FPG Profile: Rebecca Roppolo
Rebecca Hebner Roppolo, MPH, is an implementation specialist with the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) and lead of the Quality and Outcome Monitoring for Improvement Core for the Impact Center at FPG. Rebecca's work includes leadership of the quality and outcome monitoring for active implementation and scale-up of evidence-based prevention/well-being strategies in communities and state, regional, and national service systems. She earned her Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, where she specialized in health communication and social and behavioral sciences, and her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. Rebecca's previous work includes state-level implementation and evaluation of communication campaigns, data monitoring and evaluation systems, and policy analysis. As part of our FPG profile series, we recently spoke with Roppolo to learn more about her work here at the Institute. Here’s what she had to say.
Tell us a bit about your professional journey―how did you become an implementation specialist and what brought you to FPG?
Like a lot of folks in implementation science, my path to the field was, in part, naming a phenomenon that had troubled me in my work in public health practice: Why aren’t we seeing expected outcomes in our communities? I was excited by the opportunity to join the Implementation Capacity for Triple P (ICTP) project as an evaluation specialist in 2017 and learn more about what implementation science can bring to that discussion. Since then, I have expanded my role as an implementation specialist in 2018 and senior implementation specialist in 2023.
Describe a typical workday and tell us about the projects you're currently working on.
A typical day can include anything from providing support to statewide Triple P evaluation planning to helping colleagues develop Qualtrics surveys―lots to do when you’re trying to support data-driven decision-making! Recently, we’ve taken a moment to reflect on our practice model, so my current projects involve consulting with DMAC statisticians (thanks, Laura Kuhn!) and writing manuscripts that describe our work and contribute to our understanding of implementation practice.
What do you like most about your job?
Seeing the full lifespan of program evaluation. I’ve designed, evaluated, and improved the ICTP quality and outcome monitoring systems for our provision of direct implementation support from soup to nuts. I’ve learned so much about feasible data collection and usable evaluation from the team and colleagues.
What do you find most challenging?
Navigating our role as “facilitators” rather than “doers.” When a partner comes to you with a problem (or in my case, a data request), it can feel easier to just run the analysis/build the brief/do the thing rather than facilitate their navigation of the issue. But that is contrary to our role as implementation specialists and our charge to build the capacity in others to do the work with minimal reliance on outside help.
How does your work further the mission of FPG?
Evaluation and learning what works for implementation support practice can ensure we provide top-tier services to our communities, families, and children.
What do you hope to have accomplished five years from now?
I would love to be engaged in more collaborative projects across FPG and the University. And now I’d like to take a moment to directly address our readers—if you or your colleagues are curious about implementation-science-infused program planning, and data systems for monitoring, evaluation, and learning, let's connect!