The Coco Canary Newsletter – November 2020


The Coco Canary Monthly Newsletter

November 2020


Welcome to the Coco Canary Newsletter!

Hello from Molly O’Connor, the CEO and founder of Coco Canary Consulting, LLC (CCC), an evaluation & communications firm based in St. Paul, MN.

Our Mission is to use our expertise to inspire inclusion, support social justice, and promote anti-racism culture.

You may ask, how do social justice and racial equity relate to evaluation or communication? Well, from our experience, we have seen evaluation be designed, and communications reported in ways that harm, undervalue, and take advantage of the communities being served. This is our current status quo, and it is not okay. It has to change. This is why we do our work differently because we want to be apart of the solution, not the problem.

Please visit Community Centric Fundraising for more information. It is a new movement that has inspired thousands (including Coco Canary) to do better. For extra credit, visit Consulting With a Racial Equity Lens too.


The theme for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits conference this year is Persistence though (R)EVOLUTION

Business Updates

1. Co-Presenting at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Conference with Anna Rebecca Lopez

I am excited to announce that my colleague, Anna Rebecca (“AR”) Lopez (she/they), and I are presenting at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ (MCN) annual conference. Our session is titled: “Centering Community: A Radical Discussion for Nonprofit Change.” The theme for this year is titled Persistence through (R)EVOLUTION. When I saw the call for proposals, I immediately thought to contact the Community Centric Fundraising’s lead evaluator, AR. This is because we had talked over the phone a few weeks prior about our shared frustration with museum and nonprofit culture and how it needs to change. I pitched the idea of hosting a session promoting CCF and offering a space for radical discussion about donor-centric and community-centric culture using a race by caucus format. In the end, AR thought it was a great idea, and the rest is history.

Anna Rebecca (AR) Lopez and Molly telling MCN conference judges why their session should be chosen for their annual conference

Our conference session is titled: Centering Community: A Radical Discussion for Nonprofit Change. If you are planning to attend MCN’s conference, make sure to register for our event. It is scheduled for Thursday, December 10th, at 8:30 am. See below for a summary of what we will be talking about. We hope to see you there!

“Many nonprofit professionals are grappling with the sector’s white-dominant culture problem. People want someone to tell them what to do to fix it, but there isn’t one clear solution. The only way to truly create change is to tear down our current system and rebuild it using a framework based on social justice, equity, and community centrism. We think using Community-Centric Fundraising’s (CCF) 10 principles is a key step to this process. Why now? CCF changed our work for the better (we’re not even fundraisers, we’re evaluators!). We want others to know about this movement and to get inspired. We also recognize people are craving discussion, which is why we want to offer a safe space for radical conversations using the Caucus By Race format (separate breakout rooms for white folx, Black folx, etc.). This format provides spaces where BIPOC participants can converse without the white gaze.”


CO.STARTERS & The Coven is hosting a pitch night on Wednesday, December 16th at 7:00 pm and you’re invited! 

2. Come Watch Me Share My Business Story!

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that I am a part of a 10-week business development cohort run by CO.STARTERS and hosted by The Coven. I’ve had the fortune to hive-mind with nine other amazing women many have become dear friends and colleagues. 

Please join me on Wednesday, December 16th, 2020, at 7:00 pm for our pitch night. I, as well as my cohort, will spend 3-minutes sharing our business story, and then we will have a few minutes for Q&A with each business owner. You can register here. Feel free to send it along to people who may be interested.

If you can’t make it, look to my next newsletter for spotlights of these nine strong, independent female entrepreneurs!

3. Other Updates

The Remember Project Dementia Awareness Tour is in full swing!

If you have been following me for a while, you’ll remember that I am the evaluator for an aging-in-place initiative called The Remember Project. We are just finishing up our first cycle, and I am excited to report that our virtual programming (which was initially meant to be in person) is going well!

If you want to learn more about this project, watch the video I helped make. You can find it here!. If you are interested in partnering, sponsoring, or donating to help us build a more dementia-capable Minnesota, please visit our website, or you can contact me at moconnor@rememberproject.org! I’ll connect you with the right people. 🙂

New Trainings Incoming From Rebecca Schueller Training & Consulting!

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with Becky Schueller, a seasoned nonprofit professional who deeply cares about building capacity and equity within her community. She is an excellent facilitator and thought partner, and I highly recommend checking out her website for her upcoming trainings! They are engaging, useful, and affordable. 

December 2020:

Conflict Management & Communication Skills Webinar

Grant Writing Readiness: Building Your Team’s Capacity – Online Webinar Series

January 2021

“Managing Up:” Strategies for Direct Service & Administrative Support Staff

Supervision & Performance Appraisals Skills to Support Effective Teams

I didn’t get the MNEA Communications Board position, BUT other opportunities to come!

If you recall from my previous newsletter, I was on the ballot for the Communications Co-Board Chair. I ended up not winning the election, but the women who did will be fantastic for the MNEA team. There is a possibility I will be brought on to the MNEA team in another role. I will keep you all posted!


