This blog post originally appeared on the webpage for the Educational Research Methodology department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
A few years ago I turned 40. It dawned on me that what had seemed like a limitless number of years ahead of me to build a career and have an impact, suddenly wasn’t. I probably had about 20 or so years of work left. Having already worked 20+ years, I was at the halfway mark of my career. I was ready to make a change. I found myself wanting to do something that was deeply focused on evaluation and in service of a greater good; something that blended teaching, practice, and research and that cut across sectors. Not many places were hiring for the job I wanted to do, so I decided to create it myself. I founded an organization called Aligned Impact LLC. Aligned Impact offers services that enable organizations and communities (of all shapes and sizes) to identify, gather, and make sense of data that helps themimprove their impact. It is fairly common that these conversations reveal areas or perspectives that are not aligned; those can be difficult, but critically important conversations. Services include evaluation coaching and capacity building, evaluation planning, developing data collection tools and processes, data analysis and interpretation, and action planning. Projects can be anything from helping a small nonprofit organization revamp their evaluation processes so they are more efficient and effective to building a training evaluation system for a large corporation to working with community groups to align efforts for larger and more sustained impact to working with funders to align their grant making efforts and evaluation processes to achieve the impact they seek to have. The organizational tagline is “Independent Insight for Improved Impact.” The biggest challenges we face collectively are not ones that a single organization, or a single sector for that matter, can fully address. For that reason, cross-sector and collaborative work is particularly appealing. Having a background in a variety of research methods and experience working in different contexts has equipped me with a versatile toolbox and enables me to work across content areas and contexts. Exposure to a variety of methods and approaches enables me to help clients think through tradeoffs and make better choices. My ERM training provided a solid foundation for many different types of work; it is a kind of degree that is relevant and useful across a wide variety of settings.