Team Member Spotlight: Jill Casey
Luminare Group is all about inspiring connections. How did you get connected with the team?
Jara and I shared a connection with my mentor Rosalie Torres. Rosalie was an early and critical voice linking evaluative practices to organizational learning and impact and was someone Jara connected with during a post-graduate evaluation program. In 2007, Jara was thinking about growing her consulting practice and said to Rosalie, “I need a Jill.” I’m so glad she did. I’ve been lucky to spend the last decade growing with and helping to grow this practice and our team.
As someone who works on Evaluation and Capacity Building for Luminare Group, what “ah-ha” moments do you help people have?
Recognition of the tremendous capacity they already have. Very little of our capacity building is skill development. Those come, but they are not the focus. More, we illuminate a path toward organizational cultures where the principles of evaluative thinking are infused. The “ah-ha” moments are the result of a path that allows the knowledge and skills and deep commitment our clients bring to shine through meaningful inquiry.
Personally, I do love the “ah-ha” moments that come with modeling processes. These might be less “ah-ha” and more “ahhh” moments. There is a relief that comes from having a graphic depiction of what has been held in bits and pieces across people, programs, grant applications, etc. that make up an organization’s memory. While I would never claim a model to hold the truth, when we get enough of what’s essential to understanding why, how and to what end, people see their work in a new light. They can hold the whole in a way that elevates the intention behind each piece.
Luminare Group is unrelenting in its pursuit of an equitable and just world. What drives you to do this work? What is the special something you bring to Luminare Group?
I learned early in my career that values alignment, more than any individual achievement or development of a particular skill, was my main driver. And equity—or perhaps the liberation that comes with equity’s full expression—is the ultimate end. Being able to choose my work is a privilege and to be chosen to support others in this work is an honor. I learn so much from and with my colleagues, our clients and partners. Finding ways to reciprocate and contribute to their learning drives me.
In terms of the special something I bring to Luminare Group, it is a freakish knack for estimation and comfort jumping between big concepts and the nitty gritty of project planning.
Bright Ideas: What tip would you give to someone who is interested in learning more about your work?
As in all things, know thyself and hold that knowledge lightly. Ultimately this is deeply personal work that requires us to confront our assumptions, values and ways of being and knowing on a daily basis. On this front, check out anything by Dr. Hazel Symonette—like this. Also, check out “Personalizing Evaluation” by Saville Kushner, which examines evaluation as personal and political action.
Get Lit: What are you reading right now?
Right now I am reading Awakening of the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh. Expansiveness seems to be the theme of my early 40s, and his writing helps me stay with this.
Lighten Up: What’s been the funniest moment you’ve experienced as part of Luminare Group?
I don’t know that I’ve ever had a call or conversation with a team member where we haven’t laughed. It’s hard to think of a particular story because our funny moments are continuous.
How can people get in touch with you?
When you are not working, what can people most likely find you doing?
Scrolling through Instagram. Seriously. Since childhood I’ve loved pouring over photo albums. Loading up the slide projector was an ideal weekend night for me when I was 8. So Instagram, and flickr before it, is kind of a dream come true for me. You’ll also find me in a yoga class or walking without a destination around San Francisco or a city far from home. Being out in the mix of a city both perks me up and soothes me.