As chief data strategist, Peter Ruark leads MCAN’s data collection and analysis efforts and helps the organization develop and improve strategies in pursuit of Sixty by 30.
Prior to joining MCAN, Peter worked as a senior policy analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy, a state-level organization that comprehensively addresses poverty and financial hardship and analyzes the impact of Michigan’s budgets and policies on residents with low incomes. While there, he specialized in public policy related to adult and postsecondary education, job quality, public assistance, and corrections. His work included writing analyses of how public policy affects Michigan residents and recommendations for making it better, looking at batches of data to find patterns and stories, and writing op-eds for various print and online media outfits. Peter also visited lawmakers, gave testimony in legislative committee hearings, and engaged in other forms of advocacy and policy work.
Peter knew when he graduated from college that he wanted to work to make the world a better place. As such, most of his work has been at nonprofit organizations. Peter’s experiences also include directing an after-school tutoring program for at-risk children in Grand Rapids, teaching English at the university and high school levels in China, and working in the mental health field. He served on the board of directors of the Michigan chapter of the National Association of Social Workers from 2009 to 2014, and he is currently on the board of the Michigan Adult, Community and Alternative Education Association.
Peter holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and psychology from Calvin University. He grew up wanting to go to college, but struggled with grades and confidence during his first years at Calvin University. Unsure about his career goals, Peter decided that studying the humanities and social sciences would give him flexibility to find a fulfilling career. It was during his postgraduate teaching experience in China, that Peter discovered his passion for helping others. He returned to the U.S. and earned a Master of Social Work with a concentration in policy, planning, and administration from Western Michigan University.
Outside of work, Peter enjoys reading, writing, vegetable and pollinator gardening, listening to music, watching classic and foreign films, brewing kombucha, and serving on the boards of the Friends of Turner-Dodge House and the Lansing Poetry Club.