Welcome back to our ResultsLab Meet the Team blog series. Today, we’re excited for you to get to know our Vice President of Impact Services, Kenzie Strong.
Kenzie’s 15-year background in program evaluation includes work with organizations such as Mile High United Way, Right To Play International, Save the Children USA, ActionAid International, and the Ministry of Education in the Marshall Islands. She holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University and Bachelors in Finance from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Now, it’s time to hear from Kenzie.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in research and data use?
Early in my career I worked as a teacher, worked in analytics, and did organizational development with small nonprofits. When I found out that there was a way that I could combine my passion for learning, community voice, data, and growth together, I was all in.
Q: How have the roles you’ve held in the past contributed to how you work now?
I have spent 12 years working in nonprofits, building and driving our internal evaluation practice. In these roles, I learned quickly that you do need to show-up with technical strengths in evaluation, but even more importantly I gained a deep understanding of what it takes to drive change amidst competing priorities and within the strum of busy everyday nonprofit realities.
In leading the evaluation practice within a complex internal organization, serving 20 countries, I also learned how important it is to truly listen and engage key voices and perspectives, and ultimate users, in building out the evaluation practice of an organization.
Q: As the VP, Impact Services, describe your job in 3 words.
I build, coach, and strengthen.
Q: What do you appreciate most about working at ResultsLab?
Two things: the people, and the impact.
- The people: I start each morning with gratitude that I have colleagues to surround myself with that have such an incredible balance of heart (deep passion toward strengthening our communities) and incredible mindsets and skillsets to act on this passion. We have a lot of fun together and at the same time, we push each other to drive tirelessly to ensure our work lands with impact. AND, if that isn’t enough, the people power is compounded as I have the privilege of working with incredible clients each day, each of them coming with their own unique talents, strengths, and passion to drive social change.
- The impact: I have always loved taking a problem, deeply understanding it, and finding ways to make things better. This is what I get to do each and every day in this job. Whether it is supporting our clients in finding data that works for them, or it’s looking at how we might improve, evolve, or grow our own ResultsLab services, I get deep satisfaction in the ‘ah-ha’s,’ ‘light bulbs,’ or sparks of excitement that our work brings. My ultimate satisfaction comes from seeing team members or clients turning those ‘ah-ha’s’ into true change within their own practice or the practices of their organization.
Q: What are your hobbies?
Hiking, skiing, running, yoga, or time spent in nature—are all things that make me feel whole. I love spending time with my husband, Brad, and my two daughters (6 and 9), whether it is just hanging at home playing games, going camping, or spending time together at the lake/cottage in Canada.
Q: What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
Q: What are 3 podcasts/books/websites that you frequent often?
- How I built this podcast with Guy Raz from NPR – I love this podcast, as it highlights how many of the successful businesses we all know came to be. Many of them simply started with an idea, impressive persistence, and a bit of luck. It’s great inspiration as we continue to build up ResultsLab.
- Nonprofit AF blog by Vu Le – Vu Le does a masterful job of using humor to bring to light what is both great and broken in our social change space. It provides a brutally honest perspective of what it’s like to live in nonprofit sub-culture. Keeps me grounded.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – This book is a work of fiction that brings out powerful messages about following our own personal legend and finding connections, messages, and meaning throughout our journey. I have read it at pivotal points throughout my life, each pushing me to reflect and redirect toward what I am most passionate about.
Q: Tell us something we don’t know about you.
My travels and experiences abroad have largely shaped how I see the world and even how I think about creating meaningful and culturally relevant evaluation practices. I have lived in 8 countries, from an Inuit community in northern Canada to a remote island in the Marshall Islands, and have traveled to/worked in over 30 countries across Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Europe.
Q: What is something people in your industry deal with that you want to fix?
In general, our nonprofit partners are interested or even excited about making data meaningful within their organizations. However, so many are using their limited time and energy to report through required tools that don’t resonate with those they are serving (i.e. an extremely long survey that is intimidating to our young people), or donor-mandated metrics/reports that don’t align with the needs of the organization, or data systems that are painful to use. It’s no wonder there is a sense of frustration when it comes to data.
My goal and passion is for us to shift the drivers and break down the pain points when it comes to data—begin to move toward data practices that are truly meaningful and even transformational to each organization and the communities they serve.
Thank you, Kenzie for letting us pick your brain and get to know you better. Be on the lookout for our other ResultsLab teammate features in the upcoming months, and be sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.