People: Mike Shields

Each month for Citizen's Business, I'll be interviewing a member of our staff or board, to get to know them a little better. This month I interviewed ELGP's resident data nerd and project manager Mike Shields. You may know him as author of our bi-weekly Leading Indicators newsletter, and creator of #PhillyFacts on our Twitter and Linkedin pages. Check them out!

-Farwa Zaidi, Office Manager



Farwa: What made you interested in the work you do?

Mike: I’ve always been fascinated by cities. I enjoy learning their history and dissecting their problems – especially Philadelphia. I believe leveraging data is the best way we can learn about how cities function on a daily basis. Since most of these data are collected about us, they should also be put to work for us. 


F: How were you introduced to ELGP? 

M: I was in the process of moving back to Philadelphia from Boston, and I wanted to use my skillset for a civic-oriented organization. I saw a job advertisement with the Economy League, did some background research, and found so much alignment with our missions. The rest, as they say, is history.    


F: What’s the last thing you really geeked out about? 

M: I built this novel metric of gentrification in Boston and Philadelphia. When I finally mapped it out, it aligned so well with the stories I heard in both cities. 


F: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

M: An archeologist. In fact, I was a part of a few digs in college. I still have a plaster human skull sitting on my bookshelf reminding me of the “old days” (my girlfriend hates it). 


F: What advice would you give to a younger you? 

M: Travel more with family and friends - whether abroad or to a new neighborhood around the corner. The best memories you’ll make won’t be in an office or in front of a computer. 


F: Lastly, what’s something that’s helped you get through quarantine? 

M: Exploring my neighborhood more with my pit bull, Polly.