The Coco Canary Newsletter – February 2021


The Coco Canary Monthly Newsletter

February 2021


Welcome to the Coco Canary Newsletter!

If you’re new here, read this section! Otherwise, skip on down.

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

We are based in St. Paul, MN, and we acknowledge that we are on stolen indigenous lands. Home to the Santee Dakota and Anishinaabe people. These people were the first stewards of the lands we occupy, and they are still here. We honor their connection to this land and their ongoing resilience in the face of violent colonialism.

You may ask, how do social justice and racial equity relate to evaluation or communication? Well, from our experience, we have seen evaluations 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.



A photo of Molly in front of a whiteboard with the word "evaluation" underlined.

Business Updates

  1. Fresh, New Photos For My Website. Thanks to Jamais Vu Photography!

I am excited to share the first of many new photos of me taken by the talented Deja’ Jendro from Jamais Vu Photography. With a new website on the horizon, and a few marketing opportunities (presentations at conferences mainly), I decided it was time to hire a professional to take photos of me in action! I would highly recommend Deja’ to anybody (and no, she doesn’t do weddings!). Talented, humble, and a lovely all-around human being (also very respectful about COVID precautions). Here is a sampling of the photos she took of me at The Coven – Downtown Minneapolis location building (now moving to their new South Minneapolis location!).


Logo of the Minnesota Judicial Branch

2. Creative Evaluation – Learning How To Build Art & Equity Into Practice

I feel so fortunate to be taking a Creative Evaluation class by the talented and locally-renowned Nora Murphy. CEO and co-founder of Inspire to Change. I, as well as nine other people from all over North America, will be spending the next eight weeks learning:

  • About Creative Evaluation’s roots and purpose, its guiding principles, its theoretical framework
  • The thirteen essential elements for leading CE&E
  • With other purpose-driven change-makers who want to disrupt “business as usual” in philanthropy and evaluation

A big part of my practice has been unlearning the ways and harmful traditional evaluation systems that I was taught in graduate school. Because much of what I learned was and is based within white-dominant culture and, even with the best intentions, can often perpetuate white supremacy.

An image from the Inspire to Change website that said "Creative Evaluation & Engagement: Mini-Course.

This is why I feel excited about taking Nora’s CE&E mini-course. Her methods were made for evaluators and artists who want to challenge the status quo—those who wish to center their practice on equity and justice. Also, come on, who doesn’t want to have more art in their professional life?!

Other Business Updates

Outer Experiences: Black Life in Rural and Suburban Minnesota

The African American Interpretive Center of Minnesota (AAICM) has a new exhibit hosted by the Minnesota Museum of American Art! I attended their virtual event yesterday (which was AMAZING) and would highly recommend attending their next event AND visiting their exhibit (visible from outside)

Also, if you haven’t heard of the musician and artist Nur-D, then check them out! Especially the song Black Kid, White Town.

The Remember Project In The News!

Our Remember Project Team was interviewed and highlighted in the the WEAU News in Wisconsin. Check it out here!

Bemidji State University George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund

A colleague from BSU shared with me an opportunity to give to the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship. This money will be awarded to an incoming BSU freshman or transfer student with a demonstrated commitment to community service and who is a person of color. The official day of giving has passed, but you can still donate at this link!

The Coco Canary website banner at the top with a plus sign in the middle and

Bemidji State University George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund

A colleague from BSU shared with me an opportunity to give to the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship. This money will be awarded to an incoming BSU freshman or transfer student with a demonstrated commitment to community service and who is a person of color. The official day of giving has passed, but you can still donate at this link!


Personal Updates

Before

After

DIY Basement Room Remodel

If you follow me on Instagram (@mollycoconnor), then you already know that I (as well as my partner and roommate) have been knee-deep in a basement remodel. One room, which is a hangout and office space, needed a revamp. We took out a drop ceiling, wet drywall and discovered that our foundation wall has a cartoon mural from the 1940s painted on it! If you’re curious to hear all the details, go to my Instagram page and watch the video updates under the “Basement Remodel” highlights.


