Cerise Consulting was developed to provide the services that I was looking for when working as the Director of Education and Interpretation at a nonprofit. I wanted partners with expertise to collaborate with on projects rather than an expert to do the project for us. I was lucky enough to have several mentors and peers that provided these services, and I found the results of these projects to be richer and more meaningful.
One of the partners and mentors I feel particularly lucky to have worked with was Dr. Richard Rabinowitz from the American History Workshop. He spent a week with me and my staff to explore the interpretative process as we prepared for the opening of a new phase of the organization. We spent the week meeting with community members, talking, and reflecting on how to tell stories that emerged. Richard offered his expertise through asking questions and suggesting resources rather than telling us how to move forward. This back and forth allowed our staff to learn and grow as we developed a plan for moving forward with the interpretation.
This model of partnership allows for a each member of the group to share their expertise while being led through the process as a team. By honoring the knowledge of the community, the final product is made that much stronger and more relevant to the context from which it emerged.
Working with Dr. Kathleen Doll was another experience that deeply impacted my understanding of how meaningful evaluation can be in the nonprofit context. Before working with her for the first time six years ago, I had seen assessment and evaluation as a necessary evil, required by grantors and of little value to my own practice. After hiring Dr. Doll to help design an evaluation for a joint project, I learned how necessary evaluation is, especially in an ongoing project. The questions she asked gave us the opportunity to articulate and clarify our goals. The process of designing the evaluation actually improve the program and the formative and summative evaluations made long-term impacts to the direction of the partnership. I am thrilled that Dr. Doll is a partner in this project. I hope that she helps your understanding of how important evaluation can be as much as she helped me.