At Taylor Newberry Consulting we are grateful to be connected to incredibly talented, passionate and dedicated individuals. We are especially fortunate that some of these individuals have chosen to call themselves “TNCers”. We are continually inspired by members of our staff who share laughs, values, and learnings. Each month our website will feature a different member of our staff who will share a little bit about their work and a glimpse into their life.
This month, Karla sat down with Kamaria Francis to learn more about her and her work. Kamaria joined the team in July, and brings a wealth of evaluation experience, and the ability to build strong relationships with our partners. Her engaging communication style, passion for strengthening communities, and effective management of complex projects are just a few of the reasons why we are grateful to have her on the team. Her thoughtful and insightful questions have been appreciated by staff and clients, and the TNC team admires her commitment to ensuring that projects are helpful to the communities we work with.
Karla: Alright, so to start off, what is your favorite thing about working at TNC?
Kamaria: It’s just something that I’ve noticed a lot…. I think a lot of our projects, like how much we will almost make ourselves obsolete. Like we do a lot of training and do a lot of giving our clients the capacity to do some of these things on their own, to do some data collection on their own, or to learn more about evaluation and really equip them with tools or skills or knowledge. I think that’s what’s really cool- it’s a powerful thing and it’s an important thing to teach you how to do what we do.
Karla: Yeah because I guess some of our company-wide values are empowering other organizations and strengthening communities, so I can really see how that aligns. And then could you tell me a little bit about one or two projects that you’re currently working on and maybe something that you’ve learned from them?
Kamaria: Yeah. Skilled4Success with BGC Canada. It’s looking at re-designing a youth employment program. So I’ve done some interviews and I’ve been reading some of the background documents, but I think it’s really cool. I think it comes at an interesting time with work and people’s relationship with work and hearing the ways in which people… like the skills that youth want to learn about work has been kind of eye opening for me. Like it’s less so ‘ how to create a resume’ or ‘ how to present in a job’ , but more interpersonal, like how to deal with conflict or how to deal with personal stress or how to take care of yourself in a job. And I’m finding that really interesting.
We were doing another project: the Social Impact Investment Fund. I really connect to that project. So that’s a grant that is based in Regent Park and it’s designed and also partly administered by United Way Greater Toronto, but mostly it’s supposed to be directed by residents of the community kind of thing, taking charge and deciding what grassroots groups and residents in the community will be able to get the grant to impact four kind of pre decided -on areas of community change and community focus. I mean, I think that’s really cool. I wasn’t involved in the process necessarily of the granting. We’re just doing an evaluation of what that looks like, and how to kind of replicate it for the future, but it’s really cool to see communities set their own priorities and use the voice of people that maybe have traditionally been left out of those processes, being the people who were able to dive in and say, this is what we want to do. This is how we want to direct it. And seeing how strong their voice has been. So I guess in terms of learning, I think it’s neat to see groups that normally wouldn’t really get a stage to talk about what is most important to them, to actually share what’s most important to them. And people who often are spoken for, speak for themselves. So I guess in this case it would be youth and community residents. So that’s been an interesting process to be a part of the project.
Karla: That’s awesome. And next up is, what’s one of your favorite memories from the past few months at TNC?
Kamaria: This is a bit trickier because I haven’t met anyone face to face in the office …but like everyone at TNC is like, even before I started, I was getting emails being like, “Hey, do you want to meet and have a virtual coffee?” Or “do you want to talk about what is it you’re interested in terms of research and evaluation?” And people just independently reaching out to me and being like “I’d like to meet you and , not in a really formal way, but just to get to know you as a person”, just as you did.
Karla: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I’m glad to hear that. I think one of my first days back from mat leave, you and I got to chat and that was really meaningful for me. Like just being back after a year and getting to talk to you.
Kamaria:It sounds like kind of basic, but I don’t know that everyone would do that.
Karla: Aw, yeah. What is something outside of work that makes you smile?
Kamaria: I think, like a lot of people, I’ve been watching more reality TV. One of my favorites is the Great British baking Show or Great British Bake Off. I watched an episode last night. I don’t want to spoil anything.
Karla: I don’t think I’m on that season so you can talk about it. I won’t remember.
Kamaria: The person I really like went home, but the way in which he dealt with them sending him home and the way in which I think all the contestants are like not so much competing with other people, but being there and “passing a milestone that I didn’t think I could, or I’ve really learned and developed here instead of beating other people”, I think it’s so healthy and just so nice. And I’m really upset that he’s gone, but I really think the way in which he left the show was really great
Karla: Yeah, totally. I find it so refreshing and so positive. Like it’s just, it’s a nice break from some of the other reality shows that are out there for sure. And amazing looking food. So it inspires me and then I never make it, but I’m like, hey that’s an option one day.
Kamaria: Well, one season the signature challenge was to make millionaire shortbread. And after that season I made millionaire shortbread once a month . And it was like, it’s really easy. It’s not like the signature challenges where they have to make a freestanding cookie tower but yeah. Sometimes I get inspiration from it.
Karla: Maybe when we’re able to meet in person again, we can have snacks and you can bring that. So last question is, finish this sentence when I’m not working at TNC. I’m most likely…
Kamaria: Okay. I think it’s two things. One probably obvious thing is baking. I had a roommate once and she told me she and her partner would be like “ during the day does Kamaria think about what she’s going to make and eat next?” So that.
I don’t know also because it’s sports season, uh, fantasy sports is like, it runs my life. Once Wednesday is coming, all I think about is the trade deadline, or who I can pick up. I’m in one league for football and basketball, and one where you predict the winners of the NFL games each week. I try to put in time every week, but it’s like a part time job! And every league needs a winner and a loser, and right now I’m the loser for basketball.
For my other two I’m doing well, and I even bought a Cameo with a football player telling my entire fantasy league that I would win the entire league this year. And then I immediately started losing. I was like, I have to win, like I manifested it. I have a friend in the league who is not doing well, and I often try to help her, and now she is moving up in the ranks, so I’m thinking ‘should I stop?’ Or should I keep helping her?
Karla: Yeah, should it be like the Great British baking show? Or Survivor?