Prosper Waco has selected a new director of research and community impact. Jeremy Rhodes, a tenured sociology professor at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, will join the Prosper Waco staff after completing the spring semester. In the meantime, he is working via contract.
“Jeremy brings 10 years of experience and leadership to the Prosper Waco team,” said Suzii Paynter March, chief executive officer of Prosper Waco. “ He has been a campus and community leader in Abilene, in addition to teaching and advising doctoral students. Jeremy has published articles and reports interpreting data to improve communication and large-scale program implementation. He returns to Waco to lead our efforts to know and use local data to make our community a better place for all Wacoans.”
Emily Hunt-Hinojosa left a similar position with Prosper Waco at the end of 2020. The research and data component of the local collective impact initiative has been central to its work since its inception in 2014. In 2020 Prosper Waco added WacoRoundTable.org as a dynamic community-data platform.
Rhodes holds doctorate (2011) and master’s (2008) degrees in sociology from Baylor University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and speech communication from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2001. Rhodes has taught sociology at Hardin-Simmons since 2011.
“My family and I are very excited to be moving back to Waco,” Rhodes said. “Even though it has changed a lot since 2011, this city has always had my heart. I’m eager to work with the Prosper Waco team to understand and address the problems facing our community, and use my expertise to improve the well-being of all Wacoans.”
In his new role, Rhodes will develop a framework for assessing progress toward community goals in Prosper Waco’s focus areas of education, health, and financial security, March said. This role focuses on translating and narrating research findings, linking theory to practice across the community, and helping assess the impact of Prosper Waco programs and initiatives.
Rhodes’ community activity has included membership in Abilene ISD’s Strategic Planning Committee, various leadership roles at The Branch Church of Abilene, coaching youth baseball and soccer, and participating in local activities related to Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.
Rhodes and his wife, Nikki, have 3 children — Eleanor, 13; Everett, 10; and William, 7.