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This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
15 Jun, 2016

“My Name is…, and I Represent…”

By | 2016-10-25T01:47:59+00:00 June 15th, 2016|Categories: Activism, Program Design & Evaluation, Social Work|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Blog Post


Does you voice matter less when you’re not part of an organization?

This became part of my consciousness back in 2012 when I attended the Strong Families Summit. I was invited to assist with Strong Families’ social media team to highlight the goals of the Initiative, the participants’ general feedback, and how the Initiative can move forward.

As attendees introduced themselves, they shared the basics (name, organization, preferred gender pronouns, and their intention for being present at the Summit), and as they shared the name of their organization, there were a few attendees that said:

“My name is [insert name], and I’m representing myself”   or

“I’m [insert name], and I work with [insert name of organization], but I’m speaking on behalf of myself”.

Of course, in discussions around issues pertaining to sexual health and reproductive justice, or any topic that may be controversial, it’s important to raise our own voices. It’s also important to be mindful that what we say may have an impact on whatever group or organization we’re representing.

When I was part of an organization as a front line social worker and direct service provider, my actions and interactions with clients either had a positive or negative effect not only my clients’ impression of me but also that of my organization. Now, as someone who runs her own business, I’ve been able to reflect on the fact that I’m fortunate enough to be representing myself apart from an agency or organization. I’m able to flow in and out of multiple spaces and can be a social worker, program designer, speaker, or program evaluator at any given time, and I can be known for one aspect or all aspects of what I do.

Knowing this, I’m also mindful in how I represent my business in person, through email, or on social media, can impact who wants to work with me as a client. We definitely see this in today’s political climate, sports, and entertainment industries where people quickly lose their endorsements and support.

But back to the original question:


12 Mar, 2015

Ask Nicole: What’s the Difference Between Research and Evaluation?

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:00+00:00 March 12th, 2015|Categories: Program Design & Evaluation|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments


Do you have any questions related to social work, evaluation, reproductive justice? Curious about how I feel about a particular topic? Contact me and I’ll answer it!

This is probably the most common question you’ll hear about evaluation practice. Because I’m asked this question often, I would like to given my take on it.

To start, there are several differences between research and evaluation. Evaluation is a systematic way of figuring out how effective your programs and services are, and if the desired outcomes of the program/service line up with what participants are experiencing. You can do this in a variety of ways, including surveys, focus groups, interviews, and more. Evaluation can inform key stakeholders (which can include legislators, program participants, funders, nonprofit staff, etc.) how sustainable your program or service is.

In comparison, research is designed to seek new knowledge about a behavior or phenomenon and focuses on the methods of getting to that new knowledge (hypothesis, independent/dependent variables, etc.). In other words, research wants to know if a particular variable caused a particular effect (causation). Once testing is done, researchers can make research recommendations and publish their findings. However, one of the key differences between research and evaluation is that conducting an evaluation can lead to insights in what’s going well and what can be improved. In other words, evaluation shows how valuable your program or service is.


3 Dec, 2014

Who Are The People Behind The Numbers?

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:01+00:00 December 3rd, 2014|Categories: Miscellaneous|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments


(Photo credit: Kaiser Family Foundation)

“Statistics are real people with the tears wiped away. When statistical data are presented, they seem sanitized and tend to distance the reader from the actual problem at hand.”  ~ Dr. B. Lee Green 

Let’s take a look at this graph, taken from the policy fact sheet “Sexual Health of Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States”, developed by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

This fact sheet provides key data on sexual activity, contraceptive use, pregnancy, prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and access to reproductive health services among teenagers and young adults in the United States.

The chart above is taken from this fact sheet, and the data and information is listed in the 2013 Kaiser Women’s Health Survey. To list some statistics:

**70% of women 19 to 24 rated confidentiality about use of health care such as family planning or mental health services as “important”; however, the majority of girls and women were not aware that insurers may send an explanation of benefits (EOB) that documents use of medical services that have been used to the principal policy holder, who may be a parent.

**Today, 21 states and DC have policies that explicitly allow minors to consent to contraceptive services, 25 allow consent in certain circumstances, and 4 have no explicit policy;

**38 states require some level of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion, up from 18 states in 1991. 21 states require that teens obtain parental consent for the procedure, 12 require parental notification, and 5 require both.

Of course, the correlation makes sense: the older a woman is, the higher likelihood she is aware of what a EOB is and how health insurance companies many send them by mail to her home. In fact:

One of the earliest [Affordable care Act] provisions that took effect in September 2010 was the extensions of dependent coverage to young people up to age 26, who had the highest uninsured rate of any age group at the time the law was passed. In 2013, over four in ten (45%) women ages 18 to 25 reported that they were covered on a parent’s plan as a dependent. because that are adult children, the extension of coverage has raised concerns about their ability to maintain privacy regarding the use of sensitive health services such as reproductive and sexual health care and mental health. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2013)

I also find it interesting that the younger a woman is, the higher she is to rate confidentiality when seeking various health care services. Also the fact that only 21 states and DC allow minors complete consent to access contraceptives and that most states require some level of parental involvement in a young person’s decision to have an abortion is worth looking into, especially in states that allow young people to access contraception without parental consent.

But we’re not here to talk about completely about the statistics. And we’re not here to provide a full-on critique of policy fact sheet.


25 Aug, 2014

Sound Off: One in Three U.S. Teens Are Unaware That HIV is a Sexually Transmitted Infection, Survey Reports

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:01+00:00 August 25th, 2014|Categories: Miscellaneous|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

(Image courtesy)

A recent report released by the MAC AIDS Fund, reports that U.S. teens can benefit from more education on HIV. The survey, conducted by Kelton Research between May 22-June 5, 2014, surveyed 1,039 American teens ages 12-17 on their views on HIV stigma, transmission, and prevention.

