Archive for the ‘People that Work’ Category

Marques Hogans Sr. is working with IMPACT Planning Council through a partnership with the American Evaluation Association (AEA) called “GEDI”.  As part of his internship, he not only works on a variety of evaluation projects with IMPACT staff, he also attends national conventions and AEA trainings with a cohort of interns placed at agencies across the US.

Another destination in the books and the experience of being a GEDI is beginning to sink in.  The week of November 9th thru 14th, Evaluation 2015 took place in the Windy City, Chicago, IL.   Once again I was surrounded by professionals who value the work of evaluation and its importance as it applies to everyday life.  As I was hours removed from surgery for a torn right Achilles the day I arrived, I was more focused on who, what, when, and where, why, and how.  Who would I meet that would have an impact on my career, what would I learn that I could apply now or later, when does the rest of my cohort arrive, where did I need to check in for the conference, why was the hotel, Hyatt Regency Chicago, so BIG, and how was I going to get around on my knee scooter (laughing literally).

Most of those questions andMarques AEA many more were answered.  After a day of pre-conference workshops my GEDI cohort was introduced to an assembly of evaluation leaders, professionals, and students; at this it sunk in: I was part of something big.  As a member of a program centered on Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE) and diversifying the evaluation workforce, this opportunity was one to be cherished and not taken for granted.  The American Evaluation Association deemed 2015 the “International Year or Evaluation” and the conference portrayed just that.  Attendees traveled from across the globe, including Asia, Europe, and the West Indies.  At Evaluation 2015 some workshops confirmed information I had learned from my public health background while others confirmed and answered thoughts, opinions, and questions surrounding evaluation.  I was eager to take as much in as possible.

While my time at Evaluation 15 was short lived due to other obligations, its impact remains.  One of my interests in evaluation is its impact on policy change.  Not too long ago I came across an article which led me to think deeply about how policy affects behavior.  At Evaluation 2015 I was able to attend a workshop on that topic and honestly it was one of my most memorable experiences.  This workshop in particular focused on studies completed in 4 countries outside of the US; Switzerland, Taiwan, Sweden, and Trinidad and Tobago of the West Indies.   The gentleman from Sweden stated, “Evaluations are interventions with unintended outcomes” while explaining the content of his study.  Although their initial hypothesis went unanswered, due to the unintended outcomes represented, policy change occurred five years later.  So while impact may not happen that instant, who is to say when your efforts will become invaluable.

Finally, as a student the one thing I feared most was my ability to transition from writing academically to writing in a professional capacity.  I ran into Professor Tok, an instructor at John Hopkins who serves as mentor to a colleague of mine.  I expressed to her my concern with my writing skill.  She then went on to state, “You have made it this far, so it is not as bad as you may think, just continue to write”.  Simple words with big meaning.

I cannot wait until the next opportunity to learn more from the “Who’s who?” in evaluation in the near future. We will be visiting the UCLA Graduate School in Education and Information Science and Harder, a frontrunner in evaluation, in early February.


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The path that led me towards interning at IMPACT Planning Council is one of serendipity.  As one job opportunity ended and the next seemed doubtful, I ended up at the Marquette University Job Fair, not expecting much of anything at all. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I met Lori Boesel of IMPACT at the job fair, and learned about this internship opportunity.

Let me start from the beginning.  I, Claire Seigworth, graduated from Marquette University two years ago with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Spanish Literature.  During my first job after graduation, I learned more about the field of monitoring and evaluation and realized that this really interested me.


Intern Claire in front of artwork by AWE.

Intern Claire in front of artwork by AWE.

During my time at IMPACT, I learned various skills and used new tools including:

Tableau, Survey Monkey and Donor Snap. I also joined the 21st century by learning how to tweet.  While seemingly disparate, these tools taught me different ways to convey important information.  Especially nowadays, information is power and how people communicate is as important as what people say.  Programs such as Donor Snap, Excel, and Survey Monkey are about how to collect and use information internally.  Equally important is how to share the information in a concise and engaging way, which is one of the main lessons I during my internship.

However, as communication and information sharing are increasingly digital and globalized, there is something to be said about in-person communication and relationships.  Reflecting upon my experience here, what really stands out to my about my internship was the way the staff went out of their way to welcome and embrace me, and the time they took out of their schedules to teach me new skills.  As the intern, the pressure is on me to be useful to organization in which I am interning, and from this perspective, it is easy to forget that they want to be useful to me.

