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My GEDI journey continues, Marques Hogans Sr., IMPACT Planning Council’s American Evaluation Association Graduate Education Diversity Internship recipient.

I am excited to share my thoughts from my second professional development excursion as a GEDI Intern.  First off, getting a break from the single degree winter weather in Wisconsin is always a plus; enjoying the sunny skies of “winter” in California was something closer to heaven.  Myself, along with seven other distinguished colleagues who received designations as GEDI scholars made our way to Los Angeles to embark on another group gathering.  Without the scheduled workshops, meet and greet receptions, this trip was a little different from those in my previous blogs.

It began with the norm, checking in to our hotel and waiting for whoever shows up next.  This reminded me of being the first to arrive at a family outing and awaiting the arrival of a family member you had not seen in ages or months.  Then quickly understanding that – as much as you just wanted to sit by the pool, sightsee, and spend unnecessary money – this trip was about business, evaluation business.  I had a half a day to wind down and get mentally prepared forMarques at the bear what was to come.  Walking boot and all, the next couple of days were pertinent to my experience as a GEDI.

First up was learning from the former President of AEA, Stewart Donaldson and Dr. Marv Alkins of UCLA, and a tour of its storied campus that 30,000 students apply to every year.  The time with Dr. Donaldson, as a well-respected colleague in evaluation, added to the skill set of the Culturally Responsive Evaluators he has taken under his wings.  Dr. Alkins’ on the other hand area of expertise is evaluation theory.  Being less versed in theory than my GEDI colleagues, his level of knowledge was astonishing, guiding me in the direction of evaluation theory.  If you read my previous blog, you know that I’ve been using a knee scooter to get around- I was smart not to bring it on the tour.  While going up and down stairs, weaving through landmarks on a mending Achilles tendon, I was taken away by the beauty of the UCLA campus.  From historic buildings that separate the colleges, to the bruin bear statue in the epicenter of campus, it gave me a chance to step out of the now and back to memories of my undergrad time at Kentucky State University.  Undergrad is where it all began; daydreaming.

Part of the experience on this GEDI trip that I found really useful was visiting agencies where different people had made careers in evaluation.  Each site introduced us to evaluation in real-world settings, including:

Harder and Company : very similar in scope to IMPACT Planning Council as its evaluation projects spanned a broad range of areas, many of which focused on improving the community from agencies within the community.

First 5 LA : a government entity focused on early childhood advocacy and working under the policies and regulations implemented by the state.

Cobblestone Applied Research and Evaluation: a stand-alone agency with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) evaluation

Each site possessed its own unique identity under one common concept, evaluation.  Personally it was also great to hear that work did not carry over to life.  Most employees had families, children, or pets.  I have two children (Marques Jr. and Makenzie) who require more of me than any career. Marques Hogans Sr.

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IMPACT Planning Council’s first ever Data Day, held October 29th 2015, brought together community activists, organizational partners, and data experts to explore Milwaukee’s neighborhood data needs. The day began with Mayor Barrett proclaiming the day “Milwaukee’s first ever Data Day,” and was followed by group discussion, brainstorming problems, and outlining projects. Part of the event was dedicated to celebrating IMPACT Planning Council’s designation as Milwaukee’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership site (NNIP), and included comments from representatives from the Urban Institute, Data Driven Detroit and the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.

The diversity of those in attendance –from government workers to community organizers to academics—allowed a wide section of the community to agree that data matters.  The follow up from this event will be two neighborhood based projects.

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Once again the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) has placed yet another face to learn, grow, and teach at IMPACT Planning Council.  The GEDI program exposes graduate level students to the field of evaluation through real time work experience and professional development.

Marques Hogans Sr.My name is Marques Hogans, a native Milwaukeean, a Milwaukee Public Schools product, and a Historically Black Colleges and Universities graduate.  I was introduced to evaluation after meeting Kathleen Pritchard, Vice President of Planning and Evaluation for IMPACT, Inc. during my pursuit of a Master’s in Public Health at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  After a brief sit down during which I expressed my interest in determining impact of programs, she explained GEDI and from that day it was set in my phone calendar to apply.  My initial purpose for applying was to continue building a foundation as a member of the public health workforce and increase marketability for future career opportunities.  My purpose has changed!  During the application process, Lisa Larson, Director of Research and Evaluation at IMPACT, became a defining factor and her stick-to-it-ness was encouraging.

Upon acceptance, I felt part of something bigger. My GEDI cohort, District – 13 (our self-imposed name), attended a week long introduction to evaluation experience consisting of workshops held at Claremont Graduate University in California.  I was sold.  My imagination began to soar and the doors of possibilities swung open.  First, it was the introduction to myself through the concept of Interpersonal Validity by Dr. Hazel Symonette of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, our cohort’s mentor.  Then it was the introduction to evaluation by this year’s AEA President, Stewart Donaldson, in which he recognized my cohort, as the next wave of leaders in evaluation, an honor I have yet to forget.  We then learned about topics such as qualitative data, community-based evaluation and culturally- responsive evaluation.  Each topic was delivered by experts in the field of evaluation and some were even past GEDI Interns; it was like looking at myself 5 – 10 years in the future.

Excitement looms as this journey begins and the finish line has no visible end.  Being a GEDI intern at IMPACT Planning Council will be an invaluable experience that will increase growth personally and professionally.  After two days, yes two days, the staff has welcomed me into their spaces, drawn me into their experiences and increased my desire to participate.   These next 10 months will only be the beginning to a road few will travel.

Marques Hogans Sr.

American Evaluation Association GEDI Intern, District – 13

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I study Exercise Physiology at MarquetteLiza Banford University and working with web tools with research data has been a new experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with several projects focusing on mental health, summer reading, and homelessness in the greater Milwaukee community. The theme of my internship at IMPACT Planning Council has been versatility. I have been exposed to a multitude of web and data tools, including Tableau, Hootsuite and Excel and have seen their use and benefit for the greater Milwaukee community.

The exposure to new tools, research models, and data sets fire to my enthusiasm. I have developed a broader understanding of components of the Milwaukee community that relate to wellness, as far as what is offered and what can be further developed. Working with the 2-1-1 hotline, Milwaukee Enrollment Directory, and the Safety Net Survey exposed me to the extent of healthcare services offered.  I have also become familiarized with the work of Milwaukee-area organizations such as Hunger Task Force, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, and the Faye McBeath Foundation in promoting health and wellness in the community.

Being involved in the analysis side of research has been eye-opening. Research isn’t only about the data that is collected, it is about how the data is presented. Only so much can be communicated, so data must be strategically presented so as to be utilized effectively by the community it pertains to. Accuracy is a necessary component in communicating data. I’ve gotten to assist with checking numbers with various sets of data. Presenting data and research using tools like Tableau, Twitter, and Excel has made it apparent that data is crucial to better understanding a community’s strengths and needs and has allowed me to better understand the greater Milwaukee community. It has become clear just how important accuracy and articulation of data is in promoting effective change for the community.

Interning in an area where I hadn’t had experience was guided by a warm welcome from my IMPACT peers. Their willingness to explain their work and their openness to my assisting them in various tasks has empowered my learning from the first day. Their passion and dedication for effective change has been immensely inspiring. I have developed a more structured and systematic way of considering research and statistics. This has helped me to be a more creative and analytical thinker. This will be of use to me in my future as having the ability to summarize and concisely articulate evidence is necessary in impacting beneficial change.

I expect to use the skills I have developed in my time at IMPACT in my future, especially utilizing creatively articulated data in the promotion of health and wellness to diverse populations. I have also seen the importance of building community partnerships in order to monitor and maintain a community’s health resources, which I hope to contribute to in my future. In the past few months my work with new topics and tools has given me the opportunity to see how far open-minded learning really goes. I have an increased curiosity about the Milwaukee community and broader world I am a part of, thanks to my internship at IMPACT Planning Council.

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Have you seen signs like this around your community? Many efforts to reduce youth substance use, like the ‘Parents who Host Lose the Most‘ campaign, have been supported by the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.


What is the Drug-Free Community Support Program?

The Drug-Free Communities Support Program (DFC) was passed in 1997 on the principle that local substance use problems require local solutions. To date, the federal program has funded over 2,000 community coalitions working to reduce youth substance use across the country.

There are two overarching goals of the program:

  1. Strengthen multi-sector collaborations to support community coalitions, and
  2. Reduce substance use among youth.

Overall, DFC grantees have seen significant decreases in substance use for alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana among high school and middle school youth. In addition, DFC grantees have seen significantly lower prevalence’s of 30 day use of alcohol and marijuana (excluding 2011) than schools that are not part of the program.


IMPACT Planning Council’s Role in Supporting Drug Free Communities:

The staff of IMPACT Planning Council (IMPACT) is proud to be engaged in work that supports DFC’s in Southeast Wisconsin. Over the past several years, IMPACT has assisted different grantees with data collection and analysis to provide a snapshot of substance use among youth in their target communities. Additionally, IMPACT has provided assessment and guidance to strengthen the work of coalitions.


Get Involved!

If you are interested in getting involved in local DFC activities, check out the following coalitions in Southeast Wisconsin.


Don’t see your community on the list?  There are more in Wisconsin- click here for a complete list of grantees!

Want to learn more about Drug-Free Communities? Click here. 

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The staff of IMPACT Planning Council is pleased to exhibit a dynamic collection of Donna Lexa student art in our conference room.

Pictured are Jean Skogman and Holly Berg, of Donna Lexa staff.

Pictured are Jean Skogman and Holly Berg, of Donna Lexa staff.

Donna Lexa’s mission is, “to promote creativity, dignity and community for people with special needs through art.” The artwork is an uplifting backdrop for the many meetings that take place in the conference room!Pictured are Jean Skogman and Holly Berg, of Donna Lexa staff. Jean and Holly are standing in front of a painting entitled “Donna.” At the end of art classes, students use their remaining paint from individual pieces to contribute to a collaborative piece with a theme. Some of the collaboration pieces, all titled “Donna” , are contributed to for months. The theme of this “Donna” piece was circles.

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 (From top left: Shipi Kankane, Anael Ngando, Crystal Coker & Bailey Murph)

Over the last several months I have had the honor of being a Graduate Education Diversity Intern (GEDI) with the American Evaluation Association. During that time, I have worked at IMPACT Planning Council, and worked with and among some of the hardest working people I have ever met. The experiences I’ve had are beyond what I had imagined when I first signed on. And the people I’ve met, I will never forget. (Of course, that is because I’ve connected with most of them on LinkedIn. A skill every professional must learn to master.) So, as you may imagine, I am sad to go but feel so lucky to have served for an agency I feel is serving the community with integrity, humility and respect.

 A central component of my internship, touched on in a past blog post, was cultural responsiveness and how to be a culturally responsive evaluator. I have grown to understand that, while it seemed easy to understand in the various trainings I had received through the process of the year; the concept of culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) is really something we as evaluators must be intentional about. At one point, the staff I work with at IMPACT Planning Council asked me to put together a presentation on CRE which was then followed by a short discussion. During my presentation, I talked about being aware of my identity and the biases I carry with me every day. Identity is so complex and there are many facets of it that can change so this was one core part of my presentation. The presentation sparked a discussion about IMPACT’s work and how they had incorporated CRE in their evaluation projects, which I had identified. More importantly though, the staff was not just interested in me pointing out their successes, but they were interested in knowing about areas in which they could improve. This is the question I hope more agencies will seek to answer in the future, especially given the unique populations we work with and that we’re located in the City of Milwaukee.

 Working in Milwaukee is especially interesting in regard to personal identity as Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States. As a woman of color, it’s not uncommon to be one of few if not the only person of color in the room at a meeting where public health professionals are talking about the health of low income people of color. Milwaukee is a place that needs radical social change and would benefit a great deal if more people employed principals of CRE. It is my personal belief that being aware of our identities, our biases and how we interact with those of a different color, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. is crucial to bringing about positive change and really working toward making the communities in which we live sustainable and equitable for everyone.

 Luckily, the GEDI program has successfully produced two graduates from IMPACT Planning Council who have that opted to stay in Milwaukee and share our wealth of knowledge. I am happy to say that I will be working with United Way of Greater Milwaukee as a Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellow for the next two years. During that time, I will work on programs and initiatives to address infant mortality. I can’t imagine a better way to employ the skills I have obtained as a GEDI.

 I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

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