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 what make the world go round!

Be well,

Molly O’Connor (she/her/hers)

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

Black Lives Matter

Justice for Andy Retic, Josh Cooper, Jaylin Rice, and so many more.


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The Coco Canary Newsletter – January 2021


The Coco Canary Monthly Newsletter

January 2021


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.

We are based in St. Paul, MN, and we acknowledge that we are on stolen indigenous lands. Home to the Santee Dakota and Anishinaabe people. These people were the first stewards of the lands we occupy, and they are still here. We honor their connection to this land and their ongoing resilience in the face of violent colonialism.

You may ask, how do social justice and racial equity relate to evaluation or communication? Well, from our experience, we have seen evaluations 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.


A Brief Message… A Grounding… From Molly

Before I delve into the excitement that is a business update, I wanted to take a moment to ground ourselves and point out important things that have happened since mid-December.

White Violence, A White Insurrection, & White Supremacy

On January 6th, 2021, white supremacists forcibly entered the United States Capitol. I could spend this whole newsletter sharing how condemning this was, how people died because of Trump’s negligence and endorsement for white violence, and how white supremacy is stronger than ever in this country. But, I won’t. Because many of my readers already know this. For those who are questioning, or are curious how they can get more involved in the racial justice movement; contact me. 

This is an Instagram post from The Black Lives Matter account. The caption reads, “Make no mistake, if the protesters were black, we would have been tear gasses, battered, and perhaps shot.” 

A New President, An Uplifting Inauguration, & More Work to Do. 

I can’t fully describe the weight that has been lifted once Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden were sworn into office. I felt deeply happy for the first time in what felt like years. Of course, we have a lot of work to do still, and we have to hold the Biden Administration accountable. Because the fight for racial justice and equity isn’t over until justice is served, treaties are respected, and when reparations are followed through. And, well, the list goes on. 

Much love and in solidarity,

-Molly O’Connor

CEO of Coco Canary Consulting


It is official. I was accepted into The Headwaters Foundation for Justice’s Giving Project 2021 cohort!

Business Updates

1. It is Official: I Made It Into The Giving Project 2021 Cohort!

If that title makes no sense to you, then let me explain why this is so exciting. Headwaters Foundation For Justice’s (HFJ) mission is to amplify the power of community to advance equity and justice. Once a year, they offer an amazing and competitive program called The Giving Project. In which a cross-class, multiracial group of 14-20 folks come together to move money to BIPOC-led organizations that focus on systems change. Through staff-led workshops and training, the cohort develops a shared understanding of race, class, and power within society, which supports their collective action in fundraising and grant-making.

I have had the fortune to know three Giving Project Alum (fun fact, one of my previous clients was in the first-ever cohort). Each of them said the program changed their life and that the connections and friends they made will last a lifetime. 

I am so excited about this opportunity. I will get to support organizations that share the same values as me. Also, as an evaluator, it will be helpful to learn more about on-the-ground fundraising. A lot of my clients are either in the foundation or non-profit space. And fundraising is a significant part of their work. I only have theoretical knowledge (predominantly from the Community Centric Fundraising perspective). This summer, I will have a much deeper understanding of this work and why equitable fundraising is so important.

Logo of the Minnesota Judicial Branch

2. MN Adult Drug Court Evaluation – A New Contract!

Starting in late December 2020, I began a contract through the Minnesota Judicial Branch (thanks to a colleague’s referral!). For the next six months, I will be conducting a process evaluation for a Minnesota County Adult Drug Court Program. Let’s tease out what that means. First, let me describe what a drug court does.

Drug courts are designed to guide offenders identified as drug-addicted into treatment to reduce drug dependence and improve their quality of life. A typical drug court program participant is closely supervised by a judge supported by a multidisciplinary team of substance abuse treatment professionals, treatment coordinators, attorneys, probation officers, coordinators, and case managers. The drug court system’s goal is to use a treatment-based approach and utilize the blended resources and expertise of the different departments involved to encourage sobriety, re-employment, and community-building. The alternative is the traditional court system, which is usually not treatment-based. Drug courts have been shown to be effective in reducing recidivism (GAO, 2005), improving the psychosocial functioning of offenders (Kralstein, 2010), and lowering taxpayer costs due to positive outcomes for drug court participants (Cary & Finigan, 2004).