I know that my experience here will lead me to a new set of opportunities that I cannot even imagine at this point.  I have worked in various positions and in different countries, and what I have learned is that what really makes a deeper impact beyond all the obvious things gained from internships and jobs, is the relationships that are built. Of course the essential skills, methodologies, and services in the field are needed to achieve the stated purpose and goals.  However, from the perspective of someone starting a career in the social services field, success is being able to work together to reach a common purpose.  I am excited to head to my next position in El Salvador and take these lessons with me.

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Claremont_Stewart Donaldson_Tina Christie(Bailey Murph, Crystal Coker, Shipi Kankane, Christina Christie, Stewart Donaldson)

Today marks the official second week of my Graduate Education Diversity Internship “GEDI” with the Planning Council and I’m thrilled. Two weeks ago I returned from an intense four-day evaluation conference held in Claremont, California which I learned was the “City of Trees and Ph.Ds” and I most certainly left believing that motto. Not only did I believe that motto, but I left thinking of three things I had learned about evaluation. 1)Cultural responsiveness is crucial to evaluation – While this concept may not seem new, it was highly emphasized throughout the conference as being an aspect of evaluation that is not always present. In order to change this, we must change ourselves and the way we approach evaluation. 2)Evaluation is more complex than I had imagined – As a new student of evaluation, I was unsure of what it truly meant. It turns out it can mean many things depending on who you are (i.e. evaluator, stakeholder, etc.). It has a history much like that of Sociology or Psychology, in which there were many academicians who contributed to the construction of its theories, methods and methodologies. It’s not something that can be learned overnight but needs to be studied and I certainly appreciate and welcome the chance to learn more. 3)Evaluation is full of celebrities!—While there, I met dozens of amazing young researchers and evaluators. I met some that I learned were written into the history books and found myself becoming slightly star-struck. Who would have known that I would be start-stuck by a group of highly academic evaluators that I had never met, let alone heard of? Well, I was and I learned that this would not be the end of my celebrity daze, but only the beginning.
Next month, I will travel to the nation’s capital to partake in AEA’s annual conference where I will again get the opportunity to meet the biggest names in evaluation and continue to be in awe at their depth of knowledge and expertise. Am I the only person that wonders how people like Stewart Donaldson have accomplished so much without being 100 years old? Until then, I will continue to work at the Planning Council with Lisa Larson and Erin Malcolm who have graciously taken me under their wings. I will admit, I had little knowledge of the Planning Council before beginning my time here, but I can tell it is going to be some of the most invaluable experience I could have ever hoped for as a student. In the few short weeks I have been volunteering and interning I have learned so much. The staff continues to show unwavering faith in my capabilities which is always reassuring and makes a new intern feel great. I welcome the challenge of this internship and the opportunities that lie ahead. I will also be sure to keep everyone updated!! Until next time!

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Michelle Jedi

The Planning Council honors Michelle with a “Jedi” party!

For two consecutive years, the Planning Council has been selected by the American Evaluation Association to serve as a host agency for their Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI, pronounced “Jedi” like in Star Wars!). The GEDI program is designed to bring graduate students from under-represented communities into the field of evaluation. During the GEDI experience, interns participate in national trainings with leaders in the evaluation field, receive professional mentoring and peer support, and gain hands-on experience in evaluation at their placement sites.

This past year, the Planning Council had the pleasure of hosting Michelle Corbett as our GEDI intern. While working with us, Michelle had the opportunity to assist agencies in developing their evaluation capacity, analyze data, and write a report about supporting the health literacy of African American fathers. Now that she’s completed her GEDI internship, we are pleased to report that Michelle will continue to contribute her evaluation skills here in Milwaukee through her new position at the Center for Urban Population Health.

In 2013/2014, we will again serve as a host site for our new GEDI, Bailey Murph. Bailey is currently pursuing her master’s degree at UWM’s Zilber School of Public Health. She has a background in social services and has previously served as an AmeriCorps Member. Bailey will soon begin her GEDI experience along with the rest of her GEDI cohort with a week-long training at the Claremont Evaluation Center in California. Then she’ll begin her internship placement with us where she’ll have the opportunity to work in the community on a variety of evaluation efforts.