Personal Updates

1. Thanks-giving or Thanks-taking?

Tomorrow is the federal holiday, Thanksgiving. For the past few years, I have reflected on how to enjoy food and company while also recognizing the deep-rooted pain, loss, and injustice done to Indigenous people around this time of year. And, let’s be real, all year round. It is a constant uphill battle they are still fighting to this day! I’ve heard the term “Thanks-taking” within my social justice circles, and I’ve come to like the term.

Social justice friends and indigenous organizers have recommended that people support indigenous efforts by buying from Native-led businesses or donating to Native-led causes.

Please take a moment to reflect on our dark history around Thanksgiving and consider giving back in whatever way you can. Either it by buying, donating, or following (and then promoting!) indigenous causes via your social media. I’ll list a handful of Minnesota organizations that are native-led or support indigenous causes. Check them out!

Birch the dog is sending his cute puppy cuddles your way!

Let’s Stay Connected!

To keep up to date with my business news, connect or follow me on Linkedin. Don’t forget to follow my blog, as well! And, of course, if you know of anyone who may benefit from my services, send them my way. Referrals are always welcome!

Be well and all the best,

Molly O’Connor (she/her/hers)

CEO – Evaluation & Communications Specialist
direct: (612) 868-0364
email: cococanaryconsulting@gmail.com
website: https://cococanaryconsulting.com/


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The Coco Canary Newsletter – October 2020


The Coco Canary Monthly Newsletter

October 2020


Welcome to the Coco Canary Newsletter!

Hello from Molly O’Connor, the CEO and founder of Coco Canary Consulting, LLC (CCC), an evaluation & communications firm based in St. Paul, MN.

Our Mission is to use our expertise to inspire inclusion, support social justice, and promote anti-racism culture.

You may ask, how do social justice and racial equity relate to evaluation or communication? Well, from our experience, we have seen evaluation be designed, and communications reported in ways that harm, undervalue, and take advantage of the communities being served. This is our current status quo, and it is not okay. It has to change. This is why we do our work differently because we want to be apart of the solution, not the problem.

Please visit Community Centric Fundraising for more information. It is a new movement that has inspired thousands (including Coco Canary) to do better. For extra credit, visit Consulting With a Racial Equity Lens too.


Strategic Doing, a new, innovative framework for strategic planning

Business Updates

1. Coco Canary is a Certified Strategic Doing Practitioner

Let me introduce you to my new favorite thing, Strategic Doing (SD):

“Strategic Doing teaches people how to form collaborations quickly, move them toward measurable outcomes, and make adjustments along the way. In today’s world, collaboration is essential to meet the complex challenges we face. Strategic Doing enables leaders to design and guide new networks that generate innovative solutions.”

StrategicDoing.net

As a recently certified SD practitioner, I can be hired to facilitate Strategic Doing workshops and facilitations for organizations and businesses. Also, as an evaluator, I integrate much of SD’s strategies and tools into my evaluation practice. To give you a bit of context, here is how SD works and what it could look like:

1. First, you bring a group of people together (usually people who have a shared common goal, values, or teammates) and create a brave space for deep, focused conversation

2. As a group, you co-create a framing question based on appreciative inquiry, not a problem statement. For example, a problem statement would be: “Why is our college drop-out rate so high?” While an appreciative question would be: “Imagine that dropping out was a rare exception in our college. What would that look like?”

3. With the framing question in place, individuals, then tell the group of any hidden assets they are willing to share, such as skills (tech, carpentry, etc.), capital (unused building space, etc.), and more. Once all the assets are listed out, this is when the fun begins because this is when the group brainstorms ideas for how these assets can be linked and leveraged to create new opportunities! 

4. When there are three solid ideas, you have to rank them to figure out which one to do. This is when the group votes (1 to 5) on the level of Impact and Ease of Implementation for each idea. Whichever one scores the highest is the “Big Easy” and it is the project the team will focus on first.

5. Once the project is determined and agreed upon, you convert it into measurable characteristics, create a Pathfinder project with guideposts (i.e., project management), and then draft a short-term action plan where everyone takes a small step (everyone gets a single one-hour task they have to complete). At the end of this meeting, you schedule a time, likely within 30 to 45 days where you review progress, plan for the next guidepost, and allocate small tasks again.

6. This is repeated until the Pathfinder project is complete. And in the process, the community strengthens, trust is built, and new collaboration habits are formed.

If you want to learn more, you can view this workshop summary sheet. And, of course, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

A new White Paper created by Coco Canary, Building Your Logic Model: A Step-by-Step Guide

2. Building Your Logic Model: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you missed it, I wrote a blog post and published a downloadable step-by-step guide of how you can create your own logic model. If you don’t know what a logic model is, check out my blog post and determine if it is a good fit for your organization

3. Other Updates

I am on the ballot for the Minnesota Evaluation Association’s (MNEA) Communication Board

One of my favorite evaluation associations, MNEA, had a call for applicants for their communication board. I have been impressed with their programming and messaging and decided I would be honored to be apart of the team. Fortunately, my application was accepted, and now I am on the MNEA ballot for Communication Co-Chair. I’ll know by November if I have been voted in or not. I will keep you posted!

Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute’s (MPLI) STAR-lite program

I had the fortune of attending MPLI’s one-day Learning Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR-lite) program. I found their training so helpful in building my knowledge of how society’s current structures have caused individual trauma, as well as collective, generational trauma. These traumas result in cycles of victimhood and/or violence. There is a way to break the cycles, but it is a long process; that requires us (the individual and us as a society) to reflect, listen, and learn how to support and promote restorative justice efforts.

