December 31, 2015, was a turning point for me. After founding and growing ORS Impact for more than 25 years, I stepped off its leadership team and faced my next big challenge. Assessing the future, I realized I have too much fire in my belly to “retire,” but I am equally unattracted to developing another company. While I took pride in growing a firm that is dedicated to being an evaluation thought partner with social innovators, the new challenges I seek will go deep in frontiers of measurement, learning and evaluation of social impact.
As I “rewire” myself, I am reframing my role and calling myself an “advisor.” Fortunately, the stars have lined up, and my growing interest in unpacking social impact measurement and evaluation in the rapidly growing impact investment space is aligned with The Rockefeller Foundation’s priorities. Now serving as a measurement and evaluation advisor to the foundation, I am researching and describing the landscape of the various entities and efforts that are using innovative finance and market solutions to combine efforts with traditional social sector actors. Our goal is to find allied partners who are seeking new mindsets and methods that will strengthen the measurement of outcomes and impacts. We are working hard to bring out the best in both the evaluator and finance communities in these new practices, and will be convening key audiences at various conferences during the year.
I am also bringing my experience to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s leadership approach, as it embarks on a complete refresh of the role of evaluation in contributing to racially equitable outcomes for children. I am particularly attracted by the foundation’s intentionally applying a racial equity lens, integrating a systems mindset, recognizing the strength of community and context in addressing problems and solutions, and placing value on learning communities and actionable knowledge. The foundation has committed to building a community of practice that ensures that lessons learned on the ground, in the field, and in research centers are synthesized and lifted up to advance and guide strategic decisions and resources for both the foundation’s grantmaking and partners in the field.
Stay tuned as these engagements develop and I will share key learnings in my Reflections blog. I am “reinspired” and excited to bring my experience and point of view forward as a partner to build and co-create innovative and relevant approaches to measurement and evaluation that shape strategic learning, decisions and actions in these and other arenas.