We’re excited and honored to be part of this effort to expand the pool of evaluators from under-represented communities both nationally and here in Milwaukee. It is an opportunity to share our expertise and experience, as well as to learn from our interns and their GEDI training. Congratulations to both Michelle and Bailey as they embark on their work in the field of evaluation!

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At the Planning Council, we are busy preparing for our Data Visualization conference- coming up October 10th.

Our upcoming event inspired me to try visualizing some of the information collected in our Safety Net Clinic reports, using Tableau Public 8.0.

Safety Net Data VizEdit

The third edition of the reports, released in May 2013, was split into two documents; the 2013 Safety-Net Clinic- Planning Resource Guide and 2013 Safety-Net Clinic Referral Directory.  The utilization and geographic information on the viz is a small but interesting piece from the Planning Guide.

Thanks once again to the clinic staff and volunteers for their contribution to Milwaukee, and for sharing their data.
NOTE: Looking at this map data on Tableau enables you to highlight different clinic types in neat ways- to get to the interactive version click here.

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tom rabbittMy name is Tom Rabbitt, and I’ve been an intern at the Planning Council of Milwaukee for two months now. Working at the Planning Council has been a fantastic and rewarding opportunity. From folder stuffing to data analysis, every project I’ve helped with has been very rewarding, and I have always felt appreciated by the Planning Council staff. I have received praise when my work was good and kind constructive criticism when it was needed. Everyone here has been extraordinarily welcoming. Starting an internship can be unnerving and stressful, but staff here is very relaxed and helpful.

Being a Sociology major has made my experience here especially beneficial. I get to see and analyze social data nearly every day. Through my work I get to learn about important community needs in Milwaukee, and because they work closely with other non-profit agencies, I get to discover what organizations exist to help alleviate those needs. For example, I had the opportunity to learn about the significant but obscure work of certified peer specialists in the mental health community.  Additionally, through my repeated work with survey data, I was able to learn about the needs of Milwaukee’s free health clinics, as well as the common health needs of aging veterans. I’ve been able to put to good use the skills I’ve learned as a Sociology student. By analyzing survey and demographic data, outputting tables and graphs, and using statistics software, I feel that I’ll be much more prepared for a career in Sociology, along with having the necessary job experience many employers in my field are looking for.

The staff here have put a lot of confidence me to work on more bigger and bigger projects. Currently, I’m working on an analysis of Milwaukee’s 2-1-1 service, which is run by IMPACT, a non-profit organization serving hundreds of thousands of people annually. 2-1-1 connects people to the resources they need such as mental health needs, disaster services, shelter, and more.

The Planning Council compiled 2-1-1 IMPACT’s first community report, covering the years 2003-2007.  Now, we are working on a 10-year examination of trends in the 2-1-1 service over time. More specifically, I get to organize and analyze data such as how many calls they get, what requests those calls are for, who those requests are from, and what areas of Milwaukee the calls come from. Through this process we will be able to determine what our community needs most, and which needs are either met or unmet. We also get to discover trends in those needs over time; which needs have risen and which have fallen. Furthermore, we will study race and ethnic patterns in who appears to be most vulnerable and in need, as well as where those people are geographically concentrated.

In the end, IMPACT will have a clearer and more comprehensive view on how to improve their service, and subsequently, other community organizations will know which services they can help provide which people presently need. As a sociologist, my work on this project helps me gain a more accurate understanding of what kind of institutional structure Milwaukee’s most vulnerable people live in every day, and therefore assists me in figuring out how to better improve it.

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We’ve been fortunate to have Ashley Tikkanen with us as a Trinity Fellow here at the Planning Council for the last 21 months. Marquette’s Trinity Fellows Program is a graduate fellowship program dedicated to developing urban leaders with a commitment to social and economic justice. Fellows take coursework to earn their Master’s degree, while also working at a local non-profit agency. During her time at the Planning Council, Ashley has been part of the team on many Planning Council projects, including those related to infant mortality, foster care, and diversity in non-profit leadership. I myself have had the pleasure of working with Ashley on a number of projects, including an evaluation of Warmline, Inc. (a non-crisis telephone support line run by and for people with mental illnesses; click here to see our report ).

I’ve appreciated Ashley’s commitment to social justice, her “big picture” thinking, her calm demeanor, and her sense of humor. In addition, we’ve all benefited from Ashley’s previous work as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia and her other world travels. We wish Ashley well as she graduates and moves on to new adventures. For more information about Marquette’s Trinity Fellows Program, click here.

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