This week are bidding farewell to a Milwaukee Succeeds family member, Eric Lequesne. Eric is currently our Data and Research Coordinator VISTA, but has accepted a position as the Research and Evaluation Manager with StriveTogther in Kenosha. Although we’re saying goodbye to Eric, I’m thrilled that we will continue the great work that we do with StriveTogether and Eric! “It is with great excitement that we welcome Eric to our team at Building Our Future. His understanding of economics, coupled with his knowledge of statistics and his passion for positive change was a winning trifecta. Having been a VISTA worker with Milwaukee Succeeds was all frosting on the cake as we have a great respect for the team there, and all they are accomplishing.” Jean Moran – StriveTogether Kenosha
Take it away Eric!
See you soon,
Q1: After serving with AmeriCorps at Milwaukee Succeeds what are you most proud of?
After being a part of this VISTA cohort—there were five here at Milwaukee Succeeds—I’m most proud of the way everyone stepped up and owned their role, even if they weren’t completely comfortable in it. Personally, I’m glad I had a part in establishing practices that can be used for years to come in evaluating community partnerships.
Q2: Was there a moment in a meeting or reviewing a report that you realized Milwaukee Succeeds was making a difference? Please describe.
The obvious answers that come to mind are the successes of the third grade reading and the FAFSA pilot. But I think what really showed that Milwaukee Succeeds is making a difference is the way that community partners never stopped being engaged. It’s easy to give up after a major setback, but our stakeholders kept coming back to the table and getting together as a group of organizations to fight for a better future.
Q3: How does understanding data inform the work of Milwaukee Succeeds?
When people think of data, often what comes to mind is a giant spreadsheet full of numbers. But the power of data comes in its diversity. That spreadsheet is data, but so are survey responses, or even comments gathered from conversation or focus groups. Data is anything we can use to inform our day-to-day.
At Milwaukee Succeeds, data is a powerful tool for guiding strategy and moving forward in our work. It helps us identify best practices and bright spots, analyze pilot program successes, and help focus efforts where they need to go to be the most effective.
Q4: What drove you to apply for your new role with the Kenosha StriveTogether partnership and why is this work important to you?
I had heard that the team in Kenosha was very effective, and I believe in creating better outcomes for children through community partnerships. Every community has organizations aimed at improving education and health for their community’s children, but, as many in the nonprofit field can attest to, resources are tough to come by. In this sense, bringing community organizations and stakeholders together to work toward a shared outcome makes sense to me. The more efficient and effective we can be, the better, because every child deserves the same opportunity for success.
Q5: As you leave this role and begin your new one, what are your hopes for the future?
Growth. I personally hope to grow more in this position and expand on what I’ve learned already, but, most importantly, I hope that Kenosha can build on their educational foundations for its children so that it can live up to its full potential as it continues to expand as a city.
Q6: What is your biggest takeaway from working with Lorna and the Milwaukee Succeeds Data Council?
Although in some ways data, evaluation, and measurement are fairly straightforward, the development of how to measure or evaluate or how to present findings invites much more nuance. My experience working with Lorna and the Data Council really highlighted the importance of a diversity of perspectives—having many people in the room will always grant the opportunity to see many different viewpoints.
Q7: What advice would you give to someone new serving with AmeriCorps?
Get everything you can out of it. It’s an experience that will not only shape what you do in the future but who you are as well.
Looking forward to working with you all in the near future!
Eric Lequesne Research and Evaluation Manager StriveTogether Kenosha