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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