The Coven & CO.STARTERS

Two updates in one! First, I am a new member of The Coven, a co-working space for women, non-binary, and trans people. This is thanks to their Community Sponsorship program, which is funded by the generosity of current members and Coven leadership. 

Through my membership, I saw a posting where there was funding for free admission to a 9-week business development workshop hosted by CO.STARTERS. I applied and was accepted into the program! I just finished week 3, and I am feeling grateful to have business dev guidance and a network of inspiring women to “hive-mind” with. 

There is a Pitch Night in mid-December that I will invite you all to closer to the date. 


Protesting for racial justice on the corner of Snelling and Marshall in St. Paul, MN

Personal Updates

1. Please Vote And Ways I Can Help

As most of you know, next Tuesday, November 3rd, is Election Day. A LOT is riding on this election, and it is in our hands to support the candidates that share our values. I care about the environment, police abolishment (or reform for now), criminal justice reform, indigenous rights, universal healthcare, and more. And I am voting for the candidate who is most likely to support these issues, which is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Here are Two Ways I Can Help You

1. Whoever you are voting for, if you need information about where you vote, I can help you with that. Or if you are based in the Twin Cities area, and you need a ride to the polls on Tuesday, please email me. I am taking the day off to assist people in getting out the vote!

2. If you (or someone you know) are undecided on voting this year, don’t hesitate to contact me. Of course, I have a bias, but I will offer an ear and support.

Meet Birch, our new commune dog

2. We Have a Commune Dog!

If you recall, my partner, Mike, and I bought a house and moved in early September. Well, something I didn’t mention is that two other friends moved in with us, and we have created a commune-esque, intentional community. One housemate, in particular, really wanted a dog. So, in early October, she adopted our newest addition to the commune: Birch!

He was 6-months old when we got him, and he is growing so fast! He is an active pup with a gentle spirit. He loves pets, cuddles, and doing zoomies in the backyard. 

He has brought us a lot of joy during these dark times. I hope you all are finding ways to fill joy into your life as well.  


Let’s Stay Connected!

To keep up to date with Coco Canary, consider joining my email list (see the form below) or connecting with me on Linkedin. If you’re a WordPress user, don’t forget to follow my blog!

Be well and all the best,

Molly O’Connor (she/her/hers)

CEO – Evaluation & Communications Specialist
direct: (612) 868-0364
email: cococanaryconsulting@gmail.com
website: https://cococanaryconsulting.com/


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Building Your Logic Model: A Step-by-Step Guide

Welcome to Coco Canary, we are happy you are here!

We are an evaluation & communications firm based in St. Paul, MN though we work with people from all over the United States!

A Brief Introduction About The Step-by-Step Guide

I am writing this post because I’ve been helping many of my clients create logic models recently, and there seems to be a need for more information. If you don’t know what a logic model is, it is a basic visual representation of how a program—or sometimes an organization—functions (Figure 1, also see document attached below). I can’t say it enough how important it is for a program to develop a logic model. Think of it as a snapshot of what your program does, who it serves, the goals it wants to reach, and the impact it wants to achieve.

Figure 1: A basic idea of a logic model for a program or organization

Why is it important to take the time to do this?

Well, If you need an evaluation done, meaning if you need someone to figure out how well your program is doing, a completed, well-thought-out logic model is sometimes all you need. This is because the logic model tells the evaluator what your goals are. From there, you can start developing a survey or interview protocol to assess if the program is reaching any of its short, medium, or long-term goals! And, well, the rest is history. Of course, this is simplifying the process—evaluation is a little bit more complicated than that—but it sure makes it go smoother!

When I do logic model development with my clients, I usually send them a document (attached below) that walks them through the process. It not only gives them the space to reflect deeply about their program but it simultaneously helps them build evaluation capacity, specifically with logic model creation. I’m a firm believer in sharing knowledge and capacity-building, which is why I am sharing this document with the world!

After Completing the Logic Model How-to Worksheet, you will have:

  1. A better understanding of evaluation and logic models
  2. An initial draft of your logic model

If you use this document and find it useful (or not useful!), please write in the comments below* or fill out the survey found at the end of the document. I am always trying to find ways to improve my practice and materials. Feedback is a surefire way to do that.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Molly O’Connor
CEO – Evaluation & Communications Specialist
cococanaryconsulting@gmail.com

*FYI, any comments may be used for testimonials for my website or promo materials.

The Coco Canary Newsletter – September 2020


The Coco Canary Monthly Newsletter

September 2020


Welcome to the Coco Canary Newsletter!

Hello from Molly O’Connor, the CEO and founder of Coco Canary Consulting, LLC (CCC), an evaluation & communications firm based in St. Paul, MN.

Our Mission is to use our expertise to inspire inclusion, support social justice, and promote anti-racism culture.

You may ask, how do social justice and racial equity relate to evaluation or communication? Well, from our experience, we have seen evaluation be designed, and communications reported in ways that harm, undervalue, and take advantage of the communities being served. This is our current status quo, and it is not okay. It has to change. This is why we do our work this way because we want to be apart of the solution, not the problem.

