Images of Anne Flueckiger traveling in the wild and a headline that says "partner spotlight: Anne Flueckiger, Olmstead Quality of Life Survey Interviewer"

Anne Flueckiger is a longtime partner of The Improve Group who supports various projects with a focus on community engagement. Anne first partnered with us as an interviewer on the baseline Olmstead Quality of Life Survey and has worked with us on the subsequent follow-up surveys. We talked to her recently about her passion for connecting with communities and how that led to and guides her work with IG.

Anne developed a penchant for engaging with people during her career as an adventure travel guide. This interest eventually led her to a doctorate program in International Development Education at the University of Minnesota. In this program, she took some courses in evaluation. She also learned about evaluation as a career path when she attended a presentation by IG founder Leah Goldstein Moses. She developed a strong interest in evaluation and began pursuing opportunities to practice her skills. Years later, IG posted an opportunity seeking regional interviews to survey people with disabilities for the Olmstead project. Anne applied, and she has been involved with IG ever since!  

Anne’s role on the project includes traveling to people’s places of living, care, or employment—wherever they feel most comfortable. Participants have shared deep appreciation for Anne listening intently to stories of their daily lives. As the survey reveals, people with disabilities face high rates of isolation and often lack decision-making power in their lives. She continues to work on this project because it gives a strong voice to those traditionally unheard from. The conversations can be challenging—with folks often sharing sad stories or aspects of their lives. When these moments arise, Anne says “it’s important to care about the larger scale of the project that contributes to systems change.” The findings of the study contribute critical information for the State to understand what impacts people’s quality of life so that it can make policy and practice changes over time. 

Advice Anne has for other interviewers? It’s important to bring a person-centered approach to engaging people in their communities. This includes being an active listener and adapting to working with people who may be nonverbal or bring other communications styles to the conversation. Patience is also key. Anne has firsthand experience seeing that policy and attitude change happens slowly. However, “if you don’t do the work of listening, and you don’t learn about these inequities and raise these voices, then change may never happen.” Finally, it’s important to find moments of joy. Connecting with people on a personal level helps Anne learn about their lives and hear their wins and positive moments. It’s extra rewarding when Anne connects with people who share similar experiences or interests they can discuss.

Anne’s experience as an Olmstead Quality of Life Survey Interviewer illustrates just one way The Improve Group works with partners to effectively and impactfully engage community.  If this sounds like an interesting path for you, we encourage you to get in touch! And keep an eye out for future spotlights on partners that we work with like Anne.