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Getting to Know the La Piana Team: Rosalyn Allison-Jacobs

This blog post featuring Senior Consultant Rosalyn Allison-Jacobs is part of our ongoing series highlighting the La Piana team.

This blog post is part of our ongoing series highlighting the La Piana team.

When did you decide that you wanted to dedicate your career to the nonprofit sector?

It’s funny, I didn’t choose the nonprofit sector, it chose me.  I started my career in healthcare administration in Cleveland, Ohio and eventually moved into consulting.  I loved healthcare consulting, but it required a lot of travel and that was at conflict with my desire to be home and available to my family (I had young children at that time).  I began working locally in the public sector as a consultant with The Urban Institute at Cleveland State University.  When my husband was recruited to Charlotte, North Carolina, I was asked to fill an allocations team vacancy at United Way on an interim basis.  One thing led to another and my transition to the nonprofit sector became permanent.

Having said that, I can’t imagine not working with the nonprofit sector.  It feels so good to be doing work that matters.

You have an extensive background in evaluation. How can nonprofits benefit from assessment and measurement tools?

There’s so much power in evaluation because there is power in good information.  In my experience, evaluation can be a team builder, an empowerment tool, and an instrument of culture change.

More than anything, good evaluation data gives nonprofits the ability to communicate who they are and what they do well.  It can be a very powerful tool for marketplace competition because good program evaluation data differentiates programs that occupy the same service delivery space.  Programs may appear to be doing the same thing from the outside, but good data can convince stakeholders why one organization is worthy of their investment over another.

What excites you most about your new position on the La Piana Consulting team?

What I most want to bring to the work is my foundation in organization development (OD) and change.  OD theories and practices have been the common threads that transect all of my work, whether with board governance, program evaluation, organization assessments, or strategic restructuring.

What are your favorite types of challenges?

I like engagements that are made more complex by interpersonal dynamics.  I’m fascinated by the complexity of human relationships.  Tension and conflict really challenge and interest me.  I think this complexity can, when facilitated effectively, really help an organization grow.

What was the last book you read that really inspired you?

The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters by Peter Block.

It is a book that resonates with me because it challenges us to approach our avocations with our hearts as much as our heads.  It is a perfect synthesis of personal stewardship with professional endeavors.  It encourages the reader not to lose sight of what is important and what matters, especially in our chosen work.

We often allow the question of “how” to control what we do.  We need to focus on what is the right thing to do, regardless of how it is going to be done.

If you could have lunch with anyone, who would you choose?

This is going to seem odd, but it would be Vernon Jordan.  He is a lawyer, a business man, and a public servant.  He has served as a counselor to presidents.  He keeps a low profile, but is a great connector and influencer.  He doesn’t seek the limelight or demand recognition and praise.  He does what he does in a very quiet but effective way.  I have a deep admiration for his ability to lead from behind.

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