Please visit Community Centric Fundraising for more information. It is a new movement that has inspired thousands (including Coco Canary) to do better.


Lo and behold, the new Coco Canary logo!

Business Updates

1. Fresh New Logo and Front Page

As many of you know, last month, I asked my community to help me choose Coco Canary’s new logo. Well, thanks to the nearly 60 people who cast their votes, a decision was made (as seen above)! And I couldn’t be happier. Thank you to those who helped throughout the process, especially my mother and partner, my original thought partners, and cheerleaders. 

And, of course, thank you, Henry DeGrand Design, for designing my logo. If you need a designer for a logo or other marketing material, Henry is talented and hardworking. Not only that, he is an excellent strategist and researcher. 

Learn more about him from his website (hyperlinked above) or, even better, from his Linkedin.

Danette McCarthy, the past program director, and self-described “Vision Keeper,” performing in Riding the Waves (Photo was taken by me. I was the on-site photographer, as well as film assistant).

2. The Remember Project Website and Video are Live! 

Some of you may recall that I assisted in the filming and production of a theatrical film for The Remember Project in late July. Since 2013, The Remember Project has used the arts, theater specifically, to reduce the stigma of memory loss. The Remember Project team coordinates the production and performances of three plays that share different stories and experiences of dementia and memory loss. 

As a result of COVID-19, the team pivoted and filmed the plays so that program participants can still experience The Remember Project but virtually! After three successful preview performances, we are ready for our 2020-2021 virtual tour! If you are interested in being apart of this program, you can contact me at moconnor@rememberproject.org, and I will forward you to the director and project manager! 

And, of course, after weeks of post-production and some stakeholder feedback, the film is finally available for public viewing. Watch it here! Please send it to your friends, family, and communities. We want to spread the word about this amazing program!

SEED SPOT 2-Day Launch Camp participants and mentors

3. Other Updates

I am a new member of the James Ford Bell Library Board of Directors

Starting August 2020, I’m officially apart of the James Ford Bell Library’s Board of Directors (also known as the Associates). I’m looking forward to using my expertise to support the Bell Library’s mission and find ways to incorporate equity and racial justice within its programming and strategic planning.

Girls Are Powerful

I have the fortune of assisting the nonprofit Girls Are Powerful (GRP) in their evaluation work. Shawntan Howell, the founder, started the organization because she was frustrated with the lack of cultural appropriateness options available in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area. Their mission is to enhance the self-esteem of all girls by inspiring them to recognize and embrace their natural qualities of being beautiful, unique, smart, confident, determined, and powerful. Visit their website to learn more about their programming and consider donating to their cause (the work they do is exceptional).

Girls Are Powerful

The African American Interpretive Center of Minnesota (AAICM)

If you haven’t heard of AAICM, then start following them on their Insta. They curate galleries and events that highlight black Minnesota history. Their work inspires me.


Mike and I jumping and high-fiving because we bought a house!

Personal Updates

My Partner and I Bought a House!

Funny story, my partner, Mike, and I bought a house in St. Paul, MN. Juggling work, supporting (and emotionally processing) racial justice efforts, house searching, and then house buying made for a busy and stressful August! Fortunately, I had a fantastic realtor (Robin Voreis, I highly recommend her!), which made all the difference. 

If any of my followers are thinking of buying a house, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions OR just want to talk it through.


Let’s Stay Connected!

To keep up to date with Coco Canary, consider joining my email list (see the form below) or connecting with me on Linkedin. If you’re a WordPress user, don’t forget to follow my blog!

Talk soon!

Molly O’Connor (she/her/hers)

CEO – Evaluation & Communications Specialist
direct: (612) 868-0364
email: cococanaryconsulting@gmail.com
website: https://cococanaryconsulting.com/


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The Coco Canary Newsletter – August 2020


The Coco Canary Monthly Newsletter

August 2020


Welcome to the Coco Canary Newsletter!

Our Mission: To use our expertise to inspire inclusion, build equity, support racial justice, and promote anti-racist culture.

Hello from Molly O’Connor, the CEO and founder of Coco Canary Consulting, LLC (CCC). CCC is an evaluation & communications firm based in St. Paul, MN.  I have been BUSY these last few months getting CCC off the ground. And I am excited to tell you about some exciting updates!

As many of you know, CCC was created as a result of COVID-19. I had been consulting since 2018, but it became a full-time endeavor starting in March 2020. And, to be honest, it has been a blessing. I had wanted to be a consultant for a long time, but my internal critic kept saying, “Molly, you need more experience,” or “Molly, wait until you’re older.” COVID-19 was the perfect excuse to jumpstart my consulting career, and it was the best decision I could have ever made.


Me being lead photographer for the making of The Remember Project mini-documentary

Business Updates

1. The Remember Project: Dementia Awareness Tour (RPDAT)

Led and founded by Danette McCarthy from McCarthy & Associates, RPDAT uses the arts to build community and start a conversation to end the stigma of memory loss. In Fall 2020, The Remember Project will produce as many as three short plays about Alzheimer’s with a professional cast. Though, as a result of COVID-19, these plays will now be viewed virtually rather than in-person. The Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging (MAAA) is working in partnership with RPDAT.

