
In one of my first sociology research methods courses as an undergraduate at Penn State, the professor posed a series of questions about how data is used in the marketing world. “Save 50% this weekend!” Well, 50% of what? “My laundry detergent gets clothes 25% cleaner.” Cleaner than what? “Buy one, get one free” – isn’t that the same as 50 percent of? “Most Americans believe (you fill in the blank)” based on a survey of 500 individuals. Who are those individuals and do they really represent all Americans? I was hooked.
Bob holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Demography from Georgetown University. While studying for his Master’s degree, Bob began his career at Mathematica Policy Research support contract work on income maintenance experiments and micro-simulation modeling – his first real introduction to the world of Census data. About the time he finished at Georgetown, the first of three sons came along and the opportunity to move to Albany New York for a position as an applied demographer with the State of New York. That position turned into a career of increasing responsibility and work with the Census Bureau and the nation’s other primary statistical agencies. Bob was Chief Demographer for the State of New York for nearly 20 years and directed the Department of Economic Development’s Center for Research and Information Analysis before leaving State service in September of 2010.
During his New York State career, Bob chaired national steering committees for the Census Bureau’s population estimates and State Data Center programs. He has served on numerous committees and represented the State Data Center program on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s, Census Advisory Committee. He is currently teaching in the Sociology Department at the State University of New York at Albany and is President of the Association of Public Data Users.
Bob is a native of Pittsburgh and die-hard Steelers fan. He and his wife Paula live south of Albany, NY in the foothills of the Catskill mountains where they raised three boys in an 1840’s Greek Revival farm house. Those boys are now grown and spread far and wide. In his “spare time” Bob continues to work on restoration of that farm house in addition to his other loves of woodworking, antique clock repair, and British cars (restored every nut and bolt of a 1963 MGB).