Carleton alumni pursue their passion for public interest research

Carleton alumni Shachi Kurl and Angus Reid have teamed up at the newly formed Angus Reid Institute (ARI). They are pictured here on campus in 2013. (Photo provided)

A well-known Carleton alumnus, who has a long career in conducting commercial research, has established a new innovative organization that focuses exclusively on unbiased public interest research.

Angus Reid, who earned a doctorate in sociology at Carleton University in 1974, spent more than 30 years at Angus Reid Group (now Ipsos-Reid) and, more recently, at Vision Critical, a customer intelligence platform provider he co-founded with his son in 2000.

“At 66, you start thinking about the final phase of your career,” says Reid, who retired as executive chair at Vision Critical last June to establish the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) in October. “I decided I wanted to use my talents in a socially constructive way.”

Working closely with Reid is Carleton alumna Shachi Kurl, who graduated from Carleton with a journalism and political science degree in 1999.

“I’m a bit of a Swiss army knife,” explains Kurl, senior vice-president at ARI. “I direct research and analysis, communications and media relations, partner development and outreach, and operations.”

Based in Vancouver, ARI bills itself as a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research organization advancing education through data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and socio-economic issues important to Canadians and others.

According to recent surveys conducted by the new institute, more than half of Canadians lack confidence in the ability of security services to prevent home-grown acts of terror. Six of 10 support legalizing marijuana, three of four believe airlines’ new checked luggage fees are a “money grab,” and three-quarters want to see an inquiry on murdered and missing Aboriginal women.

What do we think of world leaders? The majority of us think Putin is arrogant, Obama is influential and Merkel is strong.

These results and more are available for free on the ARI website at: http://angusreid.org.

Reid hopes to measure more comprehensively the attitudes and perceptions of Canadians on various issues in Canada and around the world. He established the organization with funds from his personal foundation to fill the growing gap between the need for solid public opinion research and the lack of funding from traditional sources such as the media and government.

“I really believe strong independent voices are important in a democracy,” says Reid. “We are looking at some of the big issues of the day and doing it through a lens that is totally objective.”

Kurl explains the group is a small team. “Of course I am supported by a proven leader and wonderful, enthusiastic and hard-working colleagues.”

She first worked with Reid as a researcher and editor of his weekly column about 10 years ago, while working as a part-time producer at Global National and producing documentaries for CBC. Kurl went on to cover the B.C. legislature in Victoria but left the news business after winning a Jack Webster Award with her colleagues for Best TV Reporting. In 2012, she connected again with Reid at Vision Critical.

“I couldn’t think of a single reason not to join him then, or to continue on to ARI. Angus is a leader, a great teacher, and someone who cares deeply about where this country is going. I am learning so much every day, while applying my experience and love for journalism in a slightly different way,” says Kurl, who believes measuring public opinion is similar to journalism in that it investigates issues, policy and what Canadians are thinking.

This entry was written by Susan Hickman and posted in the issue. Tags applied to this article are: . Leave a comment, bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media: http://carletonnow.carleton.ca/?p=12509

Susan Hickman

By Susan Hickman

For nearly four decades, journalist Susan Hickman has written about every imaginable subject for sundry newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad, as well as for CBC TV and CBC Radio. She has also managed various publications, including academic newspapers and technology magazines, and was recently commissioned to write a guide for foreign missions serving in Canada. Currently, she is working on a couple of personal memoirs.

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