Directory Profile

Portrait of Danielle Varda

Danielle Varda PhD

Associate Professor; Co-Director of Center on Network Science
  • Department of Health Systems, Management & Policy
  • School of Public Affairs


Primary Phone:303-315-2129

Mailing Address:
  • CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Denver, CO 80204

Danielle M. Varda is an associate professor at University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs, with a secondary appointment in the Colorado School of Public Health, Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy. She also has a courtesy associate professor appointment in the School of Information Sciences at University of Colorado Boulder. She is co-director of the Center on Network Science, director of the Nonprofit Concentration in the MPA program, and the advisor for the Dual MPA-MPH Degree program. Dr. Varda directs the Network Leadership Training Academy, which is held annually in Denver at the School of Public Affairs. She is also the CEO of Visible Network Labs, a data science startup company that has built the first social connectedness platform that supports the health and well-being of communities and the people who live in them. She also sits on the AmeriCorps NCCC Federal Advisory Board and is an alumna of the AmeriCorps NCCC (Class 5 and 6). Dr. Varda joined CU Denver School of Public Affairs from the RAND Corporation, where she worked as an associate policy scientist from 2005 to 2008.

She specializes in collaborative governance and network leadership, focusing specifically in public health systems and services research. Her research focus is on evaluating the network structure of interorganizational collaborations between the public, private and nonprofit sectors, and the subsequent network effects of these recorded interactions. Her research portfolio includes projects in the areas of maternal/child health, public health and health networks, nonprofit community networks, economic inclusion/wealth building and systems evaluation.

She has developed two highly adopted software tools that use models and methods of network measurement. For example, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she developed the software tool, PARTNER, which uses Social Network Analysis to administer a survey and link to an analysis tool, to measure and monitor collaborative activity over time. Dr. Varda’s PARTNER tool was featured in her first-place award for the 2008 Maxwell School Collaborative Governance Initiative competition, Teaching Simulation, and is used by over 2,000 communities in 30 countries and all over the U.S. PARTNER and its suite of tools, technical assistance and training have become well-known resources for communities working to build their community networks and for systems building. She is also the author of the Person-Centered Network App (PCN App). The PCN App is a tool for use by a provider to first screen a patient to assess gaps and strengths in their personal support systems and then, based on the results, link them to available community resources. The basic PCN App allows a user to collect data on a person’s personal network, identifying who they are connected to and how well connected (or not) those network members are to one another. It also assesses the content, strength and importance of those connections.

In 2010, she was awarded the Public Health Systems and Services Article of the Year award by Academy Health PHSSR Interest Group for her co-authored paper “Core Dimensions of Connectivity in Public Health Collaboratives,” and in 2013 she was awarded First Runner Up for the same award for her co-authored paper “Implications of Network Structure on Public Health Collaborative,” published in Health Education and Behavior.

She is an experienced interviewer and facilitator and has extensive experience developing and administering surveys. Her research has been funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Trust, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, RAND Corporation, Department of Health and Human Services (Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response), Veterans Administration, University of Kentucky School of Public Health, Department of Defense, Centers for Disease Control, and the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, among others.

She is the mother of three young daughters, who together with her husband, spend as much time camping, skiing and boating the Colorado rivers as possible.

Areas of Expertise

maternal/child health, public health and health networks, nonprofit community networks, economic inclusion/wealth building and systems evaluation

Education, Licensure & Certifications

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs
University of Colorado Denver

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Government
University of Texas at Austin

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