Meet Our Manager of Analysis & Outcomes!

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Meet Megan Ondr-Cooper, CASA of St. Louis’ Manager of Analysis and Outcomes. Megan has had a busy year! She wrote a blog series on Excel for The IllumiLab blog, served as a guest panelist for Washington University’s Post-Master’s Certificate in Program Evaluation, is the leader for a new National CASA Association sub-committee for developing outcome measures, and was elected to the board of the Evaluation Association of St. Louis.

Megan took some time to answer a few questions about her work!

How would you describe your role as the Manager, Analysis & Outcomes for STLCASA?

I support the organization in using data for evaluation, learning, improvement, and reporting.

How does the work you do directly impact the organization and St. Louis’ children in foster care?

I support the organization in the collection and analysis of data. While much of our data is internal (collected by our staff and CASA volunteers), I also collect data from our partners to understand trends in child wellbeing in our region. Data can then be used to inform decision making, improvement efforts, identify trends, and ultimately to ensure positive outcomes for the children and youth we serve!

You are all things data! Share with the readers where this passion came from and what about data collection and Excel specifically that you love the most?

I’ve always had a passion for helping children. It was this passion that motivated me to earn my Masters in Social Work. However, as I gained experience in social service settings, I noticed that a lot of efforts were informed by best guesses instead of knowledge on what creates positive outcomes. I wondered how programs could know that they were having an impact. This led me to the field of evaluation. I realized that good intentions can be transformed into informed decisions by using data and reflection. Data can help us understand what’s working, what needs improvement, and why. I love data because it can be used to ensure that programs precious time and energy is creating the positive changes they intend.

Over the last year, CASA of St. Louis has been working in collaboration with Sarah Buek of The IllumiLab. How did that collaboration begin? What are the desired outcomes of this relationship?

I first met Sarah at a Brown School Professional Development workshop. She was presenting on satisfying funder requirements. I was impressed by her ability to take complex topics and make them accessible. As I got to know her, I realized her expertise would be valuable to our organization’s measurement efforts. Since starting our project last summer, we have developed a new Theory of Change, Data Collection Outline, and Performance Management Plan. Sarah has also helped us create and identify new tools for collecting information from the clients we serve and other important stakeholders. The goal for our project is to develop a system to measure and monitor our outcomes in a way that is meaningful and manageable.

Tell us more about your recent blog series!

I have written a five-post blog series on Excel for The IllumiLab blog. While the series is geared towards nonprofit professionals, anyone that wants to learn some tips and tricks in Excel can get something from it! The posts cover topics such as finding meaning in your data with filters, conditional formatting to visualize data, flash fill (my new favorite Excel trick!), and other functions.

Beth FultzComment