Some of the highlights from the report include:

* 9 out of 10 (88%) believe they are not at risk for contracting HIV. Also, one-third (33%) were not aware that HIV is a sexually transmitted infection.

* 50% of respondents are afraid of contracting HIV and would be nervous if they were to get an HIV positive diagnosis (93%), around the same percentage as if they were to get a positive pregnancy test (94%) or have to engage in first-time sexual activity (91%)

*While the belief that their risk of contracting HIV is low, the respondents were far more likely to believe they are at greater risk for developing cancer (38%), diabetes (33%), heart disease (28%) or obesity (22%) during their lifetime.

*While most believed that using a condom (71%), abstaining from sex (58%), or getting testing for HIV regularly can prevent the spread of HIV (55%), most did not know that HIV prevention also includes reducing the amount of sexual partners (47%), not using alcohol or drugs (33%) or talking with others about prevent HIV prevention (29%).

*While teens feel they can benefit from more education on HIV and AIDS and are open to having more discussions on prevention and transmission (59%), 45% admit that having these conversations makes them uncomfortable.

*Teens would feel ashamed (53%), scared (69%), and feel that others would be afraid of them (50%) if they were to be diagnosed with HIV. Also, if they were to meet someone with HIV, 24% wouldn’t want to share food or drink with that person, touch them (31%), or treat them as a normal person (51%).

Nicole’s take: Other than age, we don’t know much else about the survey respondents. Where’s the rest of the information? Can we at least get a breakdown of the data based on age range? I understand that not all quantitative data collection is solid, but I feel that we’re missing some valuable information by not including other factors. It would have also been great to see how the beliefs of the respondents break down based on geographic region, gender, race and ethnicity, urban versus suburban or rural location, grade level, or age of onset of sexual activity. That would have also been interesting to know if the students who reported receiving sex education from schools (56%) or from family members (38%) were receiving abstinence-only education or comprehensive sex education. (more…)

13 Aug, 2014

Ask Nicole: How Can I Build My Evaluation Skills?

By | 2016-10-25T01:48:01+00:00 August 13th, 2014|Categories: Program Design & Evaluation|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments


Do you have a question that other Raise Your Voice community members can benefit from? Contact me and I’ll answer it!

Several weeks ago, I received the following email from a fellow program evaluator:

Hi Nicole,

I read your blog post, “Program Evaluation for Women and Girls of Color: How I Developed My Passion for Evaluation Practice,” and I was immediately drawn to it. I am an up and coming program evaluator who is fairly new to the field and still on a learning curve. I am struggling to figure out my place in the field, whether I belong here, and whether there are growth opportunities for me as an evaluator of color with a social equity, direct service, and light research background. A previous boss once told me that she didn’t believe I loved research, and didn’t see me as being an evaluator. While I agree that research isn’t my forte, there continues to be something that draws me to evaluation. I consider myself to be pragmatic and can get lost in big picture thinking, something researchers are good at. But, I believe in program accountability, neutrality in the presentation of information, and integrity. These are all elements that I believe evaluation brings to the table. I do wish to grow in my career, but at times I feel like giving up because I don’t yet know a lot about many things related to evaluation. Anyway, I’m happy to have come across your blog post because it provided some comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who has questioned her place in program evaluation. Your words are empowering!It would be great to speak with you further about your career trajectory in evaluation.What professional development opportunities would you recommend? How may I build up my evaluation skills? Looking forward to your response.

This was a really thoughtful question, and it’s great to hear from a fellow program evaluator of color!

Program evaluation is a rapidly changing field, and as you see, it’s exciting and daunting at the same time. Like you, I consider myself an up and coming evaluator, and I totally understand the feeling of not know all that one needs to know in order to get ahead in this field. I’ve come to find that, in my experience, you’ll always be on a learning curve because of emerging best practices, the latest research, and current trends. That’s what makes evaluation so exciting.

When I decided to develop a career in program evaluation, I began reading up on anything and everything related to program evaluation. And then I started to get overwhelmed. There’s so much to evaluation that it’s almost impossible to know everything. So, a recommendation I have for is to figure out what you want to develop your niche in, and build your skills in that, if possible. For example, I’m into participatory evaluation, empowerment evaluation, and evaluation theories that can be applied within racial, feminist, gender, and youth lenses. Elements such as logic models, quantitative and qualitative data collection, and the like are the basis for all evaluation theories, and I when I need to figure out how to run an analysis, or if I need additional help in looking for key themes in a qualitative data set, I’ll ask my colleagues. In other words, everything is (in the words of entrepreneur Marie Forleo, “figure-outable”).

While I think developing a niche is ideal, I understand that choosing an area of focus may tricky and dependent on your actual job duties. Are you good at running data sets, spotting the similarities, and comparing different kinds of variables? Do you like to help others run different data software, like SPSS, DataViz, and Excel? Do you like helping others present their data in a way that’s easy to understand and catered to the audience receiving the information? When I need to figure out a better or more interesting way to present my data, I like to turn to Stephanie Evergreen of Evergreen Data. In the blog portion of her website, she gives practice advice for how best to tailor your data presentation to your audience. Stephanie also runs Potent Presentations, which helps evaluators improve their presentation skills. When I need to figure out a better way to show my data in a bar chart or a graph or even participate in a DataViz challenge, I look to Ann Emery of Emery Evaluation. If I want to learn better ways on how to de-clutter my data, I like to read (and be entertained by) Chris Lysy of freshspectrum.  Also, if I want to gain more insights on building an independent evaluation consultant business, I refer to Gail Barrington of Barrington Research Group.

When it comes to professional development and skills building, here are some places to get started: