Winter 2013
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Philadelphia Phlash  
MRA Philadelphia Newsletter
Winter 2013


    So much has happened since our last newsletter. The holiday season has passed; we have had two very successful events in a row starting with our post-holiday party at Continental Midtown followed by our volunteer event at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.

    On January 31st, 13 members of the Philadelphia MRA volunteered as Guest Chefs for the Ronald McDonald House on Chestnut Street. This particular house has 45 rooms and as we learned during the tour of the house, it is consistently full. It originally opened it's doors in October of 1976. Today, there are close to 300 Houses all over the world. The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House has expanded from the first seven bedroom house on Spruce Street to two Houses serving 63 families each night, two Ronald McDonald Family Rooms at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and a week long Ronald McDonald Camp. Over 90% of PRMH funding comes from individuals and corporate donors, and the remaining 10% is provided by Ronald McDonald House Charities. While it costs the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House over $75 a night per family to provide housing and supportive services, families are only asked to contribute $15 per night. No one is ever turned away due to inability to pay.


    One of the many services that the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House provides for the families is the Meal Program. The evening meal is a welcomed relief for families as they return from a long and often exhausting day at the hospital. The dinner not only provides the families with a nutritious meal that might otherwise be skipped, but it also creates an opportunity for families to interact with one another, share their stories, and learn from people who are in similar situations. Our meal consisted of ham, ziti, chicken parmesan, vegetables, salad, along with various homemade desserts. A very special thank you to all of those who gave of their time or donated items for the event, as we could not have done it without each and every one of you.

For more information on other PRMH events and opportunities to volunteer, please go to: 


    We have some exciting events lined up in March and April. Starting with our Winter Educational & Dinner Event on March 7th, where we'll be joined by Ryan Tandler from Purple Strategies for "A conversation with Purple" - a discussion of public services using all multi-mode forms of data collection on March We also hope to see everyone at the Greater NY/Philadelphia Joint Chapter Conference April 11th in New York City. The event will be held at Sentry Centers and we have a dynamic lineup of speakers scheduled.


    We have a busy spring season just ahead! Stay on the lookout for upcoming board nominations and elections. Thanks as always for your continued support of the chapter.



Natalie Dunn

President, Philadelphia Chapter of the MRA 


Event Reviews
In addition to the Philadelphia Ronald MacDonald House volunteer event and the Post-Holiday party mentioned above, the chapter held a Lunch and Learn event at the offices of Schlessinger Associates in Bala Cynwyd. Mark Varga of Creative Financial Group spoke about Social Styles. According to Mark, a social style is what a person says and does in the presence of others. Mark talked about the four styles - analystic, driver, amiable, and expressive and how understanding which style you are can help you work better with others. 
Upcoming Events


  • Evening Education Event - March 7, 2013, Philadelphia (click here for details)
  • Joint Chapter Event - Aprill 11, 2013, New York City.  More details to follow. 
  • MRA Annual Conference - Insights & Strategies, Orlando, FL, June 10-12 
In This Issue
Feature Article
Member Spotlight
From a Student Perspective
Review Corner
Recipe Box
2012-2013 Board Members
Natalie Dunn
Schlesinger Associates, Inc.
215.564.7300 (x117)
Past President
Michael Georgianna

Maria Pacenza

Project Management Institute
610.356.4600 (x5073)

Omar Barquet
Focus Pointe Global
Carrie Skinner
Survey Technology & Research Group

Meghan Surdenas
Focus Forward, LLC
215.367.4000 (x258)

Angela Wood
         Single snowflake

Feature Article


Utilizing Amazon Mechanical Turk to Gather Data: Pros and Cons

Michael Obal, Doctoral Student, Temple University


Amazon Mechanical Turk, commonly referred to as MTurk, has recently become a popular tool for gathering data amongst researchers and practitioners alike. MTurk is a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace that allows users to post and complete tasks, known as Human Intelligence Tasks or HITs, on their site.  Requesters post a HIT on the site that they would like completed alongside a payment for completing that task and the number of HITs they would like completed (in other words, the desired sample size). On the other end, workers can browse through posted HITs and choose to complete HITs that appear interesting to them and offer a decent enough pay. After a worker has completed a task, the requester can choose whether or not to accept the task and therefore whether or not to pay. If a worker does not satisfactorily complete the task, their approval rating will decrease. In turn, the workers can provide feedback about the requester that will help other workers evaluate the requester. This worker-requester evaluation system serves as the primary feedback mechanism on MTurk as Amazon does not monitor the service.


(Click here for the rest of the article)
Member Spotlight -  Robin Kaplan, Group Dynamics In Focus, Inc. 

Interview with Robin Kaplan, President, Group Dynamics In Focus, Inc. Robin  


Tell us a little bit about your company?

