Ponti-Lazaruk leads Rural Development’s Innovation Center (IC) and oversees regulations development, data analytics, program evaluation and strategic engagement across rural development. She has served in several roles during her career at Rural Development, included leading both the Water and Telecom programs, and serving as the agency’s Chief Risk Officer. As the Chief Innovation Officer, she and her team work to enhance program delivery and enable more strategic, data-driven policies, processes and outreach. The IC works to improve prosperity for rural communities through its three divisions: Data Analytics, Strategic Engagement and Regulations Management.
The Rural Development Innovation Center is hard-wired into USDA’s structure, with a mission to identify best practices and bring continuous improvement in program delivery to enhance rural quality of life.
The Center is comprised of three teams that support Rural Development’s programs to help build prosperity in rural communities:
Data Analytics Division
The Innovation Center's Data Analytics Division analyzes and evaluates program performance to support strategic investment of RD programs.
Tools & Resources
- Rural Data Gateway - Featuring access to Rural Investments Dashboards that significantly expand access to USDA RD financial data through an easy-to-use interface.
- USDA Rural Development Priority Points Program Chart
- Rural Development Priorities
- Data Sources for Rural Development Priorities
- Economic Risk Assessment Dashboard
- Social Vulnerability Index Map
- Equity Community List Based on Social Vulnerability Index
Strategic Engagement Division
The Innovation Center's Strategic Engagement Division (SED) builds and maintains multi-sector partnerships, promotes cross-agency collaborations and identifies best practices in economic development. This division is made up of four key areas: Research and Planning, Regional Assistance and Planning, Tribal Relations and Customer Experience.
Tools & Resources
- USDA Rural Development Resource Guides
- Strategic Economic Development and Community Development (SEC-D)
- Rural Workforce Innovation Network (RWIN)
- Rural Placemaking Innovative Challenge (RPIC)
- Broadband Resources for Rural America
- USDA RD Tribal Relations Website
- USDA Office of Tribal Relations (OTR)
- Inflation Reduction Act
- Recorded Webinars or Trainings
Regulations Management Division
The Innovation Center's Regulations Management Division supports program areas in the development and implementation of regulations, directives, and forms to manage agency policies and procedures.
Tools and Resources:
- Innovation Center Mailbox RD.Innovation@usda.gov
- USDA Customer Experience: IC.CustomerExperience@usda.gov
- USDA RD Tribal Relations Team: email@example.com
- Rural Health Liaison: firstname.lastname@example.org
- USDA Rural Development’s full Catalog of Programs
- USDA Rural Development's NOSA/NOFAs
- USDA Rural Development’s Search All Programs
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For more information, visit Rural Development Innovation Center