Since March, I have been helping with this project via development work (grant prospecting, grant writing, etc.), marketing (website content development and film production), and virtual integration (filming live performance for virtual viewing). And, gosh, it has been so fun! I was initially hired to be the lead evaluator. But, when Danette found out I was also a filmmaker by trade, she quickly pivoted and made me the film manager for the production of The Remember Project mini-documentary. I managed a University of Wisconsin – River Falls student intern, Hannah, who is majoring in Stage and Screen Arts. I barely managed at all because Hannah was an excellent teammate and a superb film director and editor. And, within a few months, we made a film. You can view it here!

If you want to get updates about our project, follow us on our Facebook page. Oh, and of course, please share it with friends, family, and colleagues!

On the right is Hannah Robb doing her filming magic. On the left, is the talented Danette McCarthy.

Our next step is to produce the three short plays for a virtual launch conference in late August. We filmed in late July and are now in the post-production phase. I helped film and was also the lead photographer. And after three months of intensive filming and development work, I am finally an evaluator again. I will be leading the evaluation efforts for The Remember Project through MAAA. Hooray!

SEED SPOT 2-Day Launch Camp participants and mentors

2. Meta-Evaluations for Organizations: A Soon-To-Be Service!

If you haven’t read my most recent blog post (read here!), let me get you up to speed. I have been sitting on an idea for a few months, and I finally made it into a tangible service with the help of a 2-day Launch Camp hosted by SEED SPOT. It is called Meta-Evaluations for Organizations.

An organizational meta-evaluation is when an external evaluator assesses the extent to which an entity (foundation, nonprofit, corporation, etc.) is meeting its goals and fulfilling its mission. For example, if a foundation’s mission cares about promoting equity and inclusion, the evaluator would collect data from past and current grantees to assess if those grant dollars truly made that impact in those communities. In reality, grant dollars sometimes don’t make as deep of an impact, and the only way to assess if a foundation is making such a change is by a meta-evaluation.

I am currently finishing up the final touches of the service and will be starting a pilot program in January 2021. If you or anyone you know would be interested in piloting this service, have them contact me! I currently have one non-profit that wants to join the pilot program. I am looking for a foundation and a for-profit corporation to join as well. 

I am also seeking a teammate to assist in the development and implementation of this project. I am specifically looking for someone who has experience leading, evaluating, or assisting in racial equity or racial justice efforts. BIPOC community members are encouraged to reach out! If you know of anyone who may be interested, please send them my contact information.


Conducting interviews for The Remember Project mini-documentary

Let’s Stay Connected!

To keep up to date with Coco Canary, consider joining my email list (see the form below) or connecting with me on Linkedin. If you’re a WordPress user, don’t forget to follow my blog!

Talk soon!

Molly O’Connor (she/her/hers)

CEO – Evaluation & Communications Specialist
direct: (612) 868-0364
email: cococanaryconsulting@gmail.com
website: https://cococanaryconsulting.com/


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Meta-Evaluations For Foundations (and Nonprofits): How Do You Know Your Donation Dollars Make an Impact?

Meta-Evaluations For Foundations (and Nonprofits): How Do You Know Your Donation Dollars Make an Impact?

Last week, I participated in a 2-day launch camp through SEED SPOT, where I learned how to build a business rooted in social impact. I met like-minded entrepreneurs, I listened to experts in the field, and I developed an impact-driven business model. Why did I feel like it was important to partake in such an event? Well, as a white woman in the nonprofit/philanthropic field, I recognize how I benefit from the current philanthropic system. Philanthropy was built from white supremacy culture, and it still breathes and breeds it today. If you want to read more about that, click here, here, AND here. I recognize my privilege and the space I take up. So, I tried to find a way to be an ally for racial justice and wealth equity, while also running a for-profit consulting firm. Of course, I’ll be learning for decades to come, but I felt it was necessary as a new business owner to set a solid foundation of anti-racism within my company.

SEED SPOT DEMO DAY - AZ Tech BeatAZ Tech Beat

So, what about the blog title? What I have been reading has not even touched on that yet! Well, I’m glad you asked.

Throughout the launch camp, I developed a service that I pitched to an unknown audience and received amazing feedback and interest. It is called Meta Evaluations for Foundations: Measuring the Impact of your Grant Dollars. Meaning, to what extent do your monetary donations fulfill your foundation’s mission, reach your foundation’s goals, and promote racial justice and equity in the communities you serve? Let me break this down.

What is a Meta-Evaluation?

A meta-evaluation is when you review an evaluation before or after implementation. This is important because you can assess if the program or organization has pain-points, such as inefficiencies or harmful unintended impacts to its users.

What is a Foundation Meta-Evaluation?

A foundation meta-evaluation is when an external evaluator assesses the extent to which the foundation is meeting its goals and fulfilling its mission. For example, if a foundation’s mission cares about promoting equity and inclusion, the evaluator would collect data from past and current grantees to assess if those grant dollars truly made that impact in those communities. In reality, grant dollars sometimes don’t make as deep of an impact, and the only way to assess if a foundation is making such a change is by a meta-evaluation.

What is Coco Canary Consulting, LLC?

