Our staff are the heart of what we do: Get to know Sara

At Taylor Newberry Consulting we are grateful to be able to connect 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 Sara to get to know more about her and her work. Karla first met Sara in 2010 at the University of Guelph where they were both completing graduate studies in the Applied Social Psychology program. In 2021, Sara joined TNC and has brought so much to the team. We value (to name just a few things!) her thoughtful application of different research methods, engaging communication style, and reflective problem solving abilities. Read on for more about Sara!

Karla: What’s your favourite thing about working at TNC?

Sara: I would have to say that one of my favorite things is just the brilliant people that we work with. I’ve really enjoyed being able to work with different TNC staff on different projects. And I think I’ve been able to work with pretty much everyone on different projects at this point. So that’s been really nice because it gives you the opportunity to really get to know the people that you work with, both in terms of what their skill sets are and what their interests are for work, but also just who they are as people. My work before TNC was in universities, it’s pretty independent, it’s pretty isolating so when I first started at TNC, I was really struck by how collaborative the work is, both the collaboration with the clients but also collaboration with each other. And it’s just a really nice way to work.

Karla: Yeah, totally. I feel that as well. 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?

Sara: We have a new project with a new client called Digital Public Square and they are a not-for-profit that develops new technologies to support healthy, inclusive and connected communities.  I’ve been working with Kamaria and Andrew on this project and we’re helping them evaluate a gamified tool that they developed called “Know it or Not” to help combat COVID-19 misinformation and promote COVID-19 vaccine uptake. The tool’s been available for some time, but COVID-19  information and misinformation is constantly changing. And so it’s sort of a good point now to evaluate to what extent the tool reflects the broader COVID-19 information environment to make sure that it’s providing the information that people need. And then another reason that we’re evaluating the tool is that there’s now research that shows that vaccine hesitancy differs across communities.

So for example, Black Canadians tend to be more vaccine hesitant than Non-Black racialized groups or White Canadians for many reasons, including systemic racism. So over the summer we’ll be conducting some focus groups with self-identifying Black Canadians to get feedback on this tool to learn how to improve its acceptability, relevance, and its reach. We’re planning some really interactive focus groups that are going to use things like anonymous polling and word clouds and other kinds of anonymous feedback features as well as more traditional focus group discussion questions. So I’m really excited about that because I haven’t done that style of focus group in a while and I think it’s going to be really engaging for everyone. We’re working really collaboratively with Digital Public Square on this project to scope out the project and also to design it. So that’s been a really great experience so far. I’m looking forward to getting this project off the ground over the summer.

Karla: Oh, that’s so cool to hear more about it.  I keep hearing the name Digital Public Square, but it’s nice to know like exactly what’s going on in the project. Some really cool things. 

Sara: Yeah. It’s a quick project but I think it’s gonna be really exciting.

Karla:  Yeah. Awesome. And what’s one of your favorite memories from the past few months at TNC?

Sara: I think being able to come together in person back in May at the park in Guelph for our picnic lunch / staff meeting was a standout for me. I assume it is for a lot of other TNC staff as well. Many of us had never met in person because we’d started working remotely during the pandemic. You and I knew each other and I knew a couple of other people from previous work or grad school but I hadn’t met a lot of our colleagues. So it was just really, really nice to be able to come together all in person, have some good food, learn a bit more about each other, spend some time outdoors, do a little bit of work, check out our office space at 10C, which I had seen before, but it’s such a cool space so it was nice to walk over as a group and see that space again. So yeah, that for sure was a standout moment in the last couple months.

Karla: Yeah, totally. I loved that day too. And then what’s something outside of work that has made you smile recently?

Sara:  So continuing with the pandemic theme, I had the opportunity to go to a conference last weekend in Calgary and it was in-person and it was the first time in two or three years that I’d seen mentors and colleagues and friends that I’d gone to grad school with or I’d done my postdoc with, and just being able to gather in person again and see people that I hadn’t seen in years, have meals together, go for walks, spend some time together was just really, really nice. I think we’ve all become very accustomed to working remotely and at home by ourselves for the most part, but you forget how nice it is to connect with people in person.

Karla: Oh, that’s lovely. And I guess too, like with the conference as you were probably like going to them like every year prior to this, right. Like in person.

Sara: Yeah. And they moved to virtual and I’d gone to a virtual one last year, but it’s just not the same. So it was really nice to be back in person.

Karla: Yeah, totally. Okay, and then last question, finish this sentence: when I’m not working at TNC, I’m most likely…

Sara: I have a two year old so I’m most likely taking care of her, chasing her around, preparing meals, playing, and doing all of those things. And then if I’m not doing that, I really love gardening and just being outside and doing yard work and going for walks and that type of thing. I don’t do it enough lately, but if I’m not working and I’m not chasing the toddler, then I’m probably outside in my garden trying to grow some tomatoes and peppers and herbs with varying levels of success.

Karla: Nice!

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