Dennis Banas started Praxis in 2007. Now semi-retired, Dennis continues to work with Praxis on a limited basis, applying his considerable experience to our most challenging projects, and indulging his passion for the work without having to deal with the minutiae of running the company. Dennis has been making his mark on the consulting industry for more than a third of a century while working with academic institutions, private businesses, and non-profit organizations. Dennis earned his Master's degree from Michigan State University in 1975. From there, he served as the Assistant Director of MSU's School of Criminal Justice for 10 years. He served as the Coordinator of Field Research and Evaluation for the C.S. Mott Foundation grant establishing the National Neighborhood Foot Patrol Center during which he authored and co-authored a number of studies on community policing and corrections. He established the annual giving program for Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice and also became the first Director of Major Gifts at Bucknell University. Dennis then joined one of the nation's top research firms in order to build their quality assurance functions. There, he fielded large, national qualitative research projects, including nationwide focus groups, patterned interviews, and panels. Upon moving to South Bend, Dennis served as the Vice President for Research and Community Initiatives at United Way of St. Joseph County, where he carried out strategic planning, community building, and technological development. He has conducted trainings for the City of South Bend on the Outcome Measurement Model, a management tool to evaluate programs on the basis of changes affected among clients.
Brad holds a B.A. in political science and a master’s degree in public administration (MPA), both from Indiana University South Bend. He began at Praxis as an intern while completing his master's degree, and has advanced steadily through the company. In 2015 he replaced Dennis Banas as President. Brad has conducted research and program evaluations throughout Indiana, including statewide needs assessments and evaluations in the areas of mental health, substance abuse prevention, education, and afterschool programming. He brings a multidisciplinary approach to research centered on the application of complex adaptive systems to public administration.
Associate Consultant Jenni Bell has a B.A. in Human Development and Social Relations from Earlham College, and a master's degree in Human Development from the University of Chicago. She is an experienced qualitative researcher who has conducted numerous interviews and focus groups with a broad spectrum of program stakeholders, from executive leadership to high school students and special population health services recipients. Her research has informed tribal healthcare administrative and communication design and contributed to state school improvement grant progress evaluations. Among other projects, she is the lead evaluator and consultant for a multi-county LGBTQ+ strategic partnership for suicide prevention. She is a clear and respectful communicator who consistently earns the trust of clients and research subjects.
Kate Shufeldt has more than eight years of direct experience working with non-profit organizations and government agencies in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Arkansas. Kate has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Saint Louis University and her Master’s in Public Administration with an emphasis on non-profit management from Indiana University South Bend. She has experience working in direct social work practice with children, families and survivors of trauma. Kate has implemented media and community outreach programming for various agencies. She has experience in fundraising activities, such as proposal writing, annual campaigns and event planning. Kate has conducted research and program evaluations on a variety of topic areas; including domestic violence survivor programs; youth mentoring; and alcohol, tobacco and drug use prevention. She has developed protocols and procedures for organizational operation and programming logistics. Kate has experience in coalition and partnership building for different agendas. Recently, she worked with juvenile courts in Arkansas to implement trauma-informed best practices for child welfare and juvenile justice cases.Kate’s areas of expertise includes intimate partner violence, international/multicultural programming, youth programming, and social services.