Topic: Leadership Development:

  • Handling Adaptive Challenges in Our Sector

Successful nonprofit organizations prepare their employees to use performance data to shape program delivery and improve services for the individuals they serve (MacLaughlin, 2016). In practice, however, many program managers are not formally trained to use performance data and others consider data reporting and analysis as secondary to program operations (Innovation Network, 2016). While there are many reasons for program managers’ lack of understanding and use of performance data, two stand out as major barriers towards integrating data into program decision making:

  • Difficulties translating the significance of data to stakeholders
  • An organizational culture that does not support the use of performance data

To overcome the challenges of translation and culture, this presentation will present concrete strategies to help nonprofit program leaders and managers champion their data and make effective decisions based on valid performance indicators. Presenters will share several practical strategies used in a large multi-state social services organization to provide staff with the competencies required to engage with data at a higher level and to use data for program improvement. Each strategy is situated in the context of the intended audience, yielding credence and validity to program managers. These strategies also help program staff to blend “scientific” data with lived experience to arrive at valid conclusions. Together, these strategies help to establish a culture that promotes the understanding and use of performance data as critical components of effective service delivery and further equip program managers with skills necessary to use data. 

Participants will engage in three interactive activities that demonstrate three strategies that help to translate data and statistics to nonprofit program managers. Recommendations for translating data and statistics and developing a supportive organizational culture that promotes the constructive use of data will be discussed. In addition to developing skills to use data, participants will be given practical tools they can use with their program managers.

Learning Objectives

  • Relevance of using valid performance outcomes and indicators to shape service delivery
  • Activities that organizations can do to help program managers effectively use relevant program metrics and performance data
  • Common mistakes organization make relevant to performance data

Presenters

  • Michael Valenti, research coordinator, Pressley Ridge
  • Jennifer Mihalo, evaluation coordinator, PressleyRidge
  • Amy Strickler, research coordinator, Pressley Ridge

Michael Valenti
Research Coordinator
Pressley Ridge

Michael W. Valenti has a doctorate in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. He began his career as a behavior specialist working with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. In this role, he conducted functional analyses of behavior and developed intervention plans for students with challenging behaviors.

For four years, he also served as a member of a technical assistance team consulting for a large urban school district. This work focused on large-scale implementation of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) model for school discipline. During this time, Valenti was responsible for training and coaching teachers, monitoring/analyzing behavioral data, and facilitating school-wide discussions for improving behavioral supports. Since 2013, he has taught a doctoral level course in Positive Behavior Support at the University of Pittsburgh.

Currently, Valenti is research coordinator in the organizational performance department at Pressley Ridge. His tasks include program evaluation, monitoring quality improvement metrics, and grant coordination. Valenti also designs and leads several ongoing, longitudinal research projects. Currently, he is researching staff and youth/family perceptions of the working alliance, emotional labor, and family functioning across several educational and residential programs.

Jennifer Mihalo
Evaluation Coordinator
PressleyRidge

Jennifer Mihalo is an evaluation coordinator in the organizational performance department at Pressley Ridge and is a graduate of Chatham University, where she received her master’s in counseling psychology. She began her career as a skills coach at Wesley Spectrum, where she assisted youth in foster care with achieving psychosocial and intrapersonal goals. She also has experience administering neuropsychological assessments for people with traumatic brain injuries, dementia, ADHD, and pervasive developmental disorders at Allegheny General Hospital’s Department of Neuropsychology, as well as experience conducting individual outpatient therapy with clients reporting cognitive and social difficulties following traumatic brain injuries. Currently, as an evaluation coordinator, she supports program evaluation efforts within the organization including analyzing data, creating annual outcomes reports for internal and external use, selecting evidence-based models, and assisting with the implementation of quality improvement strategies.

Amy Strickler
Research Coordinator
Pressley Ridge

Amy Strickler, is a research coordinator in the organizational performance department at Pressley Ridge, and she is also a graduate of the Counselor Education and Supervision program at Duquesne University, where she completed her research on the efficacy of pre-service trainings for treatment foster parents. She received a master’s in education from Duquesne University with a specialization in elementary and secondary school counseling. Currently, as an evaluation coordinator, she supports the program evaluation efforts within the organization which includes analyzing data, creating annual outcomes reports for internal and external use, selecting evidence-based models, and assisting with the implementation of quality improvement strategies.