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American Association for Public Opinion Research

AAPOR Profile: Leah Christian

Christian.jpg‚ÄčLeah Christian is the Vice President of Data Science at Nielsen, where she has been for the past seven years. Prior to Nielsen, she was a Senior Research at the Pew Research Center. If she isn’t familiar to you in those roles or through her committee memberships at AAPOR, you might recognize her as a co-author on Internet, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method, or the next edition: Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. Or maybe you saw the announcement (or award presentation) where Leah was awarded the Warren J. Mitofsky Innovators Award in 2017 for her part in advancing web-push data collection methodologies.

Leah's work is focused on innovation. Her team at Nielsen leads the panel and audience measurement strategies across TV, radio and digital media – including new technologies such as wearables and mobile apps. In the past, she has worked on big data measurement, panels, and media products on surveys. She is proudest of the work she has done to understand and correct biases in big data to make it usable for measurement, but is also proud to work for a company that took a stand against the 2020 decennial citizenship question. Both of these influence the representativeness of data and capturing of diversity – key components of our field and the work she does every day.

Working with people who have diverse backgrounds and perspectives is critical in Leah’s work, and her voice represents her team. She sees work being done in the survey and polling fields to highlight new voices in the industry, but would like to see more of this in the future. As a field, we need to “increase awareness about the importance of representation and ways to measure the representativeness of survey samples, panels and big data sources.” She would like to see AAPOR embrace the multitude of ways used today to measure public opinion and sentiment. Also on her wishlist is having the current membership do more to reach people less similar to themselves and raise awareness in communities that may be unfamiliar with AAPOR.

A member of AAPOR for the past 15 years, Leah thinks AAPOR has helped people find a place within the organization, and developed communities to support new members. This is good, as it is the people that keeps her coming back – the variety of backgrounds and sectors coming together. She said, “I really like the social and professional engagement opportunities and learning about cutting edge research in the industry.” Seeing her mentors receive awards and getting one herself are just bonuses.