Process evaluations, in a drug court setting, indicate whether a program functions as planned treats the intended target population of participants, and delivers the types and dosages of services that are likely to produce favorable outcomes. I’ll be conducting surveys, and interviews to answers questions such as: (1) what problems and barriers were encountered in implementing the program, and how were they resolved? And (2) How do staff members, participants, and stakeholders perceive the program’s aims and effectiveness?

I’m excited about this project, and I am looking forward to seeing how I can help this adult drug court team improve its program. I think that’s my favorite thing about being an evaluator. I get to help people, both the client and their participants!

Other Business Updates

A Decolonizer In-Training

I am currently enrolled in a course called “Decolonising Evaluation.” Hosted by The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, also known as Wits University. In this course, we are exploring questions such as:

  • What needs to be done to dismantle the systems and structures so that evaluation does not become complicit in entrenching existing inequalities?
  • What is the role of indigenous knowledge systems in the evaluation practice? 

These are big questions, and I feel grateful to have an intentional and interactive community of evaluators (all over the world) to discuss this topic with.

New Year, New Website (Coming Soon!)

We are in the process of updating my website. Currently, I am using WordPress.com and am switching to WordPress.org. My goal is to have it done by mid-February. I’ve been using this opportunity to sit with my business plan, business model. And to make sure my website visually and verbally rings true with my mission, vision, and values. Keep an eye and ear out for its release next month!


A comic I drew for my 2020 holiday card. This card includes Michael playing on the piano, Allison holding a plant, Teresa playing with our commune dog, Birch, and me drawing everyone while talking on Zoom with a friend.

Personal Updates

Did You Know I Am An Artist? A Cartoonist, To Be More Precise!

Every year, since 2013, I have been designing my holiday cards. They are usually a vague description of my current life told through one-panel cartoons. And each year, the story adds from the previous year. This year, I bought a house with my partner, Mike, and moved in with two friends who are renting from us. We decided to create a communal living situation, in which we share chore responsibilities and cook food for each other. We also have a commune dog named Birch! It has been the most beautiful thing, especially during COVID (though let’s be real, sometimes we all need alone time, and it is hard to find alone time in a house with four people!).

I have been thinking about using my holiday card art to raise money for social justice causes. Perhaps next year, I’ll consider having a fundraiser where folks can order holiday cards, and the profits will go to local organizations pushing for justice?

If you have any good ideas, let me know!


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 what make the world go round!

Be well,

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 – December 2020


The Coco Canary Monthly Newsletter

December 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 in all the work we do.

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.


Business Updates

[TONIGHT, 12/16 7 PM CENTRAL] Listen to my Business Pitch!

In the last couple of newsletters, I have mentioned that I have been a part of a 10-week business development cohort run by CO.STARTERS and hosted by The Coven. Well, TONIGHT is pitch night, and I want you to join us! Eight other amazing women and I will be sharing our stories, pitching our business ideas, and competing to win prizes. Each of us will get 3-minutes to pitch and then 2-minutes for Q&A. You can register here OR reply to this newsletter, and I’ll send you the Zoom link.

Let me briefly introduce you to these amazing women. All of which are based in the Twin Cities area.

Sweet Troo Vī Waffle

Meet Bobbi Jo and her wife Rebekkah. They co-own Sweet Troo Vī Waffle, a Liege waffle shop. Their mission is to Eat Deliciously. Love Freely. And with every transaction, a portion is donated to local causes in need. Follow them at @sweettroovi

Jamais Vu Photography

Meet Deja, the owner and lead photographer of Jamias Vu Photography. Their mission is to highlight your business and create a visual connection between you and your clients. To me, your legacy is more than just an image. It’s a feeling, a memory, and a conversation starter! Follow them at @dej_did_it.