Group Dynamics is a family owned and operated qualitative research company.   My Mom, Merle Holman started Group Dynamics in 1981. When we opened almost 32 years ago our primary business was providing focus groups and one-on-one interviews. We are pleased that we can now offer our clients many more options to fit their research needs. From online to ethnographies, mock jury research to website usability labs, we have grown and expanded our reach beyond our focus group facility. Each of our Group Dynamics team members have been with us an average of 20 years - - they contribute enormously to our success.


How did you get involved with Market Research?

I guess you could say that it was in my genes or should I say in our house when I was growing up.   I started in our basement by editing and validating questionnaires from door to door interviewers.   When my Mom had the foresight to open Group Dynamics, the first focus group facility in Bala Cynwyd, I worked as a qualitative assistant (in the early years we were called hostesses) in the evening, while completing my college degree during the day.   Group Dynamics continued to grow, so after graduation I began working full-time. It is an overwhelming feeling of pride to look back on those earlier years, see where we are today, and plan for our future.  


Why did you join the MRA?

I joined in the early years to meet other professionals in the same industry. I have remained a part of MRA for the education and learning opportunities that have proven to be invaluable. With all of the changes in our industry, and they are coming faster than ever before, it is wonderful to have a resource like the MRA and its members who are leaders in our field.


What is your favorite MRA event?

The Annual Conference in June. There are always topics presented that are timely and insightful. I have been reading about the new format for the conference, I am really looking forward to going this year.


Where would you recommend MRA national holds one of the annual conferences?
Philadelphia would be great. The city has so much to offer - - theater, museums, and not to mention our wonderful restaurants.

Are you a Philadelphia native?

Yes, born and raised  

What is your favorite Philadelphia area/activity?

The museums - - there is something for everyone.   


What are your hobbies?

Walking, walking and more walking, entertaining, and reading. I have participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-day/60 mile walk for the 3rd time this past October. I love to cook and have friends and family over. 


From a Student Perspective

Succeeding as a Small Fish in a Big Pond: Setting Yourself Apart in the Sea of Marketing Majors

by Sarah Fuesler, Temple University Fox School of Business

At large universities, particularly those with sizable business programs, marketing majors are as ubiquitous as Phillies caps on game day in The City of Brotherly Love.  While the marketing major offers a variety of roads to opportunity in just about every industry, giving students a skill set to carry with them long after graduation, the sheer number of marketing students makes it challenging for those wanting to plant a solid foothold in their collegiate community.   Consequently, it is essential that marketing majors become involved in activities outside of the classroom to become more knowledgeable about the industry and its many functions and to network with like-minded students and professionals. Perhaps most importantly, the experiences taken from co-curricular activity can be offered up during interviews to demonstrate that the student has true interest in becoming an invested part of the marketing industry.


Marketing students have several options for setting themselves apart from their peers. They can take an active role in a Student Professional Organization, such as the American Marketing Association or the Professional Sales Organization, assist in a professor's research, join in the activities and or volunteer at events hosted by professional organizations - like the Marketing Research Association- , tutor fellow students in marketing and other business courses, or speak to newly admitted students about the opportunities available to marketing graduates. Each of these opportunities allows for experiences that will allow an individual to stand out during the hiring process for internships and jobs.  


Internships and/or co-op opportunities are a great way to gain exposure to the industry, build a resume, and possibly open doors to a career.  It is also important to note that in any setting, whether it be a classroom, an office, a professional networking event, or a subway ride, the opportunities for networking is of great value as marketing jobs span numerous industries.  While co-curricular activity in any form does require a commitment on the part of the student, the long-term benefits of making an investment of time in these activities far outweigh any short-term sacrifices.  

Review Corner

Each newsletter will feature a review from a member.  If you recently visited a restaurant, museum, saw a movie or play, etc. and would like to write a review please contact    


Restaurant:  Il Pittore (Starr Restaurant Group)
Address:     2025 Samson St
                  Philadelphia, PA 19103
Reviewer:  Omar Barquet, Focus Pointe Global

Hand made pastas in a welcoming environment could describe few Philadelphia eateries. Il Pittore excels in their care for the small details.  The hand made pasta was as good as it would be expected from a restaurant at this price point but the salsify puree made it stand out from comparable dishes by the competition.

In my opinion, the slow-braised suckling pig was as good, if not better, than a comparable dish offered by Jose Graces' Amada, making it a tie for #1 among Center City restaurants.

The wine suggestions were friendly, price-conscious, and a huge help as the wine list is mostly devoted to Italian wines from the main producing regions.

Over all rating: A.
Price point: expect $28+ per entrée
Service: A+

Recipe Box
Chicken Divan
Each newsletter will feature a special recipe from one of our members.  For this newsletter, Brian Kenyon shares his chicken divan recipe.  Click here to get recipe.

If you have a favorite recipe you would like to share with us in the next newsletter, please send it to
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