In recent editorials, MyTwoCensus has questioned the effectiveness of the U.S. Census Bureau’s outreach efforts. However, today, at San Francisco’s Israel in the Gardens celebration, I was able to witness firsthand the effectiveness of highly qualified partnership specialist Pnina Levermore as she communicated with hundreds of members of the Bay Area community who don’t necessarily speak English as their first language. As a long-time employee of Russian and Jewish community organizations in the Bay Area, Levermore is a huge asset to the Census Bureau. I watched as she bounced between English and Russian, fielding inquiries from children as young as five to octogenarians (who have surely lived through many decennial headcounts), answering all questions asked of her with accuracy and care.
Levermore went so far as to create her own Russian language handout about the 2010 Census (we have been told that the Census Bureau will have their own national handouts printed in many languages soon) to distribute at this event.
The Census Bureau should continue to hire highly skilled people like Levermore. Many of the millions of Americans who applied for jobs at the Census Bureau speak more than one language, but hiring someone who has a deep knowledge of the community he/she will be assisting as well as the foreign language skills that he/she will be using on the job is of the utmost importance. We urge the local and regional 2010 Census offices to hire partnership specialists based on intangible factors that won’t necessarily show up on job applications and will only be revealed after in-person interviews and carefully examining individuals’ personalities.
We applaud the San Francisco 2010 Census Office for hiring someone like Levermore and we hope that other offices around the country will follow suit with similar practices.