Lucent Blue Events & Experiential

Meet Michaella, the founder and principal producer of Lucent Blue. They are nationally known for their event planning, and now due to COVID, they are trying something new. BEAM BOXES. With Beam Box, they invite you to brighten your day, and unwrap some sunshine. Follow them at @lucent.blue.events

Women Empowered

Chriselle is the owner of Women Empowered, an online clothing boutique that focuses on sustainable fashion for women. Every dollar earned at the company gets invested right back into their business to develop business programs for underprivileged young women. Follow them at @WomanEmpowered.us

West Point Auto

Carrie is the co-owner of West Point Auto, a soon-to-be brick-and-mortar car resale establishment in the West St. Paul, Area. They utilize their skills and connections to fix up auctioned cars for reasonable prices. Solid lady, great business! Keep an eye out for their business grand opening!

Anastasia Galka – Holistic Health Coach

Anastasia is an Integrative Holistic Health Coach, Yoga Instructor, Wellness educator & and mother of 3. Her mission is to Live With Joy. Live With Energy. Live With Purpose. And Live on your Terms. Follow them at @anastasiagalkahealthcoach 

Vermillion Ink Press

Meet Jordyn, the owner and founder of Vermillion Ink Press. Proudly BIPOC owned and operated, Vermillion Ink Press is a literary multimedia collective and independent book publisher of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from underrepresented voices. They seek to increase empathy, foster discussion, and cultivate community through the power of the written word. Follow them at @VermillionInkPress

She is Love: Locally Global

Meet Emily, the owner, and founder of She is Love: Locally Global. Their mission is to create a healthier global community by supporting local artisans and brands and Fair Trade businesses. We proudly feature Twin Engine Coffee, a Fair Trade specialty coffee grown and roasted in Nicaragua. Follow them at @sheislovemn

Lexington Writing Firm

Meet Grace, the owner and founder of Lexington Writing Firm. Her team creates humanizing content for healthcare organizations. Their innovative, equity-focused approach makes content that truly connects. Their mission is to change how healthcare content is imagined, strategized, and written.

Other Business Updates

My 3-minutes of fame. I was on Minnesota Public Radio!

MPR had a news special called Starting a new business during the pandemic. I called in to share my story and was interviewed by Chris Farrel. You can listen to my brief snippet at this link. Fast forward to 36 minutes and 20 seconds for my bit. I’d recommend listening to the whole episode too!

I co-presented at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Annual Conference with AR Lopez Consulting, and we got glowing reviews!

In my last newsletter, I announced that my colleague, AR Lopez, and I were presenting at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Annual Conference. Our session was called “Centering Community: A Radical Discussion for Nonprofit Change.” Well, I am happy to report that our session went VERY well! We received some great feedback, and everyone left the meeting wanting to discuss more. Which, I always feel like is a good sign. Thanks to all who joined our session AND to those who joined my newsletter after attending!


Personal Updates

1. Why It Is Important to Ask People You Don’t Know To Give Money To Racial Justice Causes

Here’s a funny story. Every year, I participate in Reddit’s worldwide Secret Santa. If you didn’t know, Reddit’s Secret Santa is the most attended Secret Santa (SS) in the world, even breaking a Guinness Book World Record. When you sign up, you write a bit about yourself, and then you give your SS some gift ideas. For example, I told them I was interested in trying new spices, coffee, or cooperative board games. Also, I said to them that they could donate to a local racial justice cause.

Well, my Secret Santa did something very special. I got matched with someone who lives in India but lives part-time in Washington, DC. They sent me a message last week saying that their gift wouldn’t arrive until after the holidays. They then sent me an image of a donation they made to a nonprofit called Girls for Change. And they donated $1000!

Isn’t that amazing?? Lesson learned: Ask strangers if they’d consider donating to racial justice causes. The worst they can say is no or ignore the request. The best-case scenario is that they say yes and donate!


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 Happy Holidays,

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 – 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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