Today, we’re back with another feature in our Meet the Team blog series. This time, we’re hearing from Bonnie Hernandez, Senior Consultant here at ResultsLab.
Bonnie Hernandez’s eye for effectiveness and efficiency is born from 15 years of experience on the inside of government and nonprofit organizations. As a consultant with our team, she finds patterns across programs and people, using them to demystify evaluation and build up organizations. Bonnie earned her Master’s Degree in Global Policy, Monitoring & Evaluation with The University of Texas at Austin.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in evaluation and data use?
Like many in this field, my journey into evaluation and organizational development was accidental. As a program coordinator for Peace Corps/Paraguay, my boss delegated to me the thankless tasks of reporting the outcomes of our rural economic development program to Washington. I had no idea what I was doing, so I had to learn all-things monitoring and evaluation quickly. It was a bit bumpy, but my analytical mind was captivated by this world of measuring impact, which I previously knew nothing about. Fifteen years later, I am still learning, as the field is constantly evolving.
Q: How have the roles you’ve held in the past contributed to how you work now?
I have held roles in both highly ambiguous situations and extremely structured situations. I thrive in somewhat ambiguous situations, but I have been able to use my experiences and skills learned from extremely structured organizations to create order out of ambiguity. I am also a relentless planner, so I have to be careful not to project-manage things to death in ambiguous situations.
Q: Describe your job in 3 words.
I’d describe my job as addictive, analytical, and inspirational.
Q: Favorite quote/mantra?
“There are no findings in the building!”
A former supervisor, who was a high-ranking official at a large federal government agency, used to scream this at our department meetings with alarming frequency. His point was that evaluation and organizational development should not be an academic exercise; there are human beings pulling the levers behind programs, policies, and organizations. Get out of the data, step away from the computer, and go talk to them, observe, and connect with humans. Only then, once you know the real story and the real people behind the data, should you draw conclusions and make recommendations. This mantra helps to keep me grounded and drives how I work with organizations to develop their own evaluation and data use practices.
Q: Who would you most like to swap places with for the day?
Jane Goodall. I love animals (except snakes), and the wild outdoors is my home base.
Q: What are 3 of your favorite podcasts/books//blogs to follow and why?
- Hidden Brain podcast: I completely geek out about science, especially the intersections of neurobiology and social psychology. The storytelling format is digestible enough that I can listen during a run!
- TED Radio Hour podcast: I always learn something new that I can use to reflect on myself and my way of being in the world and with others. Usually a good pick-me-up as well with inspiring stories that remind me that we’re all human beings.
- Chris Blattman’s blog: As a policy wonk and data geek at heart, Chris Blattman’s blog (and Twitter feed) is a great place to exercise the academic-y side of my brain. I also spent a good deal of my career in international development and policy, so his blog allows me to check in on what’s new and exciting in internationally-oriented evaluation and research.
Q: What are your hobbies?
I love everything outdoors, cooking, gardening, and traveling.
Q: Can you tell us something we don’t know about you?
I was a cheerleader in junior high and high school, which may be mildly humorous to those who know me as slightly introverted. I needed a lot of downtime after the cacophony and crowds at ball games.
Q: What is something people in your industry/niche have to deal with that you want to fix?
Nonprofits that lack funding to do what they really want to do and do it well. I regularly wish I could win the lottery and support impactful organizations in a major way, for the long-term, no strings attached.
Q: What do you most appreciate about working at ResultsLab?
The amazing team of women who help me grow simply by being in their presence. Everyone on our team is in it for the right reasons—to support the people making our world a better place—and that is a refreshing reality to face every day.
Thanks, Bonnie for opening up and letting us get to know you a better both personally and professionally. We still have a couple of teammates left to highlight in this series – stay tuned for more staff highlights coming soon.