Our Valentines: Why we love evaluation at CRC
compiled by Sheila Matano
Earlier this year, the American Evaluation Association released a statement describing what evaluation is and its value to evaluators and the public at-large. There are many different types of evaluation and the time it takes to complete an evaluation project can vary from a few weeks to several years. Amidst a flurry of projects, debacles, deadlines and what seems to be a long and arduous winter, the CRC team took some time this week to decompress and reflect on what we love about our work. As evaluators, we sometimes get bogged down by minutiae and forget the value of the work that we do! Taking a step back to reflect on our work and experiences encourages insight, learning, and fosters growth.
So in honor of Valentine’s week, we want to share why we love being evaluators and the work we do here at CRC.
(In the spirit of the season, sprinkled throughout are images from earlier this week, when CRCers Leslie, Sheila, and Jill celebrated the holiday in our neighborhood, through crafting, at “Love Notes”. This event was co-hosted by great local entities Trohv, Make Tribe, and Baltimore Paper Cuts, with refreshments by Kinderhook Snacks! Check them out!)
Leslie: I love working with people who are passionate about the work they do and I enjoy being able to help them improve upon it. I love that every project is different and that I get to learn about new topics all the time.
Kevin: I love working at CRC because I get to crunch and forecast numbers, and build spreadsheets all day. I also enjoy finding ways to defeat the obstacles in the life of a contract.
Tracy: I love the fact that all of the projects I work on here at CRC are based locally. We work directly with our clients to affect change in the Baltimore community – a place where we all live and work. It is a rewarding feeling and a nice change of pace from my previous work on a national evaluation project where I felt so far removed from my work.
Ashley: I love seeing how our finished products such as reports or infographics can take tons of numbers and information and transform it into something meaningful and easy to interpret. The easier we make it for a client to get the “gist” of their data, the easier it is for them to press forward with their programs and research and make bigger impacts on the community. I am very lucky to be a part of the CRC family!
Dani: I love data sleuthing, and when the murky aspects of a program are translated into clean cut order via indicator grid, logic model, etc.
Mandi: What I love about evaluation? Well, many things! For starters, impressive data visualizations, I love how they enable you to blend (in a way) science with art. Next would have to be “knowing what works.” As evaluators, we become experts in a variety of fields (sometimes even overnight) and can tell you what will work and won’t work when it comes to achieving a certain goal. I love the opportunities evaluation work provides to learn about new things. Also, attending evaluation conferences– it’s great to meet, share ideas with, and learn from other evaluators! Lastly, and probably one of the more mundane tasks, but cleaning data – I find it relaxing. In a nutshell, I love evaluation for the great visuals, multitude of learning opportunities, and meditative properties that come with data processing.
Sheila: The best part about being an evaluator is working with clients who are passionate about the work that they do and being able to help them enhance how their programs work. I also like that CRC is based in “Smalltimore” so I get to work with a lot of nonprofits and different groups of people. Every project offers the opportunity to connect with fellow Baltimore residents and to learn something new.
Dana: What I love about evaluation is working as a collaborative partner with our clients to assess the efficacy of their program or intervention, identify successes and find creative solutions to overcome any barriers. As part of my work at CRC, I enjoy getting the opportunity to use my academic knowledge and creative skills to come up with different ways of presenting information in a useful and meaningful way. I also enjoy sharing and discussing ideas with my colleagues and getting to see and hear their perspective on different topics or issues.
Jill: I love working in evaluation because I like to unpack why programs work…. or don’t. And I like that at CRC I have the opportunity to really explore different ways of both uncovering and uncovering meaningful information that great programs can use to show what they’re doing well and improve what needs improving.
Sarah: I really love the fact that we work with so many local organizations at CRC. I’ve only lived in Baltimore since 2005, but it’s become home for me, and it’s nice to know I am working on projects designed to improve Baltimore City and the surrounding communities.
Matthew: I like the fact that everyday that I come to work, I learn something new about my adopted hometown of Baltimore.
Ilse: I love coming to work every morning because my humans at CRC are AWESOME! The treats are also a bonus.
Taj: I love working with such an amazing team of dedicated, innovative, and fun people. Everyone here knows how to work hard and laugh hard, and it’s a wonderful combination. I also love it when we produce something for a client that they find profoundly useful, whether it’s a straight report from a database, or a beautiful map or data visualization. We recently provided a client with a report that would allow her to identify students in her school-based program who were at risk of dropping out and intervene early to help them. Her face lit up and she kept repeating “This is so useful! This is so great!”. When we can do that, it makes my day.
What do you love about the work that you do??
(And to wrap up our ode to love, here are a more few images of CRCers Leslie, Sheila, and Jill celebrating at “Love Notes”.)