In this open letter, IMPAQ CEO Avi Benus shares his perspective on the acquisition of IMPAQ by AIR.
Since Jacob and Sharon Benus founded IMPAQ in 2001, we have been committed to improving people’s lives through intellectual excellence, professional integrity, methodological rigor, and an unparalleled work ethic.
They named the company IMPAQ, for the impact they wanted to have on improving lives, and for nearly 20 years, we have made an impact, a significant and positive impact on real people.
In the early days, Jake led rigorous evaluations of public programs, and Sharon managed the company’s finances, hiring, and culture. He was our chief scientist and she was our business leader.
Our first major project was Project GATE (Growing America Through Entrepreneurship), a national study on entrepreneurship, which allowed us to expand into surveys and mixed methods research. We developed cross-disciplinary services that addressed policy questions holistically. We acquired several companies that incorporated evidence-based practices, implementation experience, and training into our offerings.
Among many other contributions, we innovated in health care, improving quality measurement, service delivery models, pharmaceutical research, and aging and disability programs. We supported new apprenticeship programs, studied immigration, and recommended policy changes to unemployment insurance. We built algorithms to combat tobacco abuse, analyzed the use of SNAP benefits, and enhanced programs that reduced child hunger. We studied the effectiveness of after-school learning programs, college readiness, and access to STEM. Across the globe, we contributed to democracy and governance, helped reduce child and forced labor, and built local capacity to collect and utilize labor market data. Most recently, we have built our advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities to bring the power of big data to bear on public policy and programs.
Over nearly 20 years, we have continued evolving and contributing to solutions for large, complex, and critical challenges facing our nation and our world.
Along the way, we managed to attract some of the smartest, most caring, and committed people in our industry, who, through a culture of hard work and collaboration, continue to give our clients confidence in our ability to make the complex actionable. I really do work with some of the smartest, nicest, and hardest working people I know.
We are thrilled about joining AIR because it will enable us to continue growing our impact while remaining true to who we are. Not only is AIR one of the world's most respected behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations, but like IMPAQ, AIR is dedicated to creating solutions that make the world better, especially for the most vulnerable.
The addition of IMPAQ’s wide-ranging capabilities to AIR’s already deep expertise will allow the combined entity to help public policymakers and program directors improve lives across the full lifecycle, from birth, through early childhood, into lifelong learning, health and wellbeing, employment, and aging.
This is a remarkable opportunity to continue growing, to continue contributing, and to continue increasing the use of evidence to improve policies and programs. I am very excited about the prospects for continued growth, impact, and long-term sustainability, as this is what my parents dreamed about in their basement, 20 years ago.
The sale of IMPAQ is undoubtedly a big change, but change has always been part of our story. Recently, I was asked what I am grateful for during this difficult COVID-19 crisis. I named many things, but one thing that stands out now, is something that Jake and Sharon ingrained in IMPAQ’s corporate culture from the start: the idea that change is something not to be feared, but to be embraced.
Throughout our nearly 20-year history, we have remained flexible—adjusting to meet the needs of our clients and the marketplace—all in an effort to fulfill our mission to “create enduring solutions to global problems through rigorous approaches and innovative thinking.”
Together with our dedicated staff, and now with AIR’s, I believe in what we can accomplish together.
We are excited—and ready—to write the next chapter of our story.