Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance DC

Chapter Values Data: How data influences machine learning and artificial intelligence and can be done so for public good

Our DC Chapter members — and others around the country via live stream — were joined for a conversation on Using Data for Good by Robert Lalka ’05, Professor of Practice at the A.B. Freeman School of Business and the Executive Director of the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Tulane University. Rob also serves as Chairman of the Board of Public Democracy, a certified B-Corporation, data solutions, and market intelligence company on a mission to develop better data and more meaningful AI systems that reflect users’ values, support their priorities, and allow them to better share in the value of the data they create. Through his role at Public Democracy, Rob leads partnership development and advises on technology strategies to empower communities in pursuit of the common good. 

Rob gave some background information on the new Opportunity Zones and related Qualified Opportunity Funds, for which he was in town to present to HUD and the Census Bureau, clarifying them as a market with a potential $6.3 trillion in tax benefits, not a program in and of itself.  The incentives for increasing long-term investment in real estate, businesses and other parts of an OZ community not only have benefits for investors, but also (and potential missed opportunities and even negative consequences) for the communities and people within the OZs.  Rob stressed how important it is for governments and investors to seek community input prior to deciding what kind and where certain investments should be made, particularly as there is no current impact tracking mechanism in place.

The program was graciously hosted by Tim Delaney ’79, President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, who reminded everyone that 95% of nonprofits in the US have less than $1mm, and 75% have less than $500,000 annual revenue.  So, when thinking about donations, please consider your local community organizations.


We consider ourselves stewards of the public data we collect.

— Robert Lalka ’05, Public Democracy



Robert’s Full Bio 

Public Democracy Opportunity Zones

Chapel Hill, NC

New Orleans, LA