Updated: Jan 3
2019 was wild. I registered GV Advisory, LLC in February and went fully independent in March. Actually, 2018 was wild, too—I moved to the East Coast based on this wacky idea that I could build a consulting practice building data cultures in social impact organizations.
I fell in love with the East Coast while attending Harvard Kennedy School’s Social Enterprise Conference in February of 2018—I built much of my work in the Intermountain West, and though it was an incredible place to learn and experiment, it felt incredibly refreshing to be surrounded by some of the most ambitious, intelligent, and generous folks I’ve ever met. That kicked off about four months of meetings that can be described as snagging time with impact evaluators, executive directors, and other nonprofit folk, and explaining that “…I know this isn’t quite a job yet but I’d sure like it to be a job. What do you think?” Folks have been incredibly generous with their time, networks, and advice.
I landed a short-term contract with Oxfam America and moved to Boston in July 2018, and I completed an Oxfam Data Ecosystem Diagnostic in January 2019—Many organizations, including Oxfam, are working to leverage their data (or lack thereof) to understand their contribution to impact. I built the DED to accomplish just that!
Since February, I’ve had the privilege of working on some incredible projects:
I led the analysis piece of Open Referral’s comparative analysis of DC area resource directories. We were able to understand the gaps and strengths of some of DC’s leading service providers’ data.
Through the Open Referral project, I got to meet the folks over at Qri—an NYC-based team leading an open-source project to build software for dataset synching, versioning, storing and collaboration. People often talk about Qri as “git” or “Github” for data. We’ve been exploring the links between data and philanthropic funding.
I partnered with Oxfam America’s ICT4D team to define (responsible and ethical) program-centric use cases for Microsoft’s Tech for Social Good team, who have been working on applications for AI in international development.
I’ve had the ultimate privilege of spending time with Tom Rutledge and Benjamin Mazzotta, two people who were instrumental in my belief that A) I could move to the East Coast based on these ideas and that B) these were pretty good ideas. We casually partnered on a simmering idea: the ImpactScape! The three of us do a lot of thinking about how money, data, and power move throughout the social impact economy, and we’ve got some ideas about how to map that. This is a touch-and-go work in progress, but when we have the time, it’s a fun problem set. We got to speak during HubWeek 2019, and most (some?) of our jokes landed.
Summertime slowed down a bit, and I got to spend some time playing music and traveling (and wondering if starting an independent consulting practice was really the smartest thing to do…eeek!)
One of the best things I’ve done for my mental and emotional quality of life is becoming a member of The Wing, an incredible and uplifting community of non-binary and female entrepreneurs, brilliant minds, kind hearts, and genuinely good folk. The Wing has provided me with the space, camaraderie, and safety I’ve learned that I depend on to be my best self and to do my best work.
The last autumn presented some new opportunities, representing (what I think are) fairly opposite ends of the social impact funding spectrum … GV Advisory partnered with the Independent Evaluation Group at The World Bank Group to build out the theoretical framework for their upcoming data strategy. I’m thrilled to be conducting a Data Ecosystem Diagnostic through spring 2020 for the IEG to inform the contents of their inaugural data strategy.
Around the same time, Headwaters Foundation, a change-making foundation practicing Trust-Based Philanthropy, partnered with GV Advisory to design their knowledge management practice. This one is especially wild—Headwaters is based in Missoula, Montana, where I went to high school. There’s something incredible about conducting a workshop on Data Awareness with the same river view I had during high school, most likely when I was not paying the best attention to the curriculum. I’m excited to continue to work with Headwaters to develop their knowledge management practice and data strategy through 2020.
I’m also providing some data coaching here and there—I’m supporting January Advisors in the development of a ‘Data Ambassadors’ curriculum, taught over nine weeks to staff at a Houston-area social services provider. We’re excited to refine and workshop this approach to help build the field of data culture in the social sector.
The rest of 2020 is full of promise: projects include diving further into the worlds of International Financial Institutions; Trust-Based Philanthropy; Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in the workplace; and Data Science in Civil Society.
2020 will be—like many other years in my life—a year of change and growth. I’ll be relocating to New York City in the spring, and “I” will become “we” in autumn! GV Advisory will be building a team of data culture enthusiasts! In the meantime, catch me waving my hands about data and systems change in Boston, NYC, DC, and Montana.
In 2019 I learned a lot about working through fear, finding comfort in uncertainty, and the value of self-advocacy. My goals keep getting wilder, more ambitious, and easier to say out loud.
Here’s to field-building, laughter, and big (equitable and inclusive) progress in 2020. It’s gonna be wild, y’all.
photo by Goldin [IG: @niteswimmers]