Coco Canary Consulting, LLC (CCC) is an evaluation & communications firm based in St. Paul, MN. Founded on a social-impact model, CCC strives for socially-responsible evaluation practices. We use empowerment theory with a racial justice lens within our evaluation and communication work, which aims to bring clarity, assist with decision-making, and build capacity within their client’s organizations. CCC partners with a diverse set of talented professionals for many of their projects.

Who is Coco Canary Consulting, LLC?

Founded by Molly O’Connor, a Minnesota-native, CCC is passionate about collaboration and utilizes her consortium of professional consultants to create the best team for each project. Molly also has a Master’s in Natural Resource Science and Management and Program Evaluation from the University of Minnesota.

So What?

Minnesota is known for its strong philanthropic ecosystem, and millions of dollars are donated every year. But nationwide, only 10% of those grant dollars go to BIPOC organizations. BIPOC organizations have been underfunded for decades, a symptom of structural racism. And, we all know that this needs to change. I am in the developing phases of an evaluation framework and procedure to assess and measure if a foundation’s monetary gifts are promoting equity and racial justice in the communities they serve. This evaluation intends to build awareness and capacity within philanthropic leadership.

My customers are foundations and nonprofits who care about equity and racial justice who want to know if their giving and programming are making their intended impact. And, if not, what are the next steps to do so.

What I Need From My Community:

Collaborators. I am slowly building a team and would love to partner with professionals who have skills in either evaluation, marketing, racial justice advocacy, data analysis, and more!

Nonprofit staff. People who are willing to answer questions about their experiences with grant funding and implementation. This will be done through interviews or a focus group. These questions will help finalize the data collection protocols.

Foundation staff. People who are willing to pilot this program. I have one lined up and am looking for two more. These foundations would still need to pay for the service, but it would be discounted due to it being a pilot.

If you are interested, please contact me by email or phone. Or schedule a meeting through my Calendly, linked below.

Thank you, and I look forward to getting in touch!

Sincerely,

Molly O’Connor – CEO
Coco Canary Consulting, LLC

Upcoming Events and Moderating Webinars!

Upcoming Events and Moderating Webinars!

Hello everyone,

This post will share a couple updates about some new services I offer and a virtual event that you should try to attend (I’m biased because I am moderating it). Oh, and if you hadn’t heard, I am officially a published researcher–hooray! If you want to read more about that, visit this page.

New Services from Coco Canary

It has finally happened. I have jumped on the webinar train and am now a bonafide Zoom webinar moderator. For my most recent project, I set-up the Eventbrite page, organized the email automation, and did the behind-the-scenes tech work for the Zoom event. I also can moderate the event, which means I introduce the facilitator, problem solve technical hurdles, and sort through the questions that come through. It is crucial for any successful webinar to have at least one person behind the scenes. I know because I have been the facilitator of a webinar gone wrong and I had wished that I had someone with me to problem solve.

If you are interested in learning more about the process or would like to hire me to do it for you, then let’s connect!

We’re in a Crisis: Learn How To Talk About It With Your Employees – *FREE WEBINAR*

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 – 10 AM Central

Heather Heefner, communication expert and couch, of Dart Studio will share her expertise about crisis communication. She will be focusing on how leaders need to be using empathy and authority to build trust within their organizations. I will be moderating the event. If you are interested in learning more about this event or if you want to register, please click the link below. It will take you to the Eventbrite page.

Click here to learn more or to register

We hope to see you there!

Until next time,

-Molly O’Connor

CEO | Evaluation & Communications Specialist
Coco Canary Consulting, LLC

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It is Official: I am a Published Researcher!

It is Official: I am a Published Researcher!

Hello all,

A bit of good news to share!

I am officially a published researcher in the Journal of Museum Education. My article is titled Exploring How Awareness-making Elicits Meaning-making in Museum Visitors: A Mixed Methods Study. Some of you may know that this research is from my master’s thesis, which means that if I include the toil of graduate school, this whole process took a total of 3+ years (start to finish!). Gosh, it feels amazing to have it stamped-and-delivered. It was a goal of mine to be published in a journal. So, now I can check off that box! And, who knows, maybe I’ll write some more soon??

What was fun with the whole process of sending in my manuscript iterations was getting to know the journal editors. And, through the process, I was asked and accepted to be an editor for the Journal of Museum Education. I’ve enjoyed being behind the double-blind curtain and helping authors improve their work! I recently read an article about dance in the museum, which was lovely—and needed some more TLC.

Before I log off, I wanted to let y’all know that if any readers are either considering writing an article or are amid their manuscript, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would be happy to be the cheerleader on the sidelines! This also includes people who are considering getting their master’s degree. Especially if you’re considering a master’s in Natural Resource Science & Management from the University of Minnesota (that’s what I got!).

Thanks to all who helped me along the way. You know who you are.

-Molly

Molly, data collector extraordinaire!

BLACK LIVES MATTER: GEORGE FLOYD AND THE TWIN CITIES’ 2020 RIOTS

Black Lives Matter: George Floyd and the Twin Cities’ 2020 Riots

This post was originally written and posted on Molly O’Connor’s personal blog. I (Molly) believe it is important to share this on my professional blog as well. If you have any questions or concerns about this content, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to have a conversation about it. Thank you. -Molly


Hello all,

As many of you have likely heard, there has been rioting in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. You have also probably heard why these riots are taking place. On Memorial Day, May 25th, 2020, the Minneapolis Police murdered an unarmed black man. His name was George Floyd.

Graffiti of George Floyd’s face on the wall of a building in St. Paul, MN

They handcuffed him, laid him down on his stomach, and then held him down with their full body weight. One officer put his knee on his neck, which restricted his air pathway. George repeatedly told the officer, “I can’t breathe,” and witnesses begged the officer to release his chokehold. But, the officer did not listen. Suffocated by the police, George died in the middle of the street with dozens of witnesses. Since that day, thousands of people have come together in the form of demonstrations to demand justice. They wanted the police officers arrested for their crimes. They wanted political leaders to de-militarize and initiative police reform. Many want to abolish the police as a whole. When nothing was done, riots broke out, looting commenced, and buildings burned. These riots are now on the world stage and have inspired demonstrations all over the nation. Let’s hope this noise creates change. I am not a supporter of violence, and I do hope the riots and burnings stop, but I hope the conversations about racial inequity and police reform continue. And if it feels like the momentum is dying out, we have to keep this conversation going. We have to keep this conversation on the political stage.

I’m sure many of you (especially my Caucasian friends and colleagues) are wondering what we should be doing right now. I wonder this every minute. Of course, protests and demonstrations are happening every day, day and night, that we could attend, but in this era of COVID-19, attending may do more harm than good. During the first nights of demonstrations, local organizers requested that people not come from other neighborhoods. This was in hopes of reducing the spread and further potential harm of their already hurting communities. Instead, they requested for allies to demonstrate in their neighborhoods, which is what I did on the first day. I’ve also helped clean up the streets post-riot (see video below for footage from the clean-up).

Me leading a micro protest in St. Paul. May 26th, 2020.

But then what should we do the next day? And the next? What about for the white folks who don’t live in Minnesota? What about the people who live in different countries? Honestly, from what I have read and heard from my colleagues is that we need to do three things. First, we need to listen. Even if you think you know the mechanics of systematic racism and the fundamentally racist institutions on this already stolen land, you have to keep listening. We can never truly understand what our friends of color are going through and, as with everything, we can always go deeper. Be curious, keep listening, and never stop learning. Build your awareness and build your knowledge. Do this by attending local racial justice meetings, reading books written by black authors, listening to podcasts hosted by people of color (POCs), and watching documentaries filmed from the black perspective (13th is a good one on Netflix). If you haven’t already come to terms with it, make sure you understand that racism exists, and it is, most definitely, our problem.

Second, don’t be silent. Use your white privilege to share your knowledge with your family, friends, and communities sitting in silence while police and white supremacists are murdering black people. Take a breath, and have those uncomfortable conversations. Understand that with each conversation, your message is reaching communities that aren’t usually listening. Prepare yourself for how to have these types of conversations and learn the terminology you’ll need to know when people try to deflect or get defensive. For example, when talking about white privilege, acknowledge that, yes, white people, as well as all other people, go through hardship. Life, inevitably, comes with painful experiences. But, the difference is that white people’s hardship is solely hardship. In contrast, a POC’s hardship is compounded by so many more factors (systematic racism, fewer years to have the right to vote, slavery as apart of their history, and so much more).

Third, support equity issues either by donating money, donating time, or voting. In this political climate, we need to have the right leaders in power for any change to be made. Vote for POC politicians, or if there aren’t any on the ballot, vote for a candidate who promotes equity and equality. Voting for these leaders is the number one priority. If you are interested in getting people to vote, consider donating your time and energy with Vote Forwards‘ Get Out The Vote letter-writing campaign! I have written over 200 letters in the last four months to left-leaning voters who either didn’t vote in the previous election or recently moved. It’s a fantastic, researched-based cause.

If you want to step further and get involved with organizations promoting equity, consider donating time or money. There are thousands of organizations that are doing awe-inspiring work following the common good. Some of which are most likely in your community. Here in the Twin Cities, consider donating to these two organizations:

Minneapolis Police Department budget cut by $1M to fund ...

Reclaim the Block protestors at a meeting – http://www.citypages.com/news/minneapolis-police-department-budget-cut-by-1m-to-fund-public-safety-programs-instead/501824851

1. Reclaim the Block

“Reclaim the Block began in 2018 and organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety. We believe health, safety and resiliency exist without police of any kind. We organize around policies that strengthen community-led safety initiatives and reduce reliance on police departments. We do not believe that increased regulation of or public engagement with the police will lead to safer communities, as community testimony and documented police conduct suggest otherwise.” – Reclaimtheblock.org

MPD 150 logo – https://www.mpd150.com/

2. MPD150

“The goal of this initiative is to shift the discussion of police violence in Minneapolis from one of procedural reforms to one of meaningful structural change. We will achieve this by presenting a practical pathway for the dismantling of the Minneapolis Police Department; the transference of its social service functions to community-based agencies and organizations; the replacement of its emergency intervention functions with models not based on military methods; and the redirection of resources to support community resilience and people-directed development.” – MPD150.com

Below are two more organizations that are trying to make the world a more equitable place. They use their collective knowledge to promote equitable policy-change and give voice to the marginalized communities that need it most right now.

Black Lives Matter - Wikipedia

Black Lives Matter logo – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter

3. Black Lives Matter

“Founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, the Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.” – blacklivesmatter.org

The ACLU's Position on Gun Control | American Civil ...

ACLU logo – https://www.aclu.org/

4. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

“Our critical work is to protect voting rights, demand that vulnerable people in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers be released, and fight to ensure reproductive health care remains open and accessible to all who need it. Now more than ever, we the people means all of us.” – aclu.org

Please consider donating to these causes. If you don’t have money to give, consider donating your time. If you don’t live in Minnesota, I’m sure organizations in your states or regions need volunteers for their fundraising and marketing campaigns! There are so many more than just these four organizations. Please feel free to leave a comment below with more of the organizations focusing on equity causes that we should be donating our money and time to.

An image of community members cleaning up the debris broken glass and burnt down buildings in St. Paul, MN

Finally, below is the link to the video footage I mentioned earlier in this post. On May 29th, 2020, hundreds of community members came together to clean up the streets in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. This footage shows the aftermath of the violent riots in St. Paul, the night of May 28th, 2020.

Thank you for reading. Be well and be safe.

-Molly

The Unproductive Communication Cycle: An Introduction

Welcome!

This post will be about:

  1. Welcomes and hellos
  2. The Unproductive Communication Cycle
    1. A Brief History
    2. A Soon To Be Self-Help Book For the Workplace!
  3. Upcoming events

Hello everyone,

This is Molly O’Connor, the founder of Coco Canary Consulting, LLC (CCC). If you didn’t know, CCC is an evaluation, communication, and development firm. Before I delve into this post, I just wanted to say thank you for visiting this site and showing interest in my work! Starting this business was a group effort, and it was no small feat. A lot of thought and tears went into CCC and it has shaped me into who I am today. And, as cliché as it may sound, I am stronger because of it. One of these days, I’ll write the origin story of CCC, but for now, let’s talk about a book I’ve been working on!

A Brief History

For the last couple of months, a friend and I have been working on a book called The Unproductive Communication Cycle (UCC). My friend is Heather Heefner-Dart, and she is the principal for a communications and coaching firm called Dart Design Studio. And, she is the mastermind of UCC. Earlier this year, she hired me to help develop a curriculum for an emotional intelligence training she was doing for one of her clients. This was when I first saw her UCC framework, and I remember telling her, “Heather, you could write a book about this!” At the time, she was drowning in work, and she didn’t feel like she had the time to write a book.

Well, fast forward to early March 2020. In the USA, states were beginning to close, and unemployment was starting to rise. I was a part of the first round of layoffs (well, it was a bit more complicated than that) and found myself with much more free time than I had originally planned. Initially, I didn’t know what to do with myself. But, my mind kept wandering back to Heather’s UCC framework. And, I knew we had to write a book, especially during turbulent times like COVID-19! Fortunately, and unfortunately, Heather also had more time on her hands, and after a long phone conversation, we had agreed to co-author The Unproductive Communication Cycle.

A Soon to Be Self Help Book for the Workplace AND We Need Your Help!

In my next post, I will write more about what the book entails, but for now, I have a request for our readers! We are collecting data via a survey to fine-tune the UCC, as well as the productive communication cycle (PCC). We have a firm idea of the UCC, but we are still in the development phases of the PCC. That’s where you come in. If you could take 15 to 20 minutes of your time to fill out our UCC survey, that would mean the world to Heather and me! Once we get enough responses, we’ll have the data we need to solidify our frameworks so that we can get our book closer to publishing.

Here is the link to the survey if you missed the hyperlink: https://umn.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_aYmsbsHKLDUe2kl

If you have any questions about the survey or the book, feel free to leave a comment below, or you can send me an email at cococanaryconsulting@gmail.com.


May 13th, 10:30 am (Central):

Heather will be a panelist for the Business Marketing Club’s Weekly Update: How the CoronaVirus Crisis affects B2B. She will be discussing how effective and empathetic communication by business leaders is key to success, especially in the times of COVID-19. She will also briefly talk about the UCC and our upcoming book. Register below to listen in with 1000’s of other listeners from all over the world.

Here is the link to register: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8500398467414258444

*By the way, “B2B” stands for Business to Business. Also, BMC is based out of the UK.

Mid to Late May (Date TBD)

Catherine Byers Breet from arbez.com will interview Heather sometime in the next few weeks. Catherine is a Career, Consulting, & Job Hunt Coach based in the Twin Cities. She is doing a daily 8 am networking & collaboration live stream to help consultants, job seekers, and freelancers get through the COVID-19 outbreak. She says her mission for these live streams is to build community, instill inspiration, and to offer actionable career and job-search advice!

Here is the link to the live stream page: http://www.arbez.com/live

Heather will be interviewed sometime in mid to late May. Stay tuned for more information. Or, follow Catherine on Linkedin to receive her daily livestream reminders and recordings!

Until next time,

-Molly O’Connor

Heather Heefner-Dart: Heather and I have been friends for over a decade. It all started when I babysat her kids when I was in high school! This is a picture of Heather cross-country skiing on Wirth Lake in Minneapolis